The Daily Work … And Bucking the Trend with my choice of a favorite Great Egret sunset silhouette. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Daily Work ... And Bucking the Trend with my choice of a favorite Great Egret sunset silhouette.


On Thursday morning I got some serious work done on the 5D Mark IV User’s Guide. Then it was off to TJ McKeon’s office in Lake Wales for some Active Release Technique Chiropractic work on my shoulders, hips, and back. Next was a routine visit to Dr. Holmes; my blood work last week came in with my lowest-ever A1C, a three month measure of blood sugar levels: a very excellent 5.0. For the past few days I have been enjoying an overwhelming feeling of mental and physical peace and well-being.

Be sure to read the whole e-mail exchange below as Swamp Thing posed several commonly asked questions and my informative responses contain some good solid advice (and lots of subliminal advertising) based on my thirty-four years behind telephoto lenses. And to think that I started late!

I head over to Fort DeSoto this afternoon to meet a not-so-small group for a weekend of in-the-field instruction BIRDS AS ART style.

Thanks to the many who left comments on yesterday’s Major or Minor Screw-Up by Yours Truly? blog post while answering the question, What do you do with your images??? Click here to chime in if you like.

The Streak

Today makes ninety-two days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 90 minutes to prepare over two days. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Daily Work …

I write often that I spend lot of time answering e-mails. Do know that I enjoy doing so. Here is a typical conversation with Mark Malina whose e-mails show up in my Inbox as being from Swamp Thing:

am: Hey Mark, How are things in the swamp??? Thanks for getting in touch; where do you live?

MM: First, I want to say thanks.

am: You are most welcome.

MM: I only discovered your blog a few months ago by chance as I was undertaking an effort to get more serious about wildlife photography (and frankly
had thought little about bird photography specifically). In the last month, I have become increasingly hooked on your incredibly informative and fun posts.

am; Thank you for appreciating the blog 🙂 Like bird photography, the blog is one of the great passions in my life. I put a lot of effort into and get a lot out of it in terms of joy and happiness (not to mention appreciable income).

MM: Of course, seeing the beauty of your bird shots also made me want to take some myself.

am: Thank you kindly. That’s how it happens. Then you are hooked. I did not start photographing till I was 37 and it quickly became the overwhelming passion in my life.

MM: I also recently bought your and Arash’s DPP4 RAW Conversion Guide and will inevitably be purchasing others, which leads to the following question.

am: Thank you and good plan.

MM: Regarding the Art of Bird Photography II, it says on the site somewhere that it comes only as a CD. My current laptop doe not have a CD ROM drive and I don’t have a separate plug-in one. Do you also offer it simply as a downloadable pdf? If so, how do I indicate that when purchasing on-line?

am: Excellent questions. 🙂 You can get a downloadable version by clicking here.

MM: Third, virtually every time I open the blog page, I notice your ever-present statement about folks out of ignorance using the wrong tripod and head.

am: Yes sir. I try to make sure that that invitation is there every day. And yet zillions of folks are still out there using the wrong tripods and the wrong tripod heads with their expensive gear …

MM: I have been wanting to take you up on your offer in that post to answer questions on the topic for a long while but didn’t want to trouble you.

am: No trouble at all; it’s my job.

MM: Now that I am writing you for other reasons, I can ask about those two items. I have a nice older Gitzo carbon fiber tripod and a Gitzo ball head.

am: If I may be frank, ballheads are for landscape photography not for telephoto lenses. And while I have only seen a few of the Gitzo ballheads, they all had two things in common: they are poorly designed and difficult to work with.

MM: I love the tripod, not so much the head. Also, the tripod is a medium-weight model and I suspect you may tell me it’s not solid enough.

am: That plus all Gitzo tripods are all over-priced and under-performing. The leg locks anodize whenever they come within 100 yards of saltwater. Using a Gitzo tripod outside of your living room pretty much voids the lifetime guarantee … And when (not if) your tripod needs repair, you are screwed. Things were bad enough when the distributor handled the service but about three years ago the repair department got farmed out …

MM: I know you always reference the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod and the Mongoose M3.6. Are those pretty much a universal recommendation or is it more situation specific?

am: As for the tripod, it depends on your height. For most folks six foot or under the GIT 304L is pretty much one-size-fits-all; if it is right for you, please use only this link: Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod.

If you are about 6 foot tall and like a tall tripod or if you are taller than 6 foot or really tall, the slightly heavier GIT 404XL is best for you. Again, please use this link: Induro GIT404XL Grand Series 4 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod. In addition to being taller the 404XL is quite a bit sturdier (and heavier). That is why I use it with a Wimberley head for all of my LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjusting.

As for the Mongoose M3.6 I have been using mine for more than 12 years with all of my super-telephoto lenses, from both 400 DO lenses, to both 500 lenses, to both 600 lens (all of those often with both the 1.4X and 2X TCs) and even to the 800mm f/5.6L IS. And making consistently sharp images at shutter speeds down to 1/60 second (as long as the bird is still). In addition, it is great for my 100-400 II when I need to be on a tripod. I do still recommend the Wimberley for folks who want just a bit more stiffness in their heads and are using 600mm lenses.

We will are getting one perfect Mongoose m3.6 on Monday. Best to call Jim at 863-692-0906 to ensure getting that one. However, do consider this, we are also going to get a few heads with insignificant blemishes on the frame; they will work perfectly. You can save $50 by specifying that you would like a blemished model one (on phone orders only). I am copying Jim here to make him aware.

MM: Do you use or recommend the Mongoose with the side mount or do you add the Low Mount Arm?

am: I do NOT use or recommend the Low Mount Arm except for folks who cannot hold up their big lens with their left hand and arm for ten seconds while mounting it. And even in those cases I do not like the low mount as it screws up the balance with big glass. But it is is better to use the Low Mount Arm than dropping your lens while mounting it … That said, Denise Ippolito loves the Low Mount Arm with her 600mm f/4L IS II.

MM: I currently use nothing bigger than the original 100-400 but am working up to a purchase of a longer lens (probably the 400 DO II because I really want something I can walk around with easily as I spend a lot of time in the woods and on canoes and such). Any thoughts would be appreciated.

am: The 400 DO II is an amazing and wonderful lens; it is the world’s best super-telephoto for folks who do not like carrying around lenses that weigh more than 5 pounds. My beloved 500 II weighs just over 7 pounds, and the 600 II weighs 8.65 pounds. The great news is that most folks using the 400 DO II can easily learn to make sharp images with both teleconverters, even the 2X III. Many folks have problems when using the 2X III with either the 500mm or the 600mm f/4 lenses.

If you do go for the 400 DO II, please use my B&H affiliate link: it is the best way to thank me for the blog and for the time spent answering e-mails like yours. Web orders only and it will not cost you one penny more.

Here you go: Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM Lens.

Please shoot me your B&H receipt(s) via e-mail after you purchase.

thanks and later and love, artie

Image #1: Great Egret sunset silhouette

As seen in the A Loverly Sunset and Making Hue/Saturation/Luminance Adjustments in DPP 4 and ACR (in Photoshop or Lightroom) blog post here, the images above and below were created at Fort DeSoto on the late afternoon of Friday, October 20 with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. There, I posted, Which of today’s two featured images is the strongest? Please let us know why you made your choice. I feel that one of the images is far stronger than the other … Stay tuned.

Image #2: Great Egret sunset silhouette, looking back

Your Favorites

The first six folks who commented, Elinor Osborne, Jerry Fenwick, David Policansky, Barrett Pierce, Adam, and Jake Levin, were unanimous in choosing Image #1 as the stronger of the two images. Then Anthony Ardito posted this:

The first image is “classically” the better image, however I like #2, the the “looking back” image, as my favorite. Who knows why, it just appeals to me. Maybe I’ll try to explain … It’s more off center visually than the first because of the turned-back head, and the neck is very straight and parallel to the sides of the photograph. It’s just better for me. I don’t care about the crud in the water, in fact it kind of adds to the picture’s realism. Time out: after a few minutes I got my daughter to look to see which one she liked better, and she said the first. I asked why, and she said because the bird was in the path of the sun. Wow! am I an idiot? Why didn’t I see that first off!

My Clear Favorite

Don’t get me wrong, both of the featured images are very strong photographs, and I said in the original post, I did a much better job of cleaning up the foreground crud in the water in Image #1 than I did in Image #2. For me, the first is much too much of a cliché. The second image, with the head turned back and looking out of the frame is my clear favorite mainly because it is different. But as I have said here before, different is not enough. So why else do I prefer Image #2? With apologies to Anthony’s daughter, I like that the bird is slightly offset from the swath of sunlit water. And I love the tension created by the bird looking back out of the frame. For me it brings in an aura of mystery, why is that bird looking over there?

So, am I right and the six folks in the Image #1 fan club wrong? Not at all. As I said both are strong images and artistic preferences are strictly personal. Here, I am just sharing my thoughts.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

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Amazon Canada

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

1 comment to The Daily Work … And Bucking the Trend with my choice of a favorite Great Egret sunset silhouette.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Thanks for getting back to us on this. You know, it’s OK to make a cliched image if it’s better than anyone else’s cliched image. 🙂