Lots More on San Diego Bird Photography. And Yet Another Used Old 500mm, this one in near-mint condition. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Lots More on San Diego Bird Photography. And Yet Another Used Old 500mm, this one in near-mint condition.


On Saturday it was rainy and chilly. I worked on several images and blog posts, drove around ILE looking for perches — I found one nice one, and, late in the day, swam 3/4 easy miles. The pool was 81 degrees, the air temperature was an even 50 degrees.

Right now it looks as if only two folks are signed up for San Diego #2; San Diego #1 has been sold out for some time. IPT #2 represents an amazing opportunity to enjoy some great bird photography with the spectacular breeding plumage Pacific race of Brown Pelican and to learn from possibly the finest bird photography teacher to ever walk on the planet (he said with all modesty …) This IPT is the first to offer a free morning session the day before the IPT starts. I hope that you can join me.


If you have sent me a FB friends request that has gone unrequited, it is because I am up to the 5,000 limit on my personal FB page. You are invited to click here and then Like and Follow the identical content. 🙂

The Streak

Today makes one hundred thirty-five days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about an hour to prepare. 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. Those might include system, camera body, accessory, and lens choices and decisions.

New Used Gear Listing

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens (the “old five”) with extras

Rowland Jackson is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM super telephoto Lens (the “old five”) in near-mint condition for a fabulously low $3799. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the leather front lens cover, the lens trunk, the lens strap, a Canon drop-in polarizer (a $179 value), a Wimberley P-50 lens plate (a $55 value) and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. The lens will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Rowland via e-mail or by phone at 1-254-709-1770 (Central time).

The 500mm f/4 lenses have been the world’s most popular telephoto lenses for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. I owned and used and loved my “old five” for many years. If you don’t have the cash for the 500 II and can handle the additional 1 1/2 pounds, then this is your best super-telephoto option. Most everyone can produce sharp images with this lens and the 1.4X III TC. Folks with good to excellent sharpness techniques can do the same with the 2X III TC. With the new 500 II selling for $8,999 you can save a neat $5200 by grabbing Rowland’s lens in truly superb condition (plus the extras!) … artie

The Gear I Used to Create Today’s Featured Image

Add the Fujifilm XF 2x TC WR teleconverter to the stuff below and with the 1.5X crop factor of the XT-2 you will be the owner of a fairly light, definitely hand holdable rig with effective focal lengths of from 150 to 1200mm. A new world is coming.

Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Joel Williams is offering a Fujifilm X-T2 camera in near-mint condition for only $1099. Included in the sale are the Metal Hand Grip for the X-T2 (a $109 value), two extra Fujifilm batteries (both items also in near-mint condition), the original boxes and everything that came in them, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. The items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Joel via e-mail.

The XT-2 is currently Fuji’s flagship digital camera body. I had a chance to test this camera for about six weeks and enjoyed its small size and light weight a ton. I made more than a few excellent images with my Fujifilm gear. If you click on Postlist 2017 on the orange/yellow menu bar and do a page search for XT-2 you can find nearly a dozen blog posts featuring images from this great little camera body. In addition to being decent for birds, nature, and wildlife the Fuji gear (including many of the lenses listed below) will make a superb travel/landscape rig. artie

Fuji X-T2 VPB Vertical Power Booster Grip

Joel Williams is also offering a Fuji X-T2 VPB Vertical Power Booster Grip in near-mint condition for $189. Learn more here. This item sells new for $329. The price includes insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. The items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Joel via e-mail.

This grip holds two batteries for a total of three at the same time. I used and enjoyed it with my XT-2. artie

Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens

Joel Williams is also offering a Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens in like-new condition for $1199. The sale includes the original box and everything that in it along with and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. The lens will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Fujifilm XF 1.4x TC WR Teleconverter

Joel Williams is also offering a Fujifilm XF 1.4x TC WR teleconverter in like-new condition for only $299. The sale includes the original box and everything that came in it and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. The lens will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Joel via e-mail.

Extend the reach of your XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR and XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lenses with the XF 1.4x TC WR Teleconverter from Fujifilm. The X mount converter magnifies the image by 1.4x and retains full communication between the lens and body, enabling metering, autofocus, and image stabilization as well as the transmission of EXIF data. Additionally, the teleconverter is designed to maintain the weather resistance of the entire Fujifilm system with a sealed construction that reduces the chances of dust, water, or even the cold from affecting performance. This item sells new for $449. B&H

ACR Screen Capture

The ACR Conversion

I used ACR to convert my Fujifilm RAF files. Click on the screen capture above to see a larger version. Check out the perfect histogram and the various sliders. Do note that ACR conversions (along with hundreds of other important post processing topics) are covered in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the hand held the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens, the Fujifilm XF 1.4x TC WR teleconverter (at 560mm), and the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera equipped with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/10.1 in Manual mode. AWB.

Shutter Button Continuous Autofocus. Additional AF information is unavailable.

Black-bellied Plover posing

Black-bellied Plover posing

There are several locations in La Jolla where you can find and photograph a variety of shorebirds. Black-bellied Plovers is relatively common and easy. The same can be said of Willet, Black and Ruddy Turnstones, Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpipers, and Sanderling. Less common though often photographed include Black Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Surfbird, and Wandering Tattler. The how-lucky-can-you-get? category includes American Oystercatcher and Long-billed Curlew.

In the same habitats you will find a variety of gulls and terns including Western, Heerman’s California, and Ring-billed Gulls, and Royal, Forster’s and rarely, Elegant Terns. Join me in San Diego and learn how to get close to and make great images of shorebirds and gulls. We usually enjoy lots of flight photography with the gulls. And I forgot to mention that Mew Gull is possible.

What I Was Thinking …

Note that I waited for the perfect head angle to coincide with a very good breaking wave position and you will understand what I was thinking. Though I could have gotten lower that would have introduced more white from the breaking waves so I opted to stand in The Crevice at nearly full height when creating today’s featured image.

Lens Note

If I could be in San Diego with only one super telephoto lens I would pick either the old or the new 500 over the old or the new 600 as the pelicans are too close for the 600s and getting into position on the cliffs is much easier with the smaller, lighter 500s than with the huge, heavy 600s.

The San Diego Site Guide (in PDF format delivered via e-mail)

The Site Guides are the closest thing to joining an IPT that you can experience without actually joining me. And they cost only fifty bucks, a lot less than an IPT! I share everything that I know about the five killer photography spots within 20 minutes of downtown San Diego. Learn where and how and when to photograph the amazing California race of Brown Pelican; Marbled Godwits against bright buff backgrounds; Wood Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and Ring-necked Duck at point blank range; and a variety of stunning gulls (including Heerman’s, Western, and California) both perched and in flight. You will learn where to go on what wind and what tides are best for each coastal location. As usual, I have held nothing back. Both the Fort DeSoto and Bosque Site Guides have received nothing but praise from the more than 500 photographers who were able to visit these sites for the first time as if they had been photographing them for a decade.

The San Diego Site Guide (8936 words, 38 color photographs) will prove most useful to folks visiting in the colder months, but many of the locations are productive in other seasons as well, especially spring. Note: The Brown Pelicans, which are the big attraction in San Diego, have their bright red bill pouches only in winter, so this guide–though useful at other times of year–is most valuable to those visiting at that season.

Amazing 5D Mark IV Sale!

5D Mark IV Still on Sale!

Right now you can purchase a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with the BG-E20 Battery Grip for the crazy low price of $3199. I am not sure how long this Black Friday sale will last …

Blog regular Bill Hill was so excited when he read of this sale that he forgot to use my affiliate link. 🙂 He wrote, “I still think the 5D Mark IV sale is is too good to be true. I will believe it when it arrives. Thanks for the heads up.

Note: Bill went for the one with the free battery grip and the free Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer.

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 3 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT #2: Sunday, JAN 28 thru and including the morning session on Wednesday, JAN 31, 2018 and a free morning session the day before the IPT starts: 3 1/2 days (+1/2!): $1699. Limit: 8: Openings: 7.

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Saturday, Jan 27, 2018.

San Diego IPT #2: Shorter and Less Expensive!

Please remember: I go with one.

Join me in San Diego near the end of January to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include four 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, three 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, three lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance is payable only by check. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


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 Lots More on San Diego Bird Photography. And Yet Another Used Old 500mm, this one in near-mint condition.

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie,
    Fuji just upgraded the AF focussing speed on the XT2 via a firmware upgrade. Its nice to have lighter gear. My next trip includes several internal flights where we are restricted to just 20kg total with 7 kg carry on. Thats about 44 lb I think..
    Right now I have Canon in my right hand a fuji in my left.