Morning Flight Silhouette Thinking and Exposure Math Quiz (and Primer) « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Morning Flight Silhouette Thinking and Exposure Math Quiz (and Primer)


We got to the limestone cliffs early and had some great flight action for the first 45 minutes. With the clear blue skies we decided to try for the West Indian Whistling Ducks but they were too far away. So we called it a morning and I decided to go with our guide for a short snorkel at Radar Reef. The Reef Squid were amazingly beautiful and almost surreal with their fluorescent color and strange shape. It was sunny and clear with blue skies so we did not head out until 4:30. Just as we arrived the large chick got fed by daddy. Our best action came when the sun ducked behind the hills to the west. I finally got some nice head portraits of Big Chick. Right after that I discovered a second large chick and several nests in an adjacent field.

Once again, big time thanks to Peter Kes who added a Nikon Lens chart under the Lens Chart tab above.

It’s not too late to join me for one of the spoonbill IPTs; both are now almost full. Please e-mail if you would like to learn about the late registration discount.

Yesterday’s Blog Post

In the A Comparison of the Canon 100-400 II L IS Lens and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens blog post here yesterday, many folks took the time to leave helpful comments.

Below is my generic reply.

Thanks all for the insightful comments. Two folks suggested that the first image is sharper. I believe that the bird’s left eye in Image #2 is as sharp as the two eyes in Image #1 but that the Nazca’s left eye is not as sharp as its right eye. That, however, has nothing to do with the sharpness of the lens; it is a depth of field issue.

#1: Wide open with the 1-4 II is f/5.6. So f/13 is stopped down 2 full and one third stop (2 2/3 stops). With the 2-4/TCE-14III wide open is f/8 and f/10 is stopped down only two thirds of a single stop (2/3).

#2: In image #1 both eyes were on the exact same plane.

There are lots of Nikon lenses that I might add to my kit. Right now those include the new version of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens, one of the 70-200 lenses, a macro lens, and possibly the small, light, super-versatile Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens. Thanks for all the suggestions. And yes, comparing the 80-400 VR with the Canon 100-400 II would have been a more apt comparison.

with love, artie

The Streak

Today makes one hundred ninety-six days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 90 minutes 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 and my continuing insanity willing. I was glad to learn that Gary Meyer sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens in near-mint condition along with a pair of like-new Series III TCs for the (unbelievable) record low BAA price of $3458.00.


Several folks on the Spoonbill IPTs used the Booking.Com link below and got great rates and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. 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 questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on our second morning on Cayman Brac with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 500mm) with the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering -1.3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/22 in S (Shutter priority mode, Tv in Canon). K7690 at 7:18am after a foggy/cloudy sunrise.

Center Group (grp) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. AF micro-adjustment: -1.

Brown Booby wheeling in flight with nesting material; silhouette.

Shoulda Beens …

I shoulda been at least down to ISO 200. I shoulda been up to at least 1/2000 sec. Why? Because winding up at f/22 was a waste (that might have caused diffraction, whatever that is …)

Exposure Math Quiz (and Primer)

Here is an exposure math quiz for you: if I had been at ISO 200 at 1/4000 sec. what would the resulting aperture have been?

If you are having trouble with the math above, grab your camera, make sure it is set up in third-stop increments (as it should be), dial in the original settings, and then count the clicks 🙂 Three clicks equals one stop. One click equals 1/3 stop. This is a skill that all photographers need to master so the more you practice counting clicks the more proficient you will become. Aperture and shutter speed are the obvious ones but do not forget that ISO is an equal partner in the exposure triangle.

Seeing the Situation

We have been photographing birds in flight over the unseen promontory just below the bird in today’s featured image from the opposite side every morning, with the sun almost behind us and the wind as always, somewhere from out of the east, and somewhat behind us. But with the pre-dawn color I realized there was a chance for a nice silhouette image if a bird banked and turned while attempting to land … Voila; it worked!

Or Did It?

Do you think that the bird in today’s featured image is facing the lens or facing away?

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

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

19 comments to Morning Flight Silhouette Thinking and Exposure Math Quiz (and Primer)

  • I’m thinking the bird’s body is facing the camera, but the face of the bird is turned away because you can see the bump by the eye. If facing the camera that bump would not be seen.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Your comment is confusing to me 🙂 Facing the camera or facing away?

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    If the wind was out of the east, and you were shooting into the pre-dawn color, that is toward the east, then most likely the bird was facing away from you, into the wind. Getting ready to land on that unseen promontory.

  • I think the bird is facing you based on the legs.

    I was looking at your camera setting and I have the below question
    Can you let me know why you choose Matrix metering -1.3 stops ?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The sky was very bright. Even at -1.3 the RED channel was blown. I never worry about that.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Peake

    F8, and I think the bird has banked into the wind and is about to drop onto the ground facing the camera. No doubt a tricky manoeuvre.

  • avatar Jeff Friedhoffer

    Aperture. The answer is f8
    1. Reduce ISO to 200, need to open 1 stop f16
    2. Increase speed to 4000, need to open two more stops f8

    Bird is facing the camera, the front of the foot is the broad part and cannot image how this could be from the back.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    You can see from the feet that the subject is facing away from the viewer.

  • avatar Poojan Gohil

    f/8 and bird facing towards the lens mainly because the feet appear to be aligned towards our direction.

  • avatar Nhut Nguyen (Nate)

    Hello Artie,

    Thank you for sending me the AF Guide for Birds In Flight. I’m currently using a 1D X, your guide only mentions the 1D X II and the 5D IV. Does the guide also apply for older Canon DSLRs like the 1D X and 5D III?

    Thank you,

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Nhut/Nate,

      If you camera has the AF Custom Cases and Surround AF (with eight assist points) then all is well.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Guido Bee

    I’m going with F/8; same logic as the others.
    As far as direction, I’d go with the bird coming toward you, not because of what I see in the image but because you said you had the sun behind you at 0718 with the wind also behind you. I cannot tell from looking at the image which way he’s going, and since he is turning, it’s a toss-up.
    All the best with the new system and thanks for the blogs.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You misread … I wrote this: We have been photographing birds in flight over the unseen promontory just below the bird in today’s featured image from the opposite side every morning, with the sun almost behind us and the wind as always, somewhere from out of the east, and somewhat behind us.

      So the wind was behind us when we were on the opposite side … So when shooting silhouettes it was in our face. Sorry to have confused you.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky


  • avatar Barry Ekstrand

    I agree with Ned – going from ISO 400 to 200 is reducing light by one stop, and going from a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec to 1/4000 sec is reducing light by two stops, so the total reduction is 3 stops. To offset that the aperture has to increase light by 3 stops, so from f22 to f8 is three stops (to be clear the whole-stop steps are f22 to f16 to f11 to f8). Good exercise!

    I think the subject is facing you based on the shape of the feet.

  • I’ll say the bird is facing the lens…simply cause I can’t remember
    an image of yours facing away like that.


  • avatar Noel Heustis

    Artie, I’ll play…if I’m wrong, I get to learn…if I’m right, I get to learn.
    1) Ok starting with the original settings: ISO 400, 1/1000 ss, and ƒ/22. Setting the ISO to 200 gets me 3 clicks or 1 full stop “darker”. Setting the Shutter Speed to 1/4000 from 1/1000 gets me 6 clicks or 2 full stops “darker” still. This leaves me with 9 clicks or 3 full stops to compensate for with the aperture bringing me from ƒ/22 to ƒ/8.

    2) I would have thought the subject was facing the lens until you asked…now I think it looks like it is facing away…it looks like the tail feathers are in front of the right wing.