Dogged Persistence. And the Creature from the Lake. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Dogged Persistence. And the Creature from the Lake.


Went down to the lake early on Monday morning and got lucky. Was at the gate for my flight to Phoenix by 3:45pm. Fly safe ๐Ÿ™‚ I will try to get back to all the folks who e-mail re: my PHX trip in the next day or two.

The Streak

Today makes two hundred eleven days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 50 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 โ€ฆ Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.

New Listings

Action on the Used Gear Page recently has been fantastic. You can see all current listings on the Used Photo Gear page here.


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 the morning of Thursday, February 26, 2018 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. I used the BLUBB-supported Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering -1/3 stop as framed: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3. AWB (AUOT2) at 7:29am on a clear morning some sweet light.

d-9 upper slightly left shutter Button AF with the selected AF point on the side of the base of the neck, pretty much on the same plane as the bird’s eye.

Focus Peaking micro-adjustment: +4. (See the Focus Nikon Focus Fine-tune Guide item below). Click on the image to see a larger version.

Great Blue heron with prey item


After photographing twice a day for about ten straight days at Gatorland and on the spoonbill boat I went out Sunday evening but there was not much going on. And though I had not started packing for my Monday afternoon flight to PHX, I went down to the lake on Monday morning. (I found a third Sandhill Crane nest so things are looking great for the two Master Classes; lots of room on each so see the details below.) Then bingo, the GBH in today’s featured image whacked a big something for breakfast. It stabbed it and dropped it and stabbed it again and again.The image above was created about a minute before the heron swallowed the big, slimy creature. I kept 18 frames from a long sequence.

I was so nervous at first that I was way over-exposed and each time that I adjusted the sun got brighter. I finally got where I needed to be but it was not easy. In part I was fooled by the left over +2 stops EC setting from Monday night …

The Creature

The prey item above is surely some sort of large salamander though I am not exactly sure which species. Common Mudpuppy does not occur in the South. And the Alabama type occurs only in the Panhandle. Is this in fact a mudpuppy? Further surfing on the web revealed that it might be an Eastern Lesser Siren; they grow as big as 26 inches. If you know for sure, please leave a comment.

Early Spring Photo Opportunities at ILE

BIRDS AS ART first-ever Master Classes

Master Class Session 1. Two Full and two Half Days/Friday afternoon, March 16 through lunch on Monday, March 19, 2018: course fee: $1,999. Limit: 4/openings:3

Master Class Session 2. Two Full and two Half Days/Friday afternoon, March 30 through lunch on Monday, April 2, 2018. Limit: 4/openings:3

The Master Classes will be small groups โ€” strictly limited to four photographers โ€” with the first folks who register having the option of staying at my home ($50/night) or at a chain motel in nearby Lake Wales. Live, think, and breathe photography from Friday afternoon through lunch on Monday (late-morning); all meals included. There will be three afternoon photo sessions (FRI – SUN) hopefully with glorious sunsets like the ones you saw one the blog in December we should have good opportunities with the cranes even in the afternoon. We will enjoy three morning photography sessions (SAT – MON) with the main subjects being tame Sandhill Cranes almost surely with chicks or colts. Also vultures and Cattle Egrets and more. Limpkins are possible. Intermediate telephoto lenses are fine for the cranes, even the chicks at times. A 500 or 600mm lens would be best for many of the situations that we will encounter.

During the day we will sit together around my dining room table and pick everyoneโ€™s keepers and enjoy guided Photoshop sessions. On Monday before lunch, folks can make a single large print of their favorite image from the weekend. If you so choose, I will micro-adjust one of your lenses (at one focal length with your #1 camera body–Canon or Nikon) during a group instructional session. All will be welcome to practice what they have learned during the breaks using my set-up and my lighting gear.

To register, please first shoot me an e-mail to check on availability. Then you will be instructed to call Jim or Jen at 863-692-0906 during weekday business hours (except for Friday afternoons) to leave you non-refundable (unless the session sells out) $500 deposit. Only the deposit may be left on credit card. Balances must be paid by check immediately after you register (unless you wish to pay by credit card plus 4% to cover our fees).

I hope that you can join me on this new adventure.

with love, artie

ps: bring your bathing suit if you would like to try my pool!

The Nikon D850/D5 Focus Fine-tune Guide

I hope to be working on a Nikon D850/D5 Focus Fine-tune Guide while I am in Phoenix. There is lots of mis-information out there on Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune. Working with Patrick Sparkman, we perfected a method of using the Focus Peaking feature available only on the D850 to quickly and accurately micro-adjust all of your lenses and TC-Es with your D-850. Both Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune and D850 Focus Peaking AF Fine-tune require a LensAlign Mark II kit. If you know for sure whether the very popular Nikon D500 DSLR Camera (Body Only) (or any other of the newer Nikon dSLRs) offer Automatic AF Fine-tune.

Folks who purchase a Nikon D850, a Nikon D5 DSLR Camera (Body Only, Dual XQD Slots), or any Nikon gear totaling more than $2,000 will receive the new guide free. I hope to have it finished in three weeks but don’t hold me to it ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 :).

20 comments to Dogged Persistence. And the Creature from the Lake.

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    “I was so nervous at first” That’s the best part of nature photography! Adrenaline rush! That’s why we keep doing it!

  • avatar Poojan Gohil

    Amazing moment… have seen Purple Herons in India eating other birds too ( crakes, etc) in addition to frogs and fish.

  • avatar Dieter Schaefer

    D500 definitely has Auto AF fine-tuning and to the best of my knowledge, so does the D7500:

  • Hey Arthur, Cool frame here. Like everything about it the bird,grasses,water and of course the creature. Have fun out there.

  • avatar Tom McKnight

    Agree on the Greater Siren. Ugly critter and GBH’s love them. I recently watched a GBH stab one several times and then upon picking it up to swallow it, the Siren bit the GBH in the face. The GBH really flipped its head to get rid of it. Further research shows Siren’s have a set of nasty teeth and will use them.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Wow, Artie, what a creature the GBH has. As you know, GBHs will eat almost anything. Terrific image.

    Interesting comments on the D500 versus the 7D2. I wonder what the 7D3 will look like when and if it appears. For my purposes, these cameras are so good now that it is hard to imagine how they can get significantly better.

  • Hi Artie

    Even I could not sell that one its horrible , and I do have a velvet tonge for selling images.

    Best and love


  • avatar Anthony Sakal

    BTW, did the heron ultimately eat the salamander?

    • avatar David Policansky

      Anthony Sakal: This is what Artie wrote above, under the heading “Persistence”: “Then bingo, the GBH in todayโ€™s featured image whacked a big something for breakfast. It stabbed it and dropped it and stabbed it again and again.The image above was created about a minute before the heron swallowed the big, slimy creature.”

  • At first glance, I thought it was a GBH, eating a frog that was being eaten by a snake ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • avatar Ed

    Looks like a greater Siren, one weird-looking amphibian. GBH catch them often at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. BTW, the D500 has AF fine-tune. To my knowledge, it’s the same as the D5’s.

    • avatar Anthony Sakal

      The D500 is quite the adversary of the Canon 7D Mark II. It focuses better for flight shots and the pictures are a little cleaner but what is disturbing is the ergonomics. The Canon does a lot more, when it comes to menu items, with minimal input plus it retains specific programming that is available with a mere turn of the dial. Let’s see what the Mark III does to deal with Nikon’s focusing superiority. And let’s see what Nikon does to deal with Canon’s ergonomic superiority.

  • avatar Anthony Sakal

    If it has more than two pectoral toes it is a Greater Siren. Seems to me, from the picture, that there are more than two.

  • avatar John Patton

    Looks like a Greater Siren. Have photographed many GBH with them at Viera Wetlands.

  • Hi Artie,
    Noel beat me to the identification, it’s the greater siren.
    Great photo! I dig the composition, visual story, and the light.
    Are there more images? I’d like to show the “preparing” & swallowing sequence to my students.

  • avatar Noel Heustis

    Artie, I’m pretty sure based on the size and where you found it, it’s a Greater Siren (Siren Lacertina) which are found all throughout Florida. The lesser sirens are found mostly in north Florida. During February and March, the sirens congregate in shallow water to breed. I’ve seen herons catch them at Circle B. They’re pretty crazy looking salamanders.