Understanding Angle of Declination. Sitting Too Long … d-9 AF. And My Phoenix Physical Therapy. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Understanding Angle of Declination. Sitting Too Long ... d-9 AF. And My Phoenix Physical Therapy.


I fell asleep before 10:00pm and slept great till almost 4:00am. I woke with a dull pain in my injured left shoulder. I got some gel ice packs and tried hard to get back to sleep while reading Lee Child’s Trip Wire on my i-Phone 8+; I just love the Jack Reacher novels and read them over and over. A bit after five I fell back to sleep and did not get out of bed until until 7:15. All in all it was a great night’s sleep.

On Tuesday morning my range of motion has continued to increase. My big problem with now is with abduction — raising my straight left arm to the side. There is some serious impingement at about 40 degrees. So the big question right now is this: did I tear a rotator cuff muscle? Thanks again to all for the good wishes.

I was glad to learn that multiple IPT veteran John Dupps signed up for the 3 1/2 DAY Gatorland #2 IPT.

The Streak

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

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Patrick Sparkman saved $350 on a recent purchase!

The Nikon D850/D5 Focus Fine-tune Guide

I will be working on a Nikon D850/D5 Focus Fine-tune Guide soon as my shoulder continues to improve. 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 so that you can obtain accurate results. I learned recently that the Nikon D500 DSLR does offer Automatic AF Fine-tune.

Folks who use one of my links to purchase a Nikon D850, a Nikon D5 DSLR Camera (Body Only, Dual XQD Slots), a Nikon D500 DSLR , or any Nikon gear totaling more than $2,000 will receive the new guide free. I hope to have it finished in two weeks but don’t hold me to it 🙂

The Used Gear Page

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

Featured Item

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

BAA Record-Low, Shock-the-world priced

Greg Morris is offering a barely used EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens in mint to like-new condition with extras for the BAA record low price of $9394.00. The sale includes the LensCoat that has protected this lens since day one, a RRS stuff foot (installed), the original foot, the lens trunk, the original box and everything that came in it: front cover, rear cap, manuals, & the rest, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your personal of certified check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Greg via e-mail or by phone at 1-580-678-5929 (Central time).

WMD: Weapon of Mass Destruction!

The 600 II is the state of the art super-telephoto for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports. When I could get it to my location, it was my go-to weapon. It is fast and sharp and deadly alone or with either TC. With a new one going for $11,499, you can save a cool $2,005.00 by grabbing Walt’s might-as-well-be-new lens right now. artie

This image was created at the Gilbert Water Ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert Arizona on the morning of March 5, 2018. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III, and the 9fps mega mega-pixel Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering -1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB2 at 8:23am on a sunny morning.

One AF point below the center AF point/d-9 Shutter Button AF. The selected AF point was on the back of the duck’s neck where the dark green hood and the white hind neck meet, right on the same plane as the bird’s eye.

AF Focus peaking Fine-tune: -5.

Northern Shoveler drake

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Angle of Declination

The angle of declination, measured in degrees, reflects how much your lens is pointed down from parallel to the ground to the subject. If you are standing behind your tripod and photographing something at eye level, the angle of declination is zero degrees. If you are seated behind your tripod and working with a long focal length, your angle of declination might be as shallow as five degrees. If you are photographing a very tame bird while standing after walking right up to it your angle of declination would likely be in the vicinity of 45 degrees. If you are working with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and photographing your own toe, your angle of declination would be 90 degrees.

Once you start working with subject above you we are talking about your angle of inclination.


Sitting is a great way to get low and to reduce your angle of declination to the subject. Doing so will almost always provide a more intimate feel to your images than if you were standing at full height behind your tripod. Many folks do not realize that when you are standing using a long focal length that that will reduce your angle of declination as compared to standing and using a shorter focal length lens to assume the same subject size. Thus, using a very long focal length while seated offers lovely low perspectives. The only thing that beats that is getting flat down on the ground. At this point in my rehab, my physical therapist does not want me lying flat with my back in extension. That before I wrecked my shoulder 🙂

Dynamic 9 (d-9) at 1200mm

Dynamic 9 (d-9) AF is similar to Canon’s AF Surround, one selected point surrounded by eight other active points. Because the Nikon system as so many more AF points than the Canon system, the area covered by d-9 is much smaller than the area covered by Surround. With today’s featured image the AF system of the D850 performed superbly and enabled me to create a razor-sharp-on-the-eye image.

My Phoenix Physical Therapy

The shoveler image that opens this blog post was made during my second trip to Phoenix in two months for Postural Restoration physical therapy. My three main problems were bone-on-bone left knee pain, (primarily) right shoulder pain, and hip pain when sitting for extended periods. Before my first therapy visit in late February I was having lots of problems getting around and the pain/arthritis in my twice surgically repaired left knee was keeping me up at night. By the time I left Phoenix my knee pain was pretty much gone. But in spite of doing my exercises two to three times daily, I had several setbacks that involved knee pain. But the levels of the pain were nowhere near what they were. By my last visit on March 9, my knee felt great with almost no pain aside from an occasional twinge while doing the exercises that involve mild squatting. Amazingly, the extension in my left leg matched the extension in my right leg; for the first time in many decades I was able to straighten my left leg completely. And flexion with my left knee had increased dramatically from the first time it was measured and is now nearly equal to the flexion with the right knee. Until I smashed up my left shoulder the other day, both shoulders had been feeling great even when I was home and swimming every day. We are still working on the hip pain; getting up and moving around for a few minutes every half hour on long drives or plane flights is the key right now. But when that seat belt sign is on continuously I can get in trouble fairly quickly as I did on my recent PHX to MCO flight …

With what I consider to be the spectacular results of the therapy, I hope to be returning to Phoenix soon and often. In addition, I am 100% positive that the balloon breathing exercises will allow my injured left shoulder to heal as quickly as possible.

This image was created by Amy Novotny at the Gilbert Water Ranch Riparian Preserve in Gilbert. She used the hand held Apple i-Phone 7 plus: ISO 25. 1/120 sec. at f2.8.

Yours truly taking a break from sitting and blowing up a balloon; note that my feet are elevated and my knees together.

Sitting Too Long …

As noted above, when I sit too long, I still have some hip pain. So when I am on the ground and the photography is good, I will often whip out a balloon and get to work. The exercise above is called Supine Hooklying with IO/TA (but don’t ask me why!) A long as I can change position and blow up a balloon and/or stand up for a while every fifteen to thirty minutes, I am fine.

I will be sharing more of my Postural Restoration story here soon.

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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.

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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 :).

10 comments to Understanding Angle of Declination. Sitting Too Long … d-9 AF. And My Phoenix Physical Therapy.

  • Hey Arthur, I did not realize you were talking about literally blowing up balloons. I thought it was a name for some type of therapy. Nice frame of that shoveler drake.

  • avatar Adam

    Hey Artie, I hope you are feeling better. If you are having problems with Abduction, and your films were negative for a fracture that points to a rotator cuff tear (can’t tell you the degree without an exam/mri). Once the pain subsides a bit, start your PT to build up the secondary shoulder stabilizers. It’s a long road, my friend.

  • If you’re taking curcumin, have some solid black peppers along with it to maximize the benefits.

    Quoting from a website (only for convenience, I’ve verified this info from several places) –

    “Black pepper contains a compound, piperine, which inhibits the metabolic breakdown of turmeric compounds in the gut and the liver. This allows higher levels of turmeric compounds to remain in the body (i.e., it increases its bioavailability), which may increase the effects of turmeric. Keep in mind that this can also affect the breakdown of other compounds, including certain drugs”

    I take a combination of turmeric root + black peppers regularly and it does seem beneficial.

  • avatar Sarah Mayhew

    Very interesting PT technique. I’m in PT for my back and hip now. I looked at some videos online. I think I’ll ask my therapist if she has heard of these exercises and will try them myself! Much of my pain may be due to chronic Lyme, Bartonella and Babesia. Seeing a naturopathic doc now to try to detox and use the herbal protocols the Lyme gurus are using. Thanks for sharing Artie. Hope you continue to improve! Not being able to walk far, stand for any length of time and squat surely puts a crimp on bird photography!

  • Hi Artie

    You are always full of surprises this is why we are followers of your great blog. I would love to know more about the balloon therapy that you practice. When I am not firing on all cylinders I find running in the pool in the shallow end helps its not as good a swimming but its the next best thing. I too take supplements its called joint care, it has Glusosamine plus Omega 3 & Chondroitin I take it every day and I am good on it if send me your address in Florida I will send you box to try it for yourself. We need you fit and full life.

    Best and love


  • Hope you take some more rest and recover well….! How much is your upcoming published autofocus fine tune for D5+D850 when when will you have it ready to ship? I will need one.
    (I have ordered stuff from you previously)
    Thanks Art

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As soon as I get my replacement D5 I will get to work on the guide. It is complete in my head right now. I just need to get it on paper 🙂 Thanks for your prior purchases. I hope to see you on an IPT soon. with love, artie

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    Have you tried taking Tumeric Artie? Most of the arthritic pain in my knees, hands and feet has been drastically reduced since taking this a supplemet. I also recommended it to a couple of friends recently, who now swear by it!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. I am taking Curcumin. I think that it is either the same or quite similar.

      with love, artie

      ps: just checked — it is the same stuff 🙂

      • avatar Adam

        Curcumin is one of the natural phenols in Tumeric. Normally Tumeric contains between 1-5% curcumin and it also contains other phenols and components.