Upside-down Red Kite: My Finest Image in Quite Some Time? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Upside-down Red Kite: My Finest Image in Quite Some Time?


Despite the fact that the UK is in the midst of a virtually unprecedented period of clear blue skies day after day, things have been going great on the UK pre-trip. Summers in the UK are usually cloudy and misty, perfect for seabird photography … Each day we have figured out something new about Bempton Cliffs: where to be on what light on what wind. Thanks to BPN-friend Mike Poole — more on him in a blog post soon — for sharing the Red Kite spot at Harewood with the group on Thursday past; everyone had a blast.


If you missed the PHOTOEXPO 2018 announcement and live anywhere within driving or flying distance of Memphis, TN, click here for the info. I am still looking for a ride to Beale Street!


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Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Recent Sales

Randall Ennis sold his Canon EOS-1D Mark IV in excellent condition for $849.00 in late June.
Joel Williams sold his Sony Vario-Tessar T FE 16-35 f/4 ZA OSS lens in like-new condition for $629 (was $749) in late June, 2018.
Joel Williams also sold his Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR lens in like-new condition for $749 (was $949) in April 2018.
Pierre Williot sold his Canon EOS 7D Mark II in like-new condition for a very fair $848.00 in late June, 2018.
Top BAA used gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens in like-new condition for the BAA record low price of $1349.00 the first day it was listed in late June.
Jim Keener sold a Canon EOS 5D Mark III body in excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $999.00 (was $1149.00) in mid-June.
Jim Keener sold a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for the BAA record low price of $1099.00 in Early June.
Steve Traudt sold an Xtrahand Vest, the Khumbu model, size XL, in very good condition for the BAA record-low price of $179.
Jim Brennan sold a used Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens in good condition for $249.00 in late May.
Larry Padgett sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III body in excellent condition for $1160 soon after it was listed in late May.
Charlie Curry sold his Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens in mint condition for a BAA record-low price of $750.00 on the first day of listing in late May, 2018

Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens

Ray Maynard is offering a Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS lens (the original version) in near-mint condition for the BIRDS AS ART record-low price of $2349.00. The sale includes the lens trunk, the front leather cover, the rear lens cap, the lens strap, and insured shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your lens will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ray via e-mail or by phone at 1-731-300-4141 (after noon/Central time).

The older version of the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS is a super-sharp lens that is great for hand held flight and action photography and great as well with both teleconverters for portraits and for flight. It has long been the favorite focal length of the world’s best hawk photographers. Ray’s near-mint package is priced to sell immediately. artie

Canon EF 2X III Teleconverter

Ray Maynard is also offering a Canon 2X III teleconverter in near-mint condition for $329.00. The sale includes the front and rear lens caps, the pouch, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ray via e-mail or by phone at 1-731-300-4141 (after noon/Central time).

As folks know, when I used Canon, I used the 2X teleconverter on about 40% of the images that I made with f/4 super-telephoto lenses. artie

Ten Nikon D850s and a Nikkor AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR Lens! Available Right Now!

Contact Steve below to get your D850 tomorrow. Or e-mail Steve about a special del on the big Nikon zoom lens that is especially great for a trip to Africa or the Galapagos.

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!


Several folks on the DeSoto IPT used the Booking.Com link below for there Edinburgh hotels, 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 photographers 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 at Harewood, UK with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 195mm) and my main Nikon D850. ISO 1000. Matrix metering +1 stop as framed: 1/3200 sec. at f/6.3 was a bit hot. NATURAL AUTO WB at 4:52pm on a clear afternoon.

Center Group (grp)/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon)/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure; this is just a small crop from below and from the left. The bird’s face was centered between the upper and right-most points of the array. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: zero. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Red Kite in upside down dive

Red Kites in the UK

Red Kite was extirpated (extinct in a given area) in England by the 1870s, in Scotland in 1886, and in Ireland by the middle of the 19th century as well. The population in Wales was down to only two breeding pairs in the early 1930s. In the mid-15th century, King James II of Scotland decreed that they should be “killed wherever possible”, but they remained protected in England and Wales for the next 100 years as they kept the streets free of carrion and rotting food. But populations declined precipitously due to persecution, poisoning and de-forestation. Re-introduction programs have been very successful aided in part by various feeding programs, the most notable at Gingrin Farms, Wales. Learn more about Red Kite in the Wikipedia article here.

Upside-down Red Kite: My Finest Image in Quite Some Time?

When we arrived at the feeding site, the sky was filled with kites; a group of non-photographers had arrived an hour before to picnic and had brought some meat along for the kites. Bummer, as the birds were a bit sated. We put good sized pieces of chicken — 75 pound Sterling-worth, on the top of the garage next to the cafe. There were almost always kites circling above us so we started by concentrating on backlit images of the birds from below. Groups of five to eight birds would circle lower and lower. Then all hell would break loose. One bird — we never knew which one of course, would dive for a piece of chicken, and would be rapidly followed by four five, or six more. Exposure was a nearly impossible puzzle as we had wind against bright sun. But the biggest problem was trying to figure out which bird would dive. At this point, I figured that I would be lucky to make one decent frame with a sharp subject. As the hours wore on the light got nicer but we still struggled with exposure as the birds wheeled and twisted and dove for the chicken.

Multiple IPT veteran Anita North suggested that we cut the chicken into small pieces. See we did. Anita and Fern Chan, the wife of first-timer Bun Chan, volunteered to cut the chicken parts smaller and toss them onto the roof. The small pieces were a bit more difficult for the birds to pick up and when the missed, they would fly up, turn around, and dive toward us and toward the light. At that point we at least had a chance but it was still difficult photography. Multiple IPT veteran Paul Reinstein wound up with 40 great images by zooming out fairly wide and then cropping. I went for the gusto and was both shocked and thrilled when I saw today’s featured image on the back of my camera and then again on my laptop. I think that I will end up with about five keepers. Everyone got a least a few good ones in what was an incredibly difficult situation. And all were thrilled to see these raptors wheeling and dealing at close range.

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16 comments to Upside-down Red Kite: My Finest Image in Quite Some Time?

  • avatar Michel Treacher

    Artie, the trick with photographing red kites at a feeding station is to wait. As you say, when they start feeding it’s almost impossible to follow individual kites as they swoop down, such is the frenzy. However when the food is virtually gone and with it the majority of spectators everything settles down and the kites although fewer still come down and getting pictures is so much easier as you can pick a kite and follow it down. It works every time at the feeding stations.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks to all for their kind comments, with love, artie

  • There’s also a feeding station at Bwlch Nant-yr-arian about ten miles east of Aberystwyth in mid-Wales. The kites there are learning to fish little bits of meat from the surface of the lake. Before long they will be feeding like ospreys!

  • avatar Perry Price

    Beautiful Photograph

  • avatar Rich Steel

    Hi Artie

    You dealt should put Gigrin on your list of ‘UK things to do’. It is a great experience and an amazing spectacle. Best time for a visit is usually in the autumn when the light is softer, you get some autumn hues in backgrounds and the birds are looking their best with fresh new feathers.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Was there twice with film. Both times it was so foggy that I could not see my hand in front of my face .

      with love, artie

  • Hi Artie

    The Red Kite is my favourite Raptor, your Image is a money shot if ever I have seen one.

    I go a long way back with this beautiful bird, 30 years ago I used to go and see at a nest site

    in a wood at Cwmystwth Central Wales, they where that rare they where guarded by the

    army 24 hours till the chicks where fleged, now they a common site all over the UK due to

    good caring people who made it happen

    Best and love

    Ken Lewis


  • avatar Adam

    Great image Artie! Did you think about adding a bit of wing tip blur to convey some motion? Just a thought.

  • avatar Mark Jordan

    Great shot!!

  • avatar Kerry Morris


  • Hi Artie, fantastic image! I have photographed red kite feeding frenzies at Gigrin Farm, with very little success, and appreciate just how hard it is.

  • avatar Mike Collard

    If anybody is visiting the UK you will also find a big number of Red Kites in Buckinghamshire as well as adjacent counties; the other re-introduction programme was in C Bucks. so plenty of scope for photographing these raptors in the Chiltern Hills