Watch the Breaking Waves … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Watch the Breaking Waves ...

What’s Up?

I’ve been getting lots of work done on my 2018 tax return. And swimming and exercising every day. I need to remember to send my SONY 100-400 in for repair on Monday … Yesterday, I spent more than an hour doing image critiques in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net. There is no better way to improve your nature photography than having your work critiqued by others and then returning the favor; you actually learn a ton and improve your skills by commenting on other folks’ images.

IPT Updates

  • The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Limit 6/Openings 5. Afternoon session on Friday, September 25 at 4pm, followed by three full days. We photograph till sunset on Monday, September 30
  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 5)

Couples, IPT veterans, and folks wishing to sign up with a friend or with a partner are asked to contact me via e-mail

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We have all but one of the BigFeet in stock (phone orders only for now: 863-692-0906) but are sold out of the new FLN-60 BigFoot that was recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.


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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 the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page

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. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is getting folks the hot new SONY stuff: the 200-600, the 600 f/4 GM, and the 7R iv. And the wait-list is short for the Nikon 500 P.

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 Fort DeSoto Park in the fall of 2018. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (at 700mm) and Nikon’s top pro body, the Nikon D5 DSLR with Dual XQD Slots. ISO: 800. Matrix metering plus about 2/3rd stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 in Manual was perfect. AWB at 4:20pm on a cloudy bright afternoon.

Center Group (grp) Continous AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the gull’s neck.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +6. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #1: Laughing Gull calling in the surf

Watch the Breaking Waves I

For bird photographers, “watch the breaking waves” has two meanings.

When you are photographing in the ocean, facing the shore, you literally need to watch out for the breaking waves. I can distinctly remember not doing so twice. Once was at La Jolla Shores Beach. We had several Whimbrels on rocks right in front of us. I was working with the Canon 600 II on a tripod. Even without the 1.4X III TC, I needed to back up to fit the subject in the frame. I was not paying attention and wound up getting smacked in the lower back by the largest wave in a set. I stumbled and almost went down; holding on to my tripod saved me.

The other time it happened could have been fatal. And I am not exaggerating. I was somewhere on South Georgia — Gold Harbor, I believe. I was photographing some giant petrels ripping apart a penguin carcass, hand holding the Canon 100-400 II. The penguin was being pulled away from the shore by the undertow. Though zoomed out to 100mm, I was still clipping birds so I kept backing up. Then I got smashed in the back by a very large wave. Miraculously, I was able to maintain my balance. So why might it have been fatal had I gone down? I was wearing waders. Without a safety belt that would prevent the waders from filling with water. Legendary striped bass fisherman Al Reinfelder drowned that exact manner while canoeing with his son. In addition, the water was about 33 degrees Fahrenheit …

If you’ve ever fished for stripers, you might enjoy the Martha’s Vineyard Magazine article here.

What About You?

If you have ever been unexpectedly smacked in the back by a large wave while photographing birds, please share your story with us by leaving a comment below. That goes for double if you have ever been knocked down!

This image, the third in a series of three, was also created at Fort DeSoto Park in the fall of 2018 with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (at 700mm) and Nikon’s top pro body, the Nikon D5 DSLR with Dual XQD Slots. ISO: 800. Matrix metering plus about 2/3rd stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 in Manual was perfect. AWB at 4:20pm on a cloudy bright afternoon.

Center Group (grp) Continous AF was active at the moment of exposure. With this one, the array was centered on the gull’s shoulder but because the bird was angled slightly toward us, the image is razor-sharp on the eye. With birds on the ground, I have — for the most part — gone to d-9 rather than Group. This one is a small crop from below and behind the bird.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +6. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #2: Laughing Gull screaming in breaking wave

Watch the Breaking Waves II

When you are photographing along the edge of any fairly large body of water, you can vastly improve the quality of your images by noticing the position of the breaking or cresting waves or wavelets. Failing to understand the importance of watching the breaking waves can be fatal to your images (but not to you). In Image #1 note that the cresting wave in the background is positioned nicely just above the gull and that there is a smaller wavelet just below the bird on the lower right. The bird is nicely framed. The worst-case scenario occurs when a wave is breaking or cresting through the bird’s head or body thus adding a very distracting element. When critiquing images in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net, I am a stickler when it comes to the position of a breaking or cresting wave, small or large. Many folks are simply not aware of the effect that the position of a breaking or cresting wave can have on their image. With practice, you can actually time the shutter release so that a breaking wave has a positive rather than a negative effect on the image design.

When a wave breaks right at the level of a bird’s feet, the. results can be quite pleasing as seen in Image #2. I remember seeing an image of a White Ibis in the surf from Fort DeSoto, where the bird is almost engulfed by a large breaking wave; it was a spectacular photograph. As always, it is important to remember that when something unexpected happens, the best course of action is to press the shutter button without thinking of changing anything.

Your Favorite?

Which of today’s two featured images do you feel is the strongest? Why?

The Size of the Bird in the Frame …

Do you prefer the smaller-in-the-frame subject in Image #1 or the larger-in-the-frame subject in Image #2? Why?

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Limit 6/Openings 5.

Afternoon session on Friday September 25 at 4pm. That followed by three full days. We photograph till sunset on Monday, September 30

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and Roseate Spoonbill. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two along with some American Oystercatchers. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for four years. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On the IPT you will learn:

  • 1- The basics and fine points of digital exposure; how to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure.
  • 2- How and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).
  • 3- How to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them.
  • 4- Lots about bird behavior and how to use that knowledge to help you create better images.
  • 5- To age and identify many species of shorebirds including sandpipers, plovers, dowitchers, and possibly yellowlegs.
  • 6- To spot good situations and to choose the best perspective.
  • 7- To see, evaluate, and understand the light.
  • 8- To design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
  • 9- And perhaps most importantly, to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography.
  • 10- How and when to access the magical sandbar safely.
  • 11- More than you could ever imagine.

Morning sessions will run at least three to 3 1/2 hours, afternoon sessions 2 1/2 to 3 hours. There is never a set schedule on an IPT — we adapt to the conditions. There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time. This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same general area (rather than at home or at a friend’s place a good distance away).

Folks attending this IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors; this is pretty much a staple on almost all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours. Doing so will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest and those who need to get home for a proper dinner. I really love it when I am leaving the beach at 9:30am on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving …

Payment in full is due now. Credit cards are OK for your $500 deposit. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand. If you leave a deposit you will receive an e-mail with your balance statement and instructions for sending your balance check. If you wish to pay in full right off the bat, you can make your check out to BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, and clothing and gear advice in mid-August. Please remember that we will meet early on Saturday morning. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.

IPT veterans and couples or friends signing up together are urged to e-mail for discount information.

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 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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9 comments to Watch the Breaking Waves …

  • It’s #2 for me too. Love that upraised foot in the breaking wave. It makes the bird’s calling seem more dramatic.

  • Hey Arthur, Must have been pretty bored to spend an hour on BPN :). Image #2 is stronger. The breaking wave makes it. The bird is also not as tight on the left. The frame seems more balanced with the bird larger.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Not bored at all. I enjoy looking at images and love doing meaningful critiques and helping others get better.

      with love, artie

  • Matt

    #2, to me, is the stronger image. The well-placed wave creates much more interest with it’s kinetics. Ditto the bird’s raised leg/foot and the calling. Also, the slightly more raised/stiffened posture of the bird indicates an intent that is much more compelling.

  • Ted Willcox

    I like image #2 and the reason is the breaking wave it adds another interesting element to the image without taking away from the Gull, the main subject. There is not enough difference in the larger or smaller in-the-frame for me to make a choice!

  • Jeff Wilkie

    I prefer the second image. My attention is to the bird and its detail so the larger the bird in the frame the better. I also really like the wave because it’s unusual and adds interest. To my view, seeing more wave and less bird would not enhance the image.

  • David Policansky

    Artie: If I had a nickel for every wade-angler I’ve told to use a wading belt, I’d be able to afford to switch to Nikon. 🙂 I never have been hit by a wave from behind but I did get knocked down by a wave from in front of me when fly fishing in the surf in California a couple years ago. My wading belt was tight and I took on only a few trickles of water, enough to be uncomfortable but no hindrance at all to my ability to get up and out of the water.

    I much prefer the second of today’s images. The breaking wave, properly framed, really gives the image life and action, and the bird’s raised foot just adds to the drama. Terrific image, well done.

    Like you, I try to use breaking waves to advantage in my photographs, but perhaps unlike you I too often focus only on the bird and forget about the waves until I’m reviewing my images.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, David. But fishing doesn’t count 🙂 And yes, it is easy to miss the waves when looking at a gorgeous bird.

      with love, a

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