More on the Nikon 500 PF with the TC-E14. And Two Cloudy Day Grab-shots Turn Out OK … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

More on the Nikon 500 PF with the TC-E14. And Two Cloudy Day Grab-shots Turn Out OK ...

What’s Up?

I’m waiting for Chip to send me my final tax return for approval, working on the new galleries, and setting up the SONY a7r iv that I borrowed from B&H … Still doing my fitness routines every day. The pool has cooled down about 3 degrees as fall is arriving slowly down here. I am glad for that.

IPT News!

I learned two weeks ago that Mary van Deusen and her friend Patti Romano will be driving down from South Carolina to join UK Puffins and Gannets veteran Shonagh Adelman on the 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT at the end of this month. Then things got even better when DeSoto IPT veteran Jim Miller e-mailed letting me know that he would also be joining us. Everyone is excited. There are still two spots left on this great workshop, but you’ll need to act quickly. Please e-mail for late-registration discount info.

IPT Updates

  • The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Free Morning Session on Tuesday, October 1. Limit 6/Openings 2. 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)

FlexShooter Pro News

All FlexShooter Pro BigFeet are now in stock in the BAA Online Store. You can click on the chart above or here for more information.

Coming Soon

The FlexShooter Mini

Several months ago I had a FlexShooter Mini to test on both the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT and the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime. It is a smaller, lighter (one pound!) version of the amazing FlexShooter Pro. I used it often with both the Nikon 500 PF and the SONY 100-400 GM with great success and in a pinch, I was able to make sharper images with the Nikon 600 and the TC-E14. All with the Mini mounted on the lighter Induro GIT 204. I suggested to developer/manufacturer Csaba Karai that the Mini needed a bit more spring tension. A new batch with my suggested changes should be in stock in about two weeks.

The FlexShooter Mini with the lighter Induro GIT 204 is dead-solid-perfect for those whose intermediate telephoto or telephoto zoom is their workhorse lens for bird and nature photography. It will sell for $579 plus shipping. Folks who wish to be assured of getting one from our first shipment can order theirs by phone by calling Jim at 863-692-0906 asap. Your card will not be charged until your Mini is shipped. We already have five orders to ship from our first shipment.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have only four 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.

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 on the morning of September 13, 2019 down by the lake near my home at ILE. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped-up Nikon D850 ISO: 1600. Matrix metering plus about 1 1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Natural light AUTO WB at 8:06am on an overcast morning.

d-25 AF all the way to the left and two above center d-25 Continous AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed. The selected point was placed on the eagle’s upper back.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #1: Bald Eagle perched by old Osprey nest

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Mornings at the lake …

When I first head down to the pier each morning, I check to see if there are any good photo ops and if there are, I will partake for a bit. Then I take my bird/health walk, usually about 2 1/2 miles or so. When I am done, I go “birding” in the car along a specified route, about 10-15 minutes in all. When I get home, I check off what I have seen on a Florida Bird List Excel checklist. Just for the heck of it. I am usually done between 9:30 and 10:30. So at times, especially on cloudy days, I may run into a decent photography situation.

The adult Bald Eagle picture above — often accompanied by its mate, has been sitting by the large old Osprey nest off and on for about two years. I am hoping that they finally get their act together and nest this winter …

The Nikon 500 PF

The Nikon 500 PF is the best flight lens I have ever had the pleasure to own and use. Taking a walk with it and my gripped D850 is a pleasure when compared to lugging around a tripod-mounted 600. The lens with the hood on, the mounting foot removed, and the gripped D850 (with a Delkin 120GB Premium XQD Memory Card inserted), weighs in at exactly 6 pounds, 3.5 ounces. For me, it is easy to hand hold. And adding the TC-E14 gives me 700mm of full-frame reach. Though I had my 600 VR on the UK trip, I used the 500 PF 99% of the time, often mounted on the lightweight Induro GIT 204/FlexShooter Mini Combo. Light, fast, and deadly.

This image was also created on the morning of September 13, 2019 down by the lake near my home at ILE. Again, I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped-up Nikon D850 ISO: 800. Matrix metering plus about 1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Natural light AUTO WB at 8:03am on an overcast morning.

Two above center d-25 Continous AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed. The selected point was placed on the lores.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #2: Red-shouldered Hawk perched in pine tree

Red-shouldered Hawk

I see Red-shouldered Hawk on about half of my forays down to the lake. Though they are regular breeders at Indian Lake Estates, I have never found a nest. They are easily identified by their loud screams. Unfortunately, they love sitting on power lines and when they do, you can often walk right up to them.

AF Question

In both of today’s featured images, the AF point was slightly in front of the plane of the bird’s eye, yet the eye in both is in razor-sharp focus. Why?

This is an unsharpened 100% crop of Red-shouldered Hawk perched in pine tree

500 PF/TC-E14 Sharpness

As you can see in the unsharpened 100% crop above, the 500 PF/TC-E14 combo is exceedingly sharp, even when hand held.

Indian Lake Estates is just one of the great, little-known photography hotspots covered in the BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide. While ILE is at its very best in late winter and early spring, it is pretty darned good right now for turkey and Osprey and the Sandhill Cranes are always easy here regardless of the season. Not to mention the occasional Bald Eagle and Red-shouldered Hawk 🙂

Your Fave?

Which of today’s two featured images do you like best? Please let us know when you leave a comment.

Your Call?

You are invited to leave a comment letting us know what you like or dislike about today’s featured image.

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

You can purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

126 pages, 87 photographs by Joe Przybyla and Arthur Morris.
The PDF for this e-Guide is an electronic download sent via e-mail.

Purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

I had thought about doing a guide to some of the great but little-known photo hotspots around central Florida for about a decade, but those plans never came to fruition. I met Joe online in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net about two years ago. Joe’s photography has improved tremendously over the past few years; he credits the BAA blog, my books and PDFs, and his participation on BPN. The one thing that I learned right from the get-go about Joe is that he is a hard and tenacious worker, always striving to improve his skills and to grow his knowledge base. As he knew of more than a few good spots in central Florida, I broached the idea of us doing a photographic site guide that covered many of the little-known photographic hotspots from Brandon to Lakeland to Joe Overstreet Road to Indian Lake Estates (my Florida home for the past 20 years or so). After more than many, many dozens of hours of effort, The BIRDS AS ART Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide is now a reality. Thanks to Joe’s wife Dottie for her review of our writing. We all learned once again that writing is a process, a back and forth process. All thanks to the white pelicans of Lakeland. Here are the locations that are detailed in this e-Guide:

  • Indian Lake Estates: Sandhills Cranes with chicks and colts, lots of vultures, and Ospreys up the kazoo!
  • Gatorland, Kissimmee: Learn to make great images of wading birds in a cluttered rookery.
  • The Brandon Rookery: Great for nesting Wood Storks, Great Egrets, and more.
  • Circle Bar B Reserve, Lakeland: Here you will find a great variety of avian subjects in a great variety of habitats.
  • Lake Morton, Lakeland: There are lots of silly tame birds here including and especially American White Pelican during the colder months.
  • Lake Mirror, Lakeland: Tame Anhingas, Limpkins, and a zillion White Ibises at times.
  • West Lake Parker, Lakeland: Here you will have a chance for two difficult birds, Snail Kite, and Purple Gallinule.
  • Joe Overstreet Road, Kenansville: Crested Caracara, meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrike, and much more on the fenceposts and barbed wire.

Each location includes a map, a detailed description of the best spots, best season, light and time of day instructions, the expected species, and an educational and inspirational gallery that is designed to open your eyes as to the possibilities.

You can purchase a copy here in the BAA Online Store.


BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

If In Doubt …

If you are 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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 :).

8 comments to More on the Nikon 500 PF with the TC-E14. And Two Cloudy Day Grab-shots Turn Out OK …

  • avatar Adam

    The photo of the red shouldered is my preferred though am I picking up som CA on the moss/sky interface? Is this something you notice with the 500 PF tc combo?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I checked the master files of both images at 400% and did not see any chromatic aberration anywhere … And no, it is not something that I’ve ever noticed.

      with love, artie

  • Hey Arthur, You were far enough away that the eye is covered by the depth of field. The hawk is my favorite of the two. Nice pose and like the way the moss or whatever that is in the background frames the bird.

  • avatar Andrew

    Having experience living in Florida for so many years if you had to move now from NY would you still choose Florida ?
    If yes would you select the same area or some other part of Florida ?
    Why ? Is’t because of wintering birds ?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Great question, Andrew. Thanks for asking it. I enjoyed living in NY and I enjoy visiting Long Island and getting into the city every so often (especially to see Billy Joel at the Garden — my #3 is coming in DEC.). And I have enjoyed living in Florida since 1994. I am glad that I moved. Remember that Elaine and I originally came to Florida to be near her parents, Dave and Dora Goldstein in Deltona.

      It might have been nice to have been somewhere on the west coast of FL, but real estate there was pricey then and even more so now. Remember also that I have been traveling quite a bit for the past 15 years or so. The birds in winter are nice, but there is some great stuff most of the year. The best thing about my house is my pool; it provides the perfect setting for my pretty much daily exercise/meditation sessions. I swim so slowly that it is more like meditation than exercise. That said I’ve been doing 50 lengths for the past few months with 44 lengths to the mile.

      As far as I can figure, I will be here till the end. And loving it.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Why is the eye in focus? I think it’s because depth of field for any given aperture is increased as you get farther from your subject. You were far enough away that the depth of field was enough to get the eye into the plane of focus even though the active focus point was not on a spot in the same plane as the eye.

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