SONY a7r iii as a Workhorse. Galapagos 2020? And Patience is a Virtue … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

SONY a7r iii as a Workhorse. Galapagos 2020? And Patience is a Virtue ...

What’s Up?

I made a ton of progress on the new BAA Gallery on Wednesday and sent a hard drive with all the images on it to the developer. I am hoping to go live in a week or two at most.

Tomorrow I head over to Gulfport for the 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT. UK IPT veteran Shonagh Adelman is coming in a day early for an afternoon and a morning of scouting and learning and photography. We meet the group on Friday afternoon. Shelly Lake took advantage of the last minute discount and is joining the group.

I’ve been walking and swimming every day and spending two hours each morning learning to make sharp images with the new SONY 600 GM … I am making good progress.

Galapagos 2020?

If you might be interested in learning about a possible Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime, September 29-October 13 on the boat (travel dates: 27 SEPT to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 OCT) please get in touch via e-mail. I will need at least eight deposits by December 1, 2019.

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

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II professional digital camera body

BAA Record-low Price

Blog regular Bill Hill is offering a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II professional digital camera body in excellent condition for the incredibly low, BAA record-low price of $3299.00. There is some minor wear around the shutter button, otherwise mint. Approx. 16000 cycles. The sale includes the front cap, the original LP-E19 battery, the charger, the strap, a 64GB Sandisk Cfast Extreme card, the cFast reader, the owner’s manual, the original box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Bill via e-mail or by phone at 1-(831) 601-4066 Pacific time zone.

The EOS-1DX is Canon’s flagship professional camera body. I made many fine images with mine. It is rugged and fast and features Canon’s best AF system. artie

IPT Updates

  • 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)


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

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 August 5 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter (at 560mm) and the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/640 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 3:24pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Flexible Spot (S: small) C (Continuos/tracking) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was placed on the subject’s eye.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

White-cheeked Pintail drake

Patience is a Virtue

But you need to know what you are waiting for …

When folks first learn that I am a bird photographer, their reaction is often, You must have a lot of patience. Not.

When my late-wife Elaine was alive, we often shopped together for groceries at Waldbaum’s in Howard Beach, NY. If the checkout line was long and it seemed that the checkout lady might not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, she would look at me and say, “You, to the car.” (What can I say? She was right, but I am a different person today.)

IAC, when it comes to beautiful birds I do have patience. I sat in the mud along the shore at the lagoon on Rabida, in the company of about five White-cheeked Pintails — four hens and a drake. Most of the group was sitting with me. Though the birds cooperated I did not get anything special. Soon everyone left for the lure of subjects along the beach. I sat and I sat. It drizzled lightly off and on. And then I sat some more. Finally, the drake swam over to me and preened. But he was angled away from me. I knew that I needed to wait for a nice head-turn toward me. Finally, the bird cooperated. I sat in that mud for two hours and kept just this one image …

SONY a7r iii

The SONY a7r iii Mirrorless Digital camera was my workhorse body on the last Galapagos IPT. I used it to create about 90% of the images that I made on the trip. As with today’s featured image, I used it often with the 100-400 GM OSS and the 1.4X teleconverter. No worries — I am a conservative shooter: the shutter count on my a7r iii is only 11434. It was and is reliable and the image quality is just fine. What I like best is that with Flexible Spot (S) it is fast and easy to move the AF point around with the joystick and get it right on the subject’s eye. Not to mention that virtually the entire frame is covered by the AF point array.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

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: 7)

Introductory Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins; WED JAN 7, 2020.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or relocated) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and the subject of blinkies. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 10/11//2018. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.

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 :).

11 comments to SONY a7r iii as a Workhorse. Galapagos 2020? And Patience is a Virtue …

  • avatar Steve

    Oops, sorry, I meant RIGHTMOST box of the histogram in my previous comment!

  • avatar Steve

    Since you mention the Nikon and Canon histograms above, I recall a YouTube video of yours on the subject of exposure in which you advise making sure you get some data in the fifth (leftmost) box of the histogram. That was on a Canon camera. I notice that Nikon histograms only have 4 boxes. Would you modify your advice for Nikon users because of this?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes, with Nikon, simply get some data in the rightmost box of the histogram. Once you’ve got the basics down, then you want to get to the far as right as possible with maybe a few blinkies …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Michael Hankes

    Gotcha, that’s good to know. So much for the claims that it was nearly equal to the a9. I look forward to hearing about it from you. Have fun in DeSoto, I love being there with you!

  • avatar Peter Macdonald

    I often find with a reasonably approachable subject that a very gentle and quiet clear of the throat will get it to move its head just enough to get the right head angle.

  • avatar Robert

    I’m hearing the sensor gets dirty faster than with slrs like canon and nikon. What is your experience or do you just not change lenses.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The sensors of mirrorless cameras always get dirtier faster than the sensors of dSLR because there is no mirror :). I will publish a blog post soon letting folks know how I deal with the dust.

      with love, artie

      ps: I change bodies and lenses and TC often 🙂

  • avatar Gary Axten

    That’s a lovely image, the two hours were worth it.

    I wonder if others are like me in that we’re looking for quantity rather than quality? I feel if I had a few thousand good images in my collection I’d be more willing to spend time to just get that one great image a day.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Gary. I did forget to mention that when I got up after sitting in one spot for two hours my left knee and hip were killing me. But as soon as I am up and walking a few steps all is well.

      with love, artie

      ps: one thing that I strive to do on all IPTs is to teach folks to see the good situations and avoid taking hundreds of bad images in situations where it is simply not possible to make something even good …

  • avatar Michael Hankes

    Hey Artie,

    Thinking about getting the new a7r IV? I hear the AF is nearly on par with the Sony a9.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Machine-gun Mike. Good to hear from you. I am on my way to DeSoto and you are not here!

      I will have lots to say about the a7r iv over the next few weeks but my very first impressions are that it ain’t no a9 when it comes to birds in flight …

      Be a bit patient and be sure to e-mail for SONY system advice and use my links when you do order. I was hoping to have a 200-600 for this IPT but instead I got the 600 f/4 GM 🙂

      with love, artie

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