Standing for Tripod-mounted Flight Photography. A Great FlexShooter Pro Beach Tip. The Red Jighead & Bird Rescue. AF Modes for Flight (all systems). A7r IV AF Flight Tracking & Accuracy with the 600GM. And a7r IV Resolution. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Standing for Tripod-mounted Flight Photography. A Great FlexShooter Pro Beach Tip. The Red Jighead & Bird Rescue. AF Modes for Flight (all systems). A7r IV AF Flight Tracking & Accuracy with the 600GM. And a7r IV Resolution.

What’s Up?

Very early on Thursday morning, someone dumped a load of stale bread, pretzels, and apples on the grass at the parking circle near the pier. When I arrived for my walk, there were lots of Boat-tailed Grackles. But when I finished there were several Turkey Vultures dining on bread and apples. Go figure. I set up my Induro GIT 304 in the car topped by the FlexShooter Pro and went to work at 1200mm with the a7r IV. Photos and more soon.

I was pleased to learn recently of the sale of Don Carter’s SONY a7r III, the sale of Larry Masters’ Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the sale of Bill Hill’s Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, and the sale Mark Overgaard’s Canon EOS 7D Mark II. I sold my gripped D850 and my 500 PF. In addition, the following sales became pending yesterday: Larry Master’s Canon 5D Mark IV, Anthony Ardito’s gripped D-850, his Nikon 500 PF, his Nikon 24-70, and his Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 –all on the first day of listing! In addition, the sale of my Nikon 600 VR also became pending yesterday. There are still lots of great buys available on the Used Photo Gear page here.

I am thisclose to finishing the Nikon D850 User’s Guide and Video.

Galapagos 2020?

If you are 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. Details will be announced here soon.

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 EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Larry Master, multiple IPT participant who will be joining me again on the upcoming Bosque IPT, is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $6,199.00. The sale includes the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, the lens strap, the lens truck with keys, the original product box, an Aquatech silicone lens cap, a Lenscoat, an off-brand low foot, 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 Larry via e-mail or by phone at 1-518-645-1545 Eastern time.

The 500mm f/4 super-telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Canon’s Series II version is light, fast, super-sharp, and, in competent hands, produces amazing images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. The 500 II is relatively small, easily hand-holdable for some folks, and is much easier to travel with, focuses closer than, and costs a lot less than the 600 II. The lighter 600 III costs an astounding $12,999.00. Lastly, and you might find this amazing, the magnification for the 500 II is the same as it is for the 600 II: .15X. How is that possible? Magnification is calculated at the minimum focusing distance of the lens — 12.14 feet (3.7 meters) for the 500 II and 14.77 feet (4.5 meters) for the 600 II. Simply put, the 500 II focuses more than two feet closer than the 600 II. The seller for the last one that sold here had five calls the first day; the first four folks quibbled on price. The fifth one jumped right on it … Please do not tarry if you are seriously interested in Larry’s lens as it too should sell quite quickly. Or not 🙂 As the 500 II goes for $8999.00 new, you will be getting a practically new copy and saving a very nice $2,800.00! I loved my 500 II. 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

The Mini has experienced further unavoidable production delays.

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. As there was a problem getting the balls for the new Minis anodized properly, delivery will be delayed several weeks. 🙁 When we do receive our first shipment, the Minis will have my suggested changes.

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 two FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. All BigFeet are in stock in the BAA Online Store here. 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 over $1000.00, 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 has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.

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 September 28, 2019 on the Fort DeSoto Sandbar Secrets IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and the 61-MP Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/4000 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode was about +1 1/3 stops on the analog scale. AWB at 8:32am in sunny morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection.

Click the image to see a larger version and see if you can spot the red jighead …

Image #1: Immature Brown Pelican in wings up flight

Standing for Tripod-mounted Flight Photography

Today’s featured images were created at the same location as the striking Great Egret images in the blog post here. For that series, I was seated behind my lower tripod. I know some folks who can shoot flight off the tripod while seated, and even a few who can do the same thing while lying prone. But not me. When shooting flight off a tripod with a big super-telephoto lens my great preference is to stand at full height behind my tripod with the viewfinder just at or slightly below eye level. At the beach, try to pick a fairly level spot and make sure that the legs of your tripod are seated firmly in the sand.

FlexShooter Pro Beach Tip

When setting up your tripod in the parking lot, pull out the legs of your tripod one at a time. After the first leg is extended to the height that you want, place the tip of that leg on the ground and pull the other two legs out until they hit the ground so that the tips of the second and third legs extend to the exact same length as the first leg. Now spread the legs of your tripod and check the bubble level on the tripod platform; the bubble will be perfectly centered in the scribed circle. Next, after making sure that the three legs are fully spread and firmly seated, loosen the black lever on the FlexShooter Pro and level the large silver ball perfectly by centering the bubble in the scribed circle.

Now when you begin photographing on the beach, pick a relatively flat spot and note the location of the bubble with relation to the scribed circle on the tripod platform. With just a bit of practice, it becomes easy to center the bubble on the tripod platform in the scribed circle by pulling one or two tripod legs in and seating each firmly in the sand; when the bubble is centered, you are ready to start shooting without having to loosen the black lever and level the large silver ball of the FlexShooter Pro. You need to trust me here: after a bit of practice, leveling the tripod platform becomes easy with a bit of practice. You can even learn to do it quickly when standing in the water and working on a shifting-sands substrate.

Image #1A: Capture One unsharpened 300% screen capture

The Red Jighead & Bird Rescue

While converting the RAW file in Capture One, I noted a small red (baited?) jighead with the hook stuck in the pelican’s underwing secondary coverts. Almost anywhere that folks are fishing in Florida, pelicans are getting hooked. About 22 years ago at Blind Pass on Captiva, I was carrying a young pelican to my car. I was going to bring it to the local bird rescue operation as it had a single 8/0 O’Shaughnessy hook deep in its neck. The young bird died in my arms …

If you frequent such areas — they are often quite good for bird photography — it is a good plan to have a few numbers for local bird rescue folks on your cell phone. As I spend a lot of time at DeSoto, I have two numbers for the great folks at Birds in Helping Hands (wildlife rescue, rehab, & release) on my i-Phone8+. They even come for gulls!

SONY a7r IV Resolution

If you are not as impressed with the resolution of SONY a7r IV image files as I am, try blowing up some of your images to 300% and see how they stand up … Notice also the complete absence of noise at 300%.

This image was also created on September 28, 2019 on the Fort DeSoto Sandbar Secrets IPT. Again I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and the 61-MP Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/5000 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode was about -1/3 stop on the analog scale. AWB at 8:34am in sunny morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection.

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version and the amazing sharpness and detail of this relatively large crop.

Image #2: Sandwich Tern fishing in full downstroke flight

AF Modes for Flight

Patrick Sparkman swears by Wide for flight with SONY and loves the way he can move a bird in flight around in the frame. At this time, my preference is for Center Zone. For Nikon folks, we recommend only center Group (grp) for flight photography. For Canon, most will work with center Expand/Surround with eight AF points surrounding the selected (center) AF point.

With Image #2, the lower-left corner of Center Zone AF acquired and held accurate focus on this fishing Sandwich Tern.

Wing Positions

Today’s two featured images illustrate two very good wing positions. With the amazing AF technology in today’s digital camera bodies, making a sharp flight image is only step one. For every twenty razor-sharp on the eye images, I am happy to have one really good flight shot with a nice wing position. The pelican in Image #1 shows us the wings up position. In a perfect world, the near wing would have been raised a bit more thus eliminating the underwing shadow. With Image #2, I’d consider the wings fully down (and forward) wing position to be fantastic and very dynamic. Note the beautiful look at the dorsal surface of the near-wing.

A7r IV AF Tracking and Accuracy for Flight Photography

A7r IV AF initial focusing acquisition and tracking accuracy for flight photography with the 600GM are superb. As weak as my arms are, I am pretty sure that had I not injured my shoulder two years ago, I would have easily been able to handhold this super-light lens for flight …

Image #2A: Capture One screen capture

A7r IV Sharpness and Resolution

You can get an idea of the original framing for Image #2 by ignoring the Loupe in the screen capture above. Doing so, it will be obvious that this is a fairly large crop. A flattened 8-bit a7r IV file comes in at `72.3MB. The cropped master file is 101.9MB. Thus, 41% of the original pixels were cropped away and discarded. The sharpness and detail in the cropped image file are indeed remarkable.

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 :).

6 comments to Standing for Tripod-mounted Flight Photography. A Great FlexShooter Pro Beach Tip. The Red Jighead & Bird Rescue. AF Modes for Flight (all systems). A7r IV AF Flight Tracking & Accuracy with the 600GM. And a7r IV Resolution.

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