FlexShooter Minis in Stock! What simple thing could I have done to improve this image? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

FlexShooter Minis in Stock! What simple thing could I have done to improve this image?

What’s Up?

I headed down to the lake on Wednesday morning hoping to do some vulture flight with my new a9 II and the 600 GM. With a gentle wind from the east and lovely light early on a clear day I had high hopes. I put out a load of smelly fish heads and smoked salmon skins. I waited for one hour and not a single vulture even flew over. There’s always Bosque! Jim is driving me up to an Orlando airport hotel this afternoon, Thursday 20 NOV. I fly to ABQ at oh-dark-hundred on Friday morning.

As of Friday night, I had not packed a thing …

Thanks to everyone who took advanatge of the silly low prices for the stuff in the first-ever BAA Garage Sale. I sold every single item that I listed within 26 hours. I was amazed. Due to a technical foul-up, three items that I had listed disappeared. I sold one of those to good friend “Bug” Bob Allen of southern California as he is trying to corner the market on used Canon teleconverters.

FlexShooter Pro Mini

The Mini offers the same great performance as the FlexShooter Pro in a smaller, lighter (one pound!) package.

FlexShooter Mini Update

Our first shipment of 30 Flexshooter Minis arrived on Wednesday afternoon. Jim will be shipping the pre-orders tomorrow. Thanks for your patience. The Mini is now in the BAA Online Store; you can order yours here. Or call Jim at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Note: Jim will be out of the office on Thursday after about 2:30pm.

The FlexShooter Mini

The Mini on a GIT 204 is dead-solid-perfect for those whose intermediate telephoto or telephoto zoom lens is their workhorse lens for bird and nature photography. It sells for $579 plus shipping.

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 even!) 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 sharp images even with the Nikon 600 and the TC-E14. I mounted the Mini on the light weight Induro GIT 204. After my testing, I suggested to developer/manufacturer Csaba Karai that the Mini needed a bit more spring tension. Our new batch with my suggested changes is now in stock.

IPT Updates

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 2. 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)

Click here for complete IPT info and details.


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

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 January 30, on the 2019 San Diego IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 400mm) and the beyond remarkable AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera. ISO 400: 1/6400 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:19:56am on a in the shade of the building behind us.

Western Gull calling

Western Gull Calling

This image was made when I was just starting with SONY. I was not quite confident with my exposures and had never even heard of Zebras; as a result thisone was just a bit under-exposed.

Image Question

What simple thing could I have done to improve this image? The answer is great advice for everyone photographing birds, especially those using intermediate telephoto focal lengths of from 200 to 400mm.

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: 4)

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.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

35 comments to FlexShooter Minis in Stock! What simple thing could I have done to improve this image?

  • avatar Jordan Cait

    And the answer is?

  • avatar Ken Pride

    Increase depth of field to get more background detail….need more definition between sand and water…f8 or f12 might do it.

  • I would say bit more space in the bottom of the frame would have been nice.

  • avatar Barry Ekstrand

    My thought – zoom out to create more space around the subject.

  • To me, the image would look a bit better if tilted a little to the right, to level the subject.

  • avatar Brendan

    I think the simplest answer is just to sit down.

  • avatar Bruce Dudek

    There is a nearly horizontal and fuzzy “band” in the background about 10-15% of the way down from the top, spanning the whole width of the image (perhaps a sumberged breakwater). It is distracting and easily made less visible or invisible. I took the question to mean what can be edited on the image, not a question about composition changes.

  • avatar Stuart Edwards

    i think removing the shadow or lightening it would have improved the image.

  • Use a Flash to show the inside of the birds mouth, while lowering your tripod.

  • avatar Paul Burdett

    ok…for me, just moving closer to the Gull (failing that…crop tighter in post).

  • avatar James Saxon

    A catch light in the would have been nice.

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    When I first looked at the shot, I thought, that’s just a snapshot, not a photograph. And…..because it’s taken standing up, Everyone else has said the same thing, so it must be the first thing people notice.

    I would only say get lower, but I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for.

  • avatar Brian Patteson

    Get rid of the footprints

  • avatar Jordan Cait

    Get down on your belly and shoot at the bird’s eye level.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      But then I would have gotten wet with salrtwater and sandy, and the image would only have been 10,000 times better …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Steve

    I was going to say have the camera position a little lower, too, but if you’re talking about framing, I’d like the gull a bit more to the right, along a rule of thirds line — in fact, that would put the eye pretty much at the intersection of two rule of thirds lines.

  • avatar byron Prinzmetal

    Well, I want some emotion in the image. Something that makes me want to study the image more. All that empty space on the left is distracting. Putting the bird basically (not quite) in the center of the frame does not work for me. Also, I am not sure what an image cropped into the birds eye/beak would look like, but to me that is where the emotion is. That is, something I might want to look at some more. I would have tried taking an image straight on with the open mouth, but I think I would lose the eye which I would not want to do, but I would have tried that…if the bird would have cooperated. The rest of the image to me does not turn me on….it is just a bird standing on some sand….anyway each to their own…Bp

    PS I am really enjoying my Sony cameras and zebras…makes exposure simple. I am also carrying a rx100VII. The controls/settings are similar to my full frame Sony, but with some additions I have not quite got used to. For an old man on long hikes it is a great tool and an easy addition to a Sony shooter, in my opinion.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the dissertation. But the question was and is this:

      “What simple thing could I have done to improve this image?”

      with love, artie

      ps: as far as the bird being “centered,” the distance from the bill tip to the frame edge is twice the distance from the tail tip to the frame-edge, so not centered.

  • avatar Jaap Coorens

    Photograph the gull from a lower viewpoint by getting closer to groundlevel I would say.

    Best regards

  • I agree with Elinor – move to the right for better sun angle as well as better head angle.

  • Move to your right a bit to avoid the beak shadow? And get lower to get on eye level with the gull? With a longer lens (600 or so) you would appear to be more on eye level without getting lower.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Aperture is fine for the bokeh. However with that shutter speed, the ISO could go to the minimum to improve fine feather detail.

  • avatar Warren Howe

    You always say “get lower” in order to improve the background. There is more sand in focus in this image which can be distracting. Getting lower would remove some of that sand and provide more blurred background behind the bird.

    • avatar Warren Howe

      Also, the reason this is more important for people with intermediate telephoto lenses has to do with the apparent angle to the subject. With a longer lens, the subject is further away. This makes the angle to the subject more flat and increases the distance to the background. With a shorter telephoto lens, the photographer is closer to the subject, so they are shoot “down” at the subject at a greater angle. This reduces the distance to the background and includes more of the “ground” around the subject in the frame. The best way to overcome this with a shorter lens is the Get Low!

  • avatar Brendan

    I think if you were a foot or so lower the background would be even softer and it would have a more appealing angle on the bird’s face.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hey Tim,

    Thanks for commenintg. I am fine with the image design. Where would you like the gull to be?

    with love, artie

    • avatar Tim

      Maybe a smidge higher in the frame. TBH I was struggling to think of something, having read the other comments getting lower if possible may have been good.

  • avatar Tim

    I think the framing is a bit off. Perhaps zoom out a bit to position the gull better?

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