I Go to Extremes « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

I Go to Extremes

What’s Up?

I met AE Pi (Florida State) fraternity brother Harry Lerner early on Thursday evening to set up his a9 and his a7R IV. Our plan was to do two sessions on Friday and then a final session on Saturday morning. But the early weather forecast was on the dire side — showers followed by rain on Friday followed by more rain on Saturday morning. As it turned out Saturday morning dawned overcast with a bit of drizzle. That turned into variably sunny followed by a sunny afternoon. With the east winds early on Friday switching to north, we had a long and great session. In a small bay, we started with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron quickly followed by Great Egret, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, and some Ring-billed Gulls, and a single Red Knot.

Once we hit the nearby beach we worked a tame Black-bellied Plover catching large worms and then added Snowy Egret. We switched locations and were well rewarded by perched, flying, and diving Brown Pelicans, more Willets (> 300) that I have ever seen in one place, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, several pairs of tame American Oystercatchers, and a single Red Knot. With wind against sun conditions, the afternoon was not such good (quoting my late-Dad, Robert Morris) but we both learned a lot by trying to make some meaningful images of a tame young pelican facing dead away from us into the wind …

Harry quickly mastered the SONY Zebras exposure technique with ISO on the rear wheel. And he was making sharp images with his SONY 400 f/2.8 GM lens with the 2X TC and the a7R IV. He needs to work on framing a bit looser as he is a big fan of man-cropping …

FE Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens

BIRDS AS ART Record Low Price
Price reduced $400 on 22 DEC 2019

William Schneider is offering a Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens in mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $10,297.00 (was 10,697.00). This immaculate lens has seen little use. The sale includes the lens hood, the lens trunk, the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, the lens strap, and insured shipping via Fed Ex Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Bill via e-mail e-mail or by phone at 1-(262) 269-8628 (Eastern time zone).

This super-fast lens is amazingly light at 6.4 lbs, the same weight as the Nikon 300mm f/2.8. Patrick made lots of great images at St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands last July with the lens alone and with either the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. He really enjoyed the 8.86 ft close-focusing capability and the beautiful bokeh that the lens produces. As this lens sells new right now for $12,998.00, you can save a cool $2,701.00 by grabbing this virtually new lens asap. artie

ps: at the time of publication this lens is very hard to get; it is not in stock at B&H or at Bedfords.

San Diego IPT Late Registration Discount

I am offering a $400 late registration discount on the San. Diego IPT. Please e-mail if you would like to join us.

IPT Updates

    Do check out the San Diego Gallery here.

  • 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)
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Archipelago Photographic Experience. August 17-31, 2021 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,999.00.


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.

Moderation …

When I was about eleven, my late-Mom often said, This child does not know the meaning of the word “moderation.”. Not a lot has changed since them … The extremes today: ISO 10,000 and 1200mm. Par for the course.

I Go to Extremes

Billy Joel

Click here to listen.

Call me a joker, call me a fool
Right at this moment, I’m totally cool
Clear as a crystal, sharp as a knife
I feel like I’m in the prime of my life
Sometimes it feels like I’m going too fast
I don’t know how long this feeling will last
Maybe it’s only tonight
Darling, I don’t know why I got to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling, I don’t know why I got to extremes
Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot
Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got
Maybe I’m headed over the hill
Maybe I’ve set myself up for the kill
Tell me how much do you think you can take
Until the heart in you is starting to break?
Sometimes it feels like it will
Darling, I don’t know why I go to extremes
Too high…

This image was created on December 27, 2019 at Fort DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde, FL. I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) with the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 10,000. Exposure determined by Zebras: 1/250 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:27am on a cloudy-dark morning.

Upper Center Zone C (tracking) AF worked perfectly by getting sharp focus on the bird’s eye.
Click on the image to see a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Image #1: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in no light

ISO 10,000

I set 1/250 sec. as my just-sharp-enough shutter speed, my usual stopped-down-one-click aperture of f/7.1, and then increased the ISO on the rear dial until I saw faint Zebras on the image. The big trick of course: your exact Zebra settings. I promise to share that in the Advanced Sony Guide before the end of January. Till then you can experiment … In any case, exposing to the right worked just fine at IS) 10,000.

This image was also created on December 27, 2019 at Fort DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde, FL. For this one I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/500 sec. at f/13 in Manual mode was about zero on the analog scale. AWB at 10:37am on a variably sunny.

Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. I selected an AF point placed precisely on the bird’s eye. With large in the frame subjects like this, Animal Eye Tracking works very well even though it is not supposed to work on birds. But heck, an eye is an eye.

Image #2: Great Blue Heron — head portrait of a 2 year old bird


As noted previously here, it is great to be back working at 1200mm and making super-sharp images with SONY. This bird was perched for an hour atop Battery Bigelow and provided a fabulous teaching and learning situation. We worked on sun angle, head angle, and exposure.

That this bird kept its black crest erect all the time made it a very attractive subject.

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.

San Diego IPT Late Registration Discount

I am offering a $400 late registration discount on the San. Diego IPT. Please e-mail if you would like to join us.

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)

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 re-located) 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, is due upon registration. 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 đŸ™‚

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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