Adhering to the Boy Scout Motto … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Adhering to the Boy Scout Motto ...

What’s Up

Photography has been really good most mornings. On Thursday, I brought some smoked salmon skins, a steak bone, and a pork chop bone down to the lake. At the last moment, I decided to set up my road-kill feeder on the small rise to the right of the parking circle by the pier. That turned out to be an excellent choice. See the photos and learn more below.

Again, very few folks commented on the mayfly-related images in yesterday’s blog post here. If you have a chance to re-visit and comment, it would be greatly appreciated. In the same vein, please take a moment to comment on today’s two featured images? Is one better than the other? Do they both suck? Or are they both outstanding?

The forecast for this morning — Friday 24 APRR 2020 — is for strong storms; thunder is rumbling as I type. Unless it is pouring, I will be heading down to the lake at about 8am to do some hunting with my SONY gear.

The SONY e-Guide will be published soon.

Greg Gulbransen is Happy and Nuts. And, he can dance!

Long Island pediatrician Greg Gulbransen is both a skilled and dedicated photographer and a great friend. Not to mention a skilled and dedicated doctor. He created this video (with his daughter Julia co-starring) to express his feelings about Long Island coronavirus being past the peak. It will likely put a smile on your face. You can check out Greg’s eclectic photography here.

FlexShooter Pro

The amazing FlexShooter Pro heads are currently out of stock. We should be receiving our next shipment in about a week. We do have the FlexShooter Mini in stock; they are perfect for the intermediate telephoto and telephoto zoom lenses.

This image was created on 23 APR 2020 at ILE. I used the Induro GIT 404L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 1600.!/2000 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. Half the sky was Zebra-ed. AWB at 7:54:36am on a slightly overcast morning.

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

Click the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1: Fish Crow braking to land

Lesson Learned

Sometimes it takes an hour for the vultures to find the bait. Sometimes thirty minutes. On Wednesday morning, I put the dead turtle and the road-killed rabbit down in a spot that was just the right distance for incoming flight photography with the handheld 200-600 and offered sweet distant backgrounds for vulture-on-the-ground portraits with the tripod-mounted 840mm rig (both with an a9 ii). You need to be aware of light-angle and the white homes on the opposite shore of Lake Walk-in-Water. Only then did I head back to my vehicle to grab my 2-6, put it on a Black Rapid Curve Breathe Strap, and set up the 600 f/4 with the 1.4X TC on the tripod. Before I reached my Sequia, two caracaras flew in and landed on the juicy rabbit. Then several vultures flew in, and others that had been on the ground not too far away hopped their way to the feast. By putting the bait out before having my gear ready, I missed the best opportunities of the morning …

Gear Choice Question

Looking at the EXIF, what was the big advantage of using the 600 f/4 GM rather than the 200-600 G?

This image was created on 23 APR 2020 at ILE. I used the Induro GIT 404L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 1600.!/2000 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. Half the sky was Zebra-ed. AWB at 7:54:49am on a slightly overcast morning.

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

Click the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Black Vulture braking to land

Second Attempt Success

On Thursday morning I decided to go with the bare 600mm f/4 GM on the tripod as conditions were close to perfect for incoming flight photography; the light was soft (with faint shadows) and the wind from the east/southeast was coming over my right shoulder. For those new to flight photography you always want the wind coming from behind you when your shadow is pointed at the birds. If the wind is blowing right in your face (wind-against-sun), the birds will fly in from behind you — into the wind — and brake and land while facing directly away from you.

The big change, however, was that I set up my big lens rig on the tripod before I put out Thursday’s fare: salmon skins and a few left-over bones. In addition, I set the exposure for Black Vulture and set Center Zone, my favorite SONY AF Area for flight photography. I placed the tripod below the hill to ensure sky backgrounds and with my glasses on, I leveled my FlexShooter Pro so that I could pan in either direction without having to rotate the lens in the lens barrel while being sure that my rig was square-to-the world, i.e., perfectly level. I did that by centering the bubble in the scribed circle on the silver ball and then locking it by tightening the black lever. Then I loosened the silver knob so that I could pan freely. On Thursday I was ready.

Next, I walked the 15 yards up the hill, dumped the bait out of the plastic bag, and hustled back to my rig. Barely a few seconds after I had gotten behind my tripod, the crow flew into the bait and braked to land. I fired off six frames and kept two. My favorite crow image was created at 7:54:36am. Thirteen seconds later, at 7:54:49am, a Black Vulture flew in slightly from my right, braking into the southeast wind. This time I created six images and kept only one, Image #2. I did go on to have a good morning with some more nice vulture images, a few good Cattle Egret flight shots, more Ospreys in the pond stuff, and a calling adult sandhill. I saw and photographed the two crane colts after I had not seen them for several days — they were on their own and have gotten really big. I tried for some foraging Cattle Egret head-shots at 1200mm and failed; they just do not stay still for long …

All in all, it was a good morning, and being prepared, enabled me to create two really good images.

Exposure Notes

In a perfect world, I would have increased the ISO two clicks when I saw the crow flying approaching because the Black Vultures have some white on them and very bright legs, but I followed my own rule: shoot now and ask questions later (and was glad that I did). As things turned out, RawDigger showed 0% over-/under-exposed pixels with a smattering of under-exposed RED pixels for thee crow exposure. And the vulture exposure was nearly perfect showing just 0.1% under-exposed RED pixel and a smattering (71 out of 24,200,000) of over-exposed GREEN pixels. You gotta love exposure by Zebras! Even though I could have done slightly better in the rapidly changing (crow to vulture) situation, it is reassuring to know that on average the two exposures were 99.95% perfect!

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera Videos and Pre-publication e-Guide Costs and Discount Info

The cost of the SONY e-Guide is $100.00 US and will include one of the four (4) camera set-up videos — we offer one video each for the a7r iii, the a7r iv, the a9, and the a9 ii — and the written guide with the galleries. The guide is now 98% done and you will — of course, receive the final version when it is completed. I sent out the third draft today to those who have purchased the Guide with or without the discount.

Folks who have used my B&H links or purchased their SONY gear from Bedfords will receive said discount based exactly on how much they spent. If you spent more than $10,000 you will receive one free video and the e-Guide. Additional camera videos are $25.00 each. If you spent $2400, you will receive a 24% discount, and so on and so forth. And again, additional camera videos will be $25.00 each.

I will need time to verify your B&H purchases so folks will need to send their receipts and then be a bit patient. It is much easier to verify Bedfords’ purchases but I need those receipts as well.

If you have not used BAA links, please do so in the future. If that is the case and you would like the e-Guide now, please send a Paypal for $100 US to and be sure to include the words “SONY Pre-publication Guide” in the Paypal e-mail along with the name of your camera or cameras so that you can receive the correct video or videos. Please add $25 for each additional camera video. Be sure to send a copy of the Paypal transaction to me via e-mail.

Folks who have used BAA links to purchase their SONY gear should send their receipts to me via e-mail asap and let me know which camera videos they need. I will verify their purchases as quickly as possible and send a quote to be paid via Paypal as above.

Thanks to all who have properly used my B&H links or gone through the fabulous Steve Elkins at Bedfords, and thanks to everyone for having faith in the information that I provide, knowing that it will be the best available anywhere.

4 comments to Adhering to the Boy Scout Motto …

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks David and Walter. I like them both!

    with love, artie

  • I like both, but #1–the Crow–better because the bird is flying almost right at the viewer, giving the photograph an extra punch of excitement. I would guess it’s a difficult exposure–black birds, black dogs, black cats–all difficult to get the face light enough without looking fake. Here, the clicked-up version looks perfect.

  • avatar David J Policansky

    Artie: it sounds from your leftovers as if someone has been eating well. 🙂 I like the vulture image better. I like that it’s not headed right at you, but is at an angle; I like the bird’s interesting plumage and face; and I like its kegs. It seems to be missing some feathers from its left wing near its body. Is that right?

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