Early Holiday Dinner for Two. Image Clean-up While Preserving the Natural History of a Moment. Raw file offer « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Early Holiday Dinner for Two. Image Clean-up While Preserving the Natural History of a Moment. Raw file offer

What’s Up?

After re-fitting the pool’s heater/chiller a few months ago, and installing a new filter system more recently, the only thing left to fail was the pump. I cannot say that anymore. The pool was a balmy 86 degrees last week, but I was at DeSoto when the pump failed and with a mild cold front over the weekend the pool was down eleven degrees by Tuesday. This morning it was down to 73! I opted not to swim yesterday and will not be swimming today. Pool Works is coming first thing in the morning today — Wednesday 23 December 2020.

On Tuesday morning I photographed Turkey Vultures on the pier and Cattle egrets in the North Field, again with the SONY 600 GM at 1200mm with the a7r iv. On the way home I had a pleasant surprise. Keep reading to learn about the unexpected holiday dinner.

This blog post took about two hours to write and assemble. I am hitting Publish at 7:09 am. I will be headed down to the lake to see what I see in a few minutes. It is cold, clear, and dead still right now.

Wanted to Buy

I have a potential buyer for a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens. If you have one that you are looking to sell, please get in touch via e-mail.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The Used Gear page continues to be very active. The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list for the past eleven months at the bottom of the page.

New Listing

Canon 200-400 f/4L IS USM Lens with internal 1.4X Extender (with extras)

BAA Record-Low Price by far!

Mansoor Assadi is offering a Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM lens with internal 1.4X Extender in near mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $4699.00. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the ET-120 (WII) front lens cover, a LensCoat, Really Right Stuff low foot LCF-53 (a $110 value), the original Canon foot, the lens strap, 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 Mansoor via e-mail or by phone at 415-559-8027 (Pacific time).

This is the world’s best lens for a trip to Africa. It kills also in the Galapagos and in South Georgia, the Falklands, and Antarctica. I used mine a lot at Bosque and other dusty places where the built-in TC helps to keep your sensor clean. And I loved it in the Palouse for its versatility. More recently, I often found myself wishing that I had taken the 200-400 rather than my 500 II on the last Bear Boat Cubs IPT. Many nature photographers use it as their workhorse telephoto lens as it offers 784mm at f/8 with an external 1.4X TC added. In addition, it is pretty darned good whenever you are working around relatively tame birds. This lens will pair quite well with an R5 or an R6. The lens sells new at B&H right now for $10,999 so you can save a slew of dollars ($6,300 to be exact!) by grabbing Mansoor’s lens right now. artie

Price Drops!

SONY a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

Price Reduced $300 on 22 DEC 2020!

Mansoor Assadi is offering a SONY a9 Mirrorless digital camera body in like-new condition for a BAA record-low $1,997.00 (was $2,297.00). The sale includes an off-brand (Green Extreme) battery grip, only the original battery, the original box, the front body cap, the strap, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mansoor via e-mail or by phone at 415-559-8027 (Pacific time).

I was sold on SONY five minutes after trying my SONY a9 on the Brandt’s Cormorants at La Jolla, CA. The AF system is identical to the AF system on the more expensive a9 ii which costs $4,498.00. The a9 ii body is about 1/8 inch thicker than the a9. If you do not have large hands, or if you like the feel of a smaller body, you will love the a9. And if you like the feel of $1,101.00 in your pocket — the a9 sells for $3,398.00 — get in touch with Mansoor ASAP. artie

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens & Filter Holder Kit with Landscape Circular Polarizer

Price Reduced $200 on 22 DEC 2020!

Mansoor Assadi is offering a Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens in near-mint condition and the NiSi S5 150mm Filter Holder Kit with Landscape Circular Polarizer for Sony 12-24mm lens in new condition for the very low price of $963.15 (was $1,163.15).The sale includes the original box, the rear lens cap, the front lens cap, the lens hood, 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 Mansoor via e-mail.

Ultra-wide and versatile, the FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens from Sony is a flexible zoom lens for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, characterized by its constant f/4 maximum aperture. Benefitting the wide field of view is a sophisticated optical design that incorporates aspherical and low dispersion glass elements to control both spherical and chromatic aberrations for improved sharpness and clarity. A Nano AR Coating has also been applied to individual elements to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity when working in bright, backlit situations.

In addition to the optical attributes, this lens is also distinguished by a Direct Drive SSM autofocus system, which benefits both stills and video application with its quick, quiet, and precise performance. The lens also sports a dust- and moisture-sealed design to support shooting in inclement conditions and a dedicated focus hold button and AF/MF switch. B&H

I loved my Canon ultra-wide-angle 11-24mm lens especially for big skies. This combo sells new at B&H for $2,163.15. Save a very handsome $1,200.00 on the pair. artie

FlexShooter Pro

Price Reduced $50 on 22 DEC 2020!

Multiple IPT veteran and BAA good friend William Schneider is offering a barely used FlexShooter Pro for a very low $499.00 (was $549.00). The sale includes 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. Payment by Zelle is now available or PayPal +4%.

Please contact me via e-mail.

I fell in love with the FlexShooter Pro moments after I first mounted it on my Induro tripod. It is a ballhead that acts like a gimbal. Not convinced? See the video here.

Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide Info

So far, 47 folks have sent PayPals for their copy of the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide. And 24 who used my affiliate links to purchase their R5 have e-mailed for and received their free copy of the guide. If you e-mailed or sent a PayPal and did not receive your guide, please LMK immediately via e-mail.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Three folks wrote stating that they had a better way of setting up AF on their R5s. When I wrote back explaining why they were in error, two of them back-tracked. One stubborn guy is still doing it his way — less efficiently. Be sure to scroll down to read about my plans for a Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide immediately as the R5/R6 User’s Guide will take at least a month to finish.

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide

Twenty-one pages. 3,452 words. 28-DPP4 screen captures showing the R5’s vaunted AF system in action. Note: the AF system of the R5 is identical to the AF system of the R6.

You will learn:

1- The two most useful AF Methods for general bird photography and for birds in flight.

2- How to set up your R5/R6 AF Menus.

3- What boxes to check (and un-check) under Limit AF Methods.

4- How to change the AF Method quickly, easily, and efficiently. Note: the default way of doing this is clunky, cumbersome, and inefficient at best. One person replied that this tip alone was worth the price of admission.

5- The only setting that should be used for Initial Servo AF pt for Face Detection + Tracking.

I you are currently using multiple back buttons either for general bird photography or for birds in flight, what you learn in this guide will change your life. For the better.

Here are the first three paragraphs of this e-Guide:

From the moment I learned about the new Canon mirrorless bodies, I read about using two or three back-buttons to focus using different AF methods. The word on the street said that the way to go for birds in flight was to use one button to acquire focus with Zone AF or with Large Zone: Horizontal AF and then switch to another button to activate Face Detection + Tracking AF and then use the shutter button to make an image. My immediate thought was, “This is insanity! There has got to be a better way.” In short, there is a far superior way to set up AF on your R5 or R6.

Remember that I got away from any form of back-button or rear focusing many years ago after finally realizing that it is always easier to do one thing (press the shutter button), than it is to do two things (press a back button and then press the shutter button).

The default method of switching AF Methods with the R5/R6 bodies is cumbersome at best. It involves first pressing the grid button (my name) on the upper right back of the camera and then pressing the hard-to-access M-Fn button to toggle through the AF Methods. This method is so bad that it will not be mentioned again in this guide.

The guide is free to all who have ordered an R5 or an R6 using my B&H affiliate link or from Steve Elkins/Bedfords using the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Please send your receipt to me via e-mail. It will take me a few days to a week to verify the B&H purchases. Bedfords folks should expect their free e-Guides fairly quickly.

To purchase your copy of the e-Guide, please send a PayPal for $25.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net and be sure to include the words R5/R6 AF Guide in your PayPal e-mail.

Everyone who gets the guide will receive a free update no later than the first week in January.

Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide

I am planning on doing a complete Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. This will require a lot of research, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. I am hoping to have it complete by mid- to late January. As always, folks who use the BAA affiliate links to purchase their Canon gear will receive a substantial discount.

Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide ASAP.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop).

127 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and 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 22 DEC 2020 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from my SUV, I used the BLUBB-supported Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the blazingly fast Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body) that features incredibly accurate AF. ISO: 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the Control Wheel: 1/1600 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 10:05am on a mostly sunny morning.

Tracking Expand Flexible Spot (M) yielded a sharp-on-the-eye image. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Adult Bald Eagle (and Black Vulture) scavenging road-killed opossum

Early Holiday Dinner for Two

Thinking that my morning photo session was over, I turned right (south) onto Lakewood. A short block ahead on my right, I saw a small pile of vultures and two adult Bald Eagles on some sort of road kill. I saw later that it was an opossum that the birds had dragged into the grass on the right side of the road. I drove very slowly to make a left on Indian Lake Drive so that I could go around the block; not surprisingly, one of the eagles flew off. I had to go around the block so that I would be photographing out of the driver’s side window after (and if!) I got on sun angle. Understand that it is much easier and more efficient to shoot a super-telephoto lens out of the driver’s side window than it is to shoot out of a passenger side window; if someone offers to drive for you while you photograph from the passenger side, it is best to thank them politely and drive yourself. If you doubt me, get in your car and try shooting from both sides. …

Anyhoo, knowing that I had tried many times to get close to a Bald Eagle in my vehicle here at ILE, and had failed every time, I put the big lens on the BLUBB and drove the last 50 yards very, very slowly. When I got within ten yards, I lowered myself down in my seat and hid behind my rig. When I got right on sun angle I peeked around the lens and saw that the eagle was still there. I had opted to work at 1200mm rather than removing the TC and possibly replacing the 2X TC with the 1.4X TC because there were about six Black and two Turkey Vultures competing with the eagle for a bite. Working at 1200mm and trying for something really tight seemed to be the best course and in retrospect, it was. I set the aperture to f/9, the shutter speed to 1/1600 sec., and then spun the rear dial until I saw faint blinkies on the big raptor’s head. (The exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger.)

I made lots of head portraits, but most had a distracting vulture or two in the background. I had seen this one on the back of the camera and thought that it might turn out to be the pick of the litter. It was. With the two similar frames just before this one, I had clipped the eagle’s foot. I even like the head of the Black Vulture peeking in on the right frame-edge. The small yellow shapes below the vulture’s head are the toes of the opossum.

The image was converted in Capture One. I did some extensive clean-up after running Topaz DeNoise on Auto on the whole image. See the clean-up work and the raw file offer below.


When I know that I will be doing mostly static work at 1200mm with little to no chance of shooting flight or action, I will opt for the BLUBB rather than setting up the tripod in the car. It is somewhat of a pain in the butt to set up the tripod (topped by a FlexShooter) but there is nothing like it when you are trying to do flight or action from your vehicle. On the other hand, setting up a BLUBB takes about five seconds. I place it on the window frame or on the partially-lowered window (depending on how high or low I want to be), and then use a fist to shape a concave seat for the lens.

Image Clean-up While Preserving the Natural History of a Moment …

Most (but not all) folks would agree that the cleaned-up image is far more pleasing visually than the rather sloppy original capture. That despite the fact that I did a great job of isolating and framing the action. The distracting elements in the background would have been less obtrusive had the light been softer; the sun made them downright ugly (and distracting). Note, however, that the BEFORE image shows a Bald Eagle nipping off a small bit of opossum flesh and that the AFTER image shows a Bald Eagle nipping off a small bit of opossum flesh. The only changes were to the distracting background — the natural history of the image has been preserved.

Raw File Offer

Eagle eyed viewers will note that the BEFORE version in the animated GIF above is much flatter and duller than the final optimized version that opened this blog post. After processing an image I will always compare the optimized version to the raw file. When I did that here I realized that I had not done a very good job. So I brought the image back into Photoshop — actually several times, and finally was sort of happy with the boosted color and contrast. But I was not thrilled. If you would like to take a crack at the raw file, please click on this link to shoot me an e-mail. Those that feel that their version is better than mine are invited to shoot it back to me via large file server to samandmayasgrandpa@att.net. Understand that I will be 100% honest in my reply.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a PayPal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

The clean-up techniques mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my MacBook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and edited by yours truly. Please use this link to purchase NeatImage.

To introduce folks to our MP.4 videos and the basics involved in applying more NeatImage noise reduction to the background and less on the subject, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of the Free Noise Reduction Basics MP.4 Video. Simply click to shoot me an e-mail to get your free copy.


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

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