The Spoonbill Flight Image: What Did and Did Not Bug Me. Sony Alpha a1 BCNH Image Quality and Crop-ability! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Spoonbill Flight Image: What Did and Did Not Bug Me. Sony Alpha a1 BCNH Image Quality and Crop-ability!

What’s Up?

Bill and I had maybe the worst morning ever at Merritt Island NWR. Sunrise was a dud. After that, the clear skies and wind against sun conditions were bad as expected. We did have a few good chances, but each of the birds flew away. 🙁 We reviewed many hundreds of Bill’s images during our midday break. I will be sharing three very fine ones with you here soon.

We dined early on Friday afternoon on yet more large lightly breaded and fried shrimps at Dixie Crossroads Restaurant. Then we paid one last visit to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and with a cold, stiff, northwest wind right in our faces, we did better than expected. We had some fine Blue-winged Teal in still blue water (including some after-bath flapping) along with several dancing (but somewhat distant) Reddish Egrets and a fairly cooperative Green Heron. I called Bill over to the Green Heron and left. And then the bird caught a frog! Lucky Bill.

Today is Saturday 20 March 2021. The forecast for Stick Marsh is for clear skies with gentle northwest winds. We will surely see and photograph some handsome Roseate Spoonbills, but that is not the weather you dream of for morning bird photography …

I am headed home today and plan on finally finishing the BAA Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide on Sunday and Monday.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes eighty-eight days in a row with a new one. Please remember to use my B&H affiliate links or to save money at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout.

The Stick Marsh Site Guide Subscription Service

Th Site Guide Subscription Service is a new concept. I will send a short site guide no later than this coming Monday that covers the basics. It will include a map of the rookery area with specific instructions and wind and weather advice. There were some good photographers at Stick Marsh yesterday. Many are skilled at hand-holding 500 and 600mm f/4 telephotos lenses. But with all due respect, none of them can come anywhere near me when it comes to analyzing the photo opps at a given location. With the exception of the aforementioned Fred — I think his full name was Fred Vaughn, every photographer got to their favorite spot and never moved. We moved around a lot and had great and different chances all day long. After each visit, you will receive an e-mail noting the best locations and anything new that I learned.

To sign up for the Stick Marsh Site Guide Subscription Service, send a PayPal for $100.00 to us at and be sure to include the words Stick Marsh. Or, you can call Jim any day at 1-863-692-0906 to pay by credit card. At some point, we will get this item in the BAA Online Store.

I fully understand that you can go to Google Maps, find the Stick Marsh, visit, and likely make some good or great images. You might think, I can do fine just without artie’s advice. But you would do a whole lot better with it.

Please contact me via e-mail to explore the possibilities of morning In-the-Field Instructional Sessions at Stick Marsh.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at 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, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

Wanted to Buy

If you have a Canon EF Extender 2X III (teleconverter) that you would like to part with, please contact me via e-mail. I have an interested buyer.

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 second-day air 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 (remember those?) 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.

The Roseate Spoonbill wing-tip

What I Did Not Mind

I did not mind the following:

The dark “dot” on the highlighted edge of the bill …
The long, vertical shadow above the bird’s right wing tip …
The rectangle of orange/brown colour at the bottom left of the image, under the bird’s right wing …
The hidden feet.
The Black background in the lower right corner of image.
The mysterious looking face in the background on the lower left side/corner area.
The shadow of the head against leading edge of the right wing.
The orange (branch?) poking in on the left side.
That the far wing tip is blurred slightly
That the primaries of the near wing are curled up a little …

And I was not hoping to get more color on the top of the far-wing.

In fact, not only did none of the above bug me; I never noticed a single one of them. In addition, I consider the curled primaries on the near wing a plus.

Oh, and yes, this image was my favorite of the three featured in the blog recent post here because of the sharpness, the sweet light, and the very sweet background.

What Did Bug Me

As noted by Bob Eastman, the first to leave a comment:

I did mind the long, small shadow of the curled (first) primary on the near wingtip. In the screen capture above, it is the shadow that runs from a to b. I originally thought that it was a piece of dried grass or debris.

It is amazing what you can see by taking a closer look:

The dark spot and shadow above and to the left of letter c were likely the result of a single disturbed feather.
I am not sure what the dark smudge below the letter d is …
Lastly, there is a faint shadow just to the left of the curved line, perhaps from the up-curved second primary.

As Cliff Beittel and others suggested, any or all of the above could easily be repaired in Photoshop.

This image was created on 17 March 2021 at the Stick Marsh in Fellsmere, FL. Once again, I used the Induro GIT 404L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 500. Exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the thumb dial: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed the raw file to be 2/3 stop under-exposed. AWB at 9:06am on a clear morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Black-crowned Night-Heron adult in flight

Why Under-exposed?

Working in Manual Mode with Birds of Different Tonalities

I was set up for the brilliant white Great Egrets in flight. From those settings, I opened up 1/3 stop for the spoonbills (when I’d see them coming) as their WHITEs are less bright than whites on Great Egret. For this night-heron, I should have opened up two clicks (2/3-stop) because their WHITEs are not as bright as the WHITEs on the spoonies.

When this bird flew by unexpectedly, I was set up for the super-bright Great Egrets and did not have time to change the exposure. Thus, I wound up 2/3-stop too dark. If I see an Anhinga coming, I’ll raise the ISO 2 clicks. If I want to try for an all-black Fish Crow, I’d go with five or six more clicks of ISO.

Note: You can change the exposure with either the ISO or the shutter speed (in response to the tonality of the subject). Notice that I set the aperture to the wide open value to ensure a fast shutter speed. With almost all birds in flight, it is a waste to stop down “for extra depth of field” as enough depth of field to cover the bird is provided by the distance to the subject.

Sony Alpha a1 Image Quality

The night-heron image above represents only about 25% of the original pixels, what I would call a 75% crop. Nonetheless, the image quality of the master TIF file is superb.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

10 comments to The Spoonbill Flight Image: What Did and Did Not Bug Me. Sony Alpha a1 BCNH Image Quality and Crop-ability!

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    Man I thought for sure it was the Face in the background that resembled the Shroud of Turin!!:)
    Now you probably don’t like it as much!!! LOL

    Thank-you for answering my questions in your last blog with the incredible Great Egret. Your kindness is appreciated.

    P.S. I can’t afford the Private Jet so I have a Schwinn and am pedaling like a crazy man…

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    I agree with David as the head shadow makes a good shot great.

  • avatar David Policansky

    I love the heron image especially because of the shadow of the bird’s head on its wing. I recently got a photo of cranes where six birds’ heads cast shadows on their wings.

  • avatar Adam

    Artie, was the Roseate shot in ES or MS? Is that a bit of rolling shutter at the tip of the wing, compression artifact from .jpg, topaz AI artifact, or the result of enlarging the image? My R5, which has a significantly slower read rate frequently displays such artifact at the wing tips of small, fast birds in ES.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Adam,

      All ES. I am not sure but none of it bothers me 🙂

      with love, a

      ps: 1/2500 and 1/3200 will almost always leave some blurring to the wingtips.

  • avatar Jordan Cait

    Thank you for sharing so much with us Artie.
    Typo: It is amazing what you can see by talking a closer look:

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