Bill Schneider, Jeff Walters’ Comment, and Zebras … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bill Schneider, Jeff Walters' Comment, and Zebras ...

Your Favorite?

You are invited to leave a comment and let us know which of Bill Schneider’s three featured images is your favorite. Please, also, let us know why you chose as you did.

What’s Up?

Sated by my spoonbill experience on Saturday morning, I opted to stay in all day on cold and grey Sunday so that I could finish the BAA EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide. I did, and sent the MS Word file to IPT veteran Muhammed Arif last night to be converted into a PDF. Then I promptly discovered one big mistake and one serious omission. All of the technical stuff has been ironed out to my satisfaction. If you have earned or paid for the complete guide and have time today to review the almost-finished version, please shoot me an e-mail with the words R5 Guide Final Review Copy Please cut and pasted into the Subject Line. Please LMK of any errors or of anything that is not clear no later than 6:00pm tonight, Monday 22 March.

The finished guide will be featured in tomorrow’s blog post and will be available in the store by then. The links will be sent out no later than Wednesday. So far, I have zero clients lined up for the offered spoonbill instructional mornings. I am planning on heading to Stick Marsh on my own at least on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings.

As I have a ton more work to do, I will not be heading down to the lake this morning for a photo session. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about 2 1/2 hours to prepare and makes ninety 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.

Bill Schneider and Zebra Technology

The reason that I included the exchange below is because I wanted everyone to know that Bill Schneider, the subject of today’s blog post, makes sharp images with all of his SONY bodies, most especially with his brand new a1. Bill’s biggest problem is with framing his images properly; on Thursday afternoon he was cutting most of his birds in half. A close examination of his gear revealed that his Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro was not panning smoothly. I promptly replaced it with a brand new one that functioned perfectly; he did much better on Friday and Saturday.

I’ve set up all of Bill’s SONY cameras with the correct Zebra settings. Ever since I explained to him that after setting a relatively fast shutter speed and the wide open aperture, all he had to do was adjust the ISO with the Thumb Dial until he saw faint Zebras. He has consistently been making perfect exposures ever since. For Bill, the Zebras are the Bomb!

Jeff Walters’ Comment and My Reply

In the recent blog post here, Jeff asked about exposure and Zebras. Our exchange is below.

JW: Great shot. Did you enhance the green/blue around the eyes or is that straight as it was shot?

Right out of camera. The lores of this species come in varying amazing shades of green.

JW: Curious minds want to know! (I am) So impressed with the Topaz AI Denoise. Does it work with the raw file or after a Tiff conversion?

I am not sure whether or not it will process a raw file. I use it on my TIF files first thing after converting and cropping.

JW: And I am a little confused… You wrote the chapter on exposure and refer folks to it in The Art of Bird Photography.(I own two copies).

Why so few?

JW: If you sir, could get exposure right with slide films and older camera metering systems,

at times …

JW: (and I know Zebras are the bees knees though I have never seen either one) why would an experienced Pro like yourself struggle with getting exposure right with your new Canon gear? Since digital offers more latitude in being slightly off on exposure and software nowadays can make corrections in exposure….I’m kind of lost; Confused. Is it just better to have it spot on right out of camera?

Of course.

JW: Could you beg my pardon and explain this a little bit considering I would think Zebras would only confirm what your experience has already taught you or not? As you can tell I’m a little confused on this. Thanks for reading and caring and all of your good (no great advice) and tips. As always press onward towards the goal …

You are welcome. Many folks ask the same question. With Zebras, with your cameras set up as detailed in the big SONY guide, you know you will get it right before you press the shutter button. You do not need to make a test exposure.

Another way of looking at it is as follows: you can get from New York to LA by walking, by jogging, by bike, by car, by train, or by plane. All of them will get you there. Eventually. One of those ways is obviously the fastest and the safest. Using Zebras to determine your exposures is simply the jet plane of determining exposure …

with love, a

ps: if you want to go by bike, that is your choice …

The next day, Jeff replied:

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

P.S. I canโ€™t afford the Private Jet so I have a Schwinn and am pedaling like a crazy man …

Jeff, Is it a Black Phantom?

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 โ€” I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) โ€” 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.

Bill Schneider with his SONY Alpha a1 and the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted 200-600 GM.

William Schneider

I asked Mr. Schneider to describe himself in one word. His answer, Bill. I would say that Bill is a real character, a typical old codger. Like me, he is always independent, always generous, usually stubborn, sometimes loud, and sometimes excitable, but always loving. And easy to like. At age 82, he has — again like me — some physical problems, most recently a seriously bum shoulder. Bill was born in Watertown, WI. He describes himself as the dumbest kid in the class. His first job was frying burgers for his Uncle Howard. Bill started a printing machinery rebuilding company about 50 years ago. To say that it has been a huge success, would be a huge understatement. Thirty-seven years ago he started a printing company, Commercial Communications Inc.; it became another huge success. Today, Bill is quite well off.

He has been happily married — most of the time according to Bill — to Karen for 43 years. Today he lives in Cape Coral, FL. He spends lots of time managing his investments, loves photographing birds, and enjoys fine wine and Scotch.

This image was created on 18 March 2021 by Bill Schneider at Merritt Island NWR, Titusville, FL. Bill used the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter (zoomed out to 546mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the thumb dial: 1/1000 sec. at f/13 (wide open!) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed the image to perfectly exposed. AWB at 5:06pm on a fortunately cloudy, very bright afternoon.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a version that fits into your browser window.

Image #1: MINWR Mystery heron/egret
Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: Bill Schneider/Schneider Photo
Image processing by artie

SONY 200-600 G with 2XTC and the Alpha a1

On our first afternoon, Bill wanted to work with the SONY 200-600 G with 2XTC and the Alpha a1 on a tripod rather than the larger, heavier, 600 G lens. The smaller, lighter rig was much easier for him to manage. The bird in this image is the mystery heron/egret that has been visiting Merritt Island NWR since 2013 (or possibly its offspring …) I will doing a blog post soon discussing the possible identification of this bird.

In any case, Bill created a fine image of this odd but beautiful bird. The sharp a1 file allowed a crop from the original horizontal image capture (with a bit of canvas added at the top).

This image was created on 19 March 2021 by Bill Schneider at Merritt Island NWR, Titusville, FL. Bill used the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter (zoomed out to 852mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 640. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the thumb dial: 1/1000 sec. at f/13 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 5:43pm on a cloudy afternoon.

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

Image #2: Roseate Spoonbill feeding
Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: Bill Schneider/Schneider Photo
Image processing by artie

Bill’s Wish was My Command

After we photographed the odd heron/egret, Bill said, I’d like to photograph an adult spoonbill. All of the ones by my house are the duller young birds. I want a pretty one. We drove less than a mile and came upon a single adult Roseate Spoonbill feeding in a small mangrove-bordered cove right next to the road.

Image #2A: Topaz Sharpen AI on the head only of Bill’s Roseate Spoonbill feeding image

Topaz Sharpen AI

As with almost every image I process, all three of Bill’s featured images were run through Topaz DeNoise AI. Noting a bit of motion blur, I selected the head using the Quick Selection Tool, placed it on a Layer, and ran Topaz Sharpen AI on Stabilize. Click on the screen capture above to see the huge improvement in sharpness in the After image on our right.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plug-ins), will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. If the stuff is on sale (as it usually is), you save 15% off of the sale price! To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Those who purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or any other Topaz plug-ins using my link and then entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. Please include a copy of your Topaz receipt that shows the discount. Aside from the basics, the guide explains how to install the plug-ins so that they appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu.

This image was created on 19 March 2021 by Bill Schneider at Merritt Island NWR, Titusville, FL. Bill used the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the thumb dial: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 (stopped down 1/3 stop by accident) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:26am 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.

Image #3: Glossy Ibis feeding
Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: Bill Schneider/Schneider Photo
Image processing by artie

Bill Outdoes artie

We were hurting for subjects on Friday morning. We stopped at what has been a productive pool where there were a few distant snipes. A beautiful Glossy Ibis flew in and landed right down sun angle. I decided to stick with the snipe I was on while Bill made some images of the breeding plumage ibis. I reminded him to get a few Zebras on the water. And he did. I decided to try for the ibis that promptly departed stage left … He who hesitates is lost.


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

19 comments to Bill Schneider, Jeff Walters’ Comment, and Zebras …

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    Great work Bill!

  • avatar Dane Johnson

    Hi Artie, Regarding Jeff Walters question if Topaz modules will work with RAW files, the answer is yes. The Topaz modules are stand alone and can also be accessed from Photoshop and Lightroom. I have used Denoise AI and others stand alone to adjust both Canon CR2 and Sony ARW files. You can open a file from within the module or drag-and-drop a file to be processed into the work area. This can be done with any of the Topaz modules.

  • avatar Brian E Small

    I was gonna guess Little Blue x Snowy on that bird………..such a cool looking individual. Thanks for sharing. Quick photo related question Artie. How well does the a1 balance on the 600 with and without the vertical grip?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Brian,

      More on the mystery bird soon. I am surprised that you had not heard about it as it has been around for eight years.

      As I do not hand hold the 600 GM, balance for me is a matter of move the plate forward or back atop the Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro. I do not like adding the extra weight of a vertical battery grip to any of the mirrorless camera bodies.

      with love, a

      ps: use the link to get your a1 to join the a1 Info and Updates Group — a quasi Camera User’s Guide.

  • avatar Peter Noyes

    Al three pictures are great! I like the third picture the best because of the reflection in the water. To me the second one is the second best. To me, the picture of the third bird was taken from the rear right side; however, the lines of the head and neck play very nicely into the picture.

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    Bill is a Maestro! I like 1,3,2. But preferences are slight. Love #1, such a unique bird. (Possible Snowy/Reddish Egret Mix?? Yellow feet and Lore looks Snowy like to me) Can’t wait to hear your DNA Genetics breakdown! The Glossy Ibis is sweet, prayers/wishes answered with the Spoonbill. I would guess that both Bill and Art were stoked with their day and outcomes.

    On 4/1 Artie switches back to Nikon/Canon Hybrid from China!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Jeff. Close!

      We did have a great Thursday afternoon but Stick Marsh on Saturday morning was phenomenal.

      with love, a

  • avatar Steve Shapiro

    Artie, will you be doing a EOS R6 Camera Userโ€™s e-Guide? I just purchased the R6 and bought your AF Guide. It was a big help!!!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Glad that it helped!

      Good question, Steve. I will not be doing an R6 guide but the R5 menu and everything else is virtually identical. There are a few very small differences in the menus. So, you will probably wish to order the guide. Mention your purchase of the AF Guide and save $10.00. Most on that tomorrow.

      Next times, use my affiliate links ๐Ÿ™‚

      with love, artie

  • I also like #1 best, for the way the colors work and for the way the wave or ripple pattern makes an arrow pointed at the same place the bird’s beak points.

  • avatar Adam

    Bill sounds like quite the character and I enjoyed today’s exchange. You mentioned something about a defective flexshooter pro. What characteristics was it displaying which led you to discover the issue? Is the 200-600 a bit light for the degree of tension on the ball head?

    My preference is image #1 and it is all the more amazing when one considers it is a crop at 1200mm from a zoom lens. Must have been a pretty incredible day when atmospherics weren’t at play.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Adam,

      He is just that ๐Ÿ™‚ It would not pan smoothly. Not really. I get tired after hand holding it for two hours …

      We were blessed with cloudy to cloudy-bright conditions … More on that bird soon.

      with love, a

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Image #1 is my favourite, I love the beautiful pose of the bird, and the grey and white colour of the bird is beautifully different!

  • avatar Andy

    That is one fascinating bird. Immature little blue with a snow egret head. Iโ€™ll be interested in your thoughts and more pics. It is was 4/1, Iโ€™d be suspicious ๐Ÿ™‚ What do the feet look like?

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