Osprey with Black Crappie: Cool Light/Warm Light. And Hand Holding a 600mm f/4 Lens … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Osprey with Black Crappie: Cool Light/Warm Light. And Hand Holding a 600mm f/4 Lens ...


I forgot to ask, which of the two favorite images is your favorite, the wider habitat shot, or the tighter vertical?

What’s Up?

Anita North, Clemens Van der Werf, and I had a great morning on Lake Blue Cypress. Again, we were blessed early by an Osprey with a fish with the head still on it! I created 1333 images, most with the hand held 600 f/4 GM, and kept 138. Six-eight of those were of the bird featured in today’s blog post, perched with a large Black Crappie in its talons.

Today is Monday 3 May 2021. We will be heading out for Snail Kites soon. 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 130 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head, for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

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.

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

This image was created on 2 May 2021 on Lake Blue Cypress working from Clemens Van der Werf’s flats boat. I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2500. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/640 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 6:55am with a cloud in front of the rising sun.

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

Image #1: Osprey with whole whole Black Crappie in low light

In the Cool Light

A foggy cloud blocked the sun early. As always, such light has a blue cast. During the raw conversion I raised the Color Temperature from 3800 to 4300 to warm the image up a bit.

Hand Holding the 600 f/4 GM Lens

Hand holding the SONY 600 f/4 GM lens, the lightest 600mm f/4 lens ever manufactured at 6.7 pounds, is a struggle for me. It is much harder to hand hold it for static subjects like today’s perched Osprey than it is for flight photography. With flight, I keep the lens hood resting on something in the ready position and do not raise the lens until I see a bird flying into the optimal zone, that is toward me and toward the light.

With perched subjects, you want to stay on the bird as long as possible in case it flaps or takes flight; the muscles in both arms begin to burn quickly as lactic acid builds up. The only way to get relief is to lower the lens. I missed one spectacular take-off yesterday when I did just that. As usual, the victory goes to the stronger (and usually younger). Oh, and by the way, with a 10mph southeast wind had the boat was rocking yesterday; that makes framing the image properly a big challenge.

Note: for many skilled younger photographers like Patrick Sparkman, Clemens Van der Werf, and Arash Hazeghi, hand holding a 600 f/4 is child’s play. And that includes the older 600mm f/4 lenses that weighed eight, nine, and even twelve or more pounds not to mention a three-pound camera body …

Image #1A:Topaz AI Clear on the Osprey with whole Black Crappie in low light image

Topaz Denoise AI

As noted recently, I go by rote with DeNoise with images made in the sun, but with images made in low light I go to the Comparison View as Low Light and AI Clear often produce better results. With Image #1, AI Clear was the clear choice.

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 also created on 2 May 2021 on Lake Blue Cypress working from Clemens Van der Werf’s flats boat. Again, I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1600. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:04am in very soft golden light.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly.

Image #2: Osprey with whole whole Black Crappie in soft, sweet light

In the Warm Light

A few minutes after we spotted the bird with the crappie, s the sun broke through the foggy cloud bank. As always, such light has a strong yellow/red cast. During the raw conversion, I lowered the Color Temperature from 5050 to 4300 to cool the image down a bit. The fact that both images wound up at 4300 was coincidental. Image #1 looks as if it were created in the low, cool light of predawn, and Image #2 looks as if it were created in warm, early light. Some might have preferred Image #2 a bit warmer.

Why Hand Hold the 600mm f/4 GM?

Why would I hand hold the much heavier 600mm f/4 GM when the 200-600 G with my second a1 body lay on the deck?

Image #2A: Unsharpened 100% crop of the Osprey with whole whole Black Crappiein soft, sweet light image

An Unsharpened 100% Crop

The a1 produces the most detailed image files I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Don’t forget here that the sharpest focus was on the Osprey’s eye, not not the fish. In any case, you’ve got to be impressed by those talons!

I recently began converting my a1 raw files in Camera Raw (rather than in Capture One), as I get truer color right out of the box. By truer color, I mean that the converted TIF files better match the color space in my mind, that is the colors that I saw in the field and the color of the raw file.


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

16 comments to Osprey with Black Crappie: Cool Light/Warm Light. And Hand Holding a 600mm f/4 Lens …

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Artie: Once again, I love the tighter one. The osprey is calling and you can really see the fish. Moreover, you still get a feel for the environment — with the gray moss at the top, the greenery at the bottom and the soft green background in the middle.

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    I like ’em both. #2 is my fav by the slimmest margin. I like the Osprey bragging about his catch, a true fisherman!!
    Your back and shoulder were feeling particularly good after swimming again and cutting back the laps to keep from overworking your rotator cuff…

  • avatar Adam

    The situation would have been even more challenging with the first image which was shot with a Tv 1/640.

  • Hi Artie! I like both photos but especially #2 — nice and close and bright and good focus and laughing at it yelling at something!!

  • avatar Byron Prinzmetal

    Instead of f4 it would be 6.3 on the 200-600 and the background greens would be sharper and not as nice, I think. Plus, you would have to raise the iso to let more light in to get the same exposure that might increase the noise…maybe, maybe not after all it is the mighty A1 (but a lot of background that could be noisy). On the other hand topez takes care of noise really well…win some lose some. Me, I am 77 I would be using th 200-600 and forget the noise. The 600 is just too darn heavy for me.


  • avatar Chris Loffredo

    Great image. Love the f4 blurred background. But down to1/1,000/sec while shooting from a boat might be a slow as you can go and get a sharp image in the wonderful soft light. Without raising the ISO well past 1,600.

  • Hi,
    # 2 Vertical More detail Another winner. The other one is nice but the tree takes a lot of attention away from the osprey.

  • avatar Jay

    I like the tighter vertical. It allows you to see more detail on the osprey and its breakfast. ou just feel like you’re part of the scene.

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Hi Artie: My guess on the question, 600mm f/4 vers. 200-600, its all about the melted background in image #2.

  • avatar Adam

    There’s a lot to unpack in this latest post. First, you alluded to one of the challenges with these newer bodies; the incredible FPS and the attendant effort of culling through the incredible number of images a session typically produces. Additionally, you discussed one of the drawbacks of these miraculous 600mm lenses namely the weight. I too struggle with the trade-offs – superior optical quality and aperture versus the weight and inertia (making it more difficult to rapidly place on target and follow). In the final analysis, there’s no free lunch and even the osprey had to work for his catch. Likewise, I prefer the first image of the two.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. There have been some new developments in editing my a1 images that make the process super-fast. I will be sharing with that for with the a1 Info and Updates group soon. The optical quality of the 200-600 G is right up there with that of the 600 GM.

      So the question remains, why did I opt for the 600 GM over the 200-600 for both of today’s featured images?

      with love, artie

      • avatar Adam

        The answer is in your settings, Tv 1/1000, f/4, ISO 1600. Had you used the 200-600 at f/6.3 you would have had to adjust by 1 1/3rd stops either dropping the Tv or increasing the ISO (or both).

  • avatar Paul Burdett

    Artie: I love both of these images…perhaps the first one more so, as the tree with the beautiful Tillandsia hanging down gives the image the wow factor. The second image shows the Osprey off in all its glory. I especially like how the Osprey and fish are parallel to each other…it almost looks like the Osprey has a fish tail! Congrats.

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