Not Bad, But Knot What I Was After … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Not Bad, But Knot What I Was After ...

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Paradise Lost

On Monday morning, Anita North and I returned to our favorite Black-necked Stilt spot. For the most part, the birds did not cooperate. I took a walk with my tripod-mounted 600 GM/1.4X/ai and my milk crate and found a cooperative stilt in a nice setting and worked low with the legs of my tripod splayed so that I was working with the lens about nine inches above the surface of the water. I got some very nice stuff.

Paradise Found

We ended early and ran into ILE-neighbor John. He drives down most mornings to check on the crane families. He told me that he had heard of (but not seen) two recently-hatched chicks and directed us to the spot. We drove down, found the family, and realized that the pair that had lost two half-grown colts had double clutched, that is, re-nested successfully. Best of all, both the adults and the chicks are very tame. It is looking like a repeat of the 2020 Mother’s Day tale. I wish them luck while counting my blessings. Coincidentally, we had seen a Bobcat sun-bathing the morning before about a half mile from the new family … I will be calling this family Mother’s Day II.


Today is Tuesday 18 May 2021. Clemens Van der Werf arrived last night and we had planned on an outing on his flats boat for this morning. But after seeing our images of the Black-necked Stilts and the tiny, brand new Mother’s Day II chicks, we will all be heading down to the marsh with our milk crates. The forecast for this morning if for partly cloudy with a breeze from the northeast. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 145 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 10 May 2021 on the first morning of my recent busman’s holiday at Fort DeSoto. Working while seated on the sand, I used the Induro GIT 304L/
Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 (stopped down 1/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:26am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Expand Spot/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1: Red Knot almost fully molted into breeding plumage — in the Gulf surf

In Search of the Perfect Field Guide Portrait

I headed back to DeSoto in hopes of finding a Red Knot in 100% breeding plumage and creating the perfect field guide portrait, an image from the side showing the spectacularly patterned feathers of the back and the coverts of a fully molted bird. This bird was pretty close, but never turned to give me the profile shot I wanted …

Image #1A: AF Point screen capture for the Red Knot almost fully molted into breeding plumage — in the Gulf surf image

You-Gotta-Be-Kidding-Me AF Performance

Can your camera body detect and track the eye of an active shorebird as it forages along the edge of the surf? At 1200mm? The Sony Alpha a1 can. You will not get consistent results unless your camera is set up exactly right. If you own an a1 and are not getting the AF performance that you want and expect, consider joining the SONY a1 Info and Updates group. Scroll down for details.

This image was created on 12 May 2021 on the third morning of my recent busman’s holiday at Fort DeSoto. Working on the Panning Ground Pod, I used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 1000. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/800 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 9:09am in cloudy bright conditions.

Tracking: Expand Spot/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Red Knot partially molted into breeding plumage resting on sand flat

Hard Work …

Wednesday morning started off great and I made some Marbled Godwit and Dunlin in heaven images working in the soft light on the Panning Ground Pod. Next was a fishing Snowy Egret in the surf and a close-to-shore diving frigatebird. Then I crawled and rolled my way about 40 yards on a sand flat with the 600 GM/2X TC/a1 along for the ride in an effort to isolate a Red Knot. The only one that I was able to single out was the sleeping bird in Image #2. I was so knackered that morning that I went for a swim in the Gulf.

Anita is headed back to Canada this coming Friday. I just might head over to DeSoto for another busman’s holiday …

Sony Alpha a1 AF

Barring operator error, the performance of the Sony Alpha a1 AF system at any focal length — including 1200mm as in Image #1 above, is, when the a1 is set up properly as detailed in the in e-mails to the Sony Alpha a1 Info & Updates group, more than remarkable. Early on, there was lots of discussion within the group with many preferring multiple back button approaches. For me a simple shutter button approach with the right AF settings that yield 99% sharp-on-the-eye images is best. By far. It is super-simple and mega-effective. In the next SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group e-mail, I will be sharing what I have learned as to when and it what situations it is best to abandon Wide. And with what. The group has already learned to limit the AF Area choices and to switch AF Areas quickly and conveniently. The default method of switching AF points with the C2 button is both slow and cumbersome.

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based advice. We are now up to an astounding 46 lucky folks. Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.) This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, folks can call Jim weekdays at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.


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

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