A Killer Vertical AF Tip for All Systems « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Killer Vertical AF Tip for All Systems

What’s Up?

Not much. Today is Wednesday 8 September. It is another warm day here in New York. I am getting ready to head south on the Auto Train this Monday afternoon. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 251 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, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would 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 for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

I was glad to learn that one photographer has signed up for each DeSoto IPT. Scroll down for details. And enjoy today’s short video.

What You Will Learn

In today’s short video, you will learn when to go from horizontal format to vertical format. And to be on the lookout for the dramatic down-the-barrel stare! Scroll down for a great AF tip that will make shooting verticals as easy as the proverbial pie.

This image was created on 7 September 2021 at Nickerson Beach. While seated on dry sand, I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter(at 840mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 800. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: RawDigger showed that the exposure was nearly perfect, about 1/6 stop too dark. 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1 (stopped down 2/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:54am on sunny morning.

Tracking: Upper Center Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed just about perfectly and produced a sharp-on-the-eye image.

Image 1: Ring-billed Gull calling.

A Killer Vertical AF Tip for All Systems

Most modern digital cameras allow you to set one Af point or method for horizontals, and another AF point or methods for when the camera is vertically oriented. But the best news is the camera will remember what you have set, and change it automatically when you change the orientation of the camera body by rotating the lens from horizontal to vertical.

If your camera can do that — most can, my advice is to set an upper zone for vertical orientation. That way, when you rotate the lens to vertical when a tall bird is coming straight at you, you are good to go; you do not have to change your AF setting. Consider that all of the action in today’s video took place in less than a minute. And there were a lot more images for the first edit, at least 94 in the complete sequence!


Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tours

Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #1

3 1/2 Days: Sunday 19 September through the morning session on Wednesday 22 September 2021. $1999.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers.

Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #2

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 5 October through the morning session on Friday 8 October. $1999.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers.

Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #3

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 19 October through the morning session on Friday 22 October. $1999.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. And we will get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On this IPT, all will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button.. Everyone will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly, you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever and whenever you photograph.

There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

These IPTs will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB information.

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six folks, so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand, or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving. The length of cloudy morning sessions will often be extended. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.


BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT

Clockwise from upper left to center: Breeding plumage Dunlin, breeding plumage dark morph Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with fish, Laughing Gull on pelican’s head, screaming Royal Tern, Royal Terns copulating, Laughing Gulls copulating, Laughing Gull head portrait, breeding plumage Sandwich Tern with fish, and a very rare-in-Florida, breeding plumage White-rumped Sandpiper.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make the IPT? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of our Site Guides here.


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

12 comments to A Killer Vertical AF Tip for All Systems

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Dan and Folks,

    The R5 does offer the Orientation linked AF point feature. It is covered in detail in my R5 Camera User’s Guide.

    From that guide:

    The fact is that Canon really dropped the ball here by not allowing the camera to remember a different AF Method for each orientation. In other words you are not able to set and have the camera remember Face Detection plus Tracking for one camera orientation and Zone AF — — for example — for another. It was possible to do that with previous Canon bodies.

    Don’t you love it when great features are eliminated in newer supposedly better products?

    with love, artie

    • avatar Adam

      You’re right about this and the only workaround I’ve found so far is to assign BBF to different types of af. My default is to use the shutter button which is assigned face+tracking and then have both zone and spot assigned to back buttons. Whenever I need any of them in a pinch, it’s easy to override the shutter button by using a back button.

      That is a huge pain in the a _ _ at best. Why regress??? And to think that they actually pay some engineer to make the new camera body worse in some regards than the older ones!!!

      with love, artie

  • Dear Artie
    I think she’s scolding you to get off her beach….lol not really
    A great shot!
    Awesome tip on the focus and i love your videos.
    Always with love b

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      There were two gulls arguing over feeding territory. I was just sitting in the right spot.

      with love, artie

      ps: thanks for your kind words.

  • HaHa Arthur– Gull Calling!! Good photo!!

    • avatar David Policansky

      Great tip and photo, Artie. Is the Cabin 7D 2 “modern n” enough to have that feature?

      Hey Dr. Fish, Do you have my 7D Mark II Camera User’s Guide? That feature is covered in detail there.

      with love, artie

      • Hi David, I still use that camera as well, and yes, that feature is there. Nothing special to do: just move the focus point(s) as needed, and next time you go vertical it is at the same spot as last time used in that orientation.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Thanks, Dan.

          From my 7D Mark II Camera User’s Guide:

          C.Fn III/12. Orientation linked AF point.

          I have grown to love “1: Select different AF points.” This allows you to select one sensor (and even a different AF Area Selection Mode) when working in horizontal format and another sensor (and again, even a different AF Area Selection Mode) when working vertically. The camera detects the orientation and “remembers” your AF settings for horizontal and your AF settings for vertical.

          There is more on this topic in the guide. And tons more on the AF system.

          with love, artie

      • avatar David Policansky

        Artie:. No, I don’t. ☹️

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks as always, Sue

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>