Intermediate Telephoto Zoom Lenses Kill in San Diego and Elsewhere! And Pleasant Nikon D850 Memories. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Intermediate Telephoto Zoom Lenses Kill in San Diego and Elsewhere! And Pleasant Nikon D850 Memories.

What’s Up?

On Saturday, I drove from eastern Connecticut to Shawangunk Grasslands NWR near Walkill, in New York. I had hoped to photograph Short-eared Owls. Instead, I made some tall grass blurs and some woods at sunset images. Today is Sunday 28 November 2021. I woke early and headed to Nickerson Beach in hopes of finding a Snowy Owl in the snow … My chances are slim at best. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took less than two hours to prepare and makes 21 consecutive days with a new one.

Please remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) 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.

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.

Brand New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, and any prior purchases.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. 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 a 1, 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.

Important Note

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Please Remember Also

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 (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — 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.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs 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 23 January 2019 at La Jolla, CA. I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 300mm) and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 400: 1/3200 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AWB at 2:37pm on a sunny afternoon.

Center Group/Shutter Button AF. Click on the image to enjoy a hi-res version.

Image #1: Heermann’s Gull in flight

Intermediate Telephoto Lenses Kill in San Diego (& Elsewhere!)

It goes without saying that intermediate telephoto lenses are great on the cliffs of La Jolla for photographing Pacific-race Brown Pelican behaviors. Those include head throws, preening, interacting, flight, and lots more. And they are great for shooting gulls (and terns and ducks) in flight as well. And there are several really handsome gull species in San Diego. Many would agree that Heermann’s is the most elegant. Both of today’s featured images are small crops from below and behind the bird.

I have always traveled with one super-telephoto lens and at least one intermediate telephoto zoom lens. The latter are incredibly versatile at most locations. Several offer an excellent minimum focusing distance. As above, they are great for flight. And most are easily hand held. On my bucket list trip to Snow Hill Island in Antarctica, the Nikon 80-400VR was my most valuable lens. It is super sharp.

It is entirely possible to comfortably do the whole San Diego IPT with lenses like the Canon RF 100-500, the Sony 200-600 G, or the Nikon 200-500. Details below.

Nikon AF-S 80-400mm/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens with Extra

Price Reduced $200.00 on 30 August 2021!
BIRDS AS ART Record Low Price

Paul Sher is offering a Nikon AF-S 80-400mm/4.5-5.6G ED VR in like new condition for $1196.95 (was $1396.95). The sale includes a Wimberley P-10 plate (a $52.00 value), the front and rear lens caps, the lens case, the original Nikon box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Paul Sher via e-mail or by phone at 1-503-248-9870 (Pacific time zone).

I owned and loved this super-sharp and very versatile lens when I shot Nikon. It was my go-to lens on my bucket-list Emperor Penguin trip to Snow Hill Island, Antartica. It complements either the 500 PF or the 600 f/4 VR lenses perfectly. As it sells new for $2,296.95, you can save an incredible $1100.00 on Paul’s pretty much new lens. artie

This image was created on 23 January 2019 at La Jolla, CA. Again, I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 400mm) and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 400: 1/4000 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AWB at 2:43pm on a sunny afternoon.

Center Group/Shutter Button AF. Click on the image to enjoy a hi-res version.

Image #2: Western Gull in flight

Pleasant Nikon D850 Memories

Regular readers will remember that when I used Nikon gear for two years, the D850 was my favorite camera body while the vaunted D5 sat on the shelf in my garage. Its 45.7 MP files were quite excellent.

Image Questions

1- Which background you prefer?
2- Which flight pose do you like best?
3- Which is the prettier gull?
4- Overall, which is the strongest image?

San Diego, California: A Bird Photographer’s Paradise!

I’ve been visiting San Diego, California for more than 50 years, and photographing there for almost four decades. It truly is one of my favorite bird photography locations on the planet. The Pacific race Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches, are indeed the stars of the show, but there are lots of other great birds there that are relatively easy to photograph. Check out this five minute video to see the potential.

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking here.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPT. Monday 17 January thru the morning session on Friday 21 January 2022. Four full and one-half day: $2999.00. Deposit: $899.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 6

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. (Or two seconds with SONY zebras…) And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure is one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five three hour morning photo sessions, four one and one-half afternoon photo sessions, four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy day occasions, we may — at my discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

An $899 deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due right after you sign up.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


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

3 comments to Intermediate Telephoto Zoom Lenses Kill in San Diego and Elsewhere! And Pleasant Nikon D850 Memories.

  • 1- Which background you prefer? #2 It gives the feeling of how rough the water is. What the habitat is like.
    2- Which flight pose do you like best? #2 The wing position shows the gull is doing something– like landing. I like action. I like the right wing stretched forward. It’s length and action shape are awesome.
    3- Which is the prettier gull? Probably #1. I’m basing that on previous photos of yours.
    4- Overall, which is the strongest image? #2 by far. It shows action and feeling of habitat (like I’m there, feeling the wind and hearing the waves) and #1 is more static with the gull in fixed wing soaring pose with the habitat far away. I also see more of the gull in #2–legs etc.–although that’s certainly not a rule for making strong images.

  • avatar Hank Fowler

    Hi Artie
    I like the first image on all three questions. The bird is in a more natural flight pose and also creates a couple of pleasing triangle in the image. Also, the background seems to compliment the overall image better.


  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Tough questions. I think Heermann’s gull is the prettiest North American gull, and only the swallowtail gull beats it. I like both backgrounds and flight poses but for me image #1 is the stronger, perhaps in part because of the head angle .

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