2X3 or Pano American Oystercatcher on Eggs? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

2X3 or Pano American Oystercatcher on Eggs?

What’s Up?

On Wednesday, I finished writing the text for the upcoming “The Art and Science of Photographing Birds in Flight with the Sony Alpha 1. I have sent a copy out for review and will be working on the photos for the next few days.

I’ve been walking two to three miles every day. By afternoon, the skies above Ronkonkoma, Long Island, NY were a sickly yellow with the smell of the smoke pervasive. Strangely, at 4:00pm, the sun appeared as an orange ball in the gray sky.

Today is Thursday 8 June 2023. Curious as to the smoky conditions, I will be headed to Nickerson Beach to see what’s up. The first thing I will do is to check on the oystercatcher nest featured in today’s blog post; I am 99% sure that it has hatched by now. This blog post took about an hour to prepare. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too are gonna have a great day.

I was happy to learn recently that multiple IPT veteran/Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime veteran Dietmar Haenchen has signed up for the 3rd San Diego IPT.

All are cordially invited to join me at Nickerson Beach later this month or next year or on a Homer or a San Diego Instructional Photo Tour (IPT). I will be announcing fall dates for two or three Fort DeSoto IPTs soon. Not to mention a Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime in August 2024.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

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 earn 3% cash back 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.

This image was also created on 23 May 2023 at Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Seated on dry sand I used the lowered Robus RC-5558-3 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1000. Exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/250 sec. at f/4 (wide open). AWB at 6:00:01am on a partly cloudy morning.

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

Image #1: American Oystercatcher adult female on three egg clutch

Easy Peasy Nest

On my first visit to Nickerson Beach on 23 May, the first thing I spotted were the protective ropes around the oystercatcher nest above. I approached to within 43 feet and sat down behind my lowered tripod. The bird walked off the nest a few feet and then quickly returned and settled down on her eggs. I had no desire to get any closer because I liked the surrounding beach vegetation. After making a few images, I got up slowly and was pleased to see that the bird did not move an inch.

Note that I was more than confident in making sharp images at 1/250 second on the tripod. As is usually the case, RawDigger, the raw file brightness was perfect.

This image was also created on 23 May 2023 at Nickerson Beach, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Seated on dry sand I used the Robus RC-5558-3 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1000. Exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/250 sec. at f/4 (wide open). AWB at 6:00:01am on a partly cloudy morning.

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

Image #1A: American Oystercatcher adult female on three egg clutch

The Pano Crop

After converting the raw file with Adobe Camera Raw, running Topaz DeNoise AI, and cleaning up a bit of beach debris, I saved the 2X3 version and then decided to try a pano crop, Image #2.

Your Call?

Do you prefer Image #1, the 2X3, or Image #2, the same image cropped to a pano? Why?

The Robus RC-5558 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripods

For reasons that I do not understand, the prices of both the 3-leg section Robus RC-5558-3 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber tripod and the 4-leg section Robus RC-5558 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber tripod have been drastically reduced. They are available only from B&H and are currently priced at a ridiculously low $399.95, about 1/3 the price of a comparable Really Wrong Stuff (RWS) tripod. Right now, the 3-leg section version is my go-to tripod.

Via Text from Andrew Schonbek

Thanks for the great DeSoto IPT, Artie. It was an eye-opening experience in many ways. I have lots to work on and practice in the aftermath. Looking forward to learning more in the future. Andrew

Via Text from Stu Goz

Much love and respect to you. On the 3rd DeSoto IPT you shared a million dollars’ worth of insight for pennies.

Via e-mail from Stu Goz

Here’s cliche number one: I don’t write reviews.
Cliche number two: I’m making an exception in this one case.

I am writing this a week after my first IPT because I needed to let it all sink in properly – I needed to decompress. I’m probably not fully there yet, even now, but it’s time.

My biggest take-away is that Artie’s masterpieces are well-earned. There was never a time when I’ve seen someone work harder than he did. It was inspirational, humbling, and fascinating to watch him. Once he was in his element, the magic started immediately, and his passion was apparent for the duration of each session. My next takeaway is how unbelievably gracious, honest, and generous he is. Anyone who follows his blog already knows this (and if you don’t, you should), but Artie is an educator to his core. He is quick to explain his thought processes at any time, and leads by example.

After each session, we had a nice meal and discussed what made good photos good and bad photos bad. Enlightening. And sometimes sad. But so much better for it all. These days, more than any other time, it is the extra effort that separates the pros from the amateurs – getting low in the muck, as needed – knowing when to move, and when to stay, and doing it unwaveringly. I created so many images that I’m proud of. Artie has a great way of teaching without belittling, which keeps your mind open to his many lessons.

Artie, you are a national treasure, a never-ending source of inspiration, and a perfect mentor. I wish I could shoot right next to you every weekend.

I hope to see you again soon; your friend.

Stu Goz

Summer 2023 Nickerson Beach Terns, Skimmers, & Oystercatchers Instructional Photo Tour (IPT): 3 1/2 (or 4 1/2) DAYS. Monday afternoon, June 19, thru the full day on Thursday June 22 (or Friday June 23), 2023. 3 1/2 Days: $1899.00 includes three working brunches. (4 1/2 Days: $2199.00 includes four working brunches). Limit six photographers

The Summer 2023 Nickerson Beach Terns, Skimmers, & Oystercatchers IPT

I am offering two options for this IPT. Locals might prefer the 3 1/2 day IPT. Folks traveling from out of town will almost surely want to maximize their travel dollars by staying the extra day. The stars of the show will likely be the nesting Common Terns. As many have been on eggs for a week or more, we should get to photograph some small chicks and lots of birds in flight with fish. We should have lots of American Oystercatcher families with chicks of varying sizes. Photographing them at dawn along as they forage along the edge of the surf is an exciting experience. We will get to photograph early morning skimmer flock blast offs, lots of afternoon midair battles, and will likely have some skimmers on eggs. Flight photography for all three species will abound.

Many folks head home feeling that while our time in the field was fabulous and productive, that the working brunch sessions were even more valuable. During image review you will learn to select the best images from several thousand made with your 20- and 30 fps camera bodies. And we will process a few images and distribute the screen capture videos for you to learn from after the trip. And all IPTs offer follow-up image critiques.

Change your life: sign up for this IPT today. Please shoot me an e-mail if you would like to explore the possibility of renting some Sony gear (including an a1) from me.

Some of What You Will Learn on a Nickerson Beach IPT

  • 1- The basics and fine points of digital exposure; how to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure (or before if you are using SONY gear).
  • 2- How and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).
  • 3- How to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them.
  • 4- Lots about bird behavior and how to use that knowledge to help you create better images.
  • 6- To spot the good and great situations and to choose the best perspective.
  • 7- To see, evaluate, and understand the light.
  • 8- To design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
  • 9- And perhaps most importantly, to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. You will learn where and when to be (and why).
  • 10- More than you could ever imagine.

The Details

We will be on the beach very early to enjoy sunrise. The morning sessions will run at least 3 1/2 hours. Afternoon sessions will begin at 6:00pm and run till sunset. There is never a set schedule on an IPT — we adapt to the conditions. On cloudy mornings with the right wind, we may opt to photograph till 11:30am or so and skip the afternoon session. That especially when the afternoon weather is looking iffy.

There will be a Photoshop/Image Review session before and after brunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time. Each of these IPTs will run with only a single registrant as I do not like disappointing anyone. The best airports are JFK or Slip (if you have lots of Southwest points. Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with lodging information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same general area (rather than at home or at a friend’s place a good distance away).

Folks attending this IPT will be out in the field ridiculously early and stay out late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors; this is pretty much a staple on almost all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours. Doing so will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest and those who need to get home for a proper dinner. I really love it when I am leaving the beach at 9:00am on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving … We may be getting our feet wet on occasion, especially in the mornings, but those who wish to keep their feet 100% dry can do so.

Your $599 deposit is due now. Credit cards are OK for that. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand. Once you leave a deposit, you will receive an e-mail with your balance statement and instructions for sending your balance check ASAP for this short-notice IPT. Those who wish to pay for the trip in one fell swoop via check may do so by making the check out to BIRDS AS ART and then mailing it to BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, and clothing and gear advice right after you register. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.

IPT veterans and couples or friends signing up together may e-mail for discount information.


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

17 comments to 2X3 or Pano American Oystercatcher on Eggs?

  • David Pugsley

    I prefer the pano crop. I tend to go with them when the foreground and background are monotone such as the case here. Perhaps clean up the horizontal stick/seaweed in the foreground?

  • Sue Jarrett

    Bob Eastman thanks for reminding me that the 2nd image is listed as #1A!!!

  • The pano is lovely and is a far better composition as the extra sky and sand aren’t needed. dark sand is ok.

  • Sue Jarrett

    Both 2 Image #1 of American Oystercatcher adult female on three egg clutch are interesting and well made. There are two images but they are both listed as #1.

  • kathy j kunce

    off oystercatcher topic – sony is rumored to be releasing a prosumer camera in July and I was wondering if you would be reviewing it. also wondering if you have comments on the canon eos R7 which IMO would be an alternative to waiting to purchase this new sony. I know you are not using canon anymore, but being older I’m concerned about switching from canon to sony and how steep a learning curve that might be.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


      I will not be reviewing the new rumored Sony pro-super camera. If you are going to Canon mirrorless from a Canon dSLR, you will have a huge learning curve. Everything is different.

      If you could get a Sony a-1, the learning curve for those in my a-1 group is flat. I have taught folks who have never used Sony or mirrorless to begin making great images in exactly five minutes. It is all about the set-up.

      Whatever you decide on, please e-mail for an affiliate link.

      many thanks, much love, artie

  • Dietmar Haenchen

    Hi Artie,

    I like the pano crop much better than the 2×3 because the latter has too much area that does not contain any useful information.


  • Tony

    I prefer the pano crop! But it does make that little smudge of dark sand stand out more. I didn’t really notice it in the first image. Can’t really say why, but image #2 just has more wow-factor – the format enhances the composition more. My 2 cents.

  • Maggi Fuller

    Not keen on the dark patch of sand in front of the nest in Image 2, nevertheless it is still my favourite.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Maggi. I thought about making four versions, two without the o-o-f stick but was too busy or too lazy.

      with love, a

  • Artie
    I love the pano crop with a little less beach in front of the oystercatcher and a little less sky. However i would love to see just a wee bit more on the right side to give the little green plant a tad more room otherwise i love the pano. I’m on the fence on the darker blob of sand in front of her as it does draw my eye. You are very blessed sir to see everyday art!
    Always with love b

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Bob. You are right about the plant on our right. I saw that but was too lazy to go back. Good spotting. “If an object is worth including in the frame, you need to include the whole thing with a nice border.”

      with love, a

      Now who said that?

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