Sony 200-600 G lens + 1.4X TC + a-1 at 840/749mm Low Perspective Foot-pod Shorebird Perfection X2. And How! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Sony 200-600 G lens + 1.4X TC + a-1 at 840/749mm Low Perspective Foot-pod Shorebird Perfection X2. And How!

Picking the Best Image at 30 frames per second

When a Short-billed Dowitcher came to alert posture for just a second or two, I held the shutter button down until the bird turned away. Learn lots more below.

Did You Remember …

to set your clocks and watches back one hour?

Canon EF 400mm F/5.6L USM Lens (the “toy” lens)

Marty Paige is offering a well-used Canon EF 400mm F/5.6L USM lens in good condition for a silly low $399.00. The front glass is clean and the lens functions perfectly. The sale includes the front and rear lens caps, the lens case with strap, the original product box, the user guide, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses. Photos are available upon request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Marty via e-mail at e-mail or by phone at 1-423-458-8990 (Eastern time zone).

The old 400mm f/5.6 L lens was my first Canon autofocus lens. It was light and sharp and still is. It quickly become my favorite flight lens and I referred to it often as my “toy” lens. I pretty much put it on the map for bird photography. With an adapter, it is a great starter lens for anyone wishing to get into bird photography without breaking the bank. There is a used copy of this lens at B&H for $809.95. artie

Clockwise from the upper left back around to center: Osprey gaining altitude after missed strike; school of mullet under attack from below; Wood Stork with Southern Whiting; Osprey with Menhaden; Wood Stork with small lobster; Royal Tern with large baitfish; Osprey with Menhaden; juvenile Osprey directly overhead “t-shot”; Osprey taking flight with freshly caught Mullet.

Sebastian Inlet In-the-Field Sessions

Join me for 3 hours of morning In-the-Field Instruction at Sebastian Inlet for only $300.00/session. The main target will be Ospreys fishing for a variety of migrating saltwater fish that visit the inlet each fall. Back-up subjects include fishing gulls, terns, and Brown Pelicans, Wood Stork, a variety of herons and egrets, sunrise cloud-scapes, and the occasional sea turtle or manatee.

Current November Dates: 7-10, 2023. The very best weather is looking like Thursday/Friday.

Please get in touch via e-mail to book one or more sessions.

What’s Up?

My smelly defrosted fish skins (courtesy of Mike’s Fish Market, Lake Wales, FL), attracted about three dozen Black Vultures less than ten minutes after I set them out on the South Peninsula. I had a few good chances before the wind picked up and switched from north by slightly east (pretty good!) to north by west (bad!). When the wind has a westerly component, the birds will almost always be landing away from you.

Today is Sunday 5 November 2023. I may head down to the lake very early despite the weather forecast: clear skies with a breeze from the northwest (bad in the morning). Wherever you are an whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

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.

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.

B&H Simplified

To ensure that I get credit for your B&H purchases, you can always click here. The tracking is invisible but greatly appreciated. And, you can use your PayBoo card. You must use the website to order. B&H will reopen on Fri April 14. Thanking me for the past 4000 educational blog posts could not be any easier and will not cost you one penny. Please shoot me your B&H receipt for major purchases.

Bedfords Simplified

Click here to start your search. Choose standard shipping, and when you get to the payment page, enter BIRDSASART in the discount code box and hit apply. You will be upgraded to free second day air Fed-Ex and receive 3% cash back on your credit card once your stuff ships. Either is greatly appreciated by yours truly.


Many folks have written recently stating that they purchased a Sony a1 from B&H and would like their free membership in the Sony 1 Info and Updates Group, a $150.00 value. When I check my affiliate account, their orders have not been there. When I let them know that they get credit for B&H purchases only if they use one of the many B&H affiliate links on the blog or begin their searches with this link, they are always disappointed. If in doubt, please contact me via e-mail and request a BH link. I am always glad to help and to guide you to the right gear.

Bedfords Amazing 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, prior purchases.

Visit the Bedfords website here, shoot Steve Elkins an e-mail, or text him on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

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. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

i-Phone 11+ image

Image #1: Sony 200-600mm G lens with 1.4XTC and a-1 on the sand with a Short-billed Dowitcher in the distance

The Foot Pod Technique with the Sony 200-600mm G lens with 1.4XTC and a-1

I made this photo with my I-Phone 11+ to give folks an idea of the set-up when using the foot-pod technique. In actuality, my left hand would be under the left/bottom of the camera body and my right index finger on the shutter button. I would have my reading glasses on, have the level activated, and attempt to keep the camera square to the world as I pan with a foraging shorebird.

You pretty much have to trust your camera’s AF system when using this technique. That said, Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Eye/Face Detection enabled performed superbly with today’s two featured images. Join me on DeSoto IPT #4 to learn a ton more about low perspective photography with telephoto lenses.

Note the small stream (to the left of the blue line) that is emptying into the lagoon. There were, perhaps, a dozen shorebirds feeding on about an acre of shallow flats. Those included Short-billed Dowitcher, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover, Piping Plover, and Greater Yellowlegs (2). Knowing that most of the birds would eventually make their way to the mouth of the small creek (rich in invertebrates), I positioned myself to be in position to get some good photographs when they came to me somewhat down sun angle. With my shadow pointed just to the left of the subject, the dowitcher in Image #3 was less than ten degrees off sun angle.

When the wind is “wrong” (north/northwest in the morning in this case), know that feeding shorebirds are not effected as much as roosting birds as they pursue their invertebrate snacks.

This image was created on 1 November 2023 at Fort DeSoto Park, south of St. Petersburg, FL. I used the food-pod technique with the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 840mm) with The One, the Sony a1 Mirrorless Camera ISO 1600. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: RawDigger showed that the exposure was perfect: 1/2500 sec. at f/9 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:41:27am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Eye/Face Detection enabled performed perfectly.

Image #2: Dunlin — first winter plumage feeding image

Gorgeous on All Counts

The 840mm reach of my set-up and the super-low perspective provided by the foot-pod technique combined to create a pretty-much-perfect image of a young dunlin feeding. AF nailed the eye and resulted in the crispy eye-skins that I love. The bird is nearly parallel to the sensor, the head angle is perfect and the image, as it came out of the camera, was square to the world. Even with the electronic level activated it is not easy to get them all level. Note also that I went with a high shutter speed (1/2500 second) to freeze the sewing-machine-feeding-action. This, of course, resulted in a relatively high ISO (1600) for a sunny day. But my new, two-step noise reduction rendered an image that rivaled ISO 400 images in terms of noise (or the lack thereof).

The Sony 200-600 G Lens

As you see here often, and again today, the relatively lightweight, relatively inexpensive Sony 200-600 G lens, in the right hands, is both versatile and many-faceted. The lazier I get, the more fabulous images I create with the 200-600 G lens! Why is that?

This image was created on 1 November 2023 at Fort DeSoto Park, south of St. Petersburg, FL. I used the food pod technique with the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 749mm) with The One, the Sony a1 Mirrorless Camera ISO 1600. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: RawDigger showed that the exposure was perfect: 1/2000 sec. at f/9 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:59:24am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Eye/Face Detection enabled performed perfectly.

Image #3: Short-billed Dowitcher — first winter plumage alert posture image

The Alert Posture Pose

Feeding shorebirds are challenging subjects as it seems that they are always moving, jabbing the mud, turning this way and that, and/or constantly switching direction. At times, often in response to something unseen by humans, the may come to alert posture and freeze for anywhere from less than a second to perhaps five to ten seconds or more. When they do freeze and the head angle is perfect as it is in Image #3, I always panic, hoping that I can attain accurate focus before the moment is gone. With this series, I made about ten perfect images and several with the bird’s head turned away. With the far leg raised and most of the foot visible, this was the clear winner.

First-winter Plumage

Both of today’s featured images show young shorebirds in first winter plumage. Note that some of the wing covert feathers retain traces of the whitish fringes of the juvenile feathers, but others are freshly molted winter feathers, plain gray with a darker shaft. Learn lots more in my Shorebirds; Beautiful Beachcombers here.

All images from SEPT/OCT/NOV at Fort DeSoto.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger, sharper high-resolution version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Piping Plover flapping after bath, juvenile Laughing Gull with feather, American Oystercatcher with sea urchins, Willet foraging in surf, American White Pelican juvenile swimming, skimmer/tern/shorebird blast-off blur, American White Pelican in flight, Black-bellied Plover stealing lugworm from Marbled Godwit, Roseate Spoonbill staring.

Fall 2023 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #4

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 14 November through the morning session on Friday 17 November 2023. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings: three.

Fall Bird Photography at Fort DeSoto

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds, terns, and gulls in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, and night-herons 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 there should be some quality 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.


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.

The Details

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 guaranteed). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB/VRBO information. If you register soon and would like to share an AirBnB with me, shoot me an e-mail. Other possibilities including taking a cab to and from the airport to our AirBnB and riding with me for $50/day. This saves you both gas and the cost of a rental car.

A $600 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check one month before the trip. 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 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 on lodging.

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. On cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip the afternoon session. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will sometimes be on your own as well.


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

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