Redemption: Artie Gets His Dovekies! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Redemption: Artie Gets His Dovekies!

Alive and Well in an Oslo Airport Hotel

After several days of sleeping all day long and photographing all (sunny) night long, I awoke this morning at 4:15 am Central European Time on Monday, June 27 (it was 10:15pm the previous day in Florida then)…. I will be a total jet-lagged zombie when I get home about 23 hours later. (Oslo/Newark/clear customs/arrive in Orlando at 6:14 pm. Publix in Lake Wales before 9pm, and home in Indian Lake Estates by 9:30 pm.) It will be a very long travel day.

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Image Courtesy of and Copyright 2011: Jasper Doest

Artie on the rocks…. Note how Jasper’s patience and skill turned what could have been a somewhat boring man on a mountain image into something special. Notice also the absence of my 800; Jasper and Patrick helped me down with it. Without their help I would still be up on that mountain…. I wore the Sun Protection Hood only on the way down to keep the sun off my face and lips. I will be bringing four of them on the Galapagos trip–leaving next Sunday!

Dovekie Redemption

After I got the bad news for me/good news for them info at 4am on the 24th (they had headed up the mountain on the 23rd), I grabbed the car keys and headed out for a while with comme ci, comme ca results. When we met for breakfast at 9am it was decided that since the weather forecast for the evening of Friday, June 24th was poor that we would try for the dovkies again on our last evening. But my good weather Karma continued (the weatherman be damned). By noon it was clearing nicely so we decided to commit to making the climb again–third time for them, second time for me. My hopes had risen upon hearing their tales of success and actually seeing the images. I slept again for several hours. We met for dinner at 5pm and I had fish soup yet again. After a short nap we left the hotel at 9:15 pm.

This time when we got to the base of Plateaufjellet (PLAT-toe-FEE-el-ut) we could large see flocks of Dovekies flying about and dozens perched on the rocks. Best of all, the birds were relatively low down on the mountain. Hopes high, I practically flew up the mountain. Not only were there lots of perched birds as we approached but most were quite tame. If you moved slowly and kept your tripod low it was easy to get within 15 feet of the birds. Pretty soon I had my first Dovekie images in the can and could begin to concentrate on making some good images. The wind and sun were at our backs so the incoming birds were landing right at us. In four hours we were sated; we headed down at about 2am as most of the birds had headed out to sea to fish.

As you can see in the opening image, the going over the rocky areas where the birds were was extremely tough especially for a just-turned 65 year old coming off two hand surgeries, a nasty infection, and several rounds of even nastier antibiotics. Believe me, I was extremely careful with every step. Disaster was nearby at every moment but that only added to the thrill of the challenge and my great feeling of accomplishment.

It felt so good.

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I created this vertical portrait with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: +10.

With sun on the black and white birds it was vitally important to Expose to the Right; see the ETTR Revelation blog post–it should be mandatory reading for everyone who uses a digital camera.

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This Dovekie flight image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon EF 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm), and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: +1. (After I had this particular Mark IV repaired and adjusted the micro-adjustment dropped from +5 to +1 with the TC in place.)

Photographing the Dovekies in flight was a huge challenge in part because of their small size and great speed and in part because finding a spot to stand while keeping your balance on the rocky terrain was quite difficult.

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I created this image at 11:25 pm with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: +10.

Check out the pretty much perfect head angle here: 45 degrees for a bird facing the camera often works quite well. After seeing Jasper’s and Patrick’s great images this one was especially sweet and added to my feeling of having redeemed myself. Why? Both of my friends had seen Dovekies holding a rock in their bills but had not been lucky enough to get any decent images. Even an old dog can hunt once in a while, that even when standing on a rocky 35 degree slope.

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I created this image at 1:15am with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, the 25mm Extension Tube,and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: +10. Note for Tommy Rodgers: I did micro-adjust with the extension tube in place and found only a one-unit discrepancy on average–small enough to ignore. I will see you in Homer, pal!

There are several important lessons here. First, note that in all of the images of perched birds here that I looked for situations with relatively distant backgrounds so as to soften the look of my backdrops. In some cases, I pulled out the front leg of the tripod to get a bit lower and further enhance that effect. Second, when using a tube with the TC you must place the TC on the lens if you want AF. Placing the tube on the lens lets you focus closer but you will nee to turn the AF switch to M (or Off???) and focus manually. This is just one of the hundreds of great lessons in ABP II. Third: making my conversions in ACR as I usually do left them too red with the BLACKs looking somewhat washed out. Rather than having to work hard in Photoshop to get the images looking the way I wanted them to, I simply did the conversions in BreezeBrowser my crack editing and sorting software. Sorry: PC only.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images in today’s post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–as above–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon 1.4X III TC. This new Series III TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
25mm Extension Tube. This vaulable accessory allows for closer focusing.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.

The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable. Clicking on the link below will bring you to the Delkin web site. There is lots of great stuff there. If you see a product that we do not carry let us know via e-mail; we will be glad to have it drop-shipped to you and save you a few bucks in the process.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gift with each order over $50.

9 comments to Redemption: Artie Gets His Dovekies!

  • Justin McCarthy

    Artie – beautiful pics as always! You must be a very good person to be able to follow your love and be blessed with the bounty of your images.
    Technical question, too: When shooting from the tripod, is the image stablizer on or off? Maybe this was ancient advice, but I heard that leaving it on while on a tripod could leave fuzzy images. Yours are tack-sharp. (BTW I do have your BAA I & II, but I’m unsure that this particular issue is/was covered.) Sorry if this question seems novice – admittedly, it is. Best, Justin

    Justin, I always leave IS Mode 2 on when working on a tripod except when using exposures longer than 1/2 second. artie

  • Svalbard is great! I’m glad you liked it…

  • cheapo

    You said they were cute and they really are. And the rock holding shot is just great! They are funny little guys. They seem to me to be somewhere between a Guillemot and a portly Puffin.

  • I was waiting with bated breath to see if you would get your dovekies. Bravo!

  • Catherine Costolo

    What sweet faces these Dovekies have! These are wonderful shots!

  • Arla

    Congratulations! Do you use Breezebrowser instead of Lightroom?

    Thanks Arla. I do not use Lightroom at all. I use BreezeBrowser to edit and store my images and use Photoshop to optimize my images. I usually do all of my conversions in ACR (the process is pretty much the same as in Lightroom) but converted many of the Dovekies in BreezeBrowser (which uses the Canon Software Development Kit–SDK).

  • Neil Nourse

    Congrats Artie!!I knew you would get them!!
    Great shots you have here! Can’t wait to see more as you go through them.
    Have a safe trip home….

  • Glad you scored Artie… Such great little birds… safe trip back…

  • Tor Lund

    Artie, I am glad you survived my home country. The 24 hour daylight can twist your senses around.

    Thanks Tor. Me too! Though taxing, it was a fantastic trip all around. artie