Life on the Edge Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Life on the Edge Part I

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This American Oystercatcher pair/small in the frame environmental-type image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 in Tv mode. I love the breaking wave in the background.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: -4.

Life on the Edge Part I

Whenever I visit Nickerson Beach I look for birds resting on the edge of the berm with the ocean in the background. I love situations with distant backgrounds and Nickerson’s steeply sloped Atlantic-facing beach offers just that (provided you can find some subjects resting on the edge of the firmly packed sand). The hour right after a big high tide offers ideal conditions as the damp sand is smooth and usually unblemished.

It was foggy on the early morning of Friday, August 26th when I created the two images here at about 6:50am. The frame above that features breaking waves in the background was well underexposed as I had added “only” 2 1/3 stops of light. (With the expanse of white water the meter was badly fooled.) The image below was not as badly underexposed as the image above as the relatively large-in-the-frame, dark back of the single American Oystercatcher had much more influence on the meter than the backs of the two tiny birds in the opening image.

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As I approached the birds above I added the 1.4X II teleconverter to the 800. The birds separated a bit. I like that this single adult American Oystercatcher was on the very edge of the berm. The image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X III TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/6.3 in Tv mode.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: 0.

Whenever you are out and about with your big lens look for situations where birds on the edge provide distant backgrounds as backdrops for your avian subjects. I will share some more “Life on the Edge” images with you in future blog posts.

If you like creating wide images or birds that feature lots of pleasing habitat or other environmental features be sure to check out the Small in the frame/Environmental category in the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition by clicking on Rules and scrolling down.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of he gear used to make the three mages in this 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.

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here for details.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. The new 1.4X TC is designed to work best with the newer Series II super-telephoto lenses but it works just fine with the current lenses.
1.4X II Teleconverter. Most folks including me believe that the 1.4X II TC is as sharp as the 1.4X III TC.
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:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sale value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂
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. (Note: Denise prefers the Wimberley head to the Mongoose.
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.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
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.
BIRDS AS ART Camera Body User’s Guides. Why spend $2-5 grand on a camera and not learn to use it properly and efficiently?

4 comments to Life on the Edge Part I

  • I loved those shot which furnished a great background.

  • Charles Scheffold

    I love those berms at Nickerson. Lots of opportunities to get a great background. The hardest part is getting these guys to stay still. Sometimes they are willing, and other times hardly.

    I like the foggy look of these images, even so the birds are sharp. Not sure if I would clean up that bill or not – I guess I could go either way. The wave crashing in the first image is a nice touch. thanks Charles

    Charles, Thanks. The next blog post will likely amaze you and anyone who has ever been to Nickerson…. It was surreal being out there today. artie

  • Artie I like the shot, but I think the oyster catcher image is a little too bright. I downloaded it and reduced the brightness and increased the contrast and I think it looks better. I also noticed a sharpening halo all around the bird as I reduced the lightness levels to very low levels.(Sorry I have not yet discovered how to post an image in this thread.) Jon

    Hi Jon, Neither do I. 🙂 There are two images (not one). Both are high key and there is not a single hot pixel in either image. Both look fine to me in terms of brightness. 🙂 artie

  • Jim Kranick

    I saw the title and thought it would be about YOUR life on Long Island with the landfalling Irene. Seems you still had power to post some Nickerson photos. Hope you and yours do well in the aftermath of the storm. Jim

    Hi Jim, Though a huge storm Irene was largely a big fizzle, at least at my Mom’s. We never lost power and all of the family is A-OK. Against all odds I made it out to Nickerson Beach this afternoon. See the next blog post. artie