A Friend in High Places; Thanks Patrick! A Popular Lunar Compositional Suggestion. And Great Tripod News Times Two. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Friend in High Places; Thanks Patrick! A Popular Lunar Compositional Suggestion. And Great Tripod News Times Two.


We had time on Thursday morning for a short visit with the beach-nesting boobies along the south shore of Cayman Brac before our flights. And we did well. As a last second bonus, several White-tailed Tropicbirds flew right over us. All in all it was a great trip. Lots more photos and lessons coming soon. I woke at 3:55am. We flew to Grand Cayman at 10:55am, then on to Miami at 1:40pm, and finally made it to Orlando at 6:30pm. After a stop at Publix for veggies we made it home to ILE at 9:15.

Thanks to the many for the fun titles folks offered up for the angelic Brown Booby image in the blog post here. My favorites were by Randal Jaffe who wrote, “All together now “YMCA” and Rodney Flowers’ “Air Ballerina” as the pose reminded him of a ballerina with her arms stretched up and toes pointing down.” And there were lots of other clever ones.

I needed to add a room for three different hotels for the UK Puffins and Gannets pre-trip. Booking.com was amazing. I went to the first two bookings and there was a “Add a room to this reservation” button. I clicked on it and my reservation was now for the seven rooms I needed. The third reservation did not show the “Add a room to this reservation” button so I messaged the Booking.com agent who contacted the property that was showing sold out. Bingo. The next day I got an e-mail stating that the Newcastle hotel reservations were now for seven rooms. Hooray; what service and so, so easy. Do not try that with Hotels.com.


If you’d like to try Booking.Com, click on the link below to get great rates and save a handsome $25.00 on your first booking in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

The Streak

Today makes two hundred days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about an hour minutes to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.

Great Tripod News Times Two

Induro tripods trash the more expensive Gitzos. They are more efficient, they stand up far better to salt water, and their customer and repair services are superb.

#1: I recently discovered the Induro GIT 204, the smaller, lighter cousin of the GIT 304L. The 204 folds down to 21 inches for easy packing and at 4.2 pounds (but rated to hold 44 pounds of gear) makes an ideal travel tripod for folks using intermediate telephoto lenses like the Canon 100-400 II, the Canon 300mm f/4L IS, the Nikon 80-400mm VR, and the Nikon 200-500. All of those and the rest of the versatile intermediate telephoto lenses available today do best when your tripod is topped by a Mongoose M3.6. And the GIT 204 is priced at only $525.00, $124 less than its larger six-inch taller cousin, the GIT 304L. I brought the 204 to Cayman Brac and used it with the 200-500 most often with the TCE-14III and always once the sun had disappeared behind the taller houses each afternoon. The booby chicks were so cute that we often stayed to photograph them until well after sunset. I will be bringing the 204 on my next Southern Oceans adventure, (October 2018) for the Emperor Penguin chicks. We hope. B&H does not carry the GIT 204; you can order yours by clicking here right now; there are only five left in stock.

#2: The Induro GIT 304L, perfect for folks using super-telephoto lenses, is back in stock here after being on backorder for forever. If you need the super-tall super-sturdy GIT 404XL, please shoot me an e-mail.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on January 22 at La Jolla, CA with the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (at 350mm), and the blazingly fast professional digital camera body, the Nikon D5 DSLR camera body with dual XQD slots). ISO 12,800 1/4 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 5:47am on a clear night.

Live View: focused manually and then turned off AF with the switch.

Lunar eclipse, January 31, 2018

A Friend in High Places: Thanks Patrick!

In addition to being a fine photographer who hand held the Canon 600 II for a decade often with the 2XIII TC in place, Patrick is technically brilliant. He knows a lot about a lot of photographic stuff that is foreign to me. One of those is photographing the night sky. As Patrick is off on Saturdays we decided to meet early to photograph the eclipse right at max and invited the entire group to join us in the dark. Most did. If it were not for Patrick, nobody would have made a single good image. Mr. Sparkman knew the right ISO and the minimum shutter speed needed to keep the stars and the moon sharp. And he helped me a ton as I did not even know how to turn on Live View 🙂 Once I had that down, I was unable to manually focus the magnified edge of the moon accurately so I asked Patrick for help. As you can see, he focused perfectly.

My Popular Compositional Suggestion …

There were six or seven of us in a fairly tight group photographing the eclipse. Everyone was placing the moon in the center of the frame for easier focusing. Patrick mentioned that you could check for sharpness by magnifying the image and checking the visible stars. I had not even noticed the stars. Once I saw them I realized that by moving the moon out of the center of the frame, you could use the pattern of the stars as a powerful compositional element. I mentioned it to the group and within a minute everyone was doing it. The position of the stars changed as the setting moon moved lower in the sky and to our right and thus we moved the moon around in the frame to create a variety of image designs. Today’s featured image was my favorite.

Once the sky began to brighten ever-so-slightly the moon lost the red color and our session was over.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

5 comments to A Friend in High Places; Thanks Patrick! A Popular Lunar Compositional Suggestion. And Great Tripod News Times Two.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks to my two typo-catchers, Patrick and Steve. Both of my errors were — as is often the case — cut and paste errors where I copy text from a previous blog post to save time and then drop the ball 🙂

    with love, artie

  • Steve Rentmeesters

    “This image was created on January 22 …” of the lunar eclipse on January 31!

  • Patrick Sparkman

    Hi Artie,

    Thanks for inviting me out with you that morning. It was fun. One thing that I noticed is that you show the focal length at 350mm, but I suspect that you were at 700mm equivalent with the teleconverter mounted.

  • David Policansky

    Artie: Nice image. The thing most people don’t recognize about an eclipsed moon is just how little light there is. I made my best image at 1/6, ISO 1600, f/5.6 but I had to lighten it up a bit after the fact, probably two stops worth, which would have got me to ISO 6400, so very similar to yours. The Canon 7D2 isn’t very happy at ISO 6400 in terms of noise. The other thing to remember is that in the dark the image on the LCD screen looks much brighter than it really is. So a properly exposed image will look blown out on the LCD in the dark.

    Perhaps due to atmospheric conditions or perhaps because dawn was just beginning, I saw no stars during the eclipse. I did get a nice landscape shot, albeit noisy, of the reddish moon setting over the dawn-lit mountains.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David. I am no astronomer but perhaps the sky was lighter when you photographed the eclipse (because you were farther east …) I did not notice the stars until someone nearby pointed them out. Once it began to lighten faintly the stars disappeared.

      with love, artie