The Miraculous Monday Morning at the Gilbert Water Ranch, Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Miraculous Monday Morning at the Gilbert Water Ranch, Part I


As I mentioned yesterday, the morning of Monday, April 9, 2018 at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch was a magical one; I wound up keeping 60 images. I share my very favorite with you here today. But there were lots of close seconds. I returned to the same spot on Tuesday morning only to find acres of mud. Such is the Water Ranch.

The shoulder is still the shoulder and the inguinal hernia is still the inguinal hernia. I had the best night’s sleep since the fall on Monday night and both felt fine most of the day on Tuesday. I am at the gate for my flight to Orlando, delayed three hours so far. If all goes well I should get home to ILE at about 1:30am eastern time.

The Streak

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


BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Patrick Sparkman saved $350 on a recent purchase!


Several folks on the Gatorland IPT used the Booking.Com link below and got great rates and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

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 the miracle morning of April 9, 2018 at the Riparian Preserve at the Gilbert Water Ranch in Phoenix, AZ. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering about +2/3 stops as framed: 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1. AUTO1 WB at 7:18am on a sunny morning.

Center Group (grp) AF point/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The left hand AF point in the array was right on the bird’s face.

If you do not click on the image to see the larger version you are missing something very special.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +4.

Cinnamon Teal drake flying right at us

The Situation

I was scoping out three gorgeous drake Cinnamon Teal. I had the Group AF array on the one in the middle. I had been photographing avocets hoping for flight so I was at 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1/ISO 400. Instinctively while watching the teal displaying — there was a female in the group — I went two clicks slower on the shutter speed to allow for the darker subject. Then, the drake in the middle jumped off the water and flew right at me looking something like an apparition. I followed and focused and created five quick images. I did not want to enlarge them on the back of the camera so that I could hope that they were sharp and anticipate seeing them on the laptop. If that makes any sense. I was thrilled to see that every one of them was tack sharp on those amazing red eyes.

As I mentioned Cinnamon Teal had been a nemesis bird for me but only for 35 years. What happened next will be the subject of a future blog post …

IPT Stuff

All IPTs include an introductory briefing before the IPT begins so you know what to expect, frequent in-the-field instruction and guidance (priceless), image editing and small group Photoshop instruction during and after lunch. Breakfasts are on your own so that we can get in the field early. Lunches are on me. Dinners are on your own as well so that we can get to bed as the days in spring will be long.

Rides with the leader are available on a limited basis for $50/day.

Registering for an IPT

To register for an IPT call Jim or Jen in the office at 863-692-0906 from Monday morning through Friday lunch with your credit card in hand to leave your $500 non-refundable deposit. Balances may not be paid by credit card so you will be asked to send a check for your balance along with the signed paperwork that you will find here.

Spring at DeSoto is often magical

DeSoto IPT #1 Sunrise: 7:07 am. Sunset: 6:22pm.

3 1/2 DAYS: SUN 15 APR thru the morning session on WED 18 APR: $1599. Limit 5 photographers.

You must purchase a season Parking Pass in advance for early entry. Click here and scroll down for info. If you are not a local, the six month pass if fine. Best to order by mail. Join me to photograph a wide variety of birds of the shore including pelicans, gulls, terns, sandpipers, oystercatchers, heron, egrets, and night-herons. Many in full breeding plumage. Most are ridiculously tame. Osprey likely. Learn to get the right exposure, flight photography techniques, my secret DeSoto locations, how to see the best situations (nobody is better at that than me), and how to make great images in extremely cluttered situations. Enjoy some great sunrises and sunsets.

Which will offer better opportunities, Desoto #1 or DeSoto #2? I have no idea. Both have the potential to be great.

Tame birds in breeding plumage and heron and egret chicks are great fun.

Gatorland IPT #2. Sunrise: 6:48am. Sunset: 7:58pm.

3 1/2 DAYs: THURS 26 APR through and including the morning of SUN 29 APR. $1599. Limit 5 photographers.

(2 1/2 DAY option) FRI 27 APR through and including the morning of SUN 29 APR. $1199.

Must purchase Gatorland Photographers Pass. Click here for details. All early entry. Late stays Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Gatorland IPT #2 should have lots of chicks, and lots of birds in breeding plumage. We will get to photograph Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, and Wood Stork. The Cattle Egrets in full breeding plumage will be present in good numbers. Learn my Gatorland strategy, to get the right exposure, flight photography techniques, my secret Gatorland spots, how to see the best situations (nobody is better at that than me), and how to make great images in extremely cluttered situations.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


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

17 comments to The Miraculous Monday Morning at the Gilbert Water Ranch, Part I

  • Maggi Fuller

    I am not receiving email links to your blog at the moment….. Any reason this should be so? It’s been about a week now. I am normally in the UK, but am in Italy for a month at the moment, but this has never been a problem before! Have you weeded me out?

    I know I don’t contribute much & I am not a great photographer, but I do so love to read your blog and admire your beautiful photos (apart from the blurs!!). I have been subscribing for many years now, so this is very disappointing.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks. You are the only one having a problem so it is likely a problem on your end. We never weed anyone out 🙂

      with love, artie

  • Mark W.

    Hey Artie…always love your work…what more can I possibly say about it?

    I noticed you are using the D850 a lot of late. Do you see that as your main camera going forward and not the D5 for example? Maybe you mentioned this previously but I haven’t noticed that as yet.

    All the best to you!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Mark, Thanks for your kind words about my work 🙂 As I go forward, I see myself using my two D850 bodies probably 95% of the time. The D5 will be an expensive luxury to be used only in pure flight situations. I did not even bring the D5 to Phoenix … Why? The image quality is so, so much better with the D850, and thus, the crop-ability is fantastic. with love, artie

      ps: if you do not own a D850 and are looking in that direction please be sure to use one of my links.

  • Don M.

    Nicely done Artie!

    I’ve had some good success recently with birds in flight, including direct approaches, but not at 1/500 of a second! Could you please provide info on the settings that Geoff mentions for Canon AF users?

    Many thanks,

    Don M.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Don and thanks. My bad on the shutter speed; it was 1/1250 sec. I have corrected it above. Here is the info on the Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight e-guide (free to some):

      Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight … an illustrated e-mail: $10. Free with proof of purchase for any BAA Camera Users Guide.

      If you previously purchased a camera User’s Guide from BIRDS AS ART, you can get your free copy of the new Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight e-mail by following these simple directions: Click here. This will open an e-mail to Jim with the subject line filled in. Now simply cut and paste a copy either the receipt you got when you purchased a camera User’s Guide from BAA or cut and paste the cover or the first page of your User’s Guide. Then hit send.

      Those who have never purchased a camera User’s Guide from us (could it be?) can click here to order the new information from the BAA Online store for $10.00. Or, you can call Jim or Jen at 863-692-0906 to order. Or, you can send us a Paypal for $10.00 to

      With love, artie

  • Mark Harrington

    Inspiring capture Artie.

  • Jack Goodman


  • Looks like the switch to Nikon is working out for ya, beautiful image!
    Sometime during the Canon/Nikon transition, you provided details on a newly-discovered custom setting for Canon AF users, invited us to try it, and to let you know how it worked out. I can’t find the original thread, but wanted to take this opportunity to let you know I’m very pleased with results. The AF (with 500mm and, often, 1.4 and 2x TCs) grabs focus much more quickly than before. Although I often find that it is “twitchier” (moves out of focus quickly if my tracking lags the bird), when I “catch up” with my target it re-acquires sharp focus instantly (which was not the case before). Net/net, my percentage of “keepers” in general is twice what it was before, and is probably 4x more effective with birds flying straight at the camera position.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Geoff. I am glad that you had success with the new settings. Not to beat a dead horse but Nikon AF is astounding.

      with love, artie

    • David Jason

      I,m sure I read an article written by the late Chuck Westfall a few years ago, stating that there are no settings to speed up or slow down initial focus acquisition on Canon DSLR’s.

      • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        I would agree. Is someone saying otherwise? The two best ways to speed up initial AF acquisition are:

        1-have the limit range switch to “not full.”

        2-pre-focus either manually or by AF-ing in the general vicinity, i.e., on the water below a bird in flight.

        with love, a

        • David Jason

          It was the Geoff Coe comment ” The AF (with 500mm and, often, 1.4 and 2x TCs) grabs focus much more quickly than before” after using some newly-discovered custom setting for Canon AF users.


  • Kerry Morris

    One of my favorite ducks. The other is N. Shoveler.
    Typically way too far away to get good photos.
    your photo is gorgeous.
    Love the sharp body, yet the wings show movement!

  • Larry Rudnick

    Great catch! I love the way the eyes are sharp while the wingtips convey motion.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Larry. Eyes sharp due to Nikon Group (grp) AF 🙂

      with love, artie