Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part I of Many. And a killer forward-facing/turning left flight image made with the 500 PF/TC-E14/D850 Rig « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part I of Many. And a killer forward-facing/turning left flight image made with the 500 PF/TC-E14/D850 Rig

What’s Up?

Setting up a new computer is never without challenges. I have already downloaded and installed Photo Mechanic and Photoshop (Adobe Photoshop CC/20.0.3 release). I got my samandmayasgrandpa e-mail address set up in Apple Mail. All of the above after many, many hours of phone support and re-setting passwords. As I type, I am installing Nikon NX-D so that I can display AF point and access the Focus Fine-Tuning info. Today I will work on downloading and installing Capture One. Lots more on that soon. I am happy with the progress that I have made so far.

In addition to the set-up stuff, getting used to the vagaries of a new keyboard is also quite challenging …

I was excited to receive the enclosure from Amazon on Wednesday afternoon so that I could access the data off of the SSD (Solid State Drive) from my old computer. We triple-checked with Apple to make sure we were ordering the right enclosure but they misdirected us … The one they advised did not work. On Wednesday afternoon I drove into Lake Wales A local computer guy went online and was able to find what I hope will be the correct enclosure — the one he found for me is a 12/16 pin model that is good for all MacBook Pros from 2012 to 2017. It should work … Kein ayin hora (Yiddish for “without the evil eye). I already have copied much of my data in the form of Documents and Photos from my Carbon Copy Cloner back-up disk and am hoping to access the old SSD so that I can restore about a week’s worth of Photos (many made with the SONY gear) and the last saved copy of my Orlando Camera Club program. The new enclosure is supposed to arrive on Friday. If it does not get here on Friday or if it is not the correct model, I do have an earlier version of Lessons From the Field BIRDS AS ART Style on the new machine. But if I need to work from that one I will have about three hours of work that needs to be re-done. Time will tell.

Be sure to click on the featured Brown Pelican image below to view the spectacular larger version.

IPT Updates

I still need three folks for the Galapagos trip, and the UK Puffins and Gannets trip is wide open with only a single registrant. Please shoot me an e-mail to learn about the huge late registration discount on the Galapagos trip.

  • The 2019 Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/THURS 18 APRIL through the morning session on SUNDAY APRIL 21, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 4. Meet and greet at 7PM on the evening of WED 17 APRIL.
  • The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins, Gannets, & Red Kites IPT. Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 10 photographers/Openings: 9. This trip needs four to run. Co-leader: Peter Kes.
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. July 23 to August 6, 2019 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,499. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings: 4. Please e-mail to learn about the huge late registration discount for this trip.


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

Orlando Camera Club Program Sponsored By Bedford Camera

On February 25, 2019, I will be presenting “Lessons from the Field – BIRDS AS ART Style” for the Orlando Camera Club. They told me that they did not want to see beautiful images as they would rather learn. I told them that I would need to show them lots of beautiful images during the course of the lessons. 🙂 I have been having a ton of fun for three weeks creating this brand new program. The meeting begins at 6:15; my program is scheduled for 6:15 – 8:00pm at the Marks Senior Center, 99 E Marks Street, Orlando, FL 32803. The meeting is free and open to the public. If you learned about the program through the blog be sure to come up for a hug.

Huge thanks to Steve Elkins at Bedford Camera for sponsoring my appearance and to Holly Manus for the invitation. Click on the logo-link above or check out the Money Saving Reminder feature immediately below to get acquainted with Bedford.

From the OCC website here:

Arthur Morris will present “Lessons from the Field – BIRDS AS ART Style”. This slide-illustrated lecture will feature hundreds of Artie’s spectacular photographs. As he shares images from his favorite locations around the globe he will be telling us about the birds and other creatures that he photographs and about the equipment and techniques that he uses to create his images. Topics to be covered include getting close to free and wild birds, flight photography, getting the right exposure, and image design. A selection of books and CDs will be available.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Recent Sales

I sold my Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens with the RRS Collar Foot Package (a $250 plus the shipping value) for only $1099.00 in mid-February.
John M Wright also sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $488.00 and his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR body in near-mint condition with 28,567 shutter actuations for $1999.00 in mid-February 2019.
Multiple IPT veteran and good friend Paul Reinstein sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM in excellent plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $6,599.00 in mid-February.
Multiple IPT veteran, dear friend, and BAA technical advisor Patrick Sparkman sold his Nikon D850 DSLR for $2699.00 just days after listing it in early February.
I sold my Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II in near-mint condition for a BAA record low price of $299.00 in mid-February.
Multiple IPT veteran, dear friend, and BAA technical advisor Patrick Sparkman sold his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens in like-new condition for $10,996.95 his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens in like-new condition for $475.00, his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens in like-new condition for $910.00, and his Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III in excellent condition for $385.00 all within a day of listing them in early February.
John Svendsen sold a Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF ED lens (the original version) in near-mint condition for the BAA record low price by miles of $1499.00 in early January.

Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Allen Dale is offering a Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens in near-mint for a BAA record-low $624.00. The sale includes the original box and everything that came in it including the front and rear lens caps, the tripod mount ring, the tough fabric lens case, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US lower 48 addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Allen via e-mail or by phone phone at 1-956.961.4140 (Central time).

I owned and used this great lens for many years. It is a great flight lens and I always loved its close focusing ability that made it great for flowers, frogs, and dragonflies. I firmly believe that it is a far better bird photography starter lens than my beloved old “toy lens,” the 400mm f/5.6L lens. Why? It is image stabilized and it does great with all AF points with a 1.4X TC. Grab this one while you can as the price is right. artie

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. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

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… 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 third afternoon of the Spoonbill Boat IPT. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped-up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering plus 1/3 stop off the sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/8 was more than a stop under-exposed. (Even though the skies were clear, it was late in the day; the light was very soft and, in addition, it was a bit hazy.) NATURAL AUTO WB at 5:27pm on a clear afternoon.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: 0. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp)/Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the bird’s face; good on me. This image is perfectly sharp on the eye.

Brown Pelican — forward-facing/turning left flight pose

Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part I of Many

With the incredible autofocus tracking accuracy of my Nikon D850 and my SONY A9, producing sharp on the eye flight images has become child’s play for me. When I saw a great pose while editing my Canon flight images, I would always say a prayer asking that it be a sharp one. Most times I was disappointed. When I switched to Nikon and now that I am experimenting with SONY, judging the flight poses and wing positions goes to the fore-front as nearly 100% of the images are sharp-on-the-eye in the absence of operator error. With apologies to all of my Canon friends out there, these are the facts for me. If you use Canon gear and are making completely sharp flight images then my hat is off to you. And I am very glad for you.

The Forward-facing Turning Flight Pose

The forward-facing turning flight pose is one of my very favorites. Note that while the bird in today’s featured image is turning to its left, we have a great look at the bird’s face and its right eye. Note that he underwings are completely and evenly lit. Note that the sun is from over my left shoulder thus lighting the right side of the bird’s face. This is a full-frame image; I was lucky to fit the whole bird into the frame.

In short, for me, this is a perfect image of a bird in flight.

The Biggest Lesson

Be sure to photograph the bird just as it is turning toward you. Once it turns away, quit pressing the shutter button.

The 500 PF/TC-E14/D850 Combination

Many have been asking about the still-almost-impossible-to get 500 PF with the TC-E14 and the D850 (or the D5) for flight photography. I had a good chance to test it out with the D850 on the spoonbill boat and I was impressed. Do realize that when you are handholding telephoto lenses at long working focal lengths that there are several accompanying problems:

  • 1- Panning with and properly framing your subject with focal lengths of 700 or 800mm is a challenge for most folks including and especially me. That would include rigs like the Nikon 500 PF/TC-E14, SONY A9/2X TC, and the Canon 400DO II/2X III combinations. It ain’t as easy as it might seem. Again, for most folks. Especially from a rocking boat.
  • 2- With these long working focal lengths come smaller wide open apertures like f/8 and f/11 (the latter with the SONY 100-400 and the 2X TC). And with these smaller apertures and the fast shutter speeds you need and want for flight photography come higher and higher ISO settings …

I do hope to get back the photos that were not backed up as there are some pretty neat SONY flight images in those files including remarkably some made at 800mm with the SNON 100-400 and the 2X TC …

Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, many in full breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: Laughing Gull landing on the head of Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull in flight, Reddish Egret sunrise silhouette, Great Blue Heron with needlefish, Yellow-crowned Night Heron with ghost crab, Roseate Spoonbill, Sanderling in breeding plumage, and white morph Reddish Egret in glorious breeding plumage.

The 2019 Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/THURS 18 APRIL through the morning session on SUNDAY APRIL 21, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 4. Meet and greet at 7PM on the evening of WED 17 APRIL.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for a great variety of migrant shorebirds, gulls, terns, and passerines in Spring. Many of the gulls and terns will be courting and copulating. There the migrants join hundreds of Florida resident egrets, herons, night-herons, and pelicans on the T-shaped peninsula. We should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and many of those will be in their spectacular breeding plumages. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is a strong possibility. We may get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three years. And we should enjoy some great 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. Yikes, I almost forgot to mention that nearly all of the birds are ridiculously tame!

Yes, Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, most in breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph Reddish Egret displaying, Laughing Gull vertical front-end portrait, Laughing Gull with prey item, landing on head of Brown Pelican, breeding plumage Royal Tern displaying, Royal Terns — pre-copulatory stance, Laughing Gulls copulating, Laughing Gull head portrait, breeding plumage Sandwich Tern with fish, and a rare treat, a breeding plumage White-rumped Sandpiper.

Just some of the stuff you will learn …

On the IPT you will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, 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).

Again, Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, most in breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: Laughing Gull in flight, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Sandwich Terns copulating, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, breeding plumage Short-billed Dowitcher, American Oystercatcher, Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret in a marsh.

What we do

There will be seven shooting sessions in all: four 3+ hours morning session and three 2 1/2 hour afternoon sessions. There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (lunch is included) on each of the three full days. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel/lodging information.

You got it, Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, most in breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: Roseate Spoonbill, immature Brown Pelican in flight, the heron/egret hybrid, American Oystercatcher feeding, immature Royal Tern on railing, Great Egret morning silhouette, Black Skimmer in the surf, and underside head portrait of Great Blue Heron.

Signing Up

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer 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 remember that the meet and greet will take place on the evening of WED 17 APRIL. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


Folks attending this IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

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.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours; on this particular trip, we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. 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 arrive.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my 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 :).

3 comments to Flight Poses and Wings Positions: Part I of Many. And a killer forward-facing/turning left flight image made with the 500 PF/TC-E14/D850 Rig

  • Bill Goodhew

    Hi Arthur,

    I sympathize with you on your new computer setup. You have unbelievable patience!

    :). Or not. But what is the option: yelling and screaming and crying does not make much sense.

    It’s too late for this conversion, but I submit the following suggestion to possibly avoid this agony next time:

    I am on my sixth Apple computer, beginning with an Apple Iic and progressing through 4 Macs. Loved almost all of them! (except the Apple III).

    My previous MacBook Pro was bought in mid 2012. In 2017 I bought a MacBook Pro with a 2TB SDD disk similar to your new one.

    Prior to 2017 I began backing up my Mac with Apple’s Time Machine (at that time it was a hardware device, now it’s software). TM, when connected to your computer, backs up your Mac hourly, daily, and weekly, some of which backups are incremental, i.e. only backing up whatever has changed.

    If it is only software now how does it “connect” to your computer?

    When I bought the new Pro, I simply pointed it to my Time Machine backup hard disk, directed it to restore everything, waited a few hours, and viola! my new Mac was, software-wise, identical to my old one. No codes, keys or passwords needed!

    I had the capability to do that with the similar (?) program that I use, Carbon Copy Cloner. That is what I updated with in early FEB. The problem is that I resist updating so it did not make sense to go back several years of operating systems … I was easily able to get everything off that drive. If the next enclosure that I get this afternoon (FRI 22 FEB) is the right one, I will be able to grab everything that I need quickly. Kine hora …

    Everything was identical – MacOS, all finder contents, all my software including Photoshop, Lightroom, Word, Excel, all my data files including he all-important Picture file, and every app I had downloaded. Although my files were not encrypted, TM would have handled that.

    You can find out about TM here.

    I would have one concern about your case, because TM restores the last FULL backup file. I don’t know whether full backups are made only weekly, or what. Since you use your Mac so frequently you may have big differences in weekly backups. You should ask Apple about that.

    My Time Machine is a wireless box; it is no longer available. It is now only software. With the new software version you would need to plug in the backup device on which your TM files are held to your Mac.

    It sounds a lot like CCC.

    But the beauty of TM is restoring everything to a new machine. Just push a button!

    But check it out – it may not be for you. But it was a miracle for me.

    Thanks for sharing.

    with love, artie

  • Andrew Browne

    Sorry Art. On my iMac the brown pelican looks very plastic and over processed. I have the PF 500mm lens on my D500, don’t use a teleconverter on it because the images just loose so much detail, and much more if you crop the images. I concentrate on trying to get closer to the birds or just don’t bother to keep the images. I definitely wouldn’t post such an image. Cheers AB

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Andrew, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I disagree but only 100% — I love the photo, but what do I know? As far as not using a teleconverter, I am not sure as to how you came to that conclusion; I have been using teleconverters for three decades and making images that sell, have been honored in international competitions, have made me happy, and made many others smile. But again, you need to ask yourself, what does he know? And BTW, the image in question is an un-cropped D850 image. I would suggest getting glasses, getting a new laptop, and taking an IPT. Where can we see your posted images?

      cheers, artie

      ps: or perhaps you are 100% correct …