Discovering what was there all along. And I hate to ask … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Discovering what was there all along. And I hate to ask ...

What’s Up?

Friday morning turned out to be a lot better than expected. With the wind first from the south and then switching to the southwest, I created 325 images including lots of vulture flight shots. I got a few good ones. I never realized that at this time of year, with the sun rising in the southeast, that a southwest wind in the morning was not the kiss of death. If you purchased a pre-publciation copy of the RawDigger e-Guide and did not receive the link to the update that I sent out early on Thursday evening, please let me know via e-mail.

I found it curious that nobody gave a rat’s ass about expressing their option on the Butt-View image in yesterday’s blog post here where I wrote, Like this one or hate it, I’d love to hear from you. As always, feel free to share your thoughts on why. Either way.

I got more work done on the RawDigger e-Guide, did a morning walk, did my bursts, and swam my slow half-mile plus. The water was a relatively warm 83 degrees, but with a brisk wind in the late afternoon, I was shivering when I got out.

Today is Saturday 9 January 2021. The forecast is for cloudy turning sunny with northwest winds. I peeked out the backdoor at 7:15am, and found that it was dead clear. I will give it a go, but will not expect it to be very good. I looked out the back again at 7:30 only to see a huge black cloud in the eastern sky! Go figure.

This blog past makes twenty-one days in a row with a new blog post. This one took about 2 hours to prepare. Please remember …

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The Used Gear page continues to be very active. The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list for the past eleven months at the bottom of the page.

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Available

Save $10 Now

The RawDigger e-Guide and Video is almost finished. It will sell for $51.00. If you are anxious to get started with RawDigger, learn to mega-Expose to the Right, and wind up with the highest quality image files, you can save $10.00 and have a chance to review a pre-publication copy of the guide by sending a PayPal for $41.00 to with the words RawDigger e-Guide and Video Pre-publication Copy cut and pasted into the Subject line. The recent delay is the result of my recent conversations with Iliah Borg, the brains behind RawDigger. It is veryikely that the Shock-your-World section will shock you.

In the new guide, we teach you why the GREEN channel is almost always the first to over-expose. We teach you how to interpret the Max G values. And most recently, we teach you a simple way to evaluate your exposures using an adapted RawDigger histogram. And tons more, of course. I am planning on having the RawDigger guide ready for sale by next Monday. Folks who saved $10.00 by pre-ordering will of course receive a link to the final PDF.

Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide Info

So far, 70 folks have sent PayPals for their copy of the Canon R5/R6 AF e-Guide. And 28 who used my affiliate links to purchase their R5 have e-mailed for and received their free copy of the guide. If you e-mailed or sent a PayPal and did not receive your guide, please LMK immediately via e-mail.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. Three folks wrote stating that they had a better way of setting up AF on their R5s. When I wrote back explaining why they were in error, two of them back-tracked. One stubborn guy is still doing it his way — less efficiently. Be sure to scroll down to read about my plans for a Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide immediately as the R5/R6 User’s Guide will take at least a month to finish.

BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide

Twenty-one pages. 3,452 words. 28-DPP4 screen captures showing the R5’s vaunted AF system in action. Note: the AF system of the R5 is identical to the AF system of the R6.

You will learn:

1- The two most useful AF Methods for general bird photography and for birds in flight.

2- How to set up your R5/R6 AF Menus.

3- What boxes to check (and un-check) under Limit AF Methods.

4- How to change the AF Method quickly, easily, and efficiently. Note: the default way of doing this is clunky, cumbersome, and inefficient at best. One person replied that this tip alone was worth the price of admission.

5- The only setting that should be used for Initial Servo AF pt for Face Detection + Tracking.

I you are currently using multiple back buttons either for general bird photography or for birds in flight, what you learn in this guide will change your life. For the better.

Here are the first three paragraphs of this e-Guide:

From the moment I learned about the new Canon mirrorless bodies, I read about using two or three back-buttons to focus using different AF methods. The word on the street said that the way to go for birds in flight was to use one button to acquire focus with Zone AF or with Large Zone: Horizontal AF and then switch to another button to activate Face Detection + Tracking AF and then use the shutter button to make an image. My immediate thought was, “This is insanity! There has got to be a better way.” In short, there is a far superior way to set up AF on your R5 or R6.

Remember that I got away from any form of back-button or rear focusing many years ago after finally realizing that it is always easier to do one thing (press the shutter button), than it is to do two things (press a back button and then press the shutter button).

The default method of switching AF Methods with the R5/R6 bodies is cumbersome at best. It involves first pressing the grid button (my name) on the upper right back of the camera and then pressing the hard-to-access M-Fn button to toggle through the AF Methods. This method is so bad that it will not be mentioned again in this guide.

The guide is free to all who have ordered an R5 or an R6 using my B&H affiliate link or from Steve Elkins/Bedfords using the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Please send your receipt to me via e-mail. It will take me a few days to a week to verify the B&H purchases. Bedfords folks should expect their free e-Guides fairly quickly.

To purchase your copy of the e-Guide, please send a PayPal for $25.00 to and be sure to include the words R5/R6 AF Guide in your PayPal e-mail.

Everyone who gets the guide will receive a free update no later than the first week in January.

Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide

I am working on a complete Canon R5/R6 User’s e-Guide. This will require a lot of research, a lot of time, and a lot of effort. I am hoping to have it complete by mid- to late January. As always, folks who use the BAA affiliate links to purchase their Canon gear will receive a substantial discount.

Understand that the info in the BAA Canon R5/R6 Autofocus e-Guide is so important that I opted to publish the AF guide right off the bat to help folks get started with their new camera bodies.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop).

131 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

Folks who have used my B&H affiliate links or purchased their SONY gear are invited to e-mail for discount information.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

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 4 January 2021 at Indian Lake Estates. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 6:40pm just after sunset.

Left Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection. Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Cattle Egret returning to roost just after sunset

A Newly Discovered Sunset Situation

A few days ago, I wrote, I recently discovered a really good evening silhouette opportunity down by the lake. I have already created a few decent images that I will share here soon. But the potential of this new location is huge. Unless it is totally cloudy, I will be there every day from fifteen minutes before sunset until ten minutes after the sun dips below the Western horizon. It is nice to see the sun finally moving back to the north.

The funny part is that this situation has been there forever. Since zero birds have been landing on the two newly-erected perches, I drove around a bit to explore and found the new spot. The spot and the situation that has been there for the two decades plus that I have lived here …

Image #1 was the first keeper from my recent discovery. I will be back there often.

Topaz DeNoise AI Comparison View

I continue to be amazed by what I learn using the Comparison View in DeNoise. (Thanks again, Adam!) I’d always assumed that DeNoise AI was best. But with today’s Image #2, AI Clear was clearly best. And at times I’ve gone with Low Light. Life is full of surprises.


Raw Digger showed that Image #1 was about a stop too dark, while Image #2 –with the small patches of very bright sky — was perfect. Using RawDigger has shown me that the great majority of silhouettes could have used at least a stop more light …

This image was created on 6 January 2021 at Indian Lake Estates. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4xteleconverter, and the 61-MP Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. AWB at 6:41pm just after sunset.

Center Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection. Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Little Blue Heron returning to roost just after sunset

Two Nights Later

Two nights later there was a very nice sunset. I graduated from the handheld 200-600 to the 600 GM with the 1.4X and the 7r iv. The 61-MP 7r iv does fine with flight with the 600 GM. With the 200-600? Not so much. In any case, I started by photographing groups of Boat-tailed Grackles flying through the color. Once they settled, I tried picking off a return heron or egret.

I identified each bird based on shape. Cattle Egret is stockier than LBH and has a shorter, thicker bill. To make sure that the bird in Image #2 was actually a little blue, I went back into Capture One and raised the exposure to +4 and was able to see the slate-blue feathers that confirmed the ID.

I Hate to Ask …

Which of today’s featured images do you feel is the stronger? Why did you make your choice? I have a clear favorite. For two reasons.


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

16 comments to Discovering what was there all along. And I hate to ask …

  • Phill Bird

    Great images, Artie. I prefer #2. To my eye it is more interesting; I like the clouds, the water and the tall grasses providing a depth of habitat missing in the first image. Cheers!

  • Doug

    I liked the clean simplicity of image#1.
    Art, your R5 guide has been extremely helpful. What a difference!
    Thank you for taking the time.

  • Paul Burdett

    Hi Ken: I agree totally. Loneliness is probably the wrong word here…just meant the enjoyment of being alone with nature and the bird. Cheers:)

  • Hi Artie
    I could see both Images in a glossy magazine, illustrating nature with warm evening light. I agree
    with Paul Burdett completely #1. Paul this is for you ” Solitude should never be confused with loneliness ” !.

    Best and love

  • #1: fine two-dimensional image
    #2: layering of foreground, middle ground, and background gives feeling of three dimensions, the “depth” that two previous comments mentioned (ironically, one for #1, one for #2). More complex, more atmospheric, more photo.

    Both shots have amazing positioning of the bird amid the grass stems, with no intersections.

  • Number 1 tells a clear story, bird flaring coming in for landing, gear down, wings spread. The in-focus grass or reeds establishes a well-defined setting of flat swampy area or possibly field. #2 is just a heron flying parallel to the horizon. I find the blotchy background of #2 distracting from the straight forward story.

  • Paul Burdett

    Artie: #1 for me. Why? The image has an overall atmosphere of solitude and loneliness (maybe what the bird is feeling) I can image being there, with no one around…just me and the bird. It’s the atmosphere that makes this image. #2 is a “pretty” image but lacks the atmosphere.

  • James Saxon

    1 for me. Simple with nice color and good separation of the subject from the foreground. Great color in the sky.

  • Warren Howe

    I also like #2 much better. In addition to what Elinor said, I get a much better sense of depth to the image with the sharp grass up front and blurred trees in the background. I love seeing the water in the image and the sky is much more interesting. Finally, there is a hint of color in the dark areas, especially the water, which I really like.

  • I enjoy both images but for me #1 is stronger in its simplicity. I really focus on the Egret and I see depth in the image.

  • Douglas

    #2. My thinking is close to Rogers. More habitat. The clouds don’t bother me at all though.

  • Dan Kayser

    First I really like both images, but I agree with the assessment of all. Elinor summed up what my comments would have been, so I will refrain from repeating.

    #2 is really a great shot!

  • Roger

    I prefer No.2. It sets a scene for the bird. ‘Coming in to land adjacent to water at sunset’.
    Although truthfully I don’t like the blurred clouds. Because they are blurred I find them distracting.
    No.1 is just a bird landing next to what appears to be tall grasses at sunset. It lacks feeling, by comparison. At least the sky blends in with the ‘theme’.

  • Marr Miller

    I agree with Elinor. #2 sets the scene, color has more interest, the bird’s pose is ideal.

  • Joel Eade

    I also favor the second image.

    There are many more interesting elements to look at and study in terms of color and textures.

    The clouds, the blue water, the dark grasses, the far shore of the lake and of course the sharp silhouette with great wing position and extended feet.

    The overall composition with the bird far left and the horizon about 1/3 from the bottom is much more compelling than #1

    This may be the best silhouette I have seen on your blog!

  • When I first looked at #1 I liked it. Now that you ask for closer looks, I see that #2 is by far my favorite. In #1:
    the bird’s head intersects with its wing
    it could look as if the bird is about to land on a grass spear. You can’t see a place for it to land.
    the bird looks too small in comparison to the grass

    -the head and feet are clear-no intersections
    -the bird compares nicely in size to the grass
    -I like the wing down position
    -you can see the water where the bird is going
    -There’s more to the composition than in #1–four lines at the bottom-dark, grass, water, dark. Then the horizontal yellow lines in the sky. Plenty of room for the bird to move ahead.
    -more interesting sky color than in #1

    Thanks, this really made me think.

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