Clean Beach? Changing Tactics. Moving a Bird Back in the Frame. Creating a Natural Catchlight. JAX IPT #2 Sold Out! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Clean Beach? Changing Tactics. Moving a Bird Back in the Frame. Creating a Natural Catchlight. JAX IPT #2 Sold Out!

What’s Up?

Rain, rain, and more rain as Tropical Storm Elsa visits Florida. My planned early morning walk was postponed by heavy thunderstorms. I did hit the streets in late afternoon. It has been pouring (again) since then. I was thrilled to learn the 27-IPT veteran Lou Newman and a friend will be joining Donna, Clemens, and me for the now sold out Jax IPT #2. Yesterday, I started work on my 2020 tax return.

Today is Wednesday 7 July, and you guessed it, it is pouring right now with lots of thunder and lightning. The forecast is for scattered thunderstorms until this afternoon. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 192 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to 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, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

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 second-day air 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 (remember those?) 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

This image was created on 30 June 2021 on a beach near Jacksonville, Florida. While seated on the damp sand and working off the tilted rear screen, I used the Panning Ground Pod-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 640. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3 (stopped down 1/3-stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 4:30pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Tracking: Expand Spot was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly.

Image #1: Royal Tern ruffling after bath

Creating a Natural Catchlight

Click on the image to enlarge it and see the catchlight that I added to the tern’s eye. Adding a highlight is delicate work and it is easy to overdo things. Use a tiny, hard Clone Stamp Tool brush to grab some white pixels from somewhere in the image. Make sure that the Align box is unchecked. Work large, and create an irregularly-shaped highlight in an appropriate spot. The best way to get it right is to study the shape, look, and position of natural catchlights in images made on sunny days.

Clean Beach?

Yes, I am very good at cleaning up distracting shells and pebbles on sand beaches. But on occasion, you will encounter clean, pristine, pure sand sections of shoreline. You can check out the original in the AF-point screen capture below to see just how clean this beach was before Photoshop.

Changing Tactics …

When we worked near the colony, the tern and gulls were silly tame. So the first cloudy afternoon I headed out to the sandbars with the 200-600 only to find that the same birds, even the juvenile Laughing Gulls, were quite skittish, almost impossible to approach. So on my next sandbar walk, I headed out with 840mm at my disposal, the 600 f/4 with the 1.4X TC. That proved to be a winning combination.

Moving a Bird Back in the Frame

Even though the Panning Ground Pod allows me to pan smoothly when framing a shot, I still have trouble at times with image design when working off the rear screen while seated. Even with my reading glasses on. The tern in the original here was too centered. Perhaps because I did not want to clip the primary tips when the bird ruffled. When a bird is preening after a bath, they will ruffle 99% of the time. If you are patient enough. If you compare the position of the bird in the optimized image, #1, above, with the position of the bird in 1A, below, you will see that I moved the bird back in the frame during post processing. In contrast to the hour and twenty minutes I spent on yesterday’s featured image, moving the bird back in the frame here took well less than one minute using the Quick Masking techniques detailed in APTATS.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. And you can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Image #1A: AF Point screen capture for the Royal Tern ruffling after bath image

SONY and artie

Switching to SONY, first with the a9 and the a9 II, and then with the remarkable a1, has enabled me (and others, like Mike De Rosa as seen recently in the blog post here), to create images of birds in flight and in action that I could not have even dreamed of when using Canon for 33 years and then Nikon for more than two.

From Joe Barranco via e-Mail

Thanks for your great ideas on the A1 set up. I have been getting MANY more keepers doing things your way!

From Barbara White via e-Mail

Wow, I just gotta say – I learn so much from the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info group! My camera is on my desk, and I’m always picking it up and changing something that I’ve read about in the e-mails.

Thanks, Barbara

From Janet Horton via e-Mail

Hi Artie, Mystery solved. Yes, I was able to replicate what you did. I forgot that you have to set self-timer using the upper dial. I am used to that being a MENU selection.

Thanks much, Janet

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as more and more folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based answers. As the a1 is becoming more readily available, more and more folks are getting their hands on this amazing body. With two folks joining yesterday, we are now up to an astounding 64 lucky and blessed photographers! Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.) This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, folks can call Jim weekdays at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.


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

3 comments to Clean Beach? Changing Tactics. Moving a Bird Back in the Frame. Creating a Natural Catchlight. JAX IPT #2 Sold Out!

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