Three Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Bird Photography « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Three Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Bird Photography

DeSoto #2 IPT Late Registration Discount Info

To learn about DeSoto #2 IPT late registration discount or pro-rated days on this or any other IPT, please get in touch via e-mail.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All the images on this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tours

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #2

3 1/2 Days: 7 October through the morning session on Monday 10 October 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings three.

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #3

3 1/2 Days: Monday 31 October through the morning session on Thursday 3 November 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings: 5.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. And we will get to do some 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.

On this IPT, all will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button. Everyone will learn 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). The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever and whenever you photograph.

There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

These IPTs will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB information. If you register soon and would like to share an AirBnB with me, shoot me an e-mail. Other possibilities including taking a cab to and from the airport to our AirBnB and riding with me. This saves you both gas and the cost of a rental car.

A $600 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check two months before the trip. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six 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 shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


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.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously, folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. 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 are arriving. The length of cloudy morning sessions will often be extended. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Spoonbills at DeSoto

Over the past years, Roseate Spoonbills have become regular visitors to Fort DeSoto Park. I know when and where to find them and can teach you to approach them successfully. Do consider joining me on one of the DeSoto IPTs.

What’s Up?

I skipped both my walk and the Vulture Trees on a clear sunny morning with a nice breeze from the north. I worked the base of the pier with the 600/2X rig on the tripod and did not fare very well. With a huge overnight mayfly hatch, there were hundreds of birds feeding in the pools on the edges of the flooded lake. Most were Cattle Egrets and White Ibises but, there were enough juvenile Little Blues Herons to pique my interest. So, I grabbed the 400 f/2.8 with the 1.4X TC and an a1 and handheld the rig for a walk down and back the South Peninsula. I kept a few.

Today is Tuesday 4 October 2022. 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 makes one hundred ninety-three days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!


Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

This image was created on 20 September 2021 on a Fall Fort DeSoto IPT. The park is in Tierra Verde, FL, just south of St. Petersburg. Seated on damp sand, I used the lowered, no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-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 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was perfect. AWB at 8:51:29am on hazy, sunny morning.

Tracking: Upper Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Roseate Spoonbill, one year old sky pointing

Three Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Bird Photography

#1 — On sunny days, point your shadow as closely as possible at the subject. In today’s featured image, note that shadow of the leg on the ground is directly behind that leg. It is rare to be perfectly on sun angle, but with Image #1, that was the case. Working subjects that are far off sun angle ruins countless images before the shutter button is pressed.

#2 — As your choice of perspective determines the background, choose it carefully. Be sure to note how each change of position affects the background. And be sure to check the edges of the frame for distractions.

#3 — Getting low will improve at least four out of five images of birds on the ground. Don’t be lazy: get your butt on the ground (if physically possible). Yes, I know that it gets harder and harder to get up, but the results make it well worthwhile. Learn to use the knee-pod, ankle-pod, toe-pod, and foot pod techniques without having to lie belly down in the muck.

Image Questions

Would you have chosen a different perspective? Why?

If you like this image, what do you like best about it?


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

3 comments to Three Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Bird Photography

  • Keith Solberg

    a little late in commenting, but I really like your tips. one of the problems I have is that with the sun at my back I’m often too far away to get a good close shot. so I end up 45 to 90 degrees to the subject and the shadows interfere. wish I could get closer, but I’m not sure if even waders would help and the park might have rules about wading into the lagoon. using Sony 200-600 1.4 TC on an a-9. a 2X TC would help a little (on the wish list). what about making the a-9 think it has a cropped sensor? that would give me another 1.5X, but potentially degrade the image quality. really like the one legged stance and the upturned bill. very unique.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Keith, Better late ….

      Sometimes we are better off just realizing that “this image is beyond impossible.”

      I could not recommend the 2X on the 200-600 and with either TC, atmospheric distortion would be a huge problem.

      with love, a

  • Sue Jarrett

    Image #1: Roseate Spoonbill is great and also cute!!

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