A Blog Post to Inspire Your Compositional Creativity « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Blog Post to Inspire Your Compositional Creativity

A Blog Post to Inspire Your Compositional Creativity

While I am proud of every blog post, I am especially proud of today’s offering.

When we head out with our gear, everyone is on the same playing field. We get to choose our subjects. We all have the same light and wind and weather to work with. We consider the same subject or subjects, the same sky, the same water, the same land, and the same vegetation at hand. By carefully choosing a lens and our perspective, we determine exactly what we want to include in our images. Then we utilize our camera’s AF system and our knowledge of exposure to create the image we envisioned. To me, this represents the great challenges and rewards of nature photography. In addition, your post-processing skills determine the success of the optimized image.

So, I am especially proud of today’s post and the eight featured images because they show what you can do with the same rig and a creative mind. Each image below was created with the 400mm f/2.8, a 1.4X TC, a Sony a1, and a good measure of creativity and skill. Consider joining me on an Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) to live and learn the concepts illustrated below. In any case, I hope that you are inspired.

What’s Up?

I got lots done on Friday. Working with Eric Bowles, we are just about finished with our letter to concerned NANPA members; it should be going out on Monday. I have also been working on my Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle B&H Event Space program. I was glad to learn that the sale of Bill Wingfield’s Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II lens is pending.

Today is Saturday 5 November. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about 3 1/2 hours to prepare including the time spent on the eight image optimizations and makes two hundred twenty-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!

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item β€” a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head β€” for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, 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 earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Brand-New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists 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 a 1, 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.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW πŸ™‚



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. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

This image was created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. While standing at full height, I used the Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65″/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with Exposure compensation on the Thumb Dial. Shutter Priority +2.3-stops. AUTO ISO set ISO 3200. 1/250 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be about 1/3-stop too dark. AWB at 7:43:52am with the sun behind me obscured by early morning clouds.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: American White Pelicans in pink/purple/blue early morning light

A Pink/Purple/Blue Predawn Bird-scape

With some clouds on the eastern horizon, I was surprised by the pink/purple/blue early morning light as this light occurs most often on dead-clear mornings. The plan, that I call out to the group, was to get some pelicans floating in the still water near the lee-shore where the pre-dawn color was brightest. The east breeze being was somewhat blocked by the vegetated shoreline creating the still water.

The monopod enabled me to work at a fairly-slow-for-560mm shutter speed. Had I been handholding, all else being equal, sharpness would surely have suffered. Having been in Shutter Priority mode for pre-dawn blurs, I opted to stay with that for a while.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. While seated on a hard-sand path, I used the shortened Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65″/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with Exposure compensation on the Thumb Dial. Shutter Priority +1.7-stops. AUTO ISO set ISO 800. 1/40 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be about 1/6-stop too dark. AWB at 8:02:58am as the sun broke through the early morning clouds.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: American White Pelican swimming with o-o-f marsh grass foreground

Image Design Via Perspective

I wanted to get lower but with the tide fully high, I was reluctant to sit in almost a foot of water. So, I shortened the monopod, sat on the path, and included the out-of-focus grasses in the foreground. Note that in Shutter Priority mode I needed less plus compensation because the green vegetation — darker than the light blue water, influenced the meter toward a lighter exposure.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. While standing at full height, I used the Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65″/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 320. 1/1000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:09:59am on a then sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #3: American White Pelican swimming with reflection

Up-In-the-Frame

When you wish to include the full reflection, you must use your camera’s AF system to place the bird higher in the frame than you would when creating a filed-guide portrait. With Sony, that is easy, as long as you remember to do it. Note that as the sun got higher in the sky that I (properly) abandoned Shutter Priority and went to Manual mode.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. While standing at full height, I again used the Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65″/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 800. 1/2000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:13:44am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #4: American White Pelican squadron in flight — incoming

Keeping Your Eyes Open. And Moving.

All successful bird and wildlife keep their eyes open and scanning in all directions unless they are actively photographing something great. In this case, everyone in the group noticed the large flocks of pelicans flying in from behind us. There was no shot when the long lines were coming in to join the large flock on the sandbar, but when this group turned back to the east (into the wind), to land, I liked what I saw.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. Again, while standing at full height, I used the Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65″/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 1250. 1/2500 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:15:37am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #5: American White Pelican swimming — coy look-back pose

Sony a1 Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye Detection

The performance of Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled borders on science-fiction like. In addition to detecting the bird’s eye with a tiny green square even before you half-press the shutter button, you can place the bird anywhere in the frame as the AF tracks the eye. I began by moving the AF point in the center up a few clicks, acquired the eye, and the recomposed left or right as needed depending on which way the bird was facing.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. While seated in six inches of water, I used the knee-pod technique with the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 640. 1/2000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:31:40am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #6: American White Pelican swimming — battleship pose

Getting Lower

As the tide dropped, I opted to sit in the water and use the knee-pod technique (while ditching the monopod). When these huge pelicans are swimming toward you, they remind me of one of the now obsolete WW II-vintage battleships.

From r/Ask Historians on the Reddit.com website here:

u/ilikedota5 asked:

Why are battleships obsolete since world war two?

thefourthmaninaboat/Moderator wrote:

Battleships have become obsolete because in the modern threat environment they are not as capable at dealing damage as other possible options. Aircraft were the battleship’s main competitor at dealing damage immediately after WW2. Compared to a battleship, aircraft could deliver a heavier strike, over a longer distance, and much quicker. For example, for a target 300 miles away, it would take the typical fast battleship 10 hours at full speed to reach it. Aircraft would take a tenth of the time. The typical carrier aircraft cost tens of thousands of pounds, while a battleship cost closer to ten million. Hundreds of aircraft could be produced, maintained and flown for the cost of a battleship, and together those aircraft packed a bigger punch. Aircraft were more versatile than a battleship, and could project power over a much larger radius – including inland. A battleship can really only contest only the sea within range of its guns, while aircraft can contest anywhere they can fly to.

Battleships also represent a major liability – in a threat environment where everything is vulnerable, having a single, large, expensive target making up the majority of your combat power is foolish. If you lose a single aircraft, or small warship, then you have lost comparatively less than if you lose a battleship. Modern weaponry, especially nuclear weapons (as demonstrated at Bikini Atoll) make battleships just as vulnerable as any other ship or aircraft.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. While seated in six inches of water, I used the foot-pod technique (with some trepidation) with the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 400. 1/2500 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be dead-solid perfect. AWB at 8:37:22am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #7: American White Pelican flock on sandbar

Getting a Lot Lower With Some Trepidation

When sitting in the water using the foot-pod technique, the wavelets may at times lap against the lens hood. One needs to work carefully to avoid dunking their rig. But for me, the ultra-low perspective, as seen in Images #7 and 8, is well worth the risk.

My Favorite Bird?

Which is my favorite bird in the flock?

Despoiled Wilderness

The natural wilderness that is Outback Key at Fort DeSoto Park is spoiled by a proliferation of large signs as well as by the stakes, strings, and ribbons that protect the Least Tern colonies in spring. At nearly all beach-breeding bird colonies, the strings and ribbons (at least) are removed when the nesting birds have left the colony. Important signs might be lowered and reduced in size and number to better persevere the wild aspects of the key. It took me more than thirty minutes to remove the posts, strings, and ribbons that marred the raw file for Image #7.

This image was also created on 3 November 2022, the wonderful fourth morning of the third DeSoto IPT. Again, while seated in six inches of water, I used the foot-pod technique (with some trepidation) with the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 400. 1/2500 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:37:22am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #8: American White Pelican — small-in-the-frame swimming with its reflection

Your Call?

Which of today’s eight featured images is your favorite? Please enlarge each image, make your choice, and leave a comment letting us know why you made your choice. I have two that I really love and will share those here with you on Tuesday.

The Jackpot Question

Which two of today’s eight featured images have something that bugs me? Leave a comment noting those two and the thing in each that bugs me.

Click on the image to better see the green eye-AF boxes in action.

Sony Alpha 1 Flight Photography AF Points!

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up Guide and Info Group: $150.00 (or Free)

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up Guide 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. The group is now up to up to an astounding 131 lucky and blessed folks, and more than a few folks own two or more a1 bodies! Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. The best news is that everyone in the group receives an e-mail that includes a .DAT file with my a1 settings on it, and explicit directions on how to load my settings onto your a1; talk about convenience! I am now offering a .DAT file compatible with firmware update 1.20. Your entry into the group includes a consolidated Sony a1 CAMSETA2 INFO & GUIDE. New a1 folks will now receive six e-mails instead of the previous 28! You will receive new e-mails as they are published. Simply put, this e-mail guide is an incredible resource for anyone with an a1.

All who purchased their Alpha 1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link — B&H or Bedfords — will receive a free Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up Guide and free entry into the Info Updates group after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.). Others can purchase their guide here in the BAA Online Store.

Typos

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

14 comments to A Blog Post to Inspire Your Compositional Creativity

  • Joel Eade

    Beautiful images. I think image #2 needs a bit of CCW rotation, perhaps that is bugging you.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Doc. Perhaps on the rotation, but not that does not bug me. The thing that bugs me cannot be fixed πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

  • #2 and #8 for me as well Artie and I will take #8 for top billing. The low angle, the layering, the compression of space, the exaggerated reflection of the bill and the composition all come together to create a brilliant image.

  • Maggi Fuller

    I like image 6 because the bird shows well against the slightly darker blue background. Second favourite is image 8 of course! Image 1 does absolutely nothing for me, and I have to agree with David, re the blurred vegetation.

  • David Pugsley

    My favorites are 2 and 8. If I had to pick one I’d take 8. I believe your favorite bird in 7 is the one doing the head throw to the left. If I’m wrong, it’s likely the preener with the head square to the sensor very near the center.

  • Sue Jarrett

    All 8 of these photos are cute except that #1 is a little bit dark but a also cute!

  • Adam

    Image 8 is my favorite for the composition and use of negative space. Fantastic image and perspective in all respects.

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. My favorite is #5. Your favorite bird in #7 must be the only one that’s strikingly different from the others, the one in the left side doing a head throw. In image #4, I can imagine that you would have preferred that the right wing of the second bird from the right weren’t seemingly touching the bird on its right. I don’t know what else might bug you, but I don’t like the oof vegetation in the first two images.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Dr. Fish. Yes, the head throwing bird is special. Correct on the problem with #4. What’s the other one?

      I like the vegetation in both of those.

      with love, artie

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