1200mm Sleeping Pelican Feather Detail Technique « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

1200mm Sleeping Pelican Feather Detail Technique

San Diego IPT Late Registration Discount

If you are interested in joining me this coming Thursday in San Diego to improve your photography by leaps and bounds and enjoy the phenomenal Brown Pelican photography, please shoot me an e-mail for IPT #3 late registration discount info. Though different every day, the photography has been consistently and astoundingly good.

Homer Late Registration Discounts

If you are interested in traveling to Homer, AK with me in FEB/MAR 2023 to photograph Bald Eagles, shoot me an e-mail for late registration discount info. Several folks are in the process of registering so do not tarry. The first IPT is looking sold out as I await the last two deposit checks.

What’s Up?

On Sunday, I photographed in the morning for several hours and then took the rest of the day off. There was only a breeze, so the hoped-for great flight photography never materialized.

Yesterday’s blog post here was something of a SNAFU as I inadvertently swapped the image codes. I have fixed that and corrected and responded to all the comments. I was the only one to like the pelican greeting blur.

Today is Monday 16 January 2023. It has been pouring here all night. As I began this blog post at 4:30am Pacific time, it continued to rain hard. The forecast is calling for the rain to quit soon. The forecast is calling for cloudy skies with a SSW wind from 15-18mph, so I will head to La Jolla as soon as the rain quits as these seemingly very poor morning conditions can offer some excellent pelican photography if you know where to be. I will be there. Most likely, alone. This blog post took about two hours to prepare (including the time spent on the two straightforward image optimizations) and makes two hundred ninety-three days in a row with a new, educational post. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

As I put the finishing touches on this post, it is 6:03am and the rain has stopped πŸ™‚

It is looking as if Homer #1 and #3 will be sold out fairly soon. Please do not forget to use my B&H or Bedford’s affiliate programs for your new gear purchases.

My plan is to continue to post every day until the streak reaches one year and one day and then go back to posting every other day.

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.

Induro GIT 304L Tripod

Out of production for more than two years, BAA just sold its last one. The good news? We have located two more new-in-the-box tripods. They will be available for shipping at the end of January. Best to order yours now to be sure that you get one. We will not run your card until your item ships. The 304L was my go-to tripod for more than a decade. Best to grab order yours right now to avoid being disappointed.

Bedfords Amazing 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 15 January 2023 at La Jolla, CA. I used the no-longer available Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x 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! 1/30 sec. at f/11 (stopped down one-stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be within 1/6th stop of dead-solid perfect. AWB at 8:52:55am on a dark, sometimes drizzly morning.

Manual focus with Focus Peaking is one of my favorite new techniques. I will post and iPhone image of that soon. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Sleeping young Brown Pelican neck, face, scapular, and coverts feather detail.

Sleeping Pelicans

On dreary, rainy days in San Diego there is a spot where you can get inside of 15-20 feet of sleeping pelicans without disturbing them one iota. The trick to making successful images is being able to isolate single birds or to look for feather detail shots with clean backgrounds. Using your longest available effective focal lengths makes the latter especially possible. Creative tripod-set-up techniques also helps as it does when photographing the nearby male Anna’s Hummingbird.

Order your Vello RS-S2II Wired Remote Switch for Select Sony Cameras by clicking here.

Vello Cable Release for Sony

Wrong Again: The Secret to Creating Sharp 1200mm Sleeping Pelican Feather Detail Images

More than forty years ago, I saw someone using a cable release for bird photography at the Venice Rookery. I said to myself, That’s stupid.” Wrong again! Now, I travel with two Vello RS-S2II Wired Remote Switches for Select Sony Cameras and always have one of them in my fanny pack. Simply put, they are the bomb when photographing sleeping or otherwise static subjects.

In addition, I have come to realize that there are other situations when a cable release can be fabulously helpful. I will, of course, share those with you here soon.

This image was also created on 15 January 2023 at La Jolla, CA. I used the no-longer available Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x 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! 1/8 second! at f/25! (stopped down 3 1/3 stops if my math is correct) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead-solid perfect. AWB at 8:45:55am on a dark, sometimes drizzly morning.

Manual focus with Focus Peaking is one of my favorite new techniques. I will post an iPhone image of that soon along with additional applications. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #2: Sleeping adult Brown Pelican neck, face, scapular, and coverts feather detail.

Making a Sharp 1200mm Image at 1/8-Second!

When photographing the handsome pelican featured in Image #2 at point blank range, less then 15 feet, I pulled out all the stops to get a sharp image at 1/8-second. After framing the shot and focusing manually with focus peaking, I locked down the Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro and made sure to tighten the tripod collar securely. As the bird was sound asleep, I enabled the five-second self-timer to ensure a razor-sharp result.

The Lesson

Being able to create sharp images at long focal lengths with lots of depth-of-field and low ISO settings is a very nice arrow to have in your quiver.

Show Me the Diffraction. Or Not?

For decades, the experts have always cautioned about shooting at apertures smaller than f/16 at any focal length. Why? Because it creates diffraction. I have never seen diffraction. Years ago, I asked George Lepp about diffraction with telephoto lenses. He did not come up with an answer.

Do a web search for “diffraction in photography” and you will come up with many different answers. This, from the Cambridge in Colour website is the top one:

Diffraction is an optical effect which limits the total resolution of your photography β€” no matter how many megapixels your camera may have. It happens because light begins to disperse or “diffract” when passing through a small opening (such as your camera’s aperture).

Read all the rest of the answers and let me know if you see any diffraction in Image #2 that was created at f/25. I do not πŸ™‚

Your Call?

A- I like Image #1 best because …

B- I like Image #2 best because …

C- I like them both as I find feather detail abstracts interesting.

D- I like feather detail image but I do not like either of these because …

E- I hate all feather detail images because …


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

10 comments to 1200mm Sleeping Pelican Feather Detail Technique

  • Adam

    I have mixed impressions on feather detail and occasionally find some interesting, though these were not my favorites. Off camera shutter releases whether electronic or manual are vital for some genres and in a pinch the auto 2 second timer can fill in. E-shutter has been a tremendous advantage to reduce motion (shutter) shake. It’s good to hear that you haven’t been flooded out by the repeated cyclone bombs.

  • Maggi Fuller

    PS…. I love Brussels Sprouts!

  • Maggi Fuller

    Now these I like! C for me….

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. C for me. I just made a close-up feather abstract of a wild turkey. As for diffraction, I have never seen it on any of my images either.

  • Geri Georg

    Hi Artie,
    Thanks for another great blog post!
    C because I really like the colors of #1 and the way my eye travels around the image across the diagonals, and #2 because I really like the color contrasts and the complementary angles that make my eye move around. I have 2 questions about #2: I assume you used focus peaking on the yellow tips of the white head feathers, and f25 gave you a tad of DOF – is this correct? How far away were you from the focus point?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks.

      You actually get more than a bit of dof at f/25. As you make the aperture smaller, focus peaking will show you how much more you cover, i.e., how much more is in focus.

      So, your first IPT was about 40 years ago. You and your buddy were the original Happy Campers. Ah, Adrienne.

      Are you considering another one?

      with love, a

      ps: I meant to take an iPhone shot of the Focus Peaking …

  • Artie
    C- I find the works of god amazing in feathers and the Art, it is what moves the millions of nature lovers to get out and photograph birds and capture the beauty in the pose, the feathers, the details. The many colors and the different looks are what keep me interested from Anna’s Hummer to a Mandarin Duck. Milwaukee was graced with a rare sighting Mandarin in recent days.
    Always with love b
    I love Red wine not so much Brussel sprouts, lima beans yes. πŸ™‚

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Which Art? πŸ™‚

      Most Mandarin Ducks in the US are escapees from waterfowl collections.

      I recently began drinking some red wine from Trader Joe’s: 19 Crimes Cali Red. Yummy.

      with love, a

      • The Art in each bird, each animal in their own beauty being their all different to some degree. By the Art i mean the details of the feathers the way they walk the way they sing and in the way we see them is the Art and for sure the way you show the world in your photos…. Art πŸ™‚
        Always with love b

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