Believe It Or Not « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Believe It Or Not

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What’s Up?

The past few mornings at ILE have been very good. I’ve been working with both the a1 and the a9 iii. I’ve had some neat behavioral chances with several pairs of adult Sandhill Crane chicks and made the most of some but not all of them. The three small colts continue to do well. There are lots of Ospreys and Mottled Ducks around as well.

Today is Wednesday 1 May 2024. I just got back from the lake. It was another great morning. The highlight was a copulating pair of Mottled Ducks; story and one or more photos soon. Believe it or not. I hope that you too have a great day.

The gentleman from Vermont did not appreciate yesterday’s To Improve Your Bird (and Nature) Photography By Leaps and Bounds, Be Sure to Bookmark and Study this Page blog post here as much as I though he might. He sent this e-mail soon after it was published:

Thanks Art – the kingfisher photo looks better, and I will try my best to learn how to get closer to the birds.

I read the blog post, and there is a lot of good information there. However, I don’t appreciate the implication that I am some rich fool who has never learned the basics or simply ignores them. Is that what a teacher calls a student who needs help? I came to you for help, knowing you would be honest and helpful. Did I flaunt my expensive rig and come off as someone who thought they were a good photographer because of my gear? I think not.

And what was the point to providing a detailed inventory and cost of my gear, and then commenting that “he made just about every possible beginner mistake, and as you might imagine, most of the images were horrific at best.” That stung – were trying to make me look like a fool? And calling me a “gentleman” does not minimize the harsh language.

In any event, thanks again for the information and help you provided on the phone call.

How would you have responded to him?

This image was created on 30 April 2024 down by the lake near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from the driver’s seat of my SUV, I used the BLUBB-supported 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 2000. 1/2500 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be dead solid perfect. AWB at 8:12:43am on sunny morning.

Tracking: Expand Spot/AF-C performed perfectly even at 1200mm. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Tickseed blossoms with hill and lake in background

Spared from the Mowers

The North and South Fields and the South Peninsula are mowed regularly. I noted the beautiful stand of tickseed blossoms on Monday but there were no birds in the neighborhood. I hoped that they might be spared for a few days. After driving around for an hour and making some neat images, I stopped to created a pattern shot of the flowers, the hill just north of the parking circle, and the distance lake.

Dealing with Bright, Super-saturated Colors

Rarely, you may come across an image that shows zero Ov-Exp pixels in RawDigger (or an image that you are sure is not over-exposed), but when you bring it into ACR, hold down the option key, and put the cursor on the WHITE slider, a given bright, super-saturated color shows as totally over-exposed. That is what happened with the yellow flowers in Image #1. In the past I would move the Highlight slider and the WHITE slider all the way to the left. At times, even that would not eliminate the apparent over-exposure.

Working on a Greater Prairie Chicken image on my recent trip, we encountered the same problem with the bright orange sac of the displaying males. Friend Anita North suggested a possible fix. We tried it and it worked like a charm. The fix will be revealed in the first image of the Digital Basics III Video Series, Volume II, #1.

Digital Basics III, Volume II

Volume II of the Digital Basics III Video Series will consist of 13 individual videos, each with a single image optimization. Each video will be available in the BAA Online Store for $10.00. Or, folks can purchase the baker’s dozen, all 13 videos for only $99.00. This saves you a handsome $31.00. Believe it or not. Details soon.

This image was also created on 30 April 2024 down by the lake near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. On foot and crouching a bit, I used the handheld Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens (Sony E) with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 500: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 (stopped down 1/3 stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:29:26am on a sunny morning.

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

Image #2: Sandhill Crane adult head and neck portrait with yellow flower background

Believe It Or Not

After I created Image #1, I spotted a pair of crane walking toward the stand of tickseed blossoms. I left the car parked on the grass, grabbed the 300 with the 1.4X and the a9 iii and approached slowly. When the bird veered to my left away from the flowers, I walked to my left to get in front of it and slowly walked right toward it, forcing it toward the flowers. The bird cooperated nicely.

Have you ever herded a crane?

Anyhoo, I crouched a bit to maximize the amount of yellow behind the bird.

So why did I leave the a1 in my SUV and grab the a9 iii for a static shot? Because I am far more confident in a9 iii bird-eye AF than I am in a1 bird-eye AF.


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

31 comments to Believe It Or Not

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    Of course it was true, not suggesting otherwise…. Just feel you could have been a tad more diplomatic! As I age, I find I am far less tolerant with people and don’t suffer fools gladly, hence I tend to be far more outspoken than before, but I don’t think I would do it quite so publicly. I would have been hurt in the same situation as this guy.

    I’ve not received any of your posts since…. Did you block me for disagreeing with you? Surely not.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Maggie, Surely not. See the next blog post.

      I did say that I could have been a bit more diplomatic but I still see nothing to apologize for.


  • avatar Monte Brown

    I have reread the post a couple of times and don’t see any reason for you to apologize. I agree with Kevin and Bob, that egos are too easily offended. The gentleman asked for you assistance and you provided advice on how he could improve his photos by giving him your honest and truthful opinion.

  • avatar Lugene Gerber

    I recently had the pleasure of having Artie and Anita into my home for dinner and great company. Artie and I got to talking about the gear I had ( which isn’t much and I could tell he wasn’t impressed) Thats ok I am happy with my gear. All Artie said to me was as long as you are having fun then that is what counts. He did not cut me down or try to tell me anything different. I respected that and yes I do have fun, it is not a job, it is a hobby!! My gear is cheap and yes I do get a few really good shots!! Thanks for the fun times Artie and Anita! Looking forward to more fried chicken and ranch dressing!!

  • avatar Joel Eade

    I see this situation as a bit of an opportunity for both of you.

    Providing criticism is about being straightforward and truthful but often the hurt feelings come not from what you say but how you said it. In addition to your statement that he was off to a good start with sharp images, you could have said “he made some mistakes common to most rookies and I saw many opportunities for improvement”. Rather than using words like “horrific”.

    As for his gear, you could have left that out as it isn’t relevant to making great images. You could have said he is using very good Nikon gear or some other generic description.

    Taking criticism is not easy skill either. Photographs are often felt to be very personal by the photographer and often it is a challenge to understand that critique given is of the work not the person. That being said, especially when you seek it, you have to develop a “thick skin” , try to learn from critiques and get better.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Joel.

      As we are talking about what I wrote on the blog he was not hearing my tone. At times I need to be frank to make my point. The guy from Vermont thought that his images were pretty good. They were not. I never have and never will go easy on a critique in hopes that someone will come on an IPT. That is just not me.

      The fact that he was using high quality gear was quite relevant to the point that I was making. Making great or lousy images has nothing to do with the gear that you own. Lots of folks with great gear have no clue as to how to make a goo photograph of a bird.

      Most of us including me began by making horrific images. Agree on needed a thicker skin.

      with love, artie

  • Artie,

    Here’s a word, from the Oxford for you. Magnanimous. generous or forgiving, especially toward a rival or less powerful person.

    D. Brown

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, D. Brown. I checked out your galleries; I would suggest, magnanimously, of course, that if you attended an IPT or two you would become a much better photographer. Funny, but I do not recall you magnanimously thanking me for the 20 years of free info that I have provided on the blog.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Kevin Hice

    Wow Artie don’t really know what to say?
    Society has gotten to the point where everyone is offended. How do we even know if a individual is offended? I guess just the times we live in.
    I have read the comments and am quite surprised. I went back and reread the original blog on the gentleman from Vermont. From My perspective I didn’t take it as being offensive cruel or embarrassing. When you visited with me and Anita you asked us for our take on the submitted photos. We agreed pretty horrific, the plus they were sharp. Lots of negatives though where do you start?
    I didn’t take it as making fun at his expensive gear. Just you letting folks know that no matter the cost of the gear doesn’t make a good photo without some basic knowledge. Again the photos were bad and looked like someone had just picked up a camera and started snapping away. You didn’t post any of his photos or name the individual. They were beginners mistakes looked like some crap I use to take just a factual statement.

    The problem as I see it we now have social media sites we post to and all your friends tell you how great you are. That boosts one’s ego and the when someone critiques your submissions what a let down Huh? Maybe some on here would say I have bias I guess that could be taken that way because we are friends. Artie in the past you have told me big time I blew the whites or not paying attention to details on the blog in BPN.

    I took it as a honest critique and moved forward. I hope the individual from Vermont sees it differently and moves forward and wish him the best. I would tell him to post to BPN for the best learning opportunities. I know I have said it many times it has helped me so much. Have a great day Artie.

    • Artie
      Kevin….Ditto 🙂
      Always with love b

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Kevin and Bob,

      As I state below, any insult was his choice. My intent was to help him improve. I invite anyone to quote one insulting word that I wrote or said. Nice try, but there are none. Everything that I said was 100% true. I used the word horrific on the phone so I am not sure why he did not like seeing it in the blog especially as I did not mention his name. He originally said that I could post a link to the images. Then he recanted. I invite him still to allow me to share the link so that folks can see the good and the bad.

      Heck, he was even insulted because I used the word gentleman to describe him.

      My first thought when I got his e-mail was of Jack Nicholson’s character, in A Few Good Men, after being challenged for the truth by a defense attorney played by Tom Cruise, shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!” The gentleman from Vermont could not handle the truth.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Keith Solberg: you are berating Artie for something you don’t know that he’s done. You (and the rest of us) don’t know whether Artie has already apologized or not. Artie asked what you would have done, and no more. He didn’t tell us what he has or hasn’t done.

  • avatar Jeff Walters


  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    Windows XP desktop anyone? #1 for sure! A beauty!

  • avatar elle

    I agree with the above comments. You do provide good information and have a direct communication style, but your blog post about the man was very critical in a very unnecessary way. It was done in public and apparently not directly to him. All mistakes. That part of the post should come down. I also think it was a mistake to make his reply to you public. He responded to you respectfully in private — he could have done so publicly in a comment on the post, but he did not. In the past, you have talked beautifully about opening up your heart, and this is another occasion to practice that. I hope you do.

  • Artie, people who have traveled with you have seen you offer friendly, useful advice to people who weren’t even participants on your tour–as you did, in fact, with the list of tips you provided in that post. But it’s easy for any of us to come up short on diplomacy. You’ve mentioned here that starting out you tended to place birds too low in the frame. I did the same. Just mentioning that, as perhaps you did on the phone, would make a big difference. Similarly, we’ve all enjoyed the big crops that the latest cameras make possible. And the $13,000 equipment list–maybe just the inflation adjusted cost of my early 90s Canon F1N and manual focus FD 800 5.6L!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Cliff. My point is that the man from Vermont is part of a national trend. Buy quality gear and head out making images without bothering to study or seek instruction. As I said from the beginning, kudos to him for reaching out for help.

      with love, a

      ps: In the early 90s you sought instruction, you studied, you asked questions, and as a result, became a world class nature photographer. That is what I was hoping to do with the gentleman from Vermont, the only state I have never been in.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Art. I would have apologized. I say that as someone who has unintentionally offended people and apologized when called on it. If the apology had led to a conversation, so much the better.

    • avatar Jeff Walters

      Ditto on the apology. If he didn’t feel comfortable with your sales pitch for your future IPT’s and with you kind of denigrating him and his equipment on your blog without his approval and sign off, then it was too personal. A big-time apology and maybe a free training session to show your sincerity in my humble opinion is truly needed.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      What did I say that offended him or anyone?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, David. I see no reason to apologize. Read all of my other replies.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Bob Peterson

    After rereading the post from the other day I see his point. It would have been more diplomatic to say there were many opportunities for improvement rather than saying they were “beginner mistakes”. I’ve been reading the blog for a while and bought some of your information so I realize that you tell it like you see it and appreciate that you don’t waste words. I also know that your critique is with goodness and meant to teach and never meant to denigrate.
    Respectfully, Bob Peterson

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Bob. Surely I could have been a bit more diplomatic. But everything that I said was true. I even used the word “horrific’ often when we were on the phone. He did not like my use of that word but it was accurate.

      My 45 minutes on the phone went down the tubes as he did not bother to hold his thoughts up to inquiry. Artie insulted me. Is that true? (Byron Katie —

      with love, artie

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    Re the “Gentleman from Vermont”…. I would have apologised. Sorry. I hope he sticks with it and learns how to really use his kit, unlike myself who did something similar many years ago when I had the money for expensive kit. I never did learn to use it and ended up selling it all when I retired.

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