Lake Blue Cypress — It Ain’t Just Ospreys. Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Lake Blue Cypress -- It Ain't Just Ospreys. Part I

Apologize for What?

In the To Improve Your Bird (and Nature) Photography By Leaps and Bounds, Be Sure to Bookmark and Study this Page blog post here, I wrote:

I told him right off that the good news is that he is making sharp images and that he had captured some interesting behaviors. But. And there were lots of buts. He made just about every possible beginner mistake, and as you might imagine, most of the images were horrific at best.

We talked about sun angle, getting lower and choice of perspective, seeing the shot, head angle, subject to imaging sensor orientation, and most importantly for him, the fact that the backgrounds in bird photography are often more important than the subject. At times it was difficult for him to grasp what I was talking about, but we stuck with it, and the result was many β€œAha-s.

I had him send me two raw files and was not completely surprised to see that they were both huge crops. So, he also needs help on getting closer to his subjects.

After 40 minutes on the phone, he sent me these comments via e-mail:
Thanks for the critique! Lots to learn, for sure. I went out this afternoon to practice paying attention to the backgrounds. It was fun and I’m getting the hang of it. It was too cloudy to practice sun angle. Next time.

Check the comments there; nobody had word one to say about what I said or wrote. Not one word.

In the next blog post, Believe It Or Not, here, I published the e-mail sent to me by the gentleman from Vermont. Most of the many folks who commented stated clearly that I was wrong, that I insulted him and that I should apologize. Like Kevin Hice and Bob Eastman, I just didn’t get it. Should I apologize for being honest? If you paid for a critique, would you like me to be honest with you?

It seems obvious to me that folks were reacting to what the gentleman from Vermont had to say rather than anything that I had said or done … Yet most folks opted to trash me πŸ™‚ You gotta love that.

I did not call the guy any names. I did not insult him. As he requested, I never mentioned his name. Everything that I said in the two posts was 100% true. When we spoke on the phone, I used the word horrific to describe his images as he needed to be shocked. He thought that his photos were pretty good.

When I first read his e-mail, I immediately thought of the Jack Nicholson line from A Few Good Men: You can’t handle the truth!

If you would like to learn how I really feel about this matter, check out my responses to most every comment in the Believe It Or Not blog post here.

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Which of today’s four featured images impresses you most? Why? Which of today’s four featured images impresses you the least? Why?

What’s Up?

Clemens Van der Werf and I rented a pontoon boat with a guide on Thursday morning at Lake Blue Cypress. Despite a W/NW breeze that had all the birds flying away from us, we did pretty darned well. If you would like to attend an Osprey/landscape workshop next spring, please LMK via e-mail.

Photography at ILE has continued to be excellent most every morning. I have been striving for different with several Sandhill Crane pairs and families.

Today is 4 May 2024. I will be headed down to the lake early. Whatever you choose to do, I hope that you have fun and get a chance to do some photography.

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​Don’t miss the Photo Expo in Little Rock! Regardless of your experience level, join hundreds of photographers, as we take over Little Rock on May 17-18, 2024. The Little Rock Photo Expo offers a remarkable experience packed with presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and a massive trade show featuring all the major photographic companies. Explore the latest gear, trade in your old camera equipment, and gain valuable insights from our experts. Get up close and personal with world-renowned keynote speakers and seize countless unique photo opportunities. Bring your camera and get ready for a weekend of fun, learning, and inspiration to elevate YOUR photography to new heights.

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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 stave 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 2 May 2024 on a rented pontoon boat at Lake Blue Cypress. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens (at 553mm) and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with Exposure Compensation on the Thumb Dial. Multi Metering -1/3 stop. AUTO ISO set ISO 2000: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 (wide open) in Shutter Priority mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead solid perfect. AWB at 6:46:49am right after sunrise.

Tracking Zone/AF-C performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Cypress Trees on a foggy morning at sunrise

Shutter Priority Mode with AUTO ISO When You Have No Clue

In predawn light I often go to Shutter Priority (S) mode with AUTO ISO. I assign Exposure Compensation (EC) to the Thumb Dial. I can go with slow shutter speeds with lots of +EC or with faster shutter speeds for sunrise landscapes. For Image #1 I need -.03 EC to avoid toasting the rim lit clouds. Though it helps to understand exposure theory, it is easier with Sony Zebras; just pick your shutter speed and them adjust the EC until you see only a very few Zebras and you are good to go.

There were a zillion ways to go with the color and processing on this one. WDYT?

This image was also created on 2 May 2024 on a rented pontoon boat at Lake Blue Cypress. I used the handheld Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens (Sony E) with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 420mm) and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 2000: 1/1250 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. AWB at 6:59:48am on a clear, sunny morning.

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

Image #2: Spanish Moss hanging from Bald Cypress tree

Early Morning Light

Once the sun broke through the fog, I went with the 300mm f/2.8, the 1.4X, and the a9 iii for Ospreys in flight. The moss-draped cypress trees are exquisite in early morning light. As we motored very slowly by, I saw Image #2 in my mind’s eye, adjusted the exposure, and fired off a few frames. I love the golden tones of the moss and the colors in the water as well.

This image was also created on 2 May 2024 on a rented pontoon boat at Lake Blue Cypress. For this (and the next) image, I used the handheld Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens (Sony E) with the Sony FE 2x Teleconverter (at 600mm) and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 800: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead solid perfect. AWB at 8:11:25am on a clear sunny morning.

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

Image #3: Osprey landing with talons extended

Oh Well

The wind had been from the south for six days at nearby ILE. The forecast for Thursday morning predicted east winds on Lake Blue Cypress. Though there was not much wind early, it was from the west. Spring 2024 has been a very poor year for the Ospreys breeding at Lake Walk-in-Water near my home. And it has been a relatively poor year at Lake Blue Cypress as well. There are far fewer pairs, many empty nests, and very few pairs with chicks. That said, it is a wondrous place to visit on still mornings. After 8:00 with the sweet light one, the wind slowly swung around to the east, we had a few chances on landing Ospreys. The was still a touch of west in the wind when I created Image #3. That is why the bird’s head is angled very so slightly away. In the original, the front of the bird’s face was not perfectly lit. During the optimization, I lightened the dark feathers at the front of the face using Tim Grey Dodge and Burn. The made the somewhat poor head angle less problematic.

This image was also created on 2 May 2024 on a rented pontoon boat at Lake Blue Cypress. Again, I used the handheld Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens (Sony E) with the Sony FE 2x Teleconverter (at 600mm) and the ridiculously amazing Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera. The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 1250: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:37:44am on a clear sunny morning.

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

Image #4: Osprey screaming while taking flight

The Hand-holdable Sony 600mm f/5.6 GM Lens

Adding the 2X TC to the 300mm f/2.8 lens with an a9 iii in the driver’s seat makes handheld 600mm bird photography a reality for almost everyone. With the foot removed, the rig weighs five pounds, 10.6 ounces with a battery and a flash card. For most folks, it is relatively easy to handhold this combo it all day long for bird photography. Please note that about 40% of the original pixels in Image #4 were cropped away.

As I continue to age, this combo might add five years or more to my photography career. And yours too.

For those who did not use my link to purchase their Sony 300mm f/2.8 GM lens, you can order your a copy here for $209.93.

Click on the image to enlarge and to be able to read the fine print.

The BAA Sony 300mm f/2.8 Lens Guide

Impressed by my Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens (Sony E) images from the last three posts? Use either my Bedfords or B&H affiliate link to purchase your Sony 300mm f/2.8 GM lens and shoot me your receipt via e-mail and request a copy of the first-ever BAA Lens Guide. I thought that it would take only minutes to create this guide, but I was dead wrong. In the process of creating it, I learned a ton about the lens. And even better, I discovered a simple yet potentially fatal flaw that was resulting in sporadically unsharp flight images. The set-up fix is simple. Just be sure to use one of my affiliate links and get the guide for free.

If not, you can purchase a copy here for $209.93. Yes, it never hurts to use my links and it never costs you one penny more. And if you contact me via e-mail before you make a major purchase, I can often save you some money.

Typos

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

8 comments to Lake Blue Cypress — It Ain’t Just Ospreys. Part I

  • avatar Duncan Groenewald

    Apologies!

    It is better if people come to you asking you to teach them how to make great images like yours – at least then in their own minds they know they are not doing a great job and they will be ready and willing to learn.

    If someone comes to you wanting you to tell them how great their sharp images are without saying something like “I can get sharp images but they’re still not as great as yours, what should I do to make them better ?” Then the chances are they just have big ego’s and are wanting affirmation of that.

    In the latter case put up a ‘good’ comparison image, not one of yours – and see if there is anything about the ‘good’ image they think is better than their own image. What criteria do they use for deciding when an image is a great image ? Are they even interested in making images others think are great ?

    Depending on their answers, as a teacher, you may have something to work with… or not…

    Love your work.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Duncan. When someone is touting how good they are, I say what Robert Villani used to say to me often in mid 1980s when I started: “Show me the picture.”

      You would not believe some of the images that folks send to me just because …

      With love, artie

  • avatar Adam

    Agree, the sunrise image is super, and I would consider looking to see if you can open the shadows a bit in the trees (don’t know if there is any detail to be had, but I might try to obviate the dense blackness in the middle of the cypresses). Agree the #3 is impressive for the stretch and I was wondering if you still have your 400 f/2.8 and if so, why did you choose the 300 f/2.8 instead of it? Size, weight, all of the above?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. The trees were, of course, black in the raw file … Compare the weight of the 400 f/2.8 with the 1.4X weight of the 300mm with the 2X. It is no contest.

      a

  • I love the sunrise image. The fog adds a sense of serenity. The contrasting blue shades of the trees and the warmer, red/orange glow in the sky is great. The composition is wonderful.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Moe. Lots of what you like was brought out by the somewhat tricky processing πŸ™‚

      with love, a

  • I would seldom shoot a landscape image wide open, but it works with Images 1 and 2. In #1, I especially like the way only the tree and moss in the center is totally sharp. Color looks realistic, but did you heighten the “blue belt” in the middle of the frame? Either way, looks great. #2 might be even more impressive, as I know how hard it is to make a good image of Spanish moss (not Spanish, not moss, of course). Love the colors, especially the purple in the water, and the sharpness of the moss versus the soft water. Osprey flight shots are more routine these days, but the “stretch” in #3 is impressive, leaving #4 as the one that impresses least.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Cliff. I did lots of strange things with the processing of #1. Everyone liked it so I guess that I did OK πŸ™‚

      With the head in #3 angled ever-so-slightly away, I’d go with #4 as the best Osprey image. BTW, with the a9 iii I had about five almost identical stretches to choose from.

      with love, artie

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