Word Press Help Needed. And Sony a9iii 420mm Shorebirds « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Word Press Help Needed. And Sony a9iii 420mm Shorebirds

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Important Notice

After a recent update, Word Press stopped sending post notifications. We are aware of the issue and are working on rectifying it. You can always visit the blog by visiting or bookmarking www.BIRDSASART-Blog.com.

Word Press Help Needed

As some of you realized, several days ago the automated post notification e-mails quit being sent. Why? Last week, whenever I opened my Word Press dashboard a notice appeared advising me to update the PHP and Word Press itself. The directions were so complicated that I refrained as long as possible. Not to mention that anytime I update anything it is done with trepidations. So, I contacted Homepage Universe, the folks we pay for the server, and they did the two updates. Everything seemed fine. But, several blog subscribers e-mailed yesterday asking if I was OK.

I quickly realized that the post notifications were not being sent. Because of the updates. I can log into Word Press with the user name and password that I have been using for two decades. But, using the same user name and PW, I am unable to log into the support forum to try to figure out why the e-mail notifications quit and how I can fix the problem.

If you have any ideas or have a friend who might be able to help, please get in touch with me via e-mail and include the necessary contact info including e-mail address and phone number.

Many thanks.

Your Call

Enlarge each of today’s two featured images and let us know which you feel is the stronger photograph and why you made your choice. Read the info below each image to improve your shorebird photography. By doing so, you will learn what that three folks on the IPT learned this morning.

What’s Up?

The May 2024 DeSoto IPT group has been a pleasure to work with. We had a great thank you dinner Thursday night at Pia’s Trattoria in Gulfport. Photography at DeSoto has ranged from great to terrible. Afternoons have been uniformly terrible. Jim Miller left a day early after our Friday morning session for a doctor’s appointment in Tallahassee. Steve and Geri were thrilled that I took them to the North Venice Rookery in the afternoon. The forecast was perfect: mostly cloudy with a west wind. The reality was that it was totally sunny with an east wind :-(. We got our best stuff late in the day when the colony was in the shade. There were lots of Great Egret chicks and several Wood Stork chicks. We also had some sweet Tricolored Herons (one pair with young), a breeding plumage Snowy Egret, and an adult Black-Crowned Night Heron. When we arrived, there was a juvie Little Blue Heron foraging on the duckweed. The best news? There was zero traffic on the way back to our AirBnB.

Sharing the AirBnB with three participants was a first and we all got along great. We ate most meals in the house and everyone loved my cooking. And I loved their dishwashing!

This image was also created on 10 May 2024 on the May 2024 Fort DeSoto IPT. Seated on damp sand I used the kneepod technique with 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/5.6 (stopped down one stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. AWB at 7:38:41am on a partly cloudy, variably sunny morning.

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

Image #1: Sanderling molting into breeding plumage

Plan B

In comparison to the last ten years, photography at North Beach this spring has been terrible. The east winds (perfect) of the previous ten days have been replaced by W/SW winds. On the sunny mornings, that is the worst possible combination as the sun rises in the northeast. With the strong winds and super low tides, afternoons at any location have been very challenging at best. The great news is that everyone has learned a ton and been making excellent photographs. The forecast for Friday morning was for sunny turning cloudy by 9:00am. When we drove into the park at 7:00am, there were lots of clouds to the east so rather than head to North Beach for another death march, we headed for my morning back-up spot, a spot that most self-respecting bird photographers shun. But not me. My decision to with tracks based on the tide and the weather was brilliant.

Anyhoo, the sun came out for good at 9:00am. So much for the weather forecast …

We had two small, clean areas of beach that mush have been packed with tiny invertebrates as we had 15 to 20 turnstones and perhaps a half dozen Sanderlings foraging in front of us right down sun angle (whenever it poked through the clouds). In addition, we had two White Ibis feeding and on occasion, we were joined by an oystercatcher and a Willet.

See the next item to learn what the group learned on what turned out to be a great morning of shorebird photography.

This image was also created on 1o May 2024 on the May 2024 Fort DeSoto IPT. Seated on damp sand I used the kneepod technique with the handheld 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 1600: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead solid perfect. AWB at 7:54:32am on a partly cloudy, variably sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/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: Ruddy Turnstone with clam and a strand of green seaweed

The Old Maxim

In the Art of Bird Photography, I wrote, In bird photography, add green whenever possible. I love the line of green seaweed in front of the Sanderling in Image #1 and the tiny bit of seaweed hanging from the small clam in Image #2. Not that I had anything to do with either 🙂

Shorebird Photography Lessons Learned

1- When there are shorebirds around, pick out a stretch of clean beach, an area with little to no beach debris like shells, seaweed, pebbles and other beach wrack like algae, sea grasses, and some invertebrates like as sponges and soft corals, and sit or lie down on the sand.

2- If and when the birds take flight, stay put; unless the tide has come in and covered the beach, the birds will almost always return.

3- Individual birds like the Sanderling in Image #1 will often stake out and defend a small area of food-rich shoreline and defend it against all comers. They often provide consistent action.

4- When the sun is coming in and out, you quickly need to change your exposures. Advantage Sony Zebras. But even with Zebra technology you need to stay sharp.

5- Foraging shorebirds rarely stay still (like the Sanderling in Image #1), even for a second. Thus, for moving birds, you need relatively fast shutter speeds of 1/1000 second (at a minimum).

6- Foraging shorebirds are affected much less by “bad” wind direction (wind against sun conditions) as terns or gulls roosting on the beach are. The trick is to make a series of image in the rare instant that the birds are square to the imaging sensor or angled slightly toward you; subject to film plane orientation is difficult when the birds are feeding and changing positions practically ever second.

Fine Point Lesson

Note that Image #1 is from the full frame (uncropped) raw file. Working at only 420mm, the bird was likely eight or nice feet from me. When photographing large in the frame birds at point blank range, there is usually a need for additional depth of field. That is why I opted to stop down one full stop for the first image; That helped to sharpen up the wing feathers this side of the plane of focus, right on the eye.

Speaking of right on the eye, Sony a9 iii Bird Face-Eye AF continuous autofocus puts a-1 AF to shame. When shooting foraging shorebirds with the a1, I would need to go to Tracking: Expand Spot and would struggle to keep the active AF point somewhere near the bird’s eye, face, or head. Tracking the eye was sporadic. Working in Tracking: Zone with the a9 iii, the AF system grabs the eye and pretty much never lets go. Tracking: Zone gives you leeway when framing images of moving birds.

Image #2 on the other hand, was a small crop and the bird was smaller in the original frame. Therefore, there was no need to stop down; the feathers of the folded wing were rendered sharp at the wide open aperture (f/4) because of the distance factor. At a given aperture, d-0-f increases as the distance to the subject increases.

Why the 300mm f/2.8?

As we age, pretty much all bird photographers are looking to go lighter. And working without a tripod is an incredible pleasure that makes you much more mobile and makes it easier to get into the best shooting position. Having rented my 600mm f/4 GM to Steve Shore for the IPT, I’ve been switching using either the 400mm f/2.8 GM lens (with TCs) or the 200-600 (often with the 1.4X TC. As the 300mm f/2.8 8s the lightest of the three and I was feeling a bit tired on Friday morning, I went as light as possible and handheld the 300. I started with the 2X TC but as the birds were so close, I quickly switched to the 1.4X. I was surprised at how well I did.

Typos

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

3 comments to Word Press Help Needed. And Sony a9iii 420mm Shorebirds

  • avatar Adam

    Great tips on shorebirds! In terms of image preference, #1’s head angle is a bit too acute and the DOF is too narrow for my liking. I much prefer the feet to be in focus especially when there is a raise leg or point of interest. The green line (seaweed?) is distraction though I am ambivalent on leaving it versus cloning it out. Image #2 has an interesting perspective. At first, I was rather dismissive of the images as the “thumbnail” makes it appear that the photographer was shooting down at the subject. Clicking on the full size image, made this distortion disappear and the image became more pleasing. I much prefer the head angle as the eye is looking directly at the viewer and more of the bird is in the plane of focus. Ruddy’s are fun to observe.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for commenting, Adam. Glad that you liked the tips. For whatever reasons, the JPEGs look like crap until you click on them to enlarge.

      As for the d-o-f, would you be willing to got to ISO 800 to get the d-o-f needed (f/11) to cover the far foot? I would not and as I say here often, my aim is to get the bird’s eye sharp. In most cases including this one, folks suggesting “more d-o-f” are simply not dealing in real world situations. In addition, stopping down to f/11 would sharpen the backgrounds to a distracting level 🙂

      For me, the head angle in Image #1 is pretty much perfect.

      In addition, the strip of green seaweed in Image #1 is a huge plus. I would never even think about removing it. If I were an artist, I would have painted it in in the perfect spot just as it is in the photo 🙂

      a

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Hi Again Adam,

        While editing almost 7,000 images from the same day, I realized that shooting smaller in the frame with the bird farther from you will yield the whole bird sharp. Every time.

        a

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