Audubon-like Miracle with Sony camera and lens at 1200mm. Shooting into Blasting, Super-Bright Reflections. Just how much can you learn from a single image? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Audubon-like Miracle with Sony camera and lens at 1200mm. Shooting into Blasting, Super-Bright Reflections. Just how much can you learn from a single image?

A Practically Free IPT

If you would like to learn about joining me east of Jacksonville, FL for a week of great photography and instruction this July — for next to nothing, please shoot me an e-mail. Share and AirBnB and ride to, on, and from the beach with me. Airport pickup possible.

Your Call?

Which image do you like best? Why?

Important Notice

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Supporting My Efforts Here

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please consider using one of my affiliate links when purchasing new gear. It will never cost you a single penny. To support my effort here, please order from B&H by beginning your search here. Or, click here, to order from Bedfords and enter the discount code BIRDSASART at checkout to receive 3% cash back to your credit card and enjoy free Second-Day Air Fed-Ex shipping. It is always best to write for advice via e-mail.

In many cases, I can help you save some serious dollars. And/or prevent you from purchasing the wrong gear.

What’s Up?

Photography down by the lake in the morning and just before sunset down by the lake continues to be excellent as does the weather: clear in the mornings with breezes from the northeast; hazy or foggy with light clouds in the west in the afternoon with the northeast wind continuing.

Today is Tuesday 4 June 2024. I’ll be heading down to the lake soon. I hope that you too have a great day. Old friend, multiple IPT veteran Pat Fishburne is driving up from Fort Myers this afternoon for a pool deck dinner and to try out some Sony gear. We will do two sessions, one this afternoon and another tomorrow morning.

If you plan on purchasing a Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera (or anything else for that matter), please remember to use or write for either my Bedfords discount code or my B&H affiliate link. Folks who use one of my two affiliate links to purchase the a9 III will receive my .DAT settings (the complete camera set-up) along with a Buttons and Dials Guide.

Please remember to use the B&H 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!

If an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — 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.

ddc 728w

Save 15%!

If you’d like to try out a new lens or if you need a lens for a specific trip or project (or for an IPT), is the only way to go. To save 15%, simply click on the logo link above, arrange for your rental, and type in BIRDSASART15. If you type the gear you are looking for in the search box, it will pop right up. offers affordable insurance. You can decline it, opt for LensCap: Damage Only, or select LensCap: Damage & Theft. Then hit PROCEED TO CHECKOUT. After you enter all of your info but before completing your order, be sure to scroll down to Promo Code box and enter the BIRDSASART15 code to save 15%.

I checked on renting a Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens for a week. The cost is only $122.00. LensCap: Damage Only coverage can be added for a very low $18.00. Going with LensCap: Damage & Theft would be $27.00. The shipping charge varies. They offer an interesting program called Lensrentals HD. By signing up for this shipping discount program ($99.00/year), you’ll get free Standard Shipping on all the orders you place.

Renting a Sony 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens for a week will cost you $536.00. The two coverage options come in at $76.00 or $114.00. Less your 15% discount when you enter the BIRDSASART15 code into the Promo Code box at checkout and enter the BIRDSASART15 code in the Promo Code box at checkout to save 15%.

Remember, to save the 15% on your rental you must start your search by clicking on the logo above, or on this link:


To ensure that I get credit for your B&H purchases, you can always click here. The tracking is invisible but greatly appreciated. And, you can use your PayBoo card. You must use the website to order. B&H will reopen on Fri April 14. Thanking me for the past 4000 educational blog posts could not be any easier and will not cost you one penny. Please shoot me your B&H receipt for major purchases.

Many folks have written recently stating that they purchased a Sony a1 from B&H and would like their free membership in the Sony 1 Info and Updates Group, a $150.00 value. When I check my affiliate account, their orders have not been there. When I let them know that they get credit for B&H purchases only if they use one of the many B&H affiliate links on the blog or begin their searches with this link, they are always disappointed. If in doubt, please contact me via e-mail and request a BH link. I am always glad to help and to guide you to the right gear.

Bedfords Simplified

Click here to start your search. Choose standard shipping, and when you get to the payment page, enter BIRDSASART in the discount code box and hit apply. You will be upgraded to free second day air Fed-Ex and receive 3% cash back on your credit card once your stuff ships. Either is greatly appreciated by yours truly.

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, prior purchases.

Visit the Bedfords website here, shoot Steve Elkins an e-mail, or text him on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592.

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 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 June 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 Exposure Compensation on the thumb dial and AUTO ISO. Multi-metering -0.3 stops set ISO 500. 1/4000 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Shutter Priority mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined barely over-exposed on the specular highlight, just where it should be. AWB at 7:58:24pm on variably sunny afternoon.

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

Strongly backlit Sandhill Crane displaying

Audubon-like Miracle at 1200mm

When John James Audubon painted large, tall birds for his elephant folio, he painted them life-size. In order to fit the largest of them on a page, he had to draw them in contorted poses. As the pair of cranes walked into the lake on Sunday night, I thought, I’ve got way too much lens. Out of habit, I pointed the lens at the birds cutting off the head and the feet of whichever bird I was on. But I kept paying attention. After all, you never know what might happen.

I’ve been meaning to mention that when I am using my SUV as a blind, I am very, very often moving the vehicle forward or backward to get into perfect position. This is especially true when doing sunset silhouettes because the backgrounds vary tremendously. I may have to move my X5 from one end of the small beach to the other, perhaps 50 yards or so, or sometimes by as little as an inch or two. Not to mention having to work around the grasses that clutter the backgrounds.

Anyhoo, I moved my vehicle back a few yards to line the birds walking away from me up with the brightest reflections. Then, several miracles occurred:

1- The two cranes stopped walking, faced each other, and began to dance.
2- The crane on my right crouched down as its mate jumped into the air.
3- As luck would have it, I had the lens pointed at the crouching bird which then miraculously fit perfectly into the frame.

Then I pushed the button. In most of the frames the main subject was clipped.

Why Shutter Priority Mode & AUTO ISO for Silhouettes

With the sun muted and all sorts of reds, pinks, yellows, oranges, and purples either creating a dramatically colorful the sky or reflecting off the surface of smooth water, you usually need to add 2 or 2 1/3 stops or more of light. That is not a typo. When the sun or its very bright reflection is in the frame or close to the edge of the frame you need to go the other way by subtracting light to limit the brightness of the specular highlights. At times, you might need to go as dark as -2 stops while at the same time lowering the ISO and increasing the shutter speed, both dramatically.

Having to do all of those things ASAP would often require dozens and dozens of clicks. With Exposure Compensation on the thumb dial I am never more than 12 or 13 clicks from a perfect exposure, i.e., from +2.3 to – 2.0. And as those are pretty much the extremes, several fewer clicks will have you covered. Sony Zebras of course make the photographer’s life a lot easier. With todays’ featured image I reduced the underexposure 1/3 stop so that I was seeing only a few Zebras on the brightest areas of water.

Sony a9 iii AF Kills Blasting Highlights Situations

You face many challenges when shooting into blasting, super-bright reflections. Not the least o those is achieving accurate focus. I have been saying for years that most camera systems fail miserably in those super high contrasts situations — the AF systems are blinded. I have previously discussed focusing manually in such situation; that is easily done when you are working on a tripod but for many reasons is pretty much impossible when using a big lens on a BLUBB-

Frustrated with a1 AF that night, I switched to the a9 iii and was not surprised that it failed far less frequently. Having sold two of my three a1 bodies in the last month, I am thisclose to buying a second a9 111.

a9 iii E-mail Set-up and Info Guide

a9 iii E-mail Set-up and Info Guide

For those who think that my comments on the a9 iii are pure hype, know that I sold the second of my three a1 bodies last week. Lots more on the switch coming soon.

If you plan on purchasing a Sony a9 III Mirrorless Camera (or anything else for that matter), please remember to use or write for either my Bedfords discount code or my B&H affiliate link. Folks who use one of my two affiliate links to purchase the a9 III will receive my .DAT settings (the complete camera set-up) along with a Buttons and Dials Guide.

Flight Photography at Jacksonville Till You Can’t Lift Your Lens!

Join me on the beach at Huguenot Memorial Park to learn about photographing terns in flight. 8,000 pairs of Royal Terns nest there and there are birds in the air all the time, often carrying all kinds of fish and crabs and other invertebrates for their young. Learn about how the relationship between the wind and the sun impacts flight photography and about the best gear for shooting birds in flight. Note that all the images in the video were created with the Sony a1 (and a variety of lenses). Join me on a workshop at Jacksonville this summer. See the details below.

Clockwise from upper left corner around to center: ink-stained Royal Tern with squid for chicks; fluffy white Royal Tern Chick about two weeks old; Royal Tern with shrimp for chicks; 3-4 week old Royal Tern chick; incoming adult Royal Tern with greenback; Royal Tern in flight with juvenile mahi-mahi; large Brown Pelican chick preening; field guide portrait of fresh juvenile Laughing Gull; Royal Tern chick begging for fish from incoming adult.

Join me at Huguenot Memorial Park this July

Join Me

I have an AirBnB checking in on the late afternoon of Saturday 13 July and checking out on Thursday 19 July 2024. If you are looking to improve your bird photography by leaps and bounds while sharing the place with me, please shoot me an e-mail. ASAP.

Clockwise from upper left corner around to center: Royal Tern chick feeding frenzy; Royal Tern nearly fledged chick; ink-stained Royal Tern with squid for chicks; Royal Tern chick begging; Brown Pelican immature tight flight; Royal Tern adult screaming — tight flight; Laughing Gulls mobbing Royal Tern to steal fish; Royal Tern with fish for chicks.

Join me at Huguenot Memorial Park this July

Huguenot Memorial Park in Early Summer

Driving on the beach at Huguenot Memorial Park in early summer is a bird photographer’s delight. You park this side of the last rope on the beach and you are within 100 yards of the Royal Tern colony atop the dunes. There are also many thousand Laughing Gulls and a few Sandwich Terns breeding as well. In some years, there are some Brown Pelican nests on the ground! .

In early July, the tern chicks begin to make their way down to the flats to bathe and drink and get fed by the parents. On the way, they spend a lot of time on the face of the dune where they are easy to photograph at eye level. They may also gather in fairly large groups at the base of the dunes.

Flight photography both in the mornings and the afternoons can be quite excellent as the terns are carrying all manner of marine life to sustain the rapidly growing chicks: the adults are often seen flying around in search of their chicks with all sorts of small baitfish as well as immature fish, large shrimps, baby crabs, and even squid in their bills. The squid will squirt ink on the terns in protest. So if you see an adult Royal Tern flying around with a black necklace you can understand why.

2024 Jacksonville IPT: 4 1/2 DAY option Monday 15 July 2024 through the morning session on FRI 19 JULY — $2299.00 (Limit 4 photographers)

2024 Jacksonville IPT 3 1/2 DAY option: Monday 15 July 2024 through the morning session on THUR 18 July: $1799.00. (Limit 4 photographers)

I do not like to disappoint: each trip will run with only a single participant. If necessary.

I first visited the beach nesting bird colony at Jacksonville in late June 2021. I was astounded. There were many thousands of pairs of Royal Terns nesting along with about 10,000 pairs of Laughing Gulls. In addition to the royals, there were some Sandwich Terns nesting. And there are several dozen pairs of Brown Pelicans nesting on the ground. Flight photography was non-stop astounding. And photographing the tern chicks was relatively easy. Folks could do the whole trip with the Sony 200-600, the Canon 100-500 RF, or the Nikon 500 PF or one of the many nw Z lenses. With a TC in your pocket for use on sunny days. Most of the action is within 100 yards of where we park (on the beach). As with all bird photography, there are times when a super-telephoto lens with either TC is the best tool for the job.

Morning sessions will average about three hours, afternoon sessions at least 1 1/2. On cloudy mornings with favorable winds, we may opt to stay out for one long session and skip the afternoon, especially when the afternoon weather forecast is poor. Lunch is included on all but the last day of each IPT and will be served at my AirBnB. After lunch, we will do image review and Photoshop sessions. My AirBnB is the closest lodging to the park.

The deposit is $599.00. Call Jim at the office any weekday at 863-692-0906 to pay by credit card. Balances must be paid by check.

What You Will Learn on a Jacksonville IPT

  • 1- First and foremast you will learn to become a better flight photographer. Much better.
  • 2-You will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button.
  • 3- You will learn to work in Manual exposure mode even if you fear it.
  • 4- You will learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography, especially the photography of birds in flight.
  • 5- You will learn several pro secrets (for each system) that will help you to become a better flight photographer.
  • 6- You will learn to zoom out in advance (because the birds are so close!) 🙂
  • 7- You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them.
  • 8- You will learn to spot the good and the great situations.
  • 9- You will learn to understand and predict bird behavior.
  • 10- You will learn to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
  • 11- You will learn to choose the best perspective.
  • 12- You will learn to see and control your backgrounds.
  • 13- You will learn to see and understand the light.
  • 14- You will learn to see and create pleasing blurs in pre-dawn situations.
  • 15- You will learn to be ready for the most likely event.

And the best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever you are and whenever you photograph.

Flight Photography at Jax

There is a ton of great flight photography at Huguenot. You can use a handheld intermediate telephoto lens or a faster, longer fixed focal length lens mounted on a tripod with a Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro. We will get to photograph the Royal and Sandwich Terns, Laughing and other gulls, and Brown Pelicans, all in flight on most days.

Lenses for Flight Photography at Jax

While a handheld or tripod mounted 500 or 600mm f/4 lens can be quite useful for flight photography on the beach, handhold-able intermediate and zoom telephoto lenses like the Sony 200-600mm G lens, the Canon RF 100-500, and any one of the Nikon intermediate telephotos are often the ticket to success when flight shooting. I did quite well on my last visit handholding the Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM lens usually with the 1.4X teleconverter. This year I will be shooting often with my new Sony 300mm f/2.8 lens with either the 1.4X or 2x TC. And my a9 iii will be there as well.


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

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