Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
May 14th, 2021

Soft Light Flight. Exposure Basics Lesson. And ISO Savings versus Shoulder Shoulder Pain and Dysfunction ...

Which?

Which of today’s two featured images (made only minutes apart), is the strongest? Why?

What’s Up?

I wound up staying in on Thursday morning and worked on an e-mail for the Sony Alpha a1 Info and Updates group. New member Mike Liddick asked about the Custom Set. Memory menu item. In that highly detailed e-mail, I mentioned that one of my three huge gripes with the a1 (and with previous high-end SONY bodies as well), is that you cannot save Custom Key settings when saving a Camera Set. Memory. That makes saving a Camera Set Memory pretty much worthless to me.

I am not sure where the rest of the morning went, but I did catch up on a week’s worth of Jeopardy. An afternoon visit to the dermatologist resulted in lots of icy lesion-removals — darn, that thing burns. Dr. Hart also removed two other larger ones surgically. Those did not hurt at all.

Today is Friday 14 May 2021. The forecast for ILE this morning is calling for partly to mostly cloudy skies with light winds from the north. I will head down to the lake for a bit to see what’s up. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

Thanks to all who shared scanning advice yesterday by leaving a comment. I did have Silver Fast with my Nikon Cool Scan; I just could not get the device to work well on a consistent basis …

This blog post took more than an hour to prepare and makes 141 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head, for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Designing and Creating Pleasing and Dramatic Natural History Images
A Video Webinar: $30 by electronic download

Order your copy by clicking here.

Designing and Creating Pleasing and Dramatic Natural History Images

A Video Webinar

In this 1 hour 28 minute plus video you will learn and be inspired. We cover everything from the very basics to the fine points. After a brief bio, the topics include Behavior, Action, Diagonal Lines, and the Cuteness Factor; Birds in Flight — The Holy Grail of Bird Photography; Mis-Framing!; Basic Image Design/HORIZONTALS: Get the subject out of the center of the frame. Basic Image Design/VERTICALS: The center of the frame is generally fine; The Importance of BACKGROUND; Isolating the Subject; Other Elements of Composition; On Getting Low; Going Wide for Bird-scapes; Super-tight!; Working in Sunny Conditions; Working in Cloudy Conditions; Working in Foggy Conditions; Working in the Shade; Working in Bad Weather; Creating Back-lit Images; Creating Silhouettes; and Creating Pleasing Blurs.

Each segment of the program consists of an average of about 15 images that will drive home the points being made, educate you, and inspire. The instructions and advice, given clearly and concisely, are based on my near-38 years of experience photographing birds with telephoto and super-telephoto lenses. And on several decades of creating educational blog posts.

This presentation is based on the webinar that I did for the South Shore Camera Club in April. You can find some of the comments below along with comments from two of the folks who viewed the webinar the night before the DeSoto IPT began.

You can order your copy of Designing and Creating Pleasing and Dramatic Natural History Images/A Video Webinar by clicking here or by calling Jim with your credit card in hand at 863-692-0906.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day 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 use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists 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 a9 ii, 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.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail

This image was created on 11 May 2021 on my recent busman’s holiday at Fort DeSoto. While seated, I used the the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:19am with clouds in the eastern sky.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Snowy Egret fishing in flight at a washover pool

Soft Light Flight

It’s funny. On the 2nd DeSoto IPT, I used only the hand held 200-600 G lens on our morning sessions. On my recent busman’s holiday visit I used the 600 f/4 GM lens every morning. One day I carried the 200-600 in the big pack on the rear of my X-traHand Vest (now out of production). I never even thought about using it. Understand that on clear sunny mornings the 2-6 is always my choice. Even though it is four clicks slower than the 600 (f/6.3 as compared to f/4), it is much easier to hand hold and framing the birds in flight and in action is much easier as well.

With clouds on the eastern horizon for all three of our morning visits, I grabbed the 600, an Induro tripod topped by a FlexShooter Pro, and the Panning Ground Pod. By the third day I left the tripod in the car! For both of today’s two featured images, I shot flight using a quasi-knee pod technique: I rested my left forearm on the top of my bent left leg and raised the rig with my left arm when I saw a bird take flight. This put some strain on my left shoulder.

Easy ISO Quiz

If I had been using the slower 200-600mm lens (f/6.3) instead of the faster, heavier 600mm f/4, what ISO would I have needed to keep the same exposure?

Alpha a1 AF

I kept several frames of this bird from one fishing sequence. The bird must have spotted some fish as its eyes were so large and so, so sharp, that it looked as if they were bugging out of its head. I continued to be amazed by the AF performance of the Alpha a1. If you own one and are not getting the results that you want and expect, consider joining the SONY a1 Info and Updates group. Scroll down for details.

This image was also created on 11 May 2021 on my recent busman’s holiday at Fort DeSoto. Again, while seated, I used the the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:23am with clouds in the eastern sky.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Tricolored Heron Egret fishing in flight at a washover pool

Changing the Exposure Based on the Tonality of the Subject, and Then Getting Lucky

I knew that I had the right exposure for the Snowy Egrets tooling around the pool in the very low light. When I saw the Tricolored Heron standing on the far shore of the washover pool, I lowered my shutter speed from 1/2500 sec. to 1/2000 sec. Why? Because the whites on the tricolored are not as bright as the whites on the snowies. Darker tones need more light to be properly exposed than lighter tones.

My good thinking was rewarded when the bird took flight in search of a fish. I kept the bird in the center of the frame — always a challenge for me, and made eight out of eight sharp frames. Based on wing position, I kept only this one.

ISO versus Shoulder Pain and Dysfunction …

As noted above, with the overcast weather each day, I opted to work with the 600m f/4 to save four clicks of ISO. This is especially helpful when shooting flight and action in low light. But when shooting flight and action, it is almost always best to hand hold rather than to work on a tripod; it is easier to follow and frame the birds. But all that is true only if you are easily able to handle the weight of the faster lens … Over the last two mornings I did a lot of work with the 600 using the Panning Ground Pod. With that, there is no stress on my left shoulder. But when I work on the ground, whether sitting or lying down flat, I tend to use my right arm to get up and down. That places lots of stress on my right shoulder.

On our last morning, I handheld the big lens quite a bit while standing for both static subjects and birds fishing in the surf. Attempting to hold the big lens up for ten or twenty or more seconds, places a tremendous amount of stress on my left shoulder. By Wednesday afternoon, it was really hurting. I need to quit trying to be a hand holding hero and work with the 600 on a tripod especially when photographing static subjects …

Sony Alpha a1 AF

Barring operator error, the performance of the Sony Alpha a1 AF system at any focal length (when the a1 is set up properly as detailed in the in e-mails to the Sony Alpha a1 Info & Updates group), continues to astound me. Early on, there was lots of discussion within the group with many preferring multiple back button approaches. For me a simple shutter button approach with the right AF settings that yield 99% sharp-on-the-eye images is best. By far. It is super-simple and mega-effective. In the next SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group e-mail, I will be sharing what I have learned as to when and it what situations it is best to abandon Wide. We have already learned to limit the AF Area choices and to switch AF Areas quickly and conveniently. The default method of switching AF points with the C2 button is both slow and cumbersome.

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based advice. We are now up to an astounding 41 folks. Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.) This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to birdsasart@verizon.net indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, folks can call Jim weekdays at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.

Typos

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

May 13th, 2021

Cleaning Up at the Beach. And My Three Steytler Faves

What’s Up

On our last morning at DeSoto there were some egrets in the washover pond, but with few baitfish, there was very little action. Working on the Panning Ground Pod with the 600 f/4GM lens, I went after some more eye-level Marbled Godwit images using the rear monitor. After a bit, I added the 1.4X TC. Several really sweet Dunlins made their way into the shallow pool I was working. I did well. My problem the previous day was that the Dunlin never stopped their rapid, sewing-machine-like feeding. After about ten minutes, four Dunlin, lit by soft early sunlight, decided to stop and stand right in front of me and right down sun angle to rest and preen. I made a lot of images. Really fine images.

At times I sat with the lens at ground level and worked off the monitor. At times I got down flat on the muck and worked through the viewfinder. And at times I lay on the sandy mud and worked off the monitor. The advantage of the latter is that it is much easier for me to see what is going on without my glasses as I am only a few inches from the monitor. When I am sitting and using the rear monitor my left eye is about 20 inches from the monitor; without my glasses, I am often guessing as to the AF performance and the orientation and head angle of the subject.

Next I decided to try to get close to the Red Knot flock on a different flat that abutted the lagoon. They were much tamer than they had been the day before. I got on the ground easily at about fifty yards and advanced slowly mostly by rolling. Yes, rolling. No matter how I advanced, both shoulders were hurting. After about an hour, I had moved about 40 yards and gotten within about ten yards of the birds — easy pickings at 1200mm on a then-cloudy/very bright morning. But the flock was tightly packed; isolating a single bird was close to impossible. I did get one pretty nice bird sleeping and was able to isolate a single preening Dublin, but that was about it.

Today is Thursday 13 May. The forecast for this morning at ILE is for partly cloudy turning cloudy with a northeast wind … I have not decided whether or not to head down to the lake as I need to get some work done for the Sony Alpha a1 Info and Updates group. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took more than 2 hours to prepare and makes 140 straight days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head, for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Notice the under-side of the right sleeve of my sun protective blouse. You can tell that I had been doing lots of crawling on my belly in the muck.

artie after Gulf bath. Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: Anita North

Cleaning Up at the Beach

It seemed as if I had been photographing for many hours; I thought that it was after eleven. So I headed back to the car, wet and covered in sand from head to toe. I was shocked to see that it was only 9:30am. Anita had headed off early to the far north end of Outback Key. I thought that she might already be back to the car. She was not. I called her cell and got her. She was headed back, but was still about 15 minutes away. I asked her to meet me at the Gulf beach in front of the parking lot and she did. Then, with all of my clothes on, I went for a delightful swim to get cleaned up a bit, albeit in saltwater. At my request, she created a few before snaps of me (dirty and sandy), and a few after snaps (cleaner and wetter), with her 200-600.

Now I was ready for a grand shower in the men’s room bathhouse at North Beach. Several years back, they redid the showers, but removed the bench and the clothes hooks. I was puzzled as to why. So anyhoo, I walk in, go around the new partition, and much to my surprise, I see a lovely, wide wooden bench. Could it get any better? So I put my complete change of clothes on the bench along with a brand new can of Johnson’s baby powder, my sandals, my robe, and a clean towel. I get out of my wet, sandy clothes and turn around. There I see eight very clean shower stalls. With all of the plumbing removed. As Anita would say, “Rotter!”

So I put my wet, sandy clothes back on and headed to the multi-level outdoor sprinkler/shower nearby. I took a nice shower, eventually stripping down to just my green Jockey shorts. Yikes! (No pictures of that, thank the lord.) I quickly put on my robe, made my way back to the bench, powdered my feet, and got dressed.

On the way back to ILE we stopped at Bass Pro Shops in Brandon for a bit of shopping, at Starbucks in Bartow (so Anita could get another fix), and at Publix in Lake Wales to pick up something for dinner. We got back to ILE at about 3:30pm. It was just another exciting day in the life of a professional bird photographer.

Scanning Help Needed

If you know anything about scanning slides, please leave a comment below or contact Jeff Walters via e-mail.

Jeff Walters/May 12, 2021 at 4:42 pm

Great skimmer shots and mating avocets images show truly why I love bird photography. Thanks to your friends for sharing their images and thank-you for bringing them to us in your blog.

If you had a mess of old slides, how would you go about digitizing them today, sir? And could it be done for a reasonable cost? I ask, because seeing the skimmer image reminds me of shots I have on slide film from years past. I have many terrific skimmers shots, and image of many other species from wetlands on slide film. I would love to find an affordable way to get them converted to digital. Anyone’s comments or assistance would be most appreciated and especially any guidance from you Artie! Thanks to all.

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART/May 12, 2021 at 7:27 pm

Hi Jeff,

Scanning slides is not my area of expertise … Lots of folks (including me), used something like a Nikon Cool Scan. Or tried to. Most of the time, it did not work at all. When it did, the results were not very good. Getting a drum scan is best but they are expensive. I will run this in the blog and see if anyone can help. Don’t forget that compared to digital, film sucks. Period. So it stands to reason that by scanning something that sucks to being with, you will wind up with something that sucks … If you follow my drift.

with love, artie

ps: if you do want to have some slides scanned, I would limit that to your very strongest images …

Bedfords

The very affable Steve Elkins asked me to let you know that Bedfords has many Canon R5 bodies in stock right now. He is expecting some Control Ring Adapters, more than a few Canon RF 70-200s, and several RF 800mm lens in a day or two. Don’t forget to save 3% at Bedfords (and enjoy free 2nd-Day Air fed-Ex) by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs greatly reduced, please — if you learn from and enjoy the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day 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 use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists 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 a9 ii, 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.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

Georgina Steytler

In the Australian Lady Bird Photographer Georgina Steytler Creates High-Key, Soft Light, and Dramatic Stunners … blog post here, all were invited to leave a comment listing no more than three of their favorite images created by the quite amazing Georgina Steytler and to let us know why they made their choice or choices.

Lots of folks commented on the superb artistry of the collection, but only a few were specific. Including my favorites, Image #7: New Holland Honeyeaters, was the leader with three mentions. The Red-capped Parrot on Bottlebrush, #3, the Pacific Black Duck, #5, and the Great Egret abstract, #9, all garnered three mentions. The Pacific-Gull flapping, #4, and Red-capped Plover on the run, each were mentioned once.

Though there is — of course — no rights or wrongs when judging the artistic merits of photographs, Phill Bird echoed my feelings when he wrote:

Thanks for introducing us to Georgina’s work, Artie. Lots of fantastic images and the standout for me is the Red-capped Parrot. The parrot’s beautiful coloring standing out in the misty lighting and the inclusion of the quintessentially Australian Bottlebrush in the composition appeals greatly to me.

As always, remember that looking at (and evaluating) great imagery is one of the very best ways to improve your own photography … You can see my three favorites by scrolling down.

Image #3: Red-capped Parrot on Bottlebrush. Image courtesy of and copyright 2018: Georgina Steytler

My Very Favorite Georgina Steytler Image

I fell in love with this one the moment I saw it as I am a sucker for a good watercolor. The bird is sharp and perfectly positioned in the frame. And the pastel colors are incredible. The erect pose is perfect as is the selective focus on the subject. Your eye is led around the frame from the REDs on the bird to the REDs in the flower and also by the sharp to soft transitions.

Image #5: Pacific Black Duck preening. Image courtesy of and copyright 2018: Georgina Steytler

My First Tied-for-Second Favorite Georgina Steytler Image

With the vibrant colors of the duck’s speculum and the striking black background, this is another spectacular image. I am, however, betting that Georgina wished she had pointed her lens down just a bit so as to include more of (if not the complete) reflection … Do notice that this one works very well despite the fact that we see neither the bird’s eyes nor its face. You are the artist; you get to break the rules with purpose.

Image #7: New Holland Honeyeaters. Image courtesy of and copyright 2018: Georgina Steytler

My Second Tied-for-Second Favorite Georgina Steytler Image

Note: this section of the blog was inadvertently deleted but I am not sure when that happened. I am restoring it just after noon on 14 May.

Here we have another watercolor-like photo with tons of action and interaction. That five of the seven honeyeaters are not only facing the camera but have excellent head angles is quite amazing. And the squabbling pair at the top is the proverbial icing on the cake.

Typos

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

May 12th, 2021

The Canon EOS R5: Rockin' in the right hands!

What’s Up?

We had a second great morning at DeSoto with a big wading bird feeding spree. Before the sun came over the one big cloud in the east, I got a few killers on Snowy Egret and Tricolored Heron hand holding the 600 f/4 GM lens. Once again, the Red Knots proved to be elusive. I did get some nice ground level images of Marbled Godwit at 840mm and Dunlin and Semipalmated Plover at 1200mm with the Panning Ground Pod. There will be lots more on that technique here soon. I just missed on a female frigatebird diving very close to shore … The tally for the morning was 1568 images made, 1428 deleted, and 140 keepers after the first edit.

Tired of slogging around in the sand and mud and walking too far in the heat on the beach, Anita and I opted to explore a rookery north of Tampa that she learned about from Dr. Tom, a very nice man she met on the beach at DeSoto. It was pretty productive. There were lots of Wood Storks and Great Egrets. The highlight of the session for me was a just-out-of-the-nest Black-crowned Night Heron. It played hide and seek with me for two hours before landing atop a bush and posing for vertical head and neck portraits right before we left.

Today is Wednesday 12 May. We will be heading to DeSoto early for the third straight morning and then driving back to ILE. The forecast for St. Pete is for mostly cloudy with a gentle southeast breeze, in other words, hazy, hot and humid. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took almost two hours to prepare and makes 139 straight days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head, for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Bedfords

The very affable Steve Elkins asked me to let you know that Bedfords has many Canon R5 bodies in stock right now. He is expecting some Control Ring Adapters, more than a few Canon RF 70-200s, and several RF 800mm lens in a day or two. Don’t forget to save 3% at Bedfords (and enjoy free 2nd-Day Air fed-Ex) by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs greatly reduced, please — if you learn from and enjoy the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day 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 use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists 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 a9 ii, 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.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail

This image was created on 28 April 2021 by Donna Bourdon on the second Fort DeSoto IPT. She used the handheld Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens (at 500mm) and the highly touted 45MP Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 500. Exposure determined by test exposure & histogram and blinkies evaluation: 1/2000 second at f/7.1 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 6:56am on a clear morning.

Face Detection plus Tracking worked beyond perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1 courtesy of and Copyright 2021: Donna Bourdon
Black Skimmer skimming

Targets Acquired and Destroyed

One of Donna’s goals on the second DeSoto IPT was to create a decent image of a skimmer skimming. She was thrilled when she came up with Image #1. When she processed it, she cropped to put the bird on the right side of the frame. “No, no, Nanette” I said. “Use the wake as part of the image design and put the bird on our left heading out of frame.” So I did. She loved it even more. She met another goal with some fine dancing Reddish Egret images.

Face Detection plus Tracking worked beyond perfectly. Click on the screen capture to better see the active AF point.

Image #1A: DP 4 Screen Capture for the Black Skimmer skimming image
Image courtesy of and Copyright 2021: Donna Bourdon

Face Detection plus Tracking AF

Take a look at the placement of the AF point; it would be hard to imagine anything better. Learn how to set up your R5 for flight and general bird photography in the BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide. You spent almost $4,000.00 on a camera body; why not spend a measly $75.00 to learn, how to use it?

With the handheld Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, and the highly-touted Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera body (in 1.6 crop mode). ISO 1000. Exposure determined by test exposure & histogram and blinkies evaluation: 1/4000 sec. at f/8.

Image #2 courtesy of and copyright 2021: Brian Sump Photography. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.
American Avocets mating

Sump Scores and BPN

I met Brian Sump about than a year ago in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographers.Net. Like Kevin Hice before him, Brian is a shining example of young bird photographers who have worked hard and vastly improved their skills and the quality of their images by participating full out in the Avian Forum. You can learn more about Brian’s progress in the blog post here.

Brian is quite clever with words when he chooses titles for his BPN posts. For this image he came up with Circle of Life. You can read the discussion on frame proportions and space in the frame and learn what the boys and girls on BPN had to say about the image here in Avian.

Cover Image courtesy of and Copyright 2021 Brian Sump (Sump scores!)

The BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide

The BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide: $75.00

The guide is 82 pages long: 21,458 words. More than 50 DPP 4 Autofocus-depicting screen captures. And a 31 minute 44 second educational video. This guide took three and a half months of hard work and a ton of help from at least seventeen very helpful and generous folks.

The guide covers — in great detail — all Menu Items that are relevant to bird, nature, and wildlife photography. It does not cover video. The section on AF methods and the AF Gallery has been expanded from the R5/R6 AF e-guide. It remains the one of the great strengths of this guide. I share my thoughts on what I am sure is the single best AF Method for photographing birds in flight. As most of you know, the guide includes a simple and easy way to change AF Methods that was introduced to me by Geoff Newhouse. In the AF Gallery you will see exactly how Face Detection plus Tracking AF works. In the Educational R5 Gallery video, I share my favorite R5 images along with dozens of bird photography tips and techniques.

In addition, I teach you how to get the best exposures with your R5. Detailed instructions on using the great In-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features will be appreciated by creative folks who like to have fun. The three shutter modes are explained in detail as well. Bruce Dudek solved the can’t-get-to-Auto ISO problem that had stumped everyone at Canon. This information is of course shared in the guide. You will learn how to set up your EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) and Screen toggle options. Not to mention that the mysterious performance of the Q Button is revealed and simplified. Brian Sump’s images reveal how well you can do when using the R5 with EF lenses using one of the three Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapters (as Donna did with Image #1 below). You will learn how I use Customize Dials to put either ISO or EC on the Thumb Dial and how to set up and save Custom Shooting Modes (C1-C3) that can remember both your Customize Dial and Customize Button settings! That is something that none of the SONY bodies do. 🙁 Near the end of the guide I share my all-important MY MENU items with you.

Like all BAA educational materials, the R5 guide is written in my informal, easy-to-follow style. I am quite proud of this guide and look forward to hearing your thoughts on our hard work.

You can purchase your copy of the BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide for $75.00 here in the BAA Online Store or by calling Jim in the office weekday afternoons at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

From the late Luis Grunauer via e-mail

I’ve watched the R5 gallery video. I LOVE THE PHOTOS and the stories behind them, not to mention that the EXIF data is displayed in Photo Mechanic. Your explanations of the settings and the processes are very helpful. Your comments on framing and composition (both the great ones and the ones you refer to as “created by operator error”) were enlightening. It gives folks a chance to learn from someone with lots of in-the-field hands on experience with the R5! Well done and thanks so much for sharing it with me. There is some awesome teaching in the video to say the least!

From Ron Santini via e-mail

I have an R5 and purchased your “The BAA R5/R6 AF Guide” about a month ago. It has been a game-changer for me. I previously used back button focus (BBF), but after following your guide, that is a thing of the past. You truly simplified the process and I just want to thank you.

Typos

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