Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
September 15th, 2021

The Canon 5D IV & BIRDS AS ART High Key Pelican Action

What’s Below?

Comments on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
On owning the Canon 500 II and the Canon 600 II
BIRDS AS ART High Key Pelican Action
Updated Thoughts on Shutter Speeds for Flight and for Action

Your Fave?

Which of today’s two featured images is the strongest? Leave a comment and let us know why you made your choice.

What’s Up?

I visited Central Park again on Tuesday morning. There were hundreds of southbound migrant passerines in the trees and bushes at Strawberry Fields. Along with several hundred birders and bird photographers. There were more than 20 species of warblers reported. I saw dozens of Common Yellowthroats and Magnolia and Black and White Warblers at close range at eye level. But as is typical in the park in the fall, photography was near-impossible. I’ll be lucky if I made a single keeper. Why so difficult? The birds were foraging on the move. They flit instantly from bright sun to dark shade and are most often in filtered light so getting a good exposure is a huge challenge. Get me to the beach asap!

Speaking of the beach, anyone interested in the first DeSoto IPT needs to call Jim asap (863-221-2372) as it begins this coming weekend. Several folks have either signed up for or are interested in the 2nd and 3rd DeSoto IPTs. Learn more by scrolling down here or shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions. David Pugsley reports that there is constant action at DeSoto right now. I am looking forward to working with Mike De Rosa again on the 1st DeSoto IPT. We had a ton of fun at Jacksonville. You can learn about Mike’s experience there in the Mike De Rosa: Learning a Ton, Making Great Images, and Dispelling Many Myths About SONY! blog post here.

I was glad to learn on Tuesday that the sale of Alice Garland’s Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED Slide Scanner became pending on the first day of listing. There is tons of stuff to learn in today’s post so be sure to keep reading below.

Today is Wednesday 15 September; I will be headed back to Florida on the Auto Train on Thursday afternoon. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have/had a great day.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

The streak is over at 254; going forward, I will aim for a blog post every other day. 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, 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 save 3% 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.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Please know that the longer you wait to sell your used gear, the less you will get for it …

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Right now, there are lots of excellent buys on the Used Gear Page.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to 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 22 October 2017 at Fort DeSoto. I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/ GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6 Canon 600mm f/4L IS II lens (now replaced by the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera Body (now replaced by the Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body.) ISO 800. Exposure determined via blinkies and histogram evaluation: 1/1000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:17am on cloudy morning.

Image 1: Brown Pelican, immature braking to land

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Whenever I have a 5D IV to sell on the Used Gear page, I write that I loved and used the 5D IV while my EOS-1DX and then my EOS-1D X Mark II sat on the shelf in my air conditioned garage … I was not kidding.

The Canon 5D Mark IV Camera User’s Guide

Check it out here.

On Owning the Canon 500 II and the Canon 600 II???

When I was a Canon Explorer of Light (for 18 years), I owned both the 500mm and the 600mm f/4 lenses. While that may seem like overkill, owning both solved lots of problems. The 500 f/4 was lighter and smaller and much easier to hand hold and to travel with than the corresponding 600 f/4. I’d always leave the 600 at home for the San Diego IPT while that was my first choice for trips where the birds were more skittish. For Bosque del Apache, I would ship both lenses to Socorro. Today’s Image #1 was made with the 600 f/4, while image #2 was made with the 500mm f/4 and the 1.4X TC. Both with the 5D Mark IV.

This image was created on 24 September 2017 at Fort DeSoto. I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/ GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera Body (now replaced by the Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body.) ISO 800. Exposure determined via blinkies and histogram evaluation: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3 (stopped down 1/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:39am on cloudy morning.

Image 2: Brown Pelican, immature hitting the water after a dive

BIRDS AS ART High Key Pelican Action

I absolutely love cloudy bright days for photographing flight and action. At Fort DeSoto, we often enjoy shooting the young pelicans in flight and diving. On sunny days, it is difficult to create images that feature evenly lit underwings; the shadows will kill you nine times out of ten. On cloudy bright days, it is a snap making images that reveal perfect underwing detail. And better yet, though the light does have some direction to it, you are able to work well off light angle without encountering the problems that you would on a sunny day.

Updated Thoughts on Shutter Speeds for Flight and for Action

When I was using Fuji Velvia 50 (slide film!) pushed one stop for flight well more than two decades ago, I would usually shoot flight at 1/500 second. A recently as four years ago, I was comfortable at 1/1000 second. Today, I would not even think about photographing birds in flight and in action with shutter speeds of less than 1/2000 second, and my great preference would be 1/3200 second.

I believe that the reasons for that are two-fold:

#1: Topaz DeNoise makes working at the higher ISOs a complete pleasure.

#2: The effects of gear shake and subject movement are far greater with high megapixel (40-50 MP) camera bodies than with the older bodies with far smaller file sizes in the 10-25 MP range.

Topaz DeNoise

Be sure to click on the screen capture to see the complete elimination of noise in the after image on our right. And note that if anything, the fine details are sharper than in the original.

As regular readers know, I run DeNoise on virtually every image that I process immediately after executing the crop with the Delete Cropped Pixels box checked. For images made in sunny conditions, I used Standard. For images made in low light, I use Low Light. You can check all four methods by using the Comparison View but I rarely do that any more as I am confident as noted above.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plug-ins), will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. If the stuff is on sale (as it usually is), you save 15% off of the sale price! To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Those who purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or any other Topaz plug-ins using my link and then entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. Please include a copy of your Topaz receipt that shows the discount. Aside from the basics, the guide explains how to install the plug-ins so that they appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu.

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. It includes more than 50 DPP 4 AF system-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 is simply superb and will allow you to get the most out of your R5/R6. This sections is 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.

Typos

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

September 13th, 2021

Western Sandpiper Raw Conversion Video & More

What’s Up?

Today is Monday 13 September 2021. I will finally be headed south on the Auto Train on this coming Thursday afternoon. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have/had a great day.

Thanks for all the positives on Image #2 in the previous post. Opinions were unanimous. While I like Image #2 best, the Sandwich Tern orchestra conductor pose, I did love the color of the water and the flapping skimmer in Image #1.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

The streak is over at 254; going forward, I will aim for a blog post every other day. 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, 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 save 3% 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.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Please know that the longer you wait to sell your used gear, the less you will get for it …

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Right now, there are lots of excellent buys on the Used Gear Page.

Great Buys!

Canon 500mm f/4L IS USM super-telephoto lens (the “old five — with extras!)

Roger Williams is offering a Canon EF 500 f4/L IS USM super telephoto lens in excellent condition (with several extras) for a very low $2,299.00. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the tough, original front lens cover, a Kirk P-29 lens foot, a camo LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Roger via e-mail or by phone at 1-651-402-8125 (Central time zone).

The 500mm f/4 lenses have been the world’s most popular telephoto lenses for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. I owned and used and loved my “old five” for many years. If you use Canon and don’t have the cash for a 500 II, and can handle the additional 24 ounces, then this is your best super-telephoto lens option. Most everyone can produce sharp images with this lens and a 1.4X TC. Folks with good to excellent sharpness techniques can do the same with a 2X TC. Best of all, this lens will kill with an RF Adapter and an R5 or an R6. A new 500 II sells right now for $8,999.00 so you can save an astounding $6,700.00 by grabbing Roger’s lens right now. artie

Canon EF 100-400m f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Lens

Price reduced $100.00 24 August 2021

Long-time-ago South Georgia shipmate Asta Tobiassen is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM zoom lens in excellent condition for $1299.00 (was $1399.00). The sale includes the original box, the carrying case, the front and rear lens caps, the lens hood, a LensCoat, a LensCoat TravelCoat, a LensCoat Hoodie, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Asta via e-mail

This incredibly versatile zoom lens — with its amazing .98 meter close focus — was my favorite Canon telephoto zoom lens ever. By far. It is easy to hand hold, great for tight portraits, birds in flight, quasi-macro stuff, and lots more. For flight, it is even better with an R5! The lens sells new for $2399.00 so you can save some hard cash by grabbing Asta’s zoom lens now. artie

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to 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.

Western Sandpiper Raw Conversion

Learn how I set the sliders for my raw conversions in Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw in this 4 minute 16 second video. The principles are the same whether you convert in ACR, DPP4, Lightroom, or Capture One. By setting the white and black points correctly, you wind up with an optimal TIF file as your starting point in Photoshop. Scroll down to see the optimized image.

This image was created on 25 September 2020 at Fort DeSoto. While seated on dry sand behind my lowered tripod, I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/ Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter(at 840mm) and Tthe AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 1250. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: RawDigger showed that the exposure was almost perfect at 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:16am on barely sunny morning.

Lower Center Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed just about perfectly and produced a sharp-on-the-eye image.

Image 1: Western Sandpiper, adult molting into breeding plumage — aggressive posture

Western Sandpiper, the optimized version

Compare the optimized version above with the Raw file and the converted TIF in the short video and note the beach clean-up and the small crop.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a PayPal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

The clean-up techniques mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my MacBook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Typos

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

September 12th, 2021

Bathing Bird Tendencies ... Part I

Hi-Res JPEGs

New visitors are reminded to click on each jpeg to enjoy a higher-resolution version.

You Fave?

Which of today’s two featured images is the strongest? All are invited to leave a comment explaining why they made their choice.

What’s Up?

Not much. I am getting ready for the trip south on the Auto Train on Monday afternoon. Keep reading for some more great tips on photographing birds flapping in place after a bath. And Fort DeSoto is a great place to put what you’ve learned into action. See details on the three DeSoto IPTs at the bottom of this post. Today (was) Saturday September 11 2021 … Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have/had a great day.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

This blog post took about an hour to prepare (including the time I spent on the image optimizations) and makes 254 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, 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 save 3% 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.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Please know that the longer you wait to sell your used gear, the less you will get for it …

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Right now, there are lots of great buys on the Used Gear Page.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to 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

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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 25 September 2020 at Fort DeSoto. While seated on dry sand, I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter(at 840mm) and the AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 2000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:18am on barely sunny morning.

Lower Center Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed just about perfectly and produced a sharp-on-the-eye image.

Image 1: Black Skimmer adult bathing

Bathing Bird Flapping Tendencies

As noted previously here often, birds that are dipping their breasts into the water will almost always jump into the air and flap their wings when they finish their baths. It is best to frame wider rather than tighter for the flapping after bath shot. Sometimes the birds may re-land in the water and take a second bath. And sometimes they will fly a short distance to the shore to preen. By paying careful attention to the wind direction you might be able to determine the direction of flight … And it almost goes without saying that you will be looking for situations where the wind and the light are behind you.

This image was created on 25 September 2020 at Fort DeSoto. While seated on dry sand, I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter(at 840mm) and the AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 1000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:20am on then fairly sunny morning.

Center Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed just about perfectly and produced a sharp-on-the-eye image.

Image 2: Sandwich Tern flapping after bath

Stuff

This image was, thanks to the superb image quality of sharp a1 image files, created from a horizontal original. Note that if you are capable of hand holding a long, fast telephoto lens it is far easier to create images that depict action than when working on a tripod …

Bathing Bird Location/Water Depth Tendencies

The odds are that once you see a single bird take a bath, another will soon fly in to the exact same spot to bathe. Usually, but not always, the birds will be of the same species, or as with today’s two featured images, of approximately the same size. Small sandpipers require shallower water for their baths than do gulls and terns, so you will never see them bathing in the same spot.

The aqua water of the Gulf are ideal backdrops for images of bathing birds. Scroll down to learn about the three Fort DeSoto IPTs. When I call out, “Bathing bird; get ready for the flap!,” many folks are often amazed. “How did you know that that would happen?” How? it almost always does. Studying and understanding bird behavior is an easy way to improve as a bird photographer.

The Lessons

By keeping your eyes open, by studying the light and the wind, and by being aware of the tendencies of bathing birds, you can take advantage of these exciting situations and create some stunning action images of birds flapping (and preening) after bathing.

Via e-mail from Muhammad Arif

I had a great time at Fort De Soto. Thank you for all the instruction, for your help and pointers; my photography has already improved tremendously and I’ve never made such good bird photos before. I wish I could’ve joined you on Monday and Tuesday morning as well but work got in the way. It was also nice to meet everyone on the IPT; sorry that I missed you, Ray. Thanks again for everything and I hope to join you at a future IPT sometime again.


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Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tours

Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #1

3 1/2 Days: Sunday 19 September through the morning session on Wednesday 22 September 2021. $1999.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings 5.

Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #2

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 5 October through the morning session on Friday 8 October. $1999.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings 5.

Fall 2021 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #3

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 19 October through the morning session on Friday 22 October. $1999.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings 5.

Fort DeSoto in Fall

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. And we will get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On this IPT, all 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.. Everyone will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly, you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). 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 and whenever you photograph.

There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

These IPTs will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB information.

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six folks, so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand, or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving. The length of cloudy morning sessions will often be extended. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Typos

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