Which of today’s two featured Bald Eagle images do you like best? Please be so kind as to leave a comment letting us know why you made your choice. Doing so will help you to become a better bird photographer, but not as much as joining a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour.
Been thinking of an IPT? Sign up for any Instructional Photo Tour while I am in the Galapagos and enjoy a $200 discount on your balance. See the IPT schedule here and then call Jim at 863-692-0906 to leave your deposit. Hard to choose between DeSoto in the fall, San Diego for Pacific-race Brown Pelicans, or Homer, AK for Bald Eagles and more.
As I am in the Galapagos leading the 2023 Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime, this is being posted automatically in abstentia. If you are interested in joining me in the Galapagos in August 2024, please get in touch via e-mail. Remember that you only live once.
I will be back in my office for a full day of work on September 14, 2023. See you then!
Today is Monday 11 September 2023. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.
Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon 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!
You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) 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.
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This image was created on 21 February 2023. Seated on fresh snow, I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 2000. 1/2500 sec. at f4 (stopped down 1-stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect (ho hum). AWB at 10:54:26am on cloudy morning.
Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.
Image #1: Bald Eagle juvenile braking to land
Soft Light or Sun?
While I enjoy the occasional sunlit/blue sky image of a Bald Eagle, I far prefer the soft light on a cloudy (or better yet, snowy) day. Mainly because you do not have to deal with harsh shadows. And in the same vein, it is far easier to create photos with glorious underwing detail. And yes, light reflected off the snow helps with that as well.
Join me in Homer next February (with a nice discount as mentioned above), to enjoy some amazing eagle photography and a ton of learning.
Click on the composite to view a larger version and be even more impressed.
by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris
First of all, if you use Nikon or Canon (or Olympus or Fuji) gear, do not be put off by the title. While a portion of the guide deals with the Sony α-1, there is a ton of priceless information, tips, and techniques that can help you become a better flight photographer. No matter what system you are using. If you don not use an α-1, be sure to read down to the bottom to save a few bucks.
Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris have created the definitive and most comprehensive ever treatise on photographing birds in flight. With more than sixty years of experience photographing birds, they know what you need to know but have not figured out yet! You will be astounded by the depth of their knowledge and the tips they have to offer. More than six months in the making, the guide contains 229 pages, 24,321 words,97 exceptional and inspirational flight images — each with a legendary, enlightening BIRDS AS ART caption, and 22 screen captures. The guide contains a wealth of useful, practical, and for the most part — never-before-available information.
What Everyone Will Learn
We will teach you the basic concepts that you need to master to become a great flight photographer along with the techniques used by the world’s best flight photographers.
You will learn that most any telephoto lens can be perfect for flight photography in a given situation; focal lengths for the images in the book range from 200mm to 1200mm and everywhere in between.
We discuss the merits of various lenses in depth, including and especially comparing the 400mm f/2.8 lenses with the 600mm f/4s.
We guide you in getting your hands on the flight photography lens that will best meet your needs. We offer a variety of handholding and rest position tips and include tips on working with a big lens on a tripod when working with a flight lens that is otherwise too heavy for you.
Both authors offer their thoughts on getting the right exposure when photographing birds in flight. You will learn to get the right exposure on foggy days and even when photographing black birds in white sky conditions.
You will learn the tremendous importance of pre-focusing, of finding the bird in the viewfinder quickly, acquiring focus almost instantly (with tips on doing all three).
You will learn the role of image stabilization in flight photography and the best settings.
Both authors share their thoughts on using the focus range limiter switch. In the same vein, you will learn to use Direct Manual Focus to make your flight photography life easier.
All will learn about the best wing positions and the importance of the background with images of birds in flight. With lots of examples.
You will learn about the best shutter speeds (and the best aperture) to use when photographing flying birds.
You will learn to photograph flight while seated and the many advantages of doing so.
You will learn the best methods of controlling high ISO noise.
All will learn to properly and safely format their flash cards.
You will learn what to do when your AF system is temporarily blinded.
All will learn the huge effect that wind strength and direction has on flight photography and to evaluate the quality and direction of the light on both sunny and cloudy days.
You will learn why it is vitally important to shoot aggressively when photographing birds in flight.
You will learn to carefully observe and evaluate a variety of bird behaviors that may shine light on some excellent opportunities for photographing birds in flight. And about getting into the best position from which to photograph.
You will learn to be a much better flight photographer.
What Sony Folks Will Learn
Exactly how Artie uses Zebras to come up with perfect exposure after perfect exposure.
The fine points and recommended settings for Optical Steady Shot (OSS).
The concept of Auto-Focus (AF) tracking in the α-1.
Everything there is to know about the complex Sony autofocus system.
About all the AF patterns, how to quickly switch them, and about those favored by each author. And why.
The Tracking and Non-tracking AF patterns. When and why Arash uses Non-Tracking Zone. And why Artie uses only two AF patterns.
How to set and use Bird Face-Eye detection for flight photography.
How and why to assign various custom functions to the various programmable buttons on the α-1 body.
The perfect settings for the many, many Menu items that are vitally related to flight photography.
How and why the Sony α-1 uses both contrast and phase detection AF to determine focus (and the benefits thereof).
Which are the best memory cards for the Sony α-1.
To quickly access frequently used menu items.
Non-Sony α-1 Discount
Using the honor system, folks who do not use a Sony α-1 body are invited to click here to save $25.00 on the purchase price of the guide.
This image was created on 21 February 2023. Seated on fresh snow, I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 2000. 1/2500 sec. at f4 (stopped down 1-stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect (ho hum). AWB at 11:04:37am on cloudy morning.
Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.
Image #2: Bald Eagle adult braking to land
Should I Have Stopped Down One Stop for Todays’ Two Featured Images?
The focus distance for both Images #1 and #2 was 36.6 meters (120 feet). Note that Image #1 was cropped more tightly than Image #2. Should I have created both images at f/2.8? Did I gain anything by stopping down to f/4? Or was that a mistake? Either, way, why?
2024 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPTs
IPT #1: WED 21 FEB 2024 through the full day on SUN 25 FEB 2024. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings 3.
IPT #2: MON 26 FEB 2024 through the full day on FRI 1 MAR 2024. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings 3.
Register for both trips to maximize your travel dollars and enjoy a $1000 discount while you are at it.
This trip features non-stop flight photography as well as many opportunities to create both environmental and point-blank portraits of one of North America’s most sought-after avian subjects: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Other reliable subjects will include Sea Otter, Glaucous-winged and Short-billed (formerly Mew) Gulls.
In addition, we should see Common Murre, Black Guillemot, Pelagic Cormorant, two or three species of loons, and a smattering of ducks including two species of merganser, all three scoters, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, Harlequin, and Long-tailed Ducks. Close-range photographic chances for these species will require some good luck. Some of these species, especially when in flocks, can, however, often be used effectively when pleasing creating bird-scapes.
If we need to be out early, we will be the first boat out. If the conditions are great, we will stay out. And when there is a chance for sunset silhouettes, we will be in the right spot.
We will be traveling through gorgeous wilderness country; landscape and scenic opportunities abound.
Also featured is a professional leader, often referred to as the world’s most knowledgeable bird photography trip leader and instructor. He is conversant in Canon, Nikon, and Sony. You will learn practical and creative solutions to everyday photographic problems. You will learn to see the shot, to create dynamic images by fine-tuning your compositions, to best utilize your camera’s AF system, and how to analyze the wind, the sky conditions, and the direction and quality of the light. This is one of the very few trips Homer trips available where you will not be simply put on the birds and told to have fun. You will learn to be a better photographer. But only if that is what you want.
You will learn to get the right exposure when it is sunny, when it cloudy-bright, when it is cloudy, when it is cloudy-dark, or when it is foggy. Not to mention getting the right exposure when creating silhouettes.
You will learn to make pleasing blurs working in manual mode and to create silhouettes working in Shutter Priority mode.
Most importantly you will learn to pick your best flight photographs from tens of thousands of images.
You will enjoy working with the best and most creative boat captain on his sturdy, photography-spacious, seaworthy, open-deck watercraft.
Only five photographers (not the usual six), plus the leader.
Small group Photoshop, Image Review, and Image Critiquing sessions.
All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK
One four hour or two two-hour boat trips every day (weather permitting), all boat fees and boat-related expenses (excluding tips), ground transportation to and from the dock and back to the hotel each day, in-the-field instruction and guidance, pre-trip gear advice, small group post-processing and image review sessions, and a thank you dinner for all well-behaved participants.
What’s Not Included
Your airfare to and from Homer, AK (via Anchorage), the cost of your room at Land’s End Resort, all personal items, all meals and beverages, and tips for the boat captain and/or the first mate.
On great days, the group may wish to photograph for more than four hours. If the total time on the boat exceeds 20 hours for the five-day trips the group will share the additional expense at a rate of $225/hour. The leader will pay for the bait.
Some folks may wish to rent their own vehicle to take advantage of local photographic opportunities around Homer. In 2023 those included Moose, Great Grey, and Short-eared Owls.
A $3000 non-refundable deposit/trip is required. You may pay your deposit with credit card or by personal check (the latter made out to BIRDS AS ART) and sent via US mail only to Arthur Morris. PO Box 7245. Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Your balance, due 90 days before the date of departure, is payable only by check (as above).
I have been going to Homer off and on for close to two decades. Every trip has been nothing short of fantastic. Many folks go in mid-March. The earlier you go, the better the chances for snow. The only way to assure that you are on the best of these two trips is to sign up for all of them. Can you keep up with me? If you have any questions, or are good to go for one, or two of these great trips, please let me know via e-mail or give me a call on my cell phone at 863-221-2372.
With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.