May 27th, 2012


  • Canon 500 & 600mm f/4 L IS II Lenses Shipping Soon
  • Cheesemans’ South Georgia/Falklands Trip Opening(s)
  • Contest News/You Be the Judge: Youth Category Results
  • The Amazing Image
  • The Songbird Set-up Guide
  • B&H Double Rebates: Canon & Nikon
  • Shopper’s Guide

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I am currently on a busman’s holiday with Denise Ippolito. This male Western Bluebird was photographed near Descanso, CA with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at +1 1/3 stops: 1/200 sec. at f/10 in Av mode on a windy, cloudy morning.

Central sensor (by necessity) AI Servo/Rear Focus AF on the front bird’s face and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Canon 500 & 600mm f/4 L IS II Lenses Shipping Soon

The long-awaited Canon 500mm f/4L IS II lens and the equally long-awaited Canon 600mm f/4L IS II lens should be shipping within a week as they are en route to dealers now. I can help you get one soon at the lowest price. Here’s how.

Pre-order the new Series II 500mm lens by clicking on this link: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM. Or pre-order the new Series II 600mm lens by using this link: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM. When you receive your B&H receipt via e-mail forward it to me by e-mail here. I will e-mail it to my affiliate contact at B&H to help expedite your order. Do understand that the demand for these lenses will be huge. If by chance you are able to secure your lens from another source (likely at a higher price) you can simply cancel your B&H pre-order; your credit card is not charged until and unless the lens is shipped. It is a win-win situation for all who wish to get their hands on one or both of these lenses. By using the links above you will be thanking BIRDS AS ART for all the free information that we provide in Bulletins, on the blog, and by answering your e-mail questions (as I have been doing for close to two decades now). So thanks! In addition, you can save your receipt(s) and cash them in for multiple contest entries in the BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition.

You can check the amazing lighter weights and specs of the new lenses as compared to the old lenses here. Aside from being well lighter each of the new lenses is well sharper than the previous versions and features 4-stop Image Stabilization. You can learn more about the two new lenses here and here.

Important Note

Though B&H is now accepting pre-orders, you will not–due to their holiday closing–be able to pre-order your lens (or to order anything else) until Monday, May 28th at 9:45PM EDT. So set your alarm for 9:46pm on this coming Monday evening if you wish to be the first on your block to get you hands on either of these two Series II lenses.

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This is the view from the top of the big hill/small mountain at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia. The image was created after retrieving my brand new for the trip zoom lens that had rolled into the colony: Canon 24-105mm IS L zoom lens handheld at 28mm with the EOS-1Ds Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative Metering at zero: 1/125 sec. at f/22. Image Stabilization let me use a relatively slow shutter speed so that I could have lots of depth of field.

Was the image worth my exhausting climb? I will let you be the judge. I do know that I cannot wait to get back up there.

For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

Cheesemans’ South Georgia/Falklands Trip Opening(s)

More then 14 months ago I got the heads-up on a killer South Georgia/Falklands Expedition that will run October 18 to November 11, 2012. Within two weeks the trip was sold out. At present, 21 wonderful BIRDS AS ART folks are scheduled to be on board. I learned yesterday that because of a cancellation that there may–as of this moment–be one or two openings on this trip. After I returned from my Falklands/South Georgia/Antarctica trip a few years back I knew that I had to return to the Southern Oceans, but not with Zegrahm’s who had most generously had me along; we just had too little time ashore on that trip. Here’s what I wrote in the Antarctica Site Guide soon afterwards:

“By signing up with one of the few photography-centric cruises, you will get a lot more bang for you buck. My understanding is that there are two companies that run trips that allow for far more photography time ashore.” One of them is Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris; each offers as much or more time on shore than any other tour company that regularly travels to the Southern Oceans. And both are very well respected.

I have long been registered for the trip: October 18 to November 11, 2012 (including the travel days). Many folks who have been to the continent quickly realize that when it comes to wildlife photography, South Georgia is the crown jewel of the Southern Ocean. This trip offer 10-11 days of photography at various South Georgia locations and three additional and equally spectacular days in the Falklands on the way home. On my Zegrahm’s trip we had but a single day on the Falklands; the photography there was so amazing that if I had not hitched a ride down the hill from the spectacular cormorant colony in the afternoon with a farmer the ship would have left without me.

I will not be an official leader on this trip but those of you who have traveled with me know that I cannot help but teach. I will be available on the boat to review images and answer questions and all who sign up as a result of reading this note are invited to tag along with me on the landings where I will be glad to offer in-the-field advice. In addition, friends Tom Murphy and Rod and Marlene Plank will be along as photography leaders. Rod’s images inspired me early on and Tom and wife Bonnie offered guidance when I was just getting started in the tour business. It is obvious to me that the folks running this trip have a great passion for photography, for their business, and for their clients needs; they remind me a great deal of BIRDS AS ART, just on a larger scale.

When I read through the entire itinerary for the first time the excitement for me was palpable; I practically had a cow! If you can read the whole thing and not dream of making this trip you have me beat by miles. One of the great things about this trip is the timing; we will be early enough in the season that the fur seals will not be established in their rookeries. This will allow us safe access to more than a few locations that are inaccessible from December through February.

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This image of just a small portion of the huge Black-browed Albatross colony at Steeple Jason Island in the Falklands was created with the hand held Canon 16-35mm L lens and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 seconds at f/11 in Av Mode.

By failing to place a bubble level in the hot shoe–I had one in the pocket of my Xtrahand vest–and peek at it before making the shot I lost a good portion of the photograph after I had to rotate the image 3.5 degrees….

Central Sensor/Rear Focus AI Servo AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

For a greater appreciation of this image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

This is a far less expensive trip than the expeditions that travel to the continent, it packs far more photographic punch for your dollar than the longer trips that include time on the Antarctic Peninsula, and the wildlife and photography opps will be beyond mind boggling. I cannot even imagine getting the chance to photograph four different species of nesting albatross on a single trip. Not to mention Rockhopper and Macaroni Penguins and more King Penguins than you could ever imagine. If you are seriously interested in this trip please e-mail immediately for the complete itinerary. You can learn more here. You can learn more about Cheesemans’ here.

Contest News/You Be the Judge: Youth Category Results

The winners of the Youth Division of the BIRDS AS ART 1st International Bird Photography Competition have been announced here. The winning and honored photographers are aged 14 and 11. Do take a moment to share you thoughts and congratulations with them.

The Amazing Image

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Polar Bear Photo Tours, Photo Tours, Photography Workshops, Classes & Lessons

Photographic Travels with Charlie, Charlie MacPherson that is. Click here for Charlie’s blog. Click here for info on the Kaktovik, Alaska Polar Bear Tour. And click here for info on photography classes at the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell, MA and the South Shore YMCA in Hanover, MA.

The above is a paid advertisement.

Alan Murphy’s “The Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography”

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“The Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography”

If you would like to learn to create great images in your own backyard or would like to learn to photograph at water features and feeding stations that you have created, get yourself a copy of the amazing “Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography” ($50 on CD only) by clicking here. You can order by phone by calling us at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Alan teaches you how to select and set-up attractive perches (and even backgrounds!), how to get your bird to land on the perfect perch, and how to capture images of songbirds in flight without using active AF!

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Magnolia Warbler, Male, Galveston Island, TX. ©Alan Murphy. This image was created with the tripod mounted Nikon 600 VR lens and the Nikon D4 camera.
ISO 1000, 1/320 at f6.3, Fill flash with the Nikon SB 900 at -2.3 EV. The bird was attracted onto my tripod-mounted perch over a drip pond.

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak, male, Galveston Island, TX. ©Alan Murphy. This image was created with the tripod mounted Nikon 600 VR lens and the Nikon D800 camera.
ISO 640, 1/1250 at f 9, Fill flash with the Nikon SB 900 at -2.0 EV. The bird was attracted onto my tripod-mounted berry perch over a drip pond.


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B&H Double Rebates Include the 5D Mark III

Click here. Select one of four current Canon camera bodies–both the EOS-5D Mark III and the EOS-7D are in the group. Add a lens–there are 30 in the group, a Series III teleconverter, or a Speedlite, and enjoy large double rebates. The lenses include lots of my favorites: the 70-200mm f/4 L IS, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, the circle lens, the 180 macro, and the 300mm f/4L IS. You can check the specs on all Canon telephoto lenses here. This double rebate offer expires on June 2, 2012.

Nikon Dslr + Lens Bundle Rebates

Click here for details. Offer includes the brand new D3200 and the D7000.

Shopper’s Guide.

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Below is a list of the gear talked about in this blog post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
GT3532 LS. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. I’ll be commenting on this new model soon. In short, I like it.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

2 comments to BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #412

  • avatar Pablo Fernicola

    If you are thinking of going to the Falklands/South Georgia trip, don’t wait! Go ahead and take advantage of this opportunity. It is a great trip.

    The photographers who are going to be on this upcoming trip (Artie, Rod, Marlene, and Tom Murphy) are the same folks as on the trip I tool earlier this year and I highly recommend it. It is a great opportunity for learning, as well as for great photography, and the experience of seeing the landscape and birds in the Antarctic region is incredible.