Birds As Art Bulletin #320
March 16, 2010

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245  4041 Granada Drive, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.  Telephone: 863-692-0906.  Computer fax: 877- 265-6955
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400 F/4 IS DO VERSUS THE 400 F/5.6 L
ALAN MURPHY'S "Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography" WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
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Photographers at Rusty Bucket, Sand Island, Midway Atoll NWR
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 17-40mm zoom lens handheld at 25mm with the EOS-1D Mark IV.  ISO 800: 1/1000 sec. at f/4 confirmed via histogram check.
From left to right: IPT veterans Duncan Douglas, Lou Newman, Malcolm MacKenzie, and Mike Goldhamer ("Mikie G") in bird photographer's paradise.  Opportunities for photographing both Laysan (seen here) and the endangered Black-footed Albatross in flight were virtually unlimited during my two-week stay. 
As I type, it is Monday morning, March 15th.  As Daylight Savings Time is not observed on this tiny atoll, we are seven hours ahead of Florida time.  The second group is getting ready to head out for its last photo session then it is packing and traveling time.  If all goes according to plan, I will be in the office on Thursday morning after overnighting in Honolulu and taking a red-eye to Orlando. 
Those of you who have been following the Blog have kept up with the details of this truly unbelievable trip.  For those who have not, now would be a great time to visit to see lots of great images and to learn a bunch too (as always):
BAA Bulletin #320 will feature a complete trip report. 
Laysan Albatross landing, Rusty Bucket, Sand Island, Midway Atoll NWR
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC (handheld at 193mm) and the EOS-1D MIV.  ISO 800: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6 confirmed via histogram check.
The image above was created from the image below using techniques from ABP II, APTATS I, and APTATS II: and
With all the debris just below the landing birds, I suggested to the group that they create some images of the water while focused on the and the bird on the beach to serve as source material.  It is important to learn to think digitally. 
400 F/4 IS DO VERSUS THE 400 F/5.6 L

I am often asked to compare the Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens with the older Canon 400 f/5.6L for handheld flight photography.  I prefer the 400 DO for two reasons: 1: It is a stop faster. This often allows me to shoot at a stop lower ISO in low light conditions.  2: IS (Image Stabilization) makes a big difference in sharpness at least for me. The few times that I have gone back and tried to use the 400 5.6, my old �toy lens,� it seems that the subject is jerking around all over the place as I attempt to frame the image.  I am unable to hold the lens as steady as I used to even when tracking moving subjects. (Holding a lens steady while photographing a static subject is more difficult; IS and VR lenses have a huge advantage in that area.)  I will admit that I have been doing so much flight photography here on Midway that at time my left wrist does hurt a bit at times from the additional weight of the 400 DO.  For folks with a steady hand and a smaller budget the 400 f/5.6L lens can be a great flight lens; it served me quite well for more than a decade.  On the second Midway trip well more than half of the group has both the 400 DO and the 70-200 f/4 L IS as well and we used both of them ALOT!

Black-footed Albatross, Clipper Beach, Sand Island, Midway Atoll NWR
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 IS IS DO lens handheld with the EOS-1D MIV.  ISO 400: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6 confirmed via histogram check.
I used 45-point AI Servo AF to create this image  as the this endangered bird fly by at close range in early morning light.  
Colin Haase is offering the following used Canon gear for sale:
Price slashed! Canon EF 200mm f/1.8 L lens w/tripod collar: $2100.00 (excellent condition).  
Reduced!  Canon 70-300 DO IS 4.5/5.6: $600.00 (like new)
To arrange for purchase or for additional details contact Colin by e-mail at  (If you would like to speak with Colin, please e-mail him to arrange a  good time to call: 630-269-2242.)
Bonin's Petrel, near Charley Barracks, Sand Island, Midway Atoll NWR
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens (tripod-mounted) with the EOS-1D MIV.  ISO 400: Manual Flash at 1:1 as main light with Better Beamer: 1/60 sec. at f/22.  Manual focus via flash light beam.
If you have no clue as to how to use manual flash as main light, you need to check out the Flash Simplified section in "The Art of Bird Photography II" (ABP II: 916 pages on CD only):


ALAN MURPHY'S "Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography" WHAT THEY ARE SAYING



Since Alan's CD book was released in late 2009 it has become a runaway bestseller and has received rave reviews.  Alan's guide is lavishly illustrated not only with his killer images but with dozens and dozens of step-by-step photos that will show you exactly how to create your own successful set-ups. The writing is clear and concise and the directions are easy-to-follow and inclusive.   As Alan shows in the book, even if you have only a small backyard, heck, even just a patio or a balcony, he can help you to create some stunning avian images on a consistent basis


This professional designed, packaged, and burned CD is in stock and available from BIRDS AS ART.  It sells for $50 plus $3 shipping and handling to US addresses.   Shipping to Canada is $6.00.  It is $8.00 for all foreign orders.  Florida residents please add 7% sales tax ($3.50).   You can send us a PayPal, call us at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand, or order your copy of the guide from the BAA On-Line Store (with secure credit card data submission) by clicking here:  Alan Murphy's "Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography"

Note: shipping charges with the On-Line store will likely vary by a small amount from those noted above.



Gray Catbird, Upper Texas Coast
Image copyright 2010: Alan Murphy Photography
Nikon D3, 600, ISO 640, f11, 1/1000, 0 comp.
Here's what they are saying: 

Dear Alan,  I ordered your Guide To Songbird Set-up Photography from Arthur Morris some time back and received my copy about a week or so ago. WOW! I am really impressed with this guide! I mean...really impressed! What a great idea! I often thought of something like that but never got around to working it out and now...I don't have too:-) It answers many questions I have pondered about on how to get better shots of birds around the home. Some of the ideas I had before but never finalized them in terms of direct actions on setups so I want to thank you for making this available to us Bird lovers and photographers. It is a great tool for me to have thank you!  Sincerely,  Mike from Canada 


Hi Alan, I just finished reading your Songbird Set-up CD that I ordered from ""  I now see how my own back yard set-ups pale in comparison to your techniques.  I live in a rural part of Connecticut next to 40+ acres of heavily wooded conservation area with a stream and a large pond.  I have all kinds of birds and other wildlife on and around my property and have been using very basic set-ups for about a year or two.  With your techniques, however, I will be able to take my photography beyond simple "bird on a branch" photos to carefully crafted images that (hopefully) will look a lot more like yours.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise.  Congratulations on your CD and continued good luck.  Gary


Hi Alan, I recently purchased your e-book, and I have to say that it is probably the best $50 I have ever spent. I have already set up a water drip and made some decent images of titmice, Purple Finches, and American and Lesser Goldfinches (See the attached images) Thank you for sharing your amazing set-up tips and images.  Thank you for your time and energy,  Aidan


Alan, I just got your CD in the mail today. Despite all the things I have to do, I sat down and read every word straight through. FABULOUS JOB!!!!   I am a committed setter-upper and was really looking forward to getting some more ideas. I was not disappointed!  Steve


Painted Bunting, Travis, County, TX
Image copyright 2010: Alan Murphy Photography
Nikon D3, 600, ISO 640, f11, 1/1000, 0 comp
Best and great picture-making,
Note: Arthur Morris has been a paid Canon contract photographer, part of the Explorers of Light program, since 1996 and continues in that role today.  Hunt's Photo of Boston, MA is a BAA sponsor as is Delkin Devices.  Back issues of all BAA Bulletins can be found in the Bulletin Archives that may be accessed here: