January 6th, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #312



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Harlequin Duck, drake, Barnegat Jetty, Barnegat, NJ
Image copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 500. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/250 sec. at f/8.

I was pleasantly surprised to meet old friend IPT veteran Alan Nodes at the jetty. After Alan had created some images of this bird and seemed to be done, I asked if I could try for a close approach and he said, “Go for it.” I positioned myself so that there was a big jetty rock between the birds (he was with a hen) and me. Once I showed myself over the top of the huge boulder, I made sure to move very slowly. I started off in horizontal format but quickly realized that I was missing out on the beautiful mahogany patch on the side of the breast…. See the head portrait of momma below.


Jim Litzenberg, older-daughter Jennifer Morris, and I hope that each of you has a great 2010 filled with love, happiness, good health, family, lots of great images and photography trips, tons of strength and energy, and anything else that you might wish for. Just make sure to do it one breath at a time and to enjoy each moment.

Jim and Jennifer both returned to work on Monday and all is well at BAA. For the first time ever, BAA was closed for ten straight days. Thanks to the many folks who placed orders through the BAA On-Line Store during our absence. Jim got the last of the orders shipped on Tuesday.

Jim got every last order for APTATS II and Alan Murphy’s Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography shipped by the Monday before the holiday began. That encompassed packing and accurately labeling more than 1,000 CDs. We received many complimentary e-mails thanking Jim for his heroic efforts (he worked the weekend before X-mas to get the last APTATS away on time). There were a very few folks who wrote complaining that they did not receive their CDs and in addition, there were a few who wrote letting us know that they received one too few or the wrong CD. All in all Jim did a great job with the 1,000 orders. Both CDs are currently receiving rave reviews; we have them both in stock.

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Harlequin Duck, hen, Barnegat Jetty, Barnegat, NJ
Image copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 500. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/200 sec. at f/8.

After I made the opening image (above), poppa dropped off his rocky perch into the water and paddled around while his mate remained and allowed me to get close enough for a horizontal head portrait.


I had a great trip to New York. I flew up on 7 DEC and back to Orlando on 30 DEC. I got to shovel snow for the first time in probably 25 years or so. Maybe 30. There was 26 inches of the white stuff in my Mom’s driveway in Holbrook, Long Island when I started.; none when I was done. All travel was paralyzed when I awoke in the middle of the storm, but I made it out to Elizabeth A. Morton NWR in Noyac the next day. I had to dig my own parking spot with a long handled spade! I returned twice more. When it snows the action there is non-stop and you are actually encouraged and permitted to feed the birds. I made two visits to Barnegat Jetty near Ship’s Bottom, NJ. It is a killer good location for photographing birds in winter; it is hard to believe that I never made it there when I lived in NY. There are several blog entries on Morton, jetty photography in general, and Barnegat in particular. Click here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com and scroll down.

I played lots of Yatzhee with my Mom, getting my butt kicked the first night we played and then fighting back doggedly until I was able to grab the lead just before I left :). My mother is doing well after her major hip replacement replacement surgery in July but is not of course getting better fast enough. She is 87. I spent some wonderful time with my two daughters and their husbands, my four grandchildren, my younger sister Arna (who lives with my Mom), and with my older sister Ilene and her family. You can see a photo of skinny me with my Mom and my two sisters here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53117. You can meet my oldest grandson (Surfer Sam) here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53170 and his tough but beautiful little sister (Maya the Model) here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53341. Sam and Maya are Jennifer’s two children. You can see a wonderful image of my third grandchild Idris and me here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53542 and of his little brother Idris by following this link: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53645. Ilyas and Idris are younger daughter Alissa’s kids. They recently moved to Long Island from Bratislava, Slovokia.

While it is great to be home it has been very cold here in Florida as well, as low as 27 degrees in the mornings at Indian Lake Estates with more of the same forecast.

I leave for the San Diego IPT on 11 JAN and will stay on for a week for a busman’s vacation. And for some warmer temperatures! (If you would like to join Todd Gustafson and me on the San Diego IPT, please call or e-mail for information on the very late registration discount.)

While I need to check my calendar when it is time to do my taxes, I believe that I was on the road more than half the time in 2009; if that is correct, it would be my biggest travel year ever.

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Northern Cardinal, male, Morton NWR, Noyac, NY
Image copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with a 25mm Extension tube and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the snow: 1/160 sec. at f/8 set manually. Fill flash at -1 stop.

I love the curious look and posture of the subject and the frost on the bottom of the perch. To see what others thought of this image and how the folks at BPN helped me to improve it immensely, click here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=52907 There is a lot to learn.


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American Crow Attacking Great Horned Owl in Flight
Image copyright © 2009: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography


Ah… Winter in Florida! Enjoy warm temperatures, dry sunny days, and an abundance of birds that make Florida their home for the winter. It’s the perfect winter setting for birds and photographers. Flight School Photography is pleased to announce Fly South with the Birds winter workshops in central Florida. Your instructor and guide, Jim Neiger, is intimately familiar with this region and its avian subjects; and he knows the hotspots like no one else. He is the author of the Central Florida Site Guide and several articles about the birds of central Florida. Jim is also well known for his awesome images of birds in flight obtained by using his own techniques for hand-holding long telephoto lenses.

Each of the three Fly South with the Birds winter workshops will include eight 3 to 4 hour photo sessions: Four photo sessions via boat and four photo sessions on land. A variety of habitats will be visited, where you will photograph many different species of birds. The list of possible subjects is too long to include here. Commonly seen subjects include: Snail Kite, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Red Shoulder Hawk, Crested Caracara, Osprey, Whooping Crane, numerous wading birds, song birds, woodpeckers, ducks, etc.

The 5 day Winter Workshops will begin with an afternoon classroom session, where you will learn techniques for hand-holding long telephoto lenses to photograph birds in flight. You will also learn how to safely use recorded bird songs to increase your photographic opportunities. This will be followed by 4 full days in the field. The group will explore remote and highly productive areas of central Florida and visit a variety of habitats. The boat sessions will give us access to some of the most difficult and desirable subjects, such as the Snail Kite, the rarest raptor in North America. Refreshments will be provided during all sessions.

Jim’s 2007 pontoon boat was purchased and customized specifically for use during photography workshops. It is roomy, comfortable, and stable. The boat is equipped with an extremely quiet, four-stroke motor for silent cruising. It also has a powerful, silent, electric trolling motor with wireless remote control. This allows Jim to position the boat precisely and silently. The boat can be configured with no top, a half canopy to provide shelter from sun and rain, or with a half enclosure that can completely protect participants from the elements. The boat has capacity for twelve people, but Jim limits the number of participants to only 5 so that everyone has room to relax and photograph in comfort. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity.

Workshop Dates

FSB-1: January 16-20, 2010: Sold Out

FSB-2: January 30-February 3, 2010: 3 openings/20% last minute discount

FSB-3: February 13-17, 2010: 2 openings/20% last minute discount

Workshop Cost and payment

The cost of each workshop is $1400 per person. Each workshop includes a four hour formal classroom instruction session, welcome dinner, a morning photography session, and an afternoon photography session, each day. The photography sessions include personalized instruction in the field. Jim is now offering a 20 percent discount for the remaining workshop openings. This reduces the cost of the workshop to $1120 per person. These spots won’t last long so contact Jim ASAP to take advantage of this special price. All workshop payments must be made by check or money order. Credit cards are not accepted.

Please make checks payable to Flight School Photography, Inc. and send them to: Flight School Photography, Inc., Jim Neiger, 550 Basin Drive, Kissimmee, Fl 34744.

Participant Requirements: Participants should have working knowledge of how to create a properly exposed image, a telephoto lens of 400mm or more (300mm with a teleconverter is acceptable), and be physically capable of holding their camera and lens up to their eye in shooting position for at least 20 seconds. Participants must also have a vehicle to travel to and from the photography locations.

Contact Jim via phone or email: phone: 407-247-5200, e-mail: jimn@cfl.rr.com.

Flight School website: http://www.flightschoolphotography.com.

(Note from artie: I cannot wait to get out with Jim when my schedule slows down to try and create some images as good as the four spectacular photos (one above, three below) that he shares with us here… When it comes to photographing flight and action, Captain Jim is as good as it gets.)

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Green Heron in Flight
Image copyright © 2009: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

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Male Snail Kite in Flight
Image copyright © 2009: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

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Belted Kingfisher Landing
Image copyright © 2009: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography


Too many years ago I attended a George Lepp seminar in Tampa, Florida. It changed my life. I first learned about Canon autofocus there after seeing George’s sharp images of Snow Geese in flight and purchased my first AF lens, my beloved “toy lens,” the Canon 400mm f/5.6L IS. And George has taught me a ton about putting on a great workshop both that day and beyond. Today, I will drive up to three hours to attend any photographic seminar being conducted by a respected professional colleague.

George is conducting a program in mid-April for my friend LeMoyne Johnson of Johnson Photo Imaging, Bradenton, Florida. I will be attending. Please note the details below. Especially the early bird discount. I hope to see you there.

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BPN: BirdPhotographers.Net: Inspirational, Educational, & Fun. Honest critiques done gently: http://www.birdphotographers.net (It Ain’t Just Birds!) continues to grow and thrive. I have been banging away on critiques ever since I got back from the San Diego/Bosque trip and have raised my posts/day from 13.36 to 14.90 (as I type); as it is hard to raise your batting average late in the season I have been doing 30-50 posts/day in an attempt to get back over 15 ppd :).

In any case there have been some great images lately and tons of learning going on. Be sure to check out these hot threads:

Editing Quiz/Head Angle: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53054 (I will give you three guesses who posted that one!)

James Salywoda’s spectacular Northern Shoveler: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53909

Axel Hildebrandt’s pugnacious Horned Lark: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53641

Mike Veltri’s Barnacle Flight: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53344 (Note; rare bird alert!)

Sid Garige’s most interesting “What do you think of this Composition in the General Photography Forum: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53681.

Doug Brown’s killer “Northern Pintail; Power and Grace”: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=53712 (Note: handheld with the 600/1.4X TC/7D combo!).

And “First Production Mark IV Images here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=52890 (Note: 171 comments, 4769 views at last count :)).

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Black Scoter, Barnegat Jetty, Barnegat, NJ
Image copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/400 sec. at f/8.

This species is rarely photographed. There was one near the jetty on my last visit but the heavy chop made photography exceedingly difficult. I called it “bobbing for scoters.”


As many of you know, I have been using the Mongoose M3.5B with my super-telephoto (500mm and 800mm) lenses for several years now to save weight. Lots of folks still prefer the Wimberley V2 that I used for years so we carry both of these great tripod heads. For years 4th Generation Design offered the smaller, lighter M2.3 head that is ideal for intermediate telephoto and intermediate telephoto zoom lenses like the various 70 and 80-200mm lenses, the 300mm f/4, the 400mm f/5.6, the 100-400, and the 80-400 among others. Several months ago when we heard that the M2.3 was to be discontinued, we ordered all of the existing stock and sold them all almost immediately. We were told by the manufacturer that we would be getting about six more units but to this date we have not received them. I just got off the phone with John Zeiss and he stated that he would let me know within a day or two whether or not we would actually be getting any more M2.3 heads. We will of course keep you advised via Bulletin or Notes. We actually have several paid orders right now and apologize to those who have been left in limbo.

In any case, within a very short time new Mongoose M2.3 heads will be impossible to come by. This will leave folks with the choice of trying to find a used one or purchasing the slightly larger M3.5B. We do have the M3.5B in stock and have always advised that folks purchase that model if there was any chance that they would ever be purchasing a lens larger than an intermediate telephoto.

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White-throated Sparrow, Morton NWR, Noyac, NY
Image copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with a 25mm Extension tube and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/250 sec. f/10 set manually. Fill flash at -1 stop.

I saw several birds land on this natural perch so I simply moved to my left and waited. Strangely enough, this, my very favorite image from long series, was the first I made….


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Harbor Seal, LaJolla, CA
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11.

There are lots of great subjects aside from the pelicans and the Wood Ducks on the San Diego IPT. Harbor Seal is guaranteed. Though I made this image on a sunny morning I prefer overcast or cloudy for these animals.

If you would like information on the very late registration discount for the San Diego IPT, please call or e-mail me at samandmayasgrandpa@att.net.

San Diego IPT JAN 13-17, 2010 5 Full Days: $2395 (Limit 8/Openings: 2). Slide program on the evening of TUES JAN 12

Payment in full is due now. We can accept your $500 deposit via credit card and will await the check for your balance. You may pay your deposit with either a personal check or with a credit card and a phone call (863-692-0906). To complete a valid registration, please fill out and complete the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms that can be found here: Registration and Release Form. If you call with a credit card to register, please be sure to print, sign, and return the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms.

The gate at the Cave Store Cliffs has been unlocked for many, many months and my understanding is that the fence has now been removed as well. (Though I am not quite positive on the cause and effect here I do know that Scott Bourne had a show-cause order filed with regards to public access at this location.)

We will get to photograph killer breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with the red bill pouches at close range and in flight. Santee Lakes will yield close-up Wood Ducks and lots more; White Pelicans are likely there. LaJolla Shores Beach will yield Marbled Godwits in beautiful buff reflections and this spot and Coronado will give us chances on a variety of gorgeous gulls and several shorebird species as well. I selected dates that feature perfect tides for both our morning and afternoon coastal locations. And we will have extensive time for image review and Photoshop techniques.

100 Reasons to Register for the San Diego IPT You can view a gallery with my 100 favorite San Diego images here: http://www.birdsasart.com/sandiego800. Click on the first image to see and then click on next to view the images as a slide show. Scroll down to see the EXIF data for each image.

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Breaking surf, LaJolla, CA
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 24-105mm IS L lens (handheld at 92mm) with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 200. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2 sec. at f/22.

As you can see by the sharp rocks here, IS on the short lenses works amazingly well at ridiculously long shutter speeds. I posted this image on BPN and not a single person could figure out the location though most had walked within yards of my vantage point. Join us in San Diego to learn to think and see like a professional….


SW FLA PRESIDENT’S WEEK IPT: FEB 10-15, 2010. Slide program on the evening of FEB 9. 6-FULL DAYS: $2799

Co-leaders: Tim Grey and Alfred and Fabiola Forns. Limit: 10/Sold Out. If you would like your name placed on the interested list for this IPT in 2011, please e-mail.

MIDWAY ATOLL IPTs: two trips, early March, 2010 (from Oahu, HI) 7-FULL DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY: $6395 ALL INCLUSIVE FROM OAHU

There may be a single opening on either or both of these trips. Please e-mail or see the complete information including registration information click here: http://www.photosafaris.com/photography-trips-2010/midway-photo-tour/.

BOSQUE del APACHE 2010 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 20-26, 2010. Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 19. 7-FULL DAYS: $3199

(Non-refundable deposit: $500; see details below.) Limit: 10/Openings; 7). Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole and Jim Heupel. In addition, multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year honoree Chris Van Rooyen of South Africa (http://www.wildlifephotography.co.za/) will be joining us as a guest co-leader. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Plus great co-leaders and top-notch Photoshop instruction.

A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold a spot for this IPT. Deposits may be paid by check, PayPal, or credit card. Payment in full (by check or money order only) is due four months before the start of each trip and is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out. You will be required to sign a statement of understanding to this effect. Travel insurance is of course highly recommended. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options, you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage, which expands the list of reasons for your canceling to an infinite list, from a sudden work or family obligation to a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. We regret that we must implement this new policy but we have been plagued by last minute cancellations that make it impossible for others to participate and deprive us of essential income.

Important note: please print, fill out, and sign the registration and release forms and include them with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.” ) If you use a credit card to register, please fill out, sign, and mail the two forms asap. Your registration will not be complete until we receive your paper work. You can find the forms here: Registration and Release Form.

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