December 22nd, 2010

BAA Notes, Dec 22nd, 2010


  • Japan in Winter “Only One Trip in a Lifetime Needed IPT.”

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Harlequin Duck, drake on seaweed covered rock, Barnegat Jetty, NJ
Image copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with a 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/8 set manually. One-shot AF on the eye and recompose with the central AF sensor.

Harlequins are about as handsome as ducks get. Barnegat is surely the best place in North America to photograph this species in winter.


As the long range weather forecast looks good, I am planning on photographing at the Barnegat Jetty on the afternoon of December 28th, all day on the 29th, and possibly all day on the 30ieth.

If you would like to join me for a morning, an afternoon, or a full day of instruction, please e-mail me at 500mm lens is the minimum focal length recommended.

Mornings or afternoons: $200. Full days: $350. Limit 2. Double the rates for totally private instruction.

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Purple Sandpiper in shade, Barnegat Inlet, NJ
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/50 sec. at f/5.6. AI Servo central sensor on the breast AF.

This species spends most of its time on wave tossed rocks in the shade. This image was made just before 9am so I was glad for the shade especially since we had wind against sun conditions. For more on photographing in bright sun click here.


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Though I lived in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area for nearly two decades as a birder and bird photographer (and for 46 years in all), I never made it to the famed Barnegat Jetty until last December (2009). Why famous? It is the best place in the Northeast to view and photograph a variety of sea ducks and wintering shorebirds most noticeably Harlequin Duck and Purple Sandpiper. When I got there, a 26″ snow storm sent me running back to my Mom’s home in Holbrook, Long Island, leaving the motel in Ship Bottom at 3am to drive through the storm. Yikes! I returned a week later and with Denise Ippolito as my guide created many wonderful images. The jetty is very long. And can be very dangerous. Denise, who spends many days each winter season on the jetty, knew right where the birds would be, took me right to them, and gave me more than a few tips on how to avoid killing myself

Denise Ippolito has written a fabulous Site Guide for the Barnegat Jetty. (I helped out just a bit.) The Barnegat Jetty Site Guide will help to ensure that your very first visit to this great bird photography location is both productive and safe. Denise explains the effects of the winds and the tides and the light on the photographic opportunities. She lets you know what birds you will find there and where and when you will find them. She shares her favorite conditions and her tricks for getting close. And she will keep you safe while you are there, the same way she kept me safe. A good portion of the guide deals with safety issues. Kudos to Denise for a job well done.

The Barnegat Site Guide (6190 words, 68 images) is available from BIRDS AS ART by e-mail as a PDF for only $22. You can call Jim with a credit card in hand at 863-692-0906, send us a Paypal to, or purchase it through the store here.

Just for the record book, Barnegat is located on Long Beach Island less than 30 minutes from Manahawkin, NJ.

Japan in Winter “Only One Trip in a Lifetime Needed IPT.”

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Japanese Red-crowned Crane in soft early morning light, Hokkaido, Japan/Image copyright 2010: Robert O’Toole
Canon 28-135mm IS lens @ 100mm with the EOS-1D Mark II N. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at plus 2: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

The crane parks in Hokkaido Japan are a photographer’s paradise. A short zoom or wide angles is all you need to photograph the cranes in flight. Since hunting has been banned for decades, they are totally unafraid of humans.

JAPAN IPT/late FEB/early MARCH 2012

Robert O’toole and I will soon be announcing our Japan in Winter “Only One Trip in a Lifetime Needed IPT.” The trip will be 2+ weeks, close to three with the travel. Many big tour companies lead trips to Japan in winter to photograph the Snow Monkeys, the Red-crowned Cranes, the swans, and the two species of spectacular eagles. The problem is that on those trips you will have a day or two at most to photograph each of the specialty species; a large portion of your time will be spent traveling from one site to the next. And if you have some bad luck or bad weather you can easily get skunked.

We will be spending at least 2 1/2 days at each location, 3 or even 4 days at some. Robert has photographed several times in Japan in winter. If you are interested in having your name added to the early warning list, please shoot me an e-mail to There are several names on the Interested List already.

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Japanese Red-crowned Crane Hokkaido, Japan/Image copyright 2010: Robert O’Toole
Nikon 200-400 VR lens @ 290mm with the Nikon D300. ISO 200. Evaluative metering at plus 2: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

A telephoto zoom lens makes framing single birds at all distances possible. The problem is there are so many cranes that finding a clean isolated bird is the only hard part. Here the trees in the background give the images some needed contrast against the bird’s white plumage.


Here is the gear that I used to create the images for this Bulletin:

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens (My very best friend :))
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body (I only own and travel with two.)
Canon EF 1.4X II teleconverter (I never leave home without at least two of these.)

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod (Sturdy and light and will last you a lifetime.)
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head (I use it every day with my 800mm.)
Double Bubble Spirit Level (Make your life easy by getting it right in the field; just a glance and you are square to the world.)
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide. You will learn to find the lowest prices, comparison shop, and help us to keep offering tons of great free info and images.

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