February 24th, 2011




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Great Egret in mega breeding plumage, Venice Rookery, South Venice, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1250 sec. at f/11.
This drop-dead gorgeous bird posed for well more than an hour at close range. With a distant water background I chose to work at f/11 without having to worry about bringing up any unwanted background detail.


Both the web site and the blog were up and down yesterday–mostly down, as we moved to a completely new dedicated server. Please accept my apologies for any inconveniences that you may have encountered. Right now everything is running smoothly and things should stay that way for a while. The BAA store was down briefly last evening but that was totally coincidental. We are working toward moving the store to the new server as well.

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Great Blue Heron in later afternoon light, Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/2.8.
Condo reflections can make loverly backgrounds 🙂 As the light was getting low I took off the 1.4X III TC so that I could work at f/2.8. That is one of the many reasons that I prefer the new 70-200 f/2.8L IS II zoom lens (along with the two teleconverters) to the 100-400 lens.


As expected, this IPT was a huge success. As usual, the group dynamics were fabulous but for one unhappy camper who chose to leave the group at the end of the fourth (of six) day. As a quick perusal of the e-mails below shows everyone else was beyond thrilled. We spent one drizzly morning at Corkscrew where there were few if any birds (but for a handsome Red-shouldered Hawk in the parking lot as we left). Everyone, however, loved the place for its cypress swamp beauty. Blind Pass was dead on our single early morning visit (with stiff NW winds) but we had some pretty good chances on our second loop around Ding Darling. Despite the usual dire e-mails stating that “there are no birds at Little Estero Lagoon” all of our visits there were both rewarding and filled with lots of birds. And the same could be said about the Venice Rookery whose demise was certified in advance by many. And everyone marveled at the tameness and accessibility of the Cape Coral Burrowing Owls. And my pelican spot south of Englewood was money in the bank as always.

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Sub-adult Brown Pelican coming in for a landing, south of Englewood, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II with the new 1.4X III TC and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6.
We were blessed with wind and sun together conditions for both of our afternoon visits to my pelican spot.

Crack BPN Avian Moderators Dan Cadieux and Randy Stout were superb as was BPN’s leading Out of the Box Mod Denise Ippolito. Dan worked with the folks who were equipped only with shorter focal length lenses–his big lens is the Canon 100-400; he does great stuff with it. And Randy was the Nikon answer man. Captain James Shadle offered additional help for the Nikon folk on Sunday morning at Venice. James, a co-founding publisher is my partner at BPN. Last but not at all least was Denise who pretty much offered help to everyone. And on our last afternoon she did a filter program for the group that was quite well received. She shared her Fractalius and Polar Coordinates workflow tips creating a variety of interesting and unique images.

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Yours truly, with the fish eye lens
Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: Denise Ippolito
Denise created this in Photoshop using Polar Coordinates as detailed in her Guide to Creative Filters and Effects. See more on the Filter Guide below. You can visit her blog here.

Below are a few of the e-mails that I received after the trip.

From Ron Perkins: Thanks for the super, wow, neat SW Florida IPT experience!! I admire your teaching ability, knowledge of birds, and especially your generosity and enthusiasm for sharing what you know! When I first met you at the Naples Botanical Gardens a few months ago, I had never heard of raw files, ISO, or BBA (bird beak angle). The thought of you spending two hours on getting the “perfect” shot of a pond flower, waiting for the perfect sun angle was beyond my comprehension. The SW Florida IPT was perfectly suited to my needs! Denise, Randy, and Dan were great additions to the staff. In fact, ALL of the other participants helped “Ron, the beginner.” The week was a blur and I am still on a bird high!! My single complaint is all the bird droppings on my non-rental car!

A special thanks to John and Valerie who loaned me boots for the muck and a flash for the owls, to Steve who taught me so much as we traveled from site to site, to Randy and Dan who demonstrated the fine art of fish throwing, to Denise who shared her filter magic, and to everyone who never seemed to tire of my endless questions! I truly had a life changing experience! Artie, you seem to capture great pictures effortlessly! So impressive! With love and great admiration. Ron

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Great Egret wheeling in flight, Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 265mm) and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

There actually is strategy involved when throwing fish to the birds. (It is legal in most places including Fort Myers Beach.) The fish tossers work in tandem to maximize the opportunities. This image was possible only because of Dan and Randy’s skill and expertise (and the fact that they often listened to my shouted instuctions :))

From IPT 2-timer Mark Hardymon:

Artie – What a wonderful trip! I am so glad I decided to join up for this one. I feel that I learned so much more and better still, I was able to put it to good use. In reflecting back on both the IPTs I’ve attended it has become clear that you never stop teaching. “Stay close,” is what you told me and for good reason. Your running “commentary” as to where the best shot was, sun angle, the subject’s position, and my two favorites – PAN FASTER and ZOOM WIDER, really drive home your points. It’s teaching and learning on the fly.

But you know, with all the great places, all the great birds, the teaching and learning, what makes IPTs the most fun are the people! If I never got one good shot out of this, the memories of all the wonderful folks and the experiences with them would make it all worth while. I must also say your choice of co-leaders was terrific. Daniel and Randy were great fun and so knowledgable, I learned so much hanging around them. They’re willingness to share all of their knowledge and jump in with suggestions added to not only the leaning experience but raised the fun factor as well. And, it goes without saying that Denise’s contributions were fantastic. I had the chance to stick with her at a couple of locations and she was great with her help and suggestions. Her creativity is inspiring! I hope one day I’ll get the chance to shoot with you again; I look forward to it. Be safe in your upcoming travels, best of luck with all your endeavors as extensive as they are, and don’t forget to sling that camera over your shoulder wherever you go! – Mark

ps: You asked for the link to my blog; you can find it here.

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Mark (and Wayne in the distant background) photographing at Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 120 mm) and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/1250 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode.

Note that Mark is using Nikon gear as is Wayne in the background. Yet another big artie/BIRDS AS ART misconception (see “I Heard He’s a Real A–hole“) is that Nikon folks are either not welcome or will not learn anything on an IPT. I almost always have a Nikon -knowledgeable co-leader on IPTs. Most recently there was Robert O’Toole at Bosque, Todd Gustafson in San Diego, and Randy Stout on SW FLA. On the rare occasion that there is not a Nikon person along to help, a cell phone call to James Shadle or to Todd usually gets folks up and running quickly. More importantly, whatever camera system you are using we will teach you a ton about how to make great images, how to recognize great situations, and how to think like a pro.

As with any photograph, I arranged the elements of composition here, Mark, Wayne, and the bird by changing my perspective until I had everything lined up as I wanted it. Note: though the head of the Great Egret is turned slightly away from me, Mark is enjoying a perfect head angle with the bird’s head turned two or three degrees towards him.

From first-timer Valerie Kidwell:

Dear Art, I can’t top what’s already been said so eloquently, so I’ll just say thank you, thank you, thank you. I got exactly what I wanted out of your workshop including learning how to make amazingly sharp flight shots (gives a new meaning to Mark’s comment about learning “on the fly”!), how to get low and close, and I also got to watch a pro at work. However, I also learned much more – such as getting to the right side of the histogram, the beauty of a silver mirror-like lagoon, and an intuitive workflow. And I second (third?) the appreciation for your co-leaders who were easy to work with, inspirational, and endlessly patient. I’m sure that you and Denise have already gotten an earful about the great owl shots that Randy and Dan “Can Do” Cadieux (okay, I just made that nickname up) made possible – what a thrill! And I loved Denise’s talk and her kind support. Thanks to everybody else for your comraderie, help, and inspiration. I hope to start getting on BPN, if I can find the time! Here’s a nickname for you: “The Hardest-Working Man in Nature Photography!” Valerie

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Burrowing Owl, tight head portrait, Cape Coral, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with 37mm of extension and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/30 sec. at f/8.
Using an extension tube or two (as here: a 25mm and a 12 mm) allows you to work closer than the minimum focusing distance of your lens. Every IPT group quickly falls in love with these endearing creatures. We know of several dependable locations where the owls are acclimated to human presence. None-the-less we carefully instruct each group on how to approach the birds without disturbing them. Learn about these locations in our SW FLA Site Guide by scrolling down here.

From multiple IPT veteran Geri George:

Hi Artie, Thank YOU so much! I learned lots as usual and had a great time. You always find the light and birds and I really appreciate that. Thanks for letting me tag along with you and Denise – I really enjoyed getting to know her. What a talented and sharing person! Randy and Daniel were great, and as you mention, the group dynamics were pretty good. I’m glad to hear you found lots of spoonbills on the Hooptie Deux; they are so interesting to watch. I assume they didn’t have chicks yet, but were building nests? Thanks again, and safe travels to you. Geri

(Note: we saw only a bird or two carrying nesting material.)

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Tricolored Heron fishing, Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 165mm) and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/800 sec. at f/4. Fill flash at -3 stops.

This bird posed for everyone for well more than an hour. Many folks asked about the behavior. I explained that the bird was shading the water in part to reduce glare but more importantly to attract small bait fish to the shade it provided. (The small fish often seek shelter around and below piers and other structures.) I make an effort to share my natural history knowledge on the IPTs.

When I was removing the 2X III TC so that I could add the 1.4X III TC I juggled the brand new 2X III for several seconds catching it just before it fell into the salt water. No harm, no foul but the incident did increase my pulse rate for a moment 🙂

From Wayne Guerke, who will be joining me in the Galapagos this summer:

Artie, The 2011 SW Florida IPT was a weeklong “Pleasing Blur.” Everyone was super. I appreciated and enjoyed interacting with Randy, Denise, Dan and you as well as with all of the other participants. It always amazes me to see the images created by a group of people of the same subject and how they will all be different in some way. I hope to see everyone again sometime on another IPT. Best regards, Wayne

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Pied-billed Grebe with prey, Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, FL
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/100 sec. at f/8.
I got very lucky here (the wriggling fish is fairly sharp) by failing to set a higher ISO as I should have; 1/100 sec. is a less than ideal shutter speed for action…. We had several pied-billeds catching fish right in front of us. Wayne got a killer of one with a very large fish.

From Indranil Sircar, a BPN Out-of-the Box Moderator who attended his first-ever IPT:

Hi Artie, I wanted to let you know that I had enjoyed the SW FL IPT and the chance to meet you. It was been a great learning experience in the company of co-moderators and participants. I went ahead and pre-ordered the new Canon 600mm f/4L IS II from Gary at Hunt’s. Thanks for your guidance on that! Regards, Indranil

(Note: you can check out Indranil’s cool Burrowing Owl zoom blur here.)


I have continued to work very hard at making the blog interesting, timely, and educational.

Click here for a great eagle image, my comments on Klamath eagle photography, and a neat Photoshop lesson (with a before and after animated GIF).

Or check out “Self-Inflicted Travel Adventure & White Sky Flight Lessons

Let the group know which of my five favorite Klamath images is your favorite by reading “Blessed Again… Which is Your Favorite Image?” and posting a comment.

Learn from an informative flight photography lesson here.

And lastly, click here if you are coming to Florida in search of spoonbills.



We will leave the US FEB 20-22; exact departure date TBA. Limit twelve photographers; openings: 8. Co-leaders: Arthur Morris & Robert O’Toole.

This trip is a go. We will let you know the departure date asap so that folks can make their flight reservations. $15,999 USD firm. Double occupancy. (Single Supplement price available upon request.) Deposit: $5,000. Non-refundable. Trip insurance is beyond highly recommended and trip evacuation (cheap for an annual policy) is mandatory. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services. Though this trip will not confirm until we have 8 deposits in hand, we are fully expecting it to sell out quickly. This will include just about everything but your air fare to and from Tokyo, Japan and your alcoholic beverages and phone calls. All lodging, all meals, all ground transportation (most by luxury bus), the in-country flights, lots of image sharing and review and small group Photoshop sessions, and of course, the two great leaders who will alert you to the best situations, make sure that you understand exposure, and teach you to think like a pro. Robert has photographed in Hokkaido several times.

Why is this trip different from any other trip? (Mah nish-tah naw hah-lie-law ha-ze… Please excuse if you are not Jewish.) No other photo trip to Japan offers anywhere near the amount of photo time that our trip does. On all other trips you spend half of the trip days traveling only to spend a day or two at each location. If you are gonna go all that way, why risk having bad weather completely wipe out one of more of the great opportunities? Do consider joining us on this amazing trip.

Japan Workshop Location Summary:

3 1/2 days of Snow Monkey photography at Nagano, Honshu (largest island of Japan, the Mainland).

4 1/2 days of Steller’s Sea Eagle photography in Rausu, Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost and second largest island).

3 days (2 full and 2 half days) of Whooper Swan photography at Lake Kussharo, Kushiro Region, Hokkaido)

4 1/2 days of Japanese Red-Crowned Crane photography at two different parks in Akan National Park, Hokkaido, Japan.

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 – Monday, February XX — Tokyo

Arrive at Narita Airport for transfer to our Tokyo hotel and meet for dinner that evening. We recommend taking a limousine bus to the hotel. Details on this will be provided. Note that since most flights from the USA arrive in the evening in Japan, we strongly recommend arriving a day early the day before the workshop starts to rest and adjust to the time change.

Day 2: Tokyo to Nagano. After an early breakfast we will meet and begin our journey at 5am via chartered bus to Nagano for a 10 am arrival and enjoy and afternoon photo session with the Snow Monkeys. These fascinating primates, also known as Japanese Macaques, range throughout the national park and are especially fond of soaking themselves in the natural hot springs where they are easy to photograph.

Day 3-5: Nagano. Morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Snow Monkeys

Day 6: Nagano, Honshu to Rausu, Hokkaido. After breakfast we will depart at 7 am to travel to Haneda airport for our flight to Kushiro and then travel by bus arriving in in Rasu that evening. Here, with any weather luck at all, we will photograph one of the world’s most impressive and rarest eagles, the Steller’s Sea eagle. Our boat trips are dependent on the sea ice that is blown south across the Sea of Okhotsk from Russia’s east coast. We will have some flexibility with the itinerary in case conditions are less than ideal. We are of course scheduled to be there during average prime time for eagle photography. This will be our only full travel day.

Day 7-10: Rausu. Daily morning photography sessions from a chartered boat with one of the world’s largest and most amazing raptors, the Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus). With the planned for conditions in place, the birds will be flying amongst and landing on the shimmering pack ice.

Day 11 – Rausu to Kushiro. We will enjoy one last morning boat trip for the eagles and then depart to Kushiro for an afternoon of Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) photography at Lake Kussharo, Kushiro Region, Hokkaido.

Day 12 – Morning and afternoon photography sessions on Lake Kussharo with Whooper Swans

Day 13 – Morning and afternoon photography sessions on Lake Kussharo with Whooper Swans

Day 14 – Lake Kussharo to Crane Parks. There will be a short morning swan photography session at Lake Kussharo. We will leave at 10am in order to arrive in time for and afternoon crane feeding session.

At Kushiro we will photograph the rare and beautiful Japanese (Crane Grus japonensis, also know as the Red-crowned Crane), White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), and Black (or Black-eared) Kite (Milvus migrans) at two different crane reserves. The photography sessions at the parks can be amazingly unbelievably good; we will get to photograph the cranes dancing and displaying from morning until dark. The peak of the action will occur during feeding time (2pm daily).

Day 15 – Full day, morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Japanese Cranes

Day 16 – Full day, morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Japanese Cranes

Day 17 – Full day, morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Japanese Cranes

Day 18 – Full day, morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Japanese Cranes

Day 19 – Kushiro Airport, Hokkaido to Haneda Airport Tokyo

After breakfast at the Kushiro hotel the group will be transported to Kushiro Airport to meet their English-speaking guide for the flight to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. (Robert and Artie will be staying in Hokkaido for five additional days at Lake Furen.) Upon arrival in Haneda the group will be met by an English-speaking guide and board a transfer bus to transport to Narita airport for international flights that afternoon.


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Wetlands marsh blur with Polar Coordinates
Image Copyright 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography

A Guide to Creative Filter and Effects (pdf) by Denise Ippolito, edited by Arthur Morris

My foreword pretty much says it all:

“Denise Ippolito is about as creative, as hardworking, and as dedicated a photographer as you will ever come to know. And over the past fourteen months I have come to know her quite well. Her creativity is—as you will come to see as you are reading her Filter Guide—totally amazing. She can look at an average image, a simple snapshot, heck, even a bad photograph, and in seconds know exactly how to turn it into a piece of art using this filter or that effect. And then do just that in minutes. And most of the time she is working with the beautiful images of flowers and birds that she is so good at creating.

To quote our mutual friend, Kerry Perkins, one of Denise’s co-moderators on the BPN Out of the Box Forum where she has worked tirelessly helping other to improve their photography for more than two years, “First off, I want to say that the Filter Guide is an amazing work. There is so much information here and so many wonderful images that I am just blown away that you managed to get it all together in one document! Wonderful work Lady D!”

Denise has worked incredibly hard on “A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects” and at the same time, worked incredibly hard at improving her writing skills. I congratulate her here on two jobs well done.” arthur morris/Indian Lake Estates, Florida. January 30, 2011

Here are some of the filters and effects that are detailed in the Filter Guide:

  • Topaz Simplify, Clean, & BuzSim Filter ($)
  • Flaming Pear Filter (including Swerve ($), Twist ($) & Vein-a free download)
  • Fractalius (including Denise’s Soft-Fix preset creation) ($–Windows only)
  • Adding Texture (Photoshop)
  • NIK Color Efex Pro including Midnight Filter ($)
  • Omni Lighting (Photoshop)
  • Pinch Filter (Photoshop)
  • Twirl Filter (Photoshop)
  • Ripple Filter (Photoshop)
  • Radial Blur (Photoshop)
  • Find Edges Filter (Photoshop)
  • Orton Effect (Photoshop)
  • Blank Canvas Creations! (Photoshop)
  • The Mixer Brush
  • The New Paste Special Option in CS-5 (Photoshop)
  • DAP ($)
  • Polar Coordinates and Mini-Worlds (Photoshop)
  • Holiday Lights Creations (Photoshop)
  • Snap Art 2 Impasto Filter ($)
  • Creating Composites (Photoshop)
  • Creating Your Own Brush Presets (Photoshop)
  • Using Blend Modes Creatively
  • Using Layer Masks and Inverse Layer Masks Creatively (CS versions of Photoshop)
  • Kaleidoscopes (Free Plug-in, Windows only)
  • Combinations of all of the above!

Some of the filters above ($) require a separate purchase. (The Filter Guide includes links to all available free trial downloads so that you can try before you buy.) Many of the filters can be found in various versions of Photoshop (though most folks–including me before I edited this guide–have no clue that they exist and no clue as to how to use them). Each detailed tutorial section is written in a clear, concise, simple, easy to follow style that can be followed even by someone opening up Photoshop for the first time.

You can order your copy of “A Guide to Creative Filter and Effects” for $38 right now by calling 863-692-0906, by sending a PayPal to birdsasart@verizon.net or birdsasart@att.net, or from the BAA On-line Store here. Be sure to visit Denise’s blog here.

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