April 2nd, 2011

BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #368

FEATURES

  • THE HOMER IPT REPORT
  • ANNOUNCING THE OCT/NOV 2011 HOMER IPTs
  • GALAPAGOS JULY 2011 OPENING
  • ASSORTED BAA KUDOS
  • THE BLOG IS THE BOMB!
  • TODD GUSTAFSON ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TELEVISION
  • USED CANON GEAR FOR SALE
  • POSSE NEWS/ROBERT AMORUSO/ROBERT O’TOOLE
  • POSSE NEWS/JIM NEIGER
  • SHOPPER’S GUIDE
  • IPT UPDATES

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This image was created from the boat with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 180mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the sky on a partly sunny day: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6 set manually. That worked out to about -2 stops at the moment of exposure; that’s why we teach folks to work in Manual mode in similar situations. I would have the captain position the boat and throw the fish as directed so that we could enjoy a variety of backgrounds. By the end of the week I was calling these “DAD” shots. Dime a dozen.

THE HOMER IPT REPORT

Robert and I were blessed with 19 wonderful clients on the two recently-concluded Homer-based Bald Eagle IPTs. Though we strive for a 100% Happy Camper rate, it was only 99.987% on this trip…. And my good weather karma continued: only one full day lost to rain in 18 years of doing IPTs–thank you very much Elaine Belsky-Morris. We had relatively mild weather, zero drops of rain, one morning and one afternoon with snow, lots of cloudy bright days, and several sunny mornings and afternoons.

A very large percentage of clients were mulitple-IPT veterans. On the first trip those included the ever-funny Danny Deen (woof, woof), dependable friend Jim Heupel (retired chief judge of the US Air Force, the quiet, sincere, and appreciative Carl Zanoni, the always-smiling Lou Kaufman, Scott Bourne (of Photofocus fame; it was neat having a popular pro as a student in our group), John Snodgrass who is attending pretty every IPT in an effort to become a world class photographer, Tony Temple, a delightful Brit who loves his 800 as I do mine, and veterinarian Lillian Roberts and her good friend, the erudite dentist Steven Bein who have pretty much traveled the world together. It was really great meeting BPNer Charlie Scheffold for the first time–he is a serious student and is quite skilled.

On the second trip the recidivists included Clemens van der Werf of Mystery Photographer and Experience Level Revealed fame, the quiet Mike Landwehr who none-the-less asks lot of good questions, Jim Heupel again (he was along for the double-header), Dr. Mike Gotthelf–we are always discussing Western versus alternative medicine…, the inimitable Malcolm MacKenzie (along with his delightful Scottish brogue), Giulio Zanni who again made the trip from Bosnia, and happy camper Greg Ferguson. Dr. Karen Hunt had been with Todd Gustafson in Africa. As the least experienced participant, first-timer Judy Russell, probably learned the most (or at least I hope that she did).

If you include multiple IPT participant and good friend George Brunt who had to cancel at the last minute, that makes the repeat customer rate 85%. That is quite impressive. It seems evident that folks who attend IPTs like the experience, learn a ton, and get lots of great images.

Our three captain/guides were personable and hard-working, fantastic in a word. And the eagles were quite responsive about 94.5% of the time. The folks at the Lands End Resort were great. Our in-classroom sessions, the Photoshop lessons, and the critiquing all went extremely well. All in all I would have to say that a very good time was had by all. Especially me.

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This image from shore with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/5.6. I came up with some new tricks in Photoshop to avoid banding while boosting the color a bit and deepening the BLACKs. We enjoyed four decent sunsets total on the two trips.

HOMER-BASED BALD EAGLE IPTs with Arthur Morris and Robert O’Toole: OCT/NOV 2011

We fully expect both of these trips to fill quite quickly. If you would like to be assured of a spot, please do not hesitate. There were lots of disappointed folks with the last two….

OCT 25-29, 2011.

Limit 12 including the leaders/six photographers per boat. 5-FULL DAYS: $3399. (Limit 10:/ openings: 8.)

OCT 30, 2011 Add-on day.

Free if you sign up for both IPTs. Otherwise $550. (Limit 10/openings: 8.)

OCT 31-NOV 4, 2011

Limit 12 including the leaders/six photographers per boat. 5-FULL DAYS: $3399. (Limit 10:/ openings: 9.)

These trips will be based in Homer, AK. We will enjoy virtually unlimited photographic action. This year, most folks opted to miss at least one boat trip due to photographic exhaustion. Two great leaders provide both in-the-field and in-classroom instruction that will include at least two Photoshop sessions. Canon or Nikon we’ve got you covered. (In-the field instruction only on the Add-on day.) We expect both of these trips (and the Add-on day) to be sold out within hours of being announced. A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 is required to hold your spot. Please call to check on availability: 863–692-2806. Happy campers only. If we do not know you, you will be required to pass our Happy Camper test. Please fill out and sign the forms here and send them along with your deposit check. Your registration will not be complete until we have your signed forms in hand.

Things you should know: At the last moment each morning we schedule–depending on tides and weather–either two 2-hour boat trips or one 4 hour boat trip each day of the tour (weather permitting). We do however often exceed those time limits when conditions warrant it. We gladly pick up the additional costs. You will not be charged extra for overtime no matter how extensive. On several days this year our two hour cruises went on for more than four hours; it is hard to sail away from great photography. We work a lot from from the boats and do ,again depending on conditions, spend some time on land to do both perched and flying birds. Even with “only” four hours per day of photography you will head home exhausted with the best Bald Eagle images of your life (unless we encounter unexpectedly bad weather). We have chosen out dates carefully with regards to weather. Temps should be moderate to cold with a mix of sun, clouds, and possibly some drizzle. Snow is not likely on either trip. That said we are going to Alaska and there is always a chance, a very small chance, that it might pour every day that you are there. There will be as many or more eagles on these trips as there were on the March trips. We will be collecting a $20 per day tip for our captain guides at the end of each trip. Most folks opted to kick in additional and we were fine with that.

What’s included: lots of eagles and lots of instruction. Ground transportation from the motel to the dock. As above we cover all boat fees and boat-related expenses but for the tips. Breakfast at the motel. We may be able to pick you up at the airport to save you the cost of a cab. Note: some folks may wish to rent a vehicle so that they can photograph on their own during free and nap time.

What’s not included: your round trip airfare from home to Homer. (Driving from Anchorage is recommended only for the adventurous….) The cost of your room. Meals other than breakfast.

To learn more about the Homer eagle experience, click on each link below:

First Day Homer Favorite
Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography with a Zoom Lens
Lens Align Mark II and Homer Follow-ups
Finally, Finally, and Finally in Homer!
Enhancing Silhouettes
What Makes a Great Bird Portrait?
Insanity, Exhilaration, Exhaustion, and Home
Bald Eagle Squabble/Interactive Photoshop Lesson
Bald Eagle Squabble #2/Which Do You Like Best?

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This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X III TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/8. To get the pure blue background I had to sit on a ridge of gravel after quickly lowering my tripod.

GALAPAGOS JULY 2011 OPENING

Due to a medical cancellation, I have a single opening on this summer’s Galapagos trip. Simply put my two-week trips are without equal. The best itinerary. The best guide. A great boat. And lots of instruction from someone who has made eight trips to this famed photo location. Call me at 863-292-2806 asap or e-mail if you are interested. First to raise their hand wins.

Galapagos 2011: $12,499 July 3 (fly to Quito) to July 20 (fly home) , 2011 (July 5-19, 2011 on the boat).

Please e-mail for additional info and the itinerary. Or take my word for it 🙂

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This is another from one of the many dime a dozen series. It was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 250mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop off the blue sky on a mostly sunny day: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 set manually. The hardest thing for me to do on the IPT was to keep folks from creating images when the birds were angling away from us…. I tried and tried but they could not resist. As usual, I was low shooter every day.

ASSORTED BAA KUDOS

By e-mail from Dean Newman:

Thanks for the help, Art. If I’ve never said it before, I sincerely appreciate your willingness to help so many of us. I’m sure I must be one of hundreds who bombard you daily questions and I’ve seen your schedule. It would be easy for you to dismiss our problems as trivial and unimportant. Thanks for being everything you are. Dean

By e-mail from Jonathan Kresge

I purchased your two books, “The Art of Bird Photography” and “The Art of Bird Photography II – CD” and want to thank you for putting so much valuable information and so many fantastic photos in the two books. Your explanations and tips for getting accurate exposures with Canon Evaluative metering has helped my photography enormously. I no longer feel as though I’m randomly fiddling with my exposure compensation dial, hoping to get a good exposure ‘by chance”. Thanks again! Jonathan

On BPN:

In her Reddish Egret Touch Down post here, BPN member Mellissa Groo wrote in Pane #16, “Artie, thanks! That’s hugely helpful, to me and I’m sure many others. I will try to recreate your efforts on the original file. The Digital Basics File is an incredible resource. It is so packed with info that I think it will take me quite a while to take full advantage of it. And thank you for your positive comments on my image; they are very encouraging.”

Mellissa posted an image of a landing Reddish Egret that she created on a recent trip on James Shadle’s customized-for-photography pontoon boat, the Hooptie Deux. Things are really hopping right now at Alafia Banks. Click here to book a day on the bay with the spoonbills. Anyway, I added canvas, made several other changes, and posted my version along with lots of excellent Photoshop tips. Check out the entire thread here and learn a bunch.

By e-mail from Fernando Diez:

Yes Arthur, I received my Digital Basics. The book is very good and I’m learning a lot from him already. Thank you very much for the great teaching that you provide in the books and newsletters. A big hug. Fernando

Related note: it took me about 14 hours to prepare this Bulletin. Sunday afternoon update: make that 18 hours.

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I can’t believe that I have written so much about Homer over the past two weeks without having let you know how beautiful the surrounding area is. This image of the Kenai Range was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens (hand held at 70mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/2.8.

To convert this to Black and White I brought the color image into NIK Silver Efex Pro and ran the Wet Rocks pre-set. It is one of about 30 pre-sets; I often use the High Structure pre-set.

You can save 15% on all NIK products including Silver Efex Pro 2, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro 3.0, and Viveza 2 by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings.

THE BLOG IS THE BOMB!

I continue to put 20+ hours a week towards making the blog informative, timely, and beautiful. Many of the educational features that formerly appeared in BAA Bulletins now grace the BAA Blog. If you are not subscribed, you are missing a ton of great stuff almost daily. You can subscribe to the blog posts by clicking here. Here are some recent posts of interest:

What Makes a Great Bird Portrait? With one example. I should have titled this one, “What Makes a Great Bird Portrait For Me?”
Tight or Wide? My Thoughts on Photographic Style and More. Though this post garnered only a few comments, it created a firestorm of discussion on BPN here: 120 replies and 2290 views!
Insanity, Exhilaration, Exhaustion, and Home. So you wanna be a pro; you might want to read this first and then re-consider.
Bald Eagle Squabble/Interactive Photoshop Lesson. Check out the comments for lots of free Photoshop tips.
Bald Eagle Squabble #2/Which Do You Like Best?On Monday you can see which one is my favorite and why.

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This Glaucous-winged Gull image was created from the shore with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400: 1/2000 sec. at f/8, my standard bright white/sunny day 400 ISO exposure. The gull’s far wing is pointing to the Mount Illimana volcano in the distance.

TODD GUSTAFSON ON NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TELEVISION

Safari photographer Todd Gustafson is the on-screen expert in one of the three segments on episode 105 of Nat Geo’s “Wild Case Files”. The show features riveting narrative interviews, HD video footage, and stunning still photographs. Watch as Todd tells the story of the 2007 mass wildebeest drowning at the Mara River. A must-see for nature lovers and photographers. This episode will air on April 11, 2011 at 9:00pm eastern time on Nat Geo Wild. Synopsis: Investigating a mass squid invasion on the California coast; Australian mouse plague; mysterious wildebeest deaths in Africa.

You can see the promo here. I clicked on a few of the promos and all that I can say is that I will be TIVO-ing the series! I gotta find out about the Montauk Monster.

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This image of a landing immature Bald Eagle was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS with the the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops of the water: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 set manually. As a general rule I would rather–as I did here–use a relatively low shutter speed than set a higher ISO. At times when we were on shore I liked to stand well back with the 800 for flight photography; images created with the bigger lenses usually have a softer-background look.

USED CANON GEAR FOR SALE

Elinor Osborn is offering the following used lens for sale in excellent condition for only $850: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS EF USM with tripod collar, ET-86 hood, LZ1324 soft case (never used), E77 front cap, rear cap, original box (with the UPC cut out), and manual. Purchased new in 2004. Buyer pays insured FedEx shipping. Photo available.

Contact Elinor Osborn by phone at 802-586-9994 (day and evening eastern time) or by e-mail.

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This image was created from the boat with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 210mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the white sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 set manually. Sometimes there can be just too many eagles in the sky. At times, there were so many eagles around the boat that I would shout out, “It’s a flying circus!”

I enjoy creating high key images when working with white skies on cloudy days. The trick is to add lots of light to your exposures and then remove the blue cast during processing.

POSSE NEWS: ROBERT AMORUSO/ROBERT O’TOOLE

St. Augustine Photographic Instructional Workshop

April 14 through 17, 2011 – Three and one-half days of extensive field and classroom instruction at the famous St. Augustine Alligator Farm with Robert Amoruso and Robert O’Toole. We will be using the Alligator Farm’s Educational Center for meetings and equipment storage between morning and afternoon sessions. Robert Amoruso will be presenting his “Successful Strategies for Avian Rookery Photography” and Robert O’Toole will be demonstrating his mastery of Photoshop while teaching you a variety of great techniques that he discusses in APTATS I and APTATS II.

Fill-flash and flash as main light are extensively covered in this workshop. Due to our close proximity to nesting birds, fill-flash can effectively be used to tame high-contrast or for special effects. With many opportunities to practice over the course of the 3 ½ days you will come away with the knowledge you need to use flash in your wildlife photography.

Our proximity to the birds also means that super-telephoto lenses are not required to create exceptional imagery. Most flight images are made with the 70-200mm lenses (with and without teleconverters). A 400mm zoom or prime lens is all that you need for the nesting birds. Longer lens allow you to create tight head portraits.

Lots of birds mean lots of flight action. We will be sharing our tips, techniques and strategies for photographing birds in flight.

Our workshop kicks off with a classroom session where you will be introduced to the various strategies and techniques that we will be using at the rookery. We then spend the late afternoon and evening the first day photographing. Subsequent days we photograph in the morning, spend some time in the classroom, go to lunch, reconvene in the afternoon for more classroom time, and finish out the day creating more great images. The atmosphere is relaxed and the leaders congenial. You will have lots of fun. We also spend time reviewing some of the images that you created during the workshop to be sure you are accomplishing your goals and offer help in meeting them. And with two instructors, plenty of one-on-one instruction occurs. You will not be left wanting.

The weather is pleasant in mid-April. We will photograph nesting pair, courtship behaviors, Great Egret chicks (likely in most years on these dates), copulation, and nest building. It is one of our favorite times of the year to be there. Find out more here. We still have a few openings hope that you can join us.

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Great Egret Chicks, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, FL. Image copyright 2009/Robert Amoruso/Wildscape Images. Created with the Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens and the 5D Mark II. Evaluative metering set manually at 1/400 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800.


If you have any questions, please contact Robert J. Amoruso on his cell phone at 407-808-7417 or by e-mail.

Note from Artie: The Alligator Farm is one of my very favorite photographic locations. If you have never been, you will be amazed when you first walk in. The biggest problem in a rookery is learning to avoid clutter and to learn to see the best situations. I can guarantee that both Roberts are quite skilled at teaching you to do both of those things. How can I know that? I taught them both 🙂

POSSE NEWS/JIM NEIGER

Flight School Goes Loony – Kamloops, BC, Canada – June 24-28, 2011

Join bird photographers Jim Neiger and Kevin Karlson for 5 days of extraordinary bird photography and instruction at beautiful Lac Le Jeune. This beautiful lodge set in the mountains near Kamloops, British Columbia offers unique opportunities to photograph Common Loons with their chicks as well as a wide assortment of other avian subjects at the lodge and surrounding areas.

Jim has spent the years perfecting his techniques for photographing birds in flight using large telephoto lenses hand held. The focus of these workshops will be learning Jim’s hand held, long lens techniques for photographing birds in flight and in action. Kevin Karlson is an accomplished wildlife photographer, author, birder, and professional tour leader who is very familiar with the wildlife at Lac Le Jeune and the surrounding areas.

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Common Loon with Chicks, Lac Le Jeune, BC, Canada. Image copyright © 2010: Kevin Karlson

Note from Artie: I created my best ever Common Loon chick images at Derick MacDonald’s wonderful Lac Le Jeune Resort many years ago.

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Nesting Black Tern with Chicks, Lac Le Jeune, BC, Canada. Image copyright © 2010: Kevin Karlson

A large, open-topped pontoon boat allows for group photography (up to 5 photographers) for very close approach to Common Loons and their chicks. Wing-flaps, fly-bys, chicks riding on the back of adult loons, and take-offs and landings are some of the photographic chances that we will enjoy with these tame loons. Another more intimate option is the availability of several small boats with electric motors. These boats can comfortably hold two photographers with tripods (or not) and allow very close approaches to Common Loons with chicks and the Black Tern colony on the small lake adjacent to the lodge. You will be able to take these boats out on the lake at times of your choosing for a more personal shooting experience. Kayaks are also available for those who want a “water level” shooting perspective. Several feeders are set up around the lodge for potential songbird photography. Juncos, chickadees, nuthatches and siskins are some of the possible subjects. We will set up attractive perches to allow for more natural photos of these and other songbirds. There are several other recreation areas and wildlife refuges, located within a half hour of the lodge, that provide wonderful opportunities to photograph Red-necked Grebe nests with chicks and a large assortment of other waterfowl. Possible chicks and adult female photography include Barrows Goldeneye, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, and Lesser Scaup. Mountain Bluebirds nest in abundance in numerous nest boxes along country road fence lines. We will search for Red-shafted Flicker nests, as well as the cavity nesting Northern 3-toed Woodpecker. Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds are possible at several hummingbird feeders.

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Killdeer Banking in Flight, Lac Le Jeune, BC, Canada. Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger

Workshop Dates: June 24-28, 2011.

The workshop will begin with a four hour classroom session at 2:00pm on June 24th and end after lunch on June 28th. There will be three and a half days of photography with informal instruction in the field. Participants will also have use of the boats and other resort facilities during their free time. The workshops will be limited to seven participants so that everyone may photograph in comfort and receive personalized instruction.

The workshop includes single occupancy lodging, all meals, the use of all facilities, and all gratuities at the beautiful Lac Le Jeune Resort. A double occupancy discount of $200 is available on a limited basis. The cost of the workshop is $2350 US dollars per person. A 50% non-refundable deposit of $1175 is required to reserve a spot in the workshop. The remaining $1175 is due 30 days prior to the start of the workshop. For additional info, click here: Flight School Goes Loony Workshop

Contact Information: Jim Neiger, Flight School Photography, Inc. 550 Basin Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34744-4804
Cell phone: (407) 247-5200. e-mail.

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Common Loon Calling for Her Mate, Lac Le Jeune, BC, Canada. Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the images above. 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.

Contact Gary Farber for price quotes on digital cameras, Canon and Nikon lenses and bodies, software, and printers and inks. Call 781-462-2332 to speak to Gary or contact him via e-mail.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon 800mm f/5.L 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. This is the very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
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.
Double Bubble Leve.l You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am on a tripod and not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

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