June 2nd, 2011




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Flower-bed Blur, Chanticleer Gardens, PA. This image was created with the Canon 180mm macro lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/4 sec. at f/11 in Tv Mode.

To learn what made this image “1 in 400,” click here. To learn to create pleasingly blurred images of all types of natural history subjects, check out “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris.

Please e-mail if you would like a canvas print of this image for your home or office.

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Denise Ippolito and I made our way to Freehold, NJ on Tuesday morning, May 31 to visit the 4,000 sq. ft. LensCoat factory. In 2005 friend Scott Elowitz set out on a new venture. With zero manufacturing experience and everything to learn, he decided that he would start a business that would would outfit the world with neoprene lens covers. (Do know that Scott was already a successful businessman who had been named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Small Business Administration of NJ in 1994.) He began making custom-made hand sewn covers (LensCoats) for all the popular telephotos, each in a variety of patterns. Soon he was manufacturing covers for more and more lenses. Then he added the LegCoats that adorn most every Gitzo tripod that you see in the field; LegCoats make carrying big lenses a lot easier by offering ever-present padding between the tripod-leg and your shoulder. And mine. 🙂 These were followed by a variety of Lens Pouches (that are also great for protecting a variety of small items that live in your rolling bag or backpack), Beamer Keepers and FlashKeepers, (camera) BodyBags, BodyGuards, Gimbal Covers, Hoodie Lens Caps, TravelCoats, Tripod Covers, and i-Pad Neoprene Sleeves, all in a variety of camo patterns and colors.

Please visit the LensCoat department of the BAA On-Line Store here.

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Scott Elowitz: the smile and the brains behind the amazing success of LensCoat..

Scott began by hand-cutting a few LensCoats for the Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens but quickly learned that that process would need to be automated with the cutting done by custom-made (pattern) dies on hydraulic presses. He began subbing out the work to a local shop that did extensive work for the handbag and leather goods industries but he was not happy that his jobs were quickly put on the back burner when Gucci or Coach called with a rush jobs. Scott knew a good man when he saw one; in short order he hired Omar away from the local shop. Omar has filled the roles of advisor, shop foreman, designer, and pattern maker from the get-go. In April 2007 Scott, armed with new machines and a crack staff of local folks opened his first LensCoat factory. Within two years LensCoat out grew it’s 1000 sq. ft. facility and moved to its present 4000 sq. ft. location. Cool digs for sure! Things have been going great guns ever since.

Please visit the LensCoat department of the BAA On-Line Store here.

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Each LensCoat and all of the neoprene covers and pouches are made from several pieces of neoprene that are sewed together after being cut. A precision die is created for each piece. Each pile on the shelf has the dies needed to produce all the pieces for a single item.

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Here Ephram cuts a piece for the Nikon 500 VR LensCoat on 30-ton hydraulic press. To prevent serious injury Scott had the presses re-designed so that both of the operator’s hands must be on the controls to get the press to fire….

Like me, Scott has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. You can check out the amazing array of LensCoat products here (but beware of the inferior imitation BLUBB ripoffs that Scott carries; like everything else, when it comes to big lens bean bags, you get what you pay for. :)) BIRDS AS ART has of course been a LensCoat dealer for many years; if you see something you like on Scott’s web site, we would of course appreciate your order; visit the LensCoat department of the BAA On-Line Store here. If you see something on the Lens Coat site that we do not carry, please e-mail us and let us know; we will be glad to get it for you.

Please visit the LensCoat department of the BAA On-Line Store here.

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Once 10 or 20 sets of pieces for a given product are cut the pieces are hand-sewn together until the product is completed. Scott owns a wide variety of highly specialized,industrial-grade sewing machines. Many of them create a single stitch for a only a specific purpose.

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Here, the trim is being sewn onto a FlashKeeper. One of the cool features of this case is the battery holder; you can store up to eight AA batteries and have them ready when you need them.


Despite being hospitalized for four days (May 17-20) when my hand became infected after “minor” surgery, I have continued to put in 20+ hours per week into the blog in an effort to make it 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. As I have not been out in the field for a while, it has been a long time since the last Bulletin. You will therefore find many links to recent blog-posts of interest. Most feature short notes on the status of my left hand. I had the stitches out on Wednesday, June 1 and the hand continues to improve a bit each day. It is pretty obvious that as we age healing and recovery takes a lot longer than it did when we were younger. 🙂

The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow details the benefits of having good friends.

In Happy Hospital Dance I share the tale of what motivated me to get to St. Charles Hospital and why I was so happy so soon.

Froggie Morning Lessons shares tips on being ready, on photographing in the pre-dawn, and on using Live View to focus accurately with stacked teleconverters.

In Why Bend the Lens? I share a technique that I use often but had never written about (though I thought that I had….)

Folks had great fun here judging a photo contest and here learning the results. And slamming me for my choices. :). And two folks won $10 discounts good at the BAA On-Line Store.

In the Linear Burn e-mail with Screen Caps and Select Color Range posts I shared some great Photoshop tips from Digital Basics and beyond.

Anxious to get out to the beach after my hospital stay I did just that and shared a neat Low Light Shorebird Photography Lesson soon thereafter. Then I committed to some big time R&R….

The May 29 blog post should be required reading for all digital photographers. Learn why you must ETTR, expose to the right. The proof is right there before your eyes.

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The birds and wildlife of the Galapagos are very accepting of humans; only two of the nine images above were created with a lens longer than 400mm.


GALAPAGOS 2012 PHOTO-CRUISE OF A LIFETIME IPT: The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience: July 1-18, 2011 (July 3-17, 2012 on the boat): 13 1/2 days of photography plus a last morning panga ride: $12,749. (Limit 12/Openings: 9.)

Briefly, my two-week trip is without equal. The best guide, the best itinerary, a great boat (the Beagle), and the best leader, one with seven Galapagos trips under his belt, six with Juan Salcedo. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is required. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/11. The final payment of $3749 per person will be due on 2/1/12. Couples or friends registering together will have a $300 per person discount applied to their final payment.

Important note: if I do not have 8 or 9 deposit checks in hand when I need to commit to leasing the boat (for more than 1/10 of a million dollars) I will seriously need to consider scrapping this amazing trip…

Fly to Quito: July 1, 2012
Travel insurance and rest day: July 2, 2012 (perched hummingbird day-trip optional)
Fly to Galapagos, board boat: July 3, 2012
Fly back to Quito: July 17, 2012
Fly home: July 18.

Cost: $12,749.00 Includes three nights in the luxury hotel–the Hilton Quito Colon, round trip airfare to and from Baltra, all meals on the boat–the food is great, a killer buffet lunch with the tortoises!, all park fees and related costs, all ground transfers, and a five star thank you dinner on the evening of July 17th.

13 full and one half day of photography, plus a 90 minute early am panga ride on the last morning. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. The greatest-ever itinerary. By far. We visit every great spot on a single trip. The great spots include: Tower Island (including Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay), Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross, and Gardner Bay)—each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway), Fernandina, Peurto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, North Seymour, South Plaza, Black Turtle Cove, Floreana, Urbina Bay, and China Hat. Plus tons more. And lots of snorkeling for those who wish to partake.

And the world’s greatest Galapagos guide. By far. We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast weather, we often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, midday snorkeling on most sunny days depending on location. Note: some of the walks are strenuous. Great images are possible on all landings with a hand held 70-200mm lens. I always bring a big lens also as that fits my style.

Not included. Your round trip airfare from your home to and from Quito, beverages, phone calls, and the $500 (US cash) per/person tip for the guide and crew; that breaks down to roughly $35/day shared by the 8 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

Limited to 12 photographers plus the leader.

If you are good to go, please e-mail first and then send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit made out to “Arthur Morris” to the address at the top of this e-mail along with the necessary paperwork here.

Travel insurance is highly recommended. I learned during the past week that three folks who were scheduled for the Midway trip needed to cancel for various reasons…. None of them had travel insurance. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and I recommend it strongly. Important note: we will notify when the trip is a go and will not cash your deposit check until then. (Most travel insurance policies mandate that you purchase your protection within two weeks of your check being cashed.)

Shopper’s Guide

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

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Canon 180mm macro lens. With its telephoto effect, the 180 is my favorite macro lens.

Mark IV bodies are back in stock at B&H!

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And here is a list of my favorite gear:

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot with the 1.4X III TC which is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses. I used the 70-200 alone to create all of the images at Scott’s place.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo GT3530LS 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.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable. Clicking on the link below will bring you to the Delkin web site. There is lots of great stuff there. If you see a product that we do not carry let us know via e-mail; we will be glad to have it drop-shipped to you and save you a few bucks in the process.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gift with each order over $50.

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