August 1st, 2011



  • JAPAN 2012

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Snow Monkey (Japanese Macaque), mother holding baby, Nagano, Japan. Image courtesy of and copyright 2010: Ellen Anon.

JAPAN 2012

THE JAPAN ONLY ONE TRIP NEEDED PER LIFETIME IPT, FEB 20-MAR, 09, 2012. $15,999 from Tokyo, Japan. Limit twelve photographers; openings: 9. Co-leaders: Arthur Morris & Robert O’Toole.

Robert has photographed in Hokkaido several times. I’ve never been to Japan. And I will likely never be going back. I wanted to make sure that a day or two of bad weather would not wipe out one of the four great wildlife opportunities. So Robert and I designed a trip with more photography time than any other photo trip. If you are going to go all that way why not do it right?

Here’s what I mean:

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.

None of these areas were damaged by the earthquake and all logistics are in place.

Do consider joining us on this amazing trip. A non-refundable deposit of $5,000 is required to hold your spot.

Included: All lodging (double occupancy; single supplement price available upon request), all meals, all ground transportation (most by luxury van or bus), the in-country flights, lots of image sharing and review and small group Photoshop sessions, and of course, 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. Right now this is shaping up to be a practically private affair with three participants and two leaders. The current roster of happy campers includes IPT veterans Mike Gotthelf & Kevin Watson and newcomer Tommy R. Rodgers.

Not included: Your air fare to and from Tokyo, Japan and your alcoholic beverages & phone calls.

Trip insurance is highly recommended and trip evacuation (cheap for an annual policy) is mandatory. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services.

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Japanese (Red-crowned) Crane, Kushiro, Japan. Image courtesy of and copyright 2010: Robert O’Toole.


Day 1 – Monday, February 20, 2012. Tokyo, Japan. Meeting and dinner.

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; save your receipt–we will reimburse you. (Details will be provided). Note that since most flights from the USA arrive in Tokyo in the evening, we strongly recommend arriving the day before the workshop starts to rest and adjust to the time change.

Day 2: February 21. Tokyo to Nagano (five hour bus ride). Afternoon Snow Monkey photography.

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.

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Snow Monkey (Japanese Macaque), Nagano, Japan. Image courtesy of and copyright 2010: Ellen Anon.

Day 3-5: February 22-24: Nagano. Morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Snow Monkeys

Day 6: February 25. 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 might be 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: February 26-29. Rausu.

Daily morning photography sessions on 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: March 1. 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.

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Whooper Swan, Lake Kussharo, Kushiro Region, Hokkaido. Image courtesy of and copyright 2006: Ellen Anon. This was a BBC-honored image for Ellen :).

Day 12-13: March 2-3. Morning and afternoon photography sessions on Lake Kussharo with Whooper Swans.

Day 14 March 4. 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.

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Japanese (Red-crowned) Crane, Kushiro, Japan. Image courtesy of and copyright 2010: Robert O’Toole.

Day 15 -18: March 5-8. Morning and afternoon photo sessions with the Japanese Cranes.

At Kushiro we will photograph the rare and beautiful Japanese (Crane Grus japonensis, also know as the Red-crowned Crane). Other subjects will include 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 amazing; 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 19: March 9. 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 a few additional days of bird photography 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 home that afternoon.


Ellen Anon, a former BIRDS AS ART IPT co-leader :), is an award winning photographer, writer, and Photoshop and digital imaging expert. She has co-authored a series of best selling books including Photoshop CS5 for Nature Photographers; A Workshop in a Book and Aperture3; Portable Genius along with several video series. She and her son Josh are very excited about being in the process of creating a new book (and workshops) that will help people develop their photographic eye via visual intensity.

You can learn more about Ellen and see lots of her great images here She asked me to let you know that she needs to update her workshop and public appearances pages; life sometimes gets in the way of photography and career.

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This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/80 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Lens/camera body Micro-adjustment: +3.

This image was created in a virtually impossible situation that most folks would walk right by. There is a great lesson for you here.


I continue to put in 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 have a problem subscribing, please contact us via e-mail. 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. Below are links to recent posts of interest.

In Grandpa and the Amazing Photo-Kid you can meet my oldest grandson Sam, check out his amazing flexibility and his amazing blond locks, and see how he did on his first photo trip. To the Galapagos!

Learn to deal with color casts in the July 23 blog post here.

Read the e-mail that brought tears to my eyes here.

Not sure when to leave IS on? Not after you read IS On or Off? And More On Image Stabilization.

Learn which were my favorite “It Ain’t Just Birds” images from Svalbard here.

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A Guide to Creative Filter and Effects (pdf) by Denise Ippolito

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 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

Below is a list of the filters and effects that are detailed in the Filter Guide. Filters with the ($) symbol require a separate purchase. Most of the others are Photoshop filters and one is a free download. The Filter Guide includes links to all available free trial downloads so that you can try before you buy. Though–as above–many of the filters can be found in various versions of Photoshop, 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

  • 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!

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 or, or from the BAA On-line Store here. Be sure to visit Denise’s blog here.

Enjoy Denise’s image gallery below. Which is your favorite?

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Front yard Snow Storm with Denise’s Fractalius Soft-fix preset applied
Image Copyright 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography

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Fonthill Castle, Mini-World (Polar Coordinates)
Image Copyright 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography

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Great Egret Chick, Fractalius Glow 100
Image Copyright 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography

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Tulip with Pinch Filter
Image Copyright 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography


Flight School Photography’s 5th Annual – Flight School Goes to Bosque Workshop – November 2011

With thousands of migratory birds in flight daily at Bosque Del Apache, what better site for Flight School Photography workshops? Previous year’s workshops were huge successes, so once again, Flight School Photography returns to Bosque. We are anticipating improved conditions and even more outstanding photographic opportunities than last year. Flight School Photography will be featuring two workshops in November, 2011. Each will be led by expert bird photographer, Jim Neiger, who has perfected techniques for photographing birds in flight using large telephoto lenses, hand held. The focus of these workshops will be learning and practicing Jim’s hand held, long lens techniques for photographing birds in flight and in action.

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Dancing Sandhill Cranes, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM. Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography.

The workshops will be held before the Festival of the Cranes and Thanksgiving. They will offer spectacular fall color that offers beautiful backgrounds for your photos and adds majesty to the already spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Going early also means there will be fewer photographers. Each workshop will include 3 hours of classroom instruction on the first morning followed by a welcome lunch and an afternoon photography session. The two remaining days include morning and afternoon photography sessions each lasting three to four hours. The workshops are limited to 6 participants.

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Northern Harrier, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM. Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is located along the Rio Grande in Socorro County, New Mexico. A series of canals from the river carry water to various areas of the refuge. These impoundments are managed to create numerous shallow ponds and pools. In addition, corn, alfalfa and other crops are grown in the nearby fields; the farmers leave some of the crops to feed the thousands of migratory birds that flock there. The water, food and shelter create a haven for the thousands of birds that call Bosque del Apache home during the fall and winter. Annual visitors include Sandhill Cranes, many species of geese and ducks, bald eagles, hawks, and wading birds. In all, Bosque is home to 377 species of birds throughout the year, so anything is possible.

The thousands of Sandhill Cranes, ducks and geese in flight provide spectacular opportunities for awesome flight images using Jim’s techniques. Jim is known for his consistent production of amazing flight images. A Flight School Photography Workshop is a must for all serious nature photographers.

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Snow Goose, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM. Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Bosque Del Apache, NWR Sample Image Gallery

Workshop BOS-1: November 11, 2010 thru November 13, 2010: $999.
Workshop BOS-2: November 15, 2010 thru November 17, 2010: $999.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required. The remaining $500 is due 15 days before the start date of the workshop. If you are unable to attend the workshop after paying the balance, your balance will be refunded only if your spot can be filled, on short notice, from the waiting list. All workshop payments must be made by check or money order. Credit cards are not accepted. Please make your check payable to Flight School Photography, Inc. and send them to: Flight School Photography, Inc., Jim Neiger, 550 Basin Drive, Kissimmee, Fl 34744. You can contact Jim by phone at 407-247-5200 or via e-mail to

Flight School Photography

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in today’s post. 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 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.

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

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂
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.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
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.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine.

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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