August 31st, 2011



  • Denise Ippolito: Short Notice/Eastern State Penitentiary Creative Photography Workshop

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Piping Plover predator exclosure and storm-ravaged tern & skimmer colony at Nickerson Beach, Long Island, NY. This image was created with the handheld Canon 15mm fish eye lens and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/7.1. Lower left AF sensor with rear-focus AI Servo AF. When I made this image the wind was howling, practically blowing me off my feet.

I was able to make it out to the beach on the afternoon of the big storm; click here to read of my “Surreal Hurricane Irene Experience.”


I got to my Mom’s on Long Island on the early evening of August 11, 2011 after 28 hours of travel from Katmai National Park, AK via Kodiak & Anchorage, AK, Dallas Fort Worth, TX, and Orlando, FL. (For the whole story see “From the Bear Boat to Mom’s House.) I have enjoyed visiting my Mom, gotten lots of work done, and have been out photographing birds only eight times, most of those in the past week. Westhampton Beach has been a bust for me though friend Mike Lotito did well there whenever I went somewhere else. After a decent morning on my beloved East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on August 13 (despite the place being horribly mismanaged) the place went to hell in a handbasket as heavy rains left no habitat for the birds. (In a normal year with the gate valve at the north end of the pond working as it should August rains should not present any problems….)

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These adult Semipalmated Sandpipers were photographed at the East Pond, JBWR, Queens, NY on the cloudy morning of August 13, 2011 while sitting in four inches of shallow water: the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/80 sec. at f/18 set manually.

Lens/Camera Body Micro-Adjustment: -4.

Central sensor/rear-focus AI Servo AF and re-compose. This two-frame stitched pano was assembled in Photoshop CS-5 by hand after putting the right-hand bird on its own layer and blending the two using a regular Layer Mask.

Nickerson Beach has offered the the best and pretty much only bird photography on Long Island and has gotten better since the hurricane.

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Black Skimmers “Bosque at the Beach” on the morning of 8-31. This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 98mm) with the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV . ISO 250. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/30 sec. at f/4.5 in Tv Mode. Rear-focus AI Servo AF.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: -8.

On several occasions I zigged when I should have zagged…. I thought about heading to Nickerson on the early morning of the 17th but I was too tired so I slept in and did a blog post. I did get out the next morning only to find wind against sun conditions, the worst possible scenario on a clear day. I did learn that on the previous morning the flooded pool had been like a mirror with young skimmers skimming non-stop. One afternoon I opted to try Westhampton Beach and did not take a single image. The next morning I ran into former student Brutus Oostling (now Sewden’s top bird photographer) who told me that the previous afternoon at Nickerson had been fantastic. And on the morning of August 30 my first instinct was to head to the eastern-most colony but at the last minute I went west. A killer sunrise developed with hundreds of skimmers blasting off every few minutes. You gotta love it. The next morning I went east; both the sunrise and the blast-offs were duds. And so it goes. 🙂 The fact is, however, that I made lots of great images.

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This juvenile Black Skimmer skimming was photographed in somewhat diffused light on the morning of August 27 with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 set manually. Activated the two sensors below the central sensor/rear-focus AI Servo AF.
Lens/Camera Body Micro-Adjustment: -4.

With photography improving and lots of nice shorebird pools at Nickerson after the storm I decided to stay an extra six days before heading home to finish last year’s taxes….

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This fresh juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper was photographed on the early morning of August 31 with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 2/3 stops: 1/160 sec. at f/10 set manually.

Lens/TC/Camera Body Micro-Adjustment: 0.

Denise Ippolito: Short Notice/Eastern State Penitentiary Creative Photography Workshop

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Denise Ippolito: Eastern State Penitentiary Creative Photography Workshop – Rescheduled for This Saturday Due to Hurricane Irene

Join Denise Ippolito and John Barclay for a full day HDR Workshop at Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia, PA. (I will be along for the ride.) The group will have access to areas that are restricted to the general public. Activities will include learning HDR capture, creating dynamic compositions, lunch, and a laptop session on tone-mapping your images with either Nik or Photomatix HDR software. to tonemap your images. We will be by your side to help you give them a more professional look.

Saturday September 3rd: 10:00am – 4:00pm. Cost: $375.00 pp. Includes lunch and admission fee, tripod fee, restricted area fee, lunch, and program. Tripods and laptops are strongly recommended. To join the workshop or for more information you can either e-mail Denise or call her on her cell: 1-732-470-3601. Please leave a message and a call back number if no answer.

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This backlit Coastal Brown Bear was photographed at Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm) with the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV . ISO 250. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/9 in Av Mode. . Central Sensor/Rear-focus AI Servo AF.

Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: -8.

We were photographing several bears clamming at fairly close range when I sensed this bear behind us. Seeing the strong backlight and the hillside in dark shadow I knew to dial in one stop of underexposure. Folks wishing to learn to do the same thing are directed to the chapter on exposure theory in the original The Art of Bird Photography and “Exposure Simplified” in The Art of Bird Photography II (916 pages on CD only). We nicknamed this very friendly bear “Lion Bear” for his fancy mane.


2012 Bear Boat IPT: July 24-31, 2012 from Kodiak, AK: $6499. Happy campers only! Maximum: TBD but surely between six and ten.

Leader: Arthur Morris (though it is likely that Robert O’Toole will be aboard as well). This trip needs a minimum of six participants to run; two are already committed (including Jim Heupel back for his third trip to Katmai with me). Please do not purchase your plane tickets until advised to do so. These always sell out but it is better to be up front and safe. It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 23 to avoid missing the float plane(s) to the boat on the morning of July 24th. With air travel in AK being what it is, with the chance of fog or other bad weather–being on Kodiak on July 22 is an even better plan. I will take you out to dinner in Kodiak on the evening of July 23rd.

The plan is to take at least two float planes to the boat mid-morning on July 24th. We should get to photograph that afternoon and for the next five or six days or so: there will be lots and lots of coastal Brown Bears of various ages including spring cubs (nursing and playing), bears eating luscious green grasses, bears clamming, and possibly bears catching a few early salmon. Bald Eagles with tiny chicks in the nest are possible, as are both puffin species (especially Horned). We may get to photograph at least one Black-legged Kittiwake colony and some hauled out Steller’s Sea Lions (an endangered species). Halibut fishing (license required) is optional.

We may, depending on the weather, be able to cross the Shelikoff Strait on the evening of July 30 and spend our last morning photographing rafts of Sea Otters. If this does not pan out, we will not get to photograph the otters and we will need to incur the additional cost of taking float planes back to Kodiak. But the plan is to cross and spend a morning with the otters.

Unlike my trips prior to 2011, this is a longer 8-DAY/seven NIGHTS on the boat trip. The eight days will consist of six full days (July 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, & 30) of photography featuring lots of Coastal Brown Bears as above plus a variety of other natural history subjects plus some nice scenic photography that I forgot to mention above. Plus the first afternoon and the last morning. As above, we hope to do the otters on that last morning.

What’s included? 8 DAYs/7 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. (The food is amazing.) Bear Guide services. National Park fees. One night’s double occupancy lodging on Kodiak; arrive: July 23/depart: July 24. The thank-you-in-advance dinner on the 23rd. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional; I will constantly let you know what I am thinking, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). All necessary lodging other than the cost of your double occupancy room on the night of July 23rd. I will let you know the cost of a single supplement if so desired. And we will arrange for a room on Kodiak for you on the night of the 22nd if you opt to arrive a day early as we recommend. The cost of the float plane out to the boat on July 24th and possibly the cost of the return float plane trip on the morning of the 31st if we cannot make the otter crossing on the night of the 30ieth. The suggested crew tip of $210. Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 6 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears it will be one of the great experiences of your life.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “Arthur Morris” is required to hold your spot. Please click here and then scroll down and read out cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us with your deposit check. Deposit: immediately. This leaves a balance of $4499. The first payment of $2499 is due December 15, 2011. The final payment of $2000 is due on March 15, 2011. Again, I need six deposits in hand to run this trip so please do not purchase your plane tickets or use your air miles until you learn from us that we are good to go. We will likely know for sure no later than December 15, 2011, but in all likelihood we will know well before then.

I hope that you can join me for this wondrously exciting trip.

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This Great Black-backed Gull was flapping after an early morning bath. The image was created just after sunrise on the morning of August 30 with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/9 in Av mode. Rear-focus AI Servo AF and recompose.

Lens/TC/Camera Body Micro-Adjustment: 0.


Gitzo is offering a $40 rebate until the end of September. To learn which would be the best 6X Carbon Fiber tripod for you click here. I currently own and use four Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripods.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images in today’s Bulletin. 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.

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here for details.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. Designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.
Canon EOS-7D The big brother to the old EOS-30D.
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 APO OS HSM Canon mount. A lightweight, sharp, versatile lens with a Canon mount.

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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