January 29th, 2012



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This Macaroni Penguin preening its mate was photographed at Hercules Bay, South Georgia, with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, the 2X III teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. This is one of my favorite images from the trip. The birds were so tame that I rarely if ever felt limited with my longest effective telephoto length of “only” 780mm (300mm X 2 X 1.3). An upper left-hand sensor was chosen manually: AI Servo Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.


I got back to my home-office in Indian Lake Estates, FL just before 10am on January 26. See here for the whole story. Overall the trip was a fantastic one. My good weather Karma held and we visited many amazing wildlife locations including New Island, Leopard Beach, and the amazing Steeple Jason in the Falklands, Salisbury Plain, Fortuna Bay, spectacular St. Andrews Bay–my favorite site on the entire trip, Hercules Bay, Gold Harbor, and Cooper Bay on South Georgia, and Paulet Island, Cuverville Island, Neko Harbor, Jougla Point, the incredible Bailey Head, and Hannah Point in Antarctica. In addition we had some good but not great flight photography from the ship–it was a bit rough on some of the crossings, and we enjoyed two amazing whale encounters, one with Humpbacks in the Weddell Sea and one with a pod of Southern Orcas (Killer Whales) in the Gerlach Strait.

I will be sharing lots of images and lessons with you both here and on the blog.

I had the world’s greatest roommate, Pablo Fernicola. He had been on a Bosque IPT about five years ago. He slept like a rock no matter what I did…. Which, at 4am, was often a lot. Overall the large group was very nice. I met a wonderful couple from California–Zorica Kovacevic and Srdjan Mitrovic of Atherton, CA who were eager to improve; they spent lots of time with me. When I asked Srdjan if he knew of SNL’s Hans and Frans–he sounded just like them–he did a cool impression: “Und I am Franz. Und I just vant to pump… (clap) …YOU UP!” Zoe Griffiths of Surrey, England was a point and shooter but her pleasant manner and easy smile was enjoyed by all in the quasi-photographers group. RC (Cola) Vasavada of Gualala, CA was another sweetie who hung with us. Aspiring professional photographer Steve Levi (Redmond, WA) rounded out our regular dinner table along with Zoe, Zorica and Srdjan, RC and me. We were waited on hand and foot by our regular waitress, Daria.

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The world’s best roommate: Pablo Fenricola. Image created with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, the 2X III teleconverter, and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Pablo brought the Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens as his big lens and complemented that with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. An EOS-7D, an EOS-50D, and some short zoom lenses rounded out his kit.

Mandeep Manku of London was also anxious to learn; he produced some very good images with only a modicum of gear and the same could be said of Gary Mancuso. I also enjoyed time spent with Ron and Talma Auslender of Israel, Vic Cooper (and wife Vicky) of Kanab, Utah, Matt Diegutis from Cronulla, Australia, Lynette Finch of New South Wales, Australia, Bronwyn & Grame Gilmour also of Australia, and Arthur & Caroline Ginsberg of Seattle, WA. Amazingly Nico and Brigitte Moser and Peter and Anne Oberer were all from Basel, Switzerland, home of my killer web guy, Peter Kes. Small world. Anne and Peter’s friend Cypriana Probst was also from Switzerland. It was good seeing Tom Myers again; we had met at several professional nature photography meetings. It was always a pleasure to chat with Alan and Sara Skerker (Gainesville, VA) and Skip and Gayle Stokes from Jacksonville, OR. Gail had seen my presentation at the Klamath Festival last year. Leslie Valentine her Dad Warren was as nice as could be, as was Pablo’s good friend Katie O’Reilly of Portland, OR. With 96 folks, however, you can always expect a few unhappy campers. The best (worst???) of that lot was a young woman who went around photographing folks whom she thought were too close to the birds and then sharing the images with the expedition leader. You gotta love that. One of the other pros was her primary victim though the bird on the nest in the image was sound asleep….

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This image of a section of the King Penguin colony at St. Andrews Bay, my very favorite landing of the trip, was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/80 sec. at f/32 in Av mode.

Click on the image to see a larger version. To see four more killer St. Andrews Bay images check out St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia, Southern Ocean Voyage; Best Day Ever?


Here was my gear bag for the trip: two Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bodies. One EOS-5D Mark II camera body. The Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens. The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Two 1.4X III TCs and one 2X III teleconverter. The Canon 16-35mm L lens and the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens. It was a close call but I opted to leave my oft-used and dependable Canon 24-105mm IS L lens home to save weight. The decision to go with the 300 2.8 II as my primary big lens turned out to be a fabulous one. The lens is relatively light and super sharp. And as you will learn below, having the 5D MII along pretty much saved the trip for me. I ordered a 5D MII as soon as I got home.

All that plus my flash stuff fit nicely into my Airport InternationalTM V2.0 rolling bag, the smaller of the two Think Tank bags that I travel with. I always use the larger ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag when I travel with my 800mm f/5.6L IS lens. Learn more and check out the free gift offer here. With only the 300 f/2.8L IS II as my big lens, the smaller bag was perfect for the voyage; it fit easily into my big dry bag for landings. I used every lens that I brought.

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The images used to create this composite of the King Penguin colony on Salisbury Plain were among the last I made in the heavy rain before both my Mark IV bodies quit. They were created with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. For the main image: ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: .8 sec. at f/45 in Av Mode. Central Sensor Rear Focus AI Servo AF and recompose. (Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.)

With the too-slow shutter speed I figured that the near-penguin head would be soft due to subject movement–it was–so I created an image with the same framing as the first image with these settings: ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/4 set manually. The sharp penguin head from this image was brought onto the main image on its own Quick Mask-created layer. Next I enlarged the sharp head a bit using the Transform command so that it completely covered the soft head. Then I added a Layer Mask and eliminated the soft background along the edges to reveal the more detailed f/45 background. All as detailed in Digital Basics and APTATs I.

For a greater appreciation of this image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it. To see a really cool quasi-HDR grunge version of this image click here.


  • When good friend Scott Elowitz of LensCoat suggests that you bring one or two of his new RainCoats on the trip you dismiss his offer stating, “I don’t like rain covers; they hamper my style.”
  • Arrive at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia–one of the top wildlife locations on the planet–so excited that you do not think clearly.
  • Forget to place several plastic garbage bags in your vest in case of rain; I have been teaching folks to do just that for almost three decades….
  • Ignore the low ceiling and the ominous dark clouds.
  • Captivated by the beauty of the King Penguin colony ignore the developing drizzle while the Mark IV mounted on your 300mm f/2.8L IS II lens even though the camera body is uncovered and un-protected.
  • Hang (via a Black Rapid RS-7 Strap) your 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with one of your two EOS-1D Mark IV bodies attached so that the rig is on your back with the camera body completely exposed to the rain. Then forget about it. Had I been thinking clearly I would have put that Mark IV in a plastic bag in the large rear pocket of my X-trahand vest…. You gotta love hindsight.
  • As the drizzle turns to light rain, albeit a light rain at first, ignore it and keep on photographing. Keep thinking that your Canon professional digital camera bodies are as invincible and indestructible as you thought that you were when you were younger. (Boy, that has changed over the decades….)
  • As the light rain turns to heavy rain, continue to photograph as if your were on a beach in sunny Florida.

When the Mark IV that was on the 300 f/2.8 II began having intermittent moisture problems, I switched to the other Mark IV, the one that had been hanging on my back completely exposed to the elements, I was shocked to learn that it was completely dead. I switched back and coaxed another 30 minutes out of the first body by turning it off for a few minutes at a time. Then it quit completely. Then I quit completely, packed up, and headed back to the ship.

I removed the flash cards, the batteries, and the front lens cap from each body, placed them in the far end of a pillow case, and placed a hair dryer on high at the open end of the pillow case blowing hot air onto the bodies in an attempt to dry them out and get them working (making sure to have the rear vent free and clear). Linda Robbins, the High Speed Flash Hummingbird Queen, taught me that trick years ago in Panama). Though each was totally dead when I began, the two cameras came back to life bit by bit. After hours and hours of “treatment” over the course of two days the verdict was the same: each camera could create images. The LCD on the top of the camera was fine, but the large LCD on the back of the camera was not visible.

I was thrilled. When I needed an intermediate telephoto lens on my shoulder for flight or action I could set the exposure manually in advance–the analog scale and everything else in the viewfinder was working fine–and lock the exposure by moving the Off/On switch from the “J” position to “On” position. This great tip from the Mark IV User’s Guide prevents inadvertently changing the settings when carrying a lens on your shoulder. Note: You need to first set C.Fn IV-10-1 to stop the Quick Control dial (I call it the index finger dial) from working. You can find all the details on page 27 of the guide.

I know exposure well enough that being unable to see the histogram on the back of the camera would not be any great handicap. None-the-less, the 5D MII that I had borrowed to use with the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom lens came to the rescue. I began using it on the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens that hung from my shoulder. It was nice to be able to check my MIV exposure settings with the histogram on the 5D MII. I was, however, so impressed with the 5D MII that I began using it as my main camera body (usually but not always on the 300mm f/2.8 II. And for the Bailey Head landing where I needed to travel extremely light, the 5D MII was the only camera that I took ashore. How impressed was I with the new camera: I ordered one through the Explorers of Light program on Friday.

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This image was created with the hand held Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital Camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/250 sec. at f/13 set manually. Central sensor AI Servo Rear Focus and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo.

To avoid having the edge of the Zodiac or the other folks in this image, I had to lean way over the side with the lens less than a foot from the brash ice. To learn more about the circle lens, click here.


You can read my evaluation of the Canon EOS-5D Mark II body here.


Due to four, yes four, last minute cancellations there is now a single opening on this IPT. Please call 863-692-0906 for substantial late registration discount information.

SW FLA IPT. FEB 8-13, 2012. Introductory slide program: 7pm on 2/7. 6-FULL DAYS: $2899. Limit: 10/Openings: 1.

Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole, Randy Stout, and Peter Kes. My bread and butter trip; learn the basics and the advanced fine points from the best; escape winter’s icy grip and enjoy tons of tame birds! Subjects will include nesting Great Blue Heron and Great Egret, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Mottled Duck, Brown and White Pelican at point-blank range, Snowy & Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Osprey, wintering shorbirds and plovers, gulls and terns, & Burrowing Owl. All ridiculously tame.

Click here to learn more about this IPT.

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Roseate Spoonbill incoming in soft light, Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: James Shadle


Simply put there is no better place in the world to photograph Roseate Spoonbill. And know one better to get you there and guide you than James Shadle, my partner in crime at BirdPhotographer’s.Net.

“In the Field Workshops” Workshops and Tours with James Shadle: Tampa Bay’s Original Spoonbill Workshop Leader

Arthur Morris/Birds As Art Approved and Recommended. James is a licensed US Merchant Marine holding an OUPV (6-pack license) from the US Coast Guard.

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White morph Reddish Egret in mega-breeding plumage, Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: James Shadle

Workshops and Tour Rates on the Hooptie Deux:

Full Day

1 Photographer, $450
2 Photographers, $400 each
3-4 Photographers, $350 each

Half Day

1 Photographer, $300
2 Photographers, $275 each
3-4 Photographers, $250 each

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Roseate Spoonbill, mega-breeding plumage adult preening, Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: James Shadle

In most cases James is able to charge the lower rate by booking multi-photographer trips. Each workshop is limited to 4 photographers. Call or write in advance to inquire about group discounts for up to 6 folks (only by prior arrangement). You can get in touch with James for additional info or to schedule a Custom Workshop or Tour via e-mail, by cell phone at (813) 363-2854 or on his home phone (early evenings best) at (813-689-5307). If by cell phone it is best to call back rather than to leave a message.

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Snowy Egret fledgling with fiddler crab, Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: James Shadle

James Shadle’s “In the Field Workshops” is the original Tampa Bay nature photography (by boat) workshop and tour leader. He has an exciting list of locations that will give you the opportunity to create incredible images of dramatic behavior and stunning plumages. He knows the bay better than anyone as he has been doing it longer than anyone and as the images show, he knows how to make great pictures and can teach you to do the same. James owns and operates a 20′ tri-toon boat (The Hooptie Deux) that has been customized specifically for photography workshops. It’s roomy, comfortable, and stable. The boat is equipped with a quiet and environmentally friendly E-Tec outboard motor. It also has a powerful, silent, electric trolling motor with wireless remote control. The boat can be configured with no top for on-board photography or with a bimini top to provide shelter from sun and rain. Refreshments are available at all times.

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Roseate Spoonbill braking to land, Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: James Shadle

You may photograph from the boat; however the best opportunities for spoonbills are almost always when you exit the boat and wade in the shallow water. The bottom is hard but you do of course need to wade slowly and carefully. By wading under James’ careful supervision and with his guidance, you will be able to get much closer to the birds and have more control over light angle and perspective. Waders will be provided for those who need them.

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Roseate Spoonbill, head portrait of adult in breeding plumage with spoonbill pink background, Image courtesy of and copyright 2011: James Shadle

New For The 2012 Season

The Hooptie Deux has been completely re-fitted with new seats, new carpeting, a new sound system and all new safety features. Three new rookery locations are available. New waders and boots are available for client use. You can learn more here.

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