February 10th, 2012


  • Canon Live Learning/EOS Destination Workshop at Bosque del Apache NWR
  • WAY TO GO CES! (Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris)
  • CES/BAA Partnership

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Snow Geese cottonwood blast-off, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NW. This image was created on the morning of 11/20/2011 with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 100. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/2 sec. at f/22 set manually. I panned with the birds. Histogram check via Live View.

Central Sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Lens/camera body Micro-adjustment: +2.

For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

Canon Live Learning/EOS Destination Workshop at Bosque del Apache NWR

I will be doing a 2nd Canon Live Learning Center EOS Destination Workshop: November 30-December 2, 2012 at Bosque del Apache NWR. The program includes in-classroom and in-the-field instruction instruction, tons of great Canon gear free for the borrowing, additional help from a Canon Technical Specialist, group critiques, and a print-making session where you can print one or two of your images from the weekend to take home. Click here for more details or to register. The limit is sixteen and two slots are accounted for already. The last one sold out in about ten seconds so best not to tarry if you seriously wish to join me.

This event will be a perfect complement to the traditional Bosque IPT (November 21-27, 2012). Sign up for both and apply a $200 discount to the IPT. Details here. (See more images from the Bosque 2011 IPT here.)

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This image of the Cheesemans’ Ecology Safari staff working hard to safely control a zodiac was created at Bailey Head, Antarctica with the tripod-mounted Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon 1.4X III TC (at 140mm) and the EOS-5D Mark II. ISO 200: 1/8 sec. at f/22 in Manual mode. A 3-stop ND filter had been placed on the front of the lens in order to get down to 1/8 second.

Central Sensor Rear Focus AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

I had been creating intentional blurs of large groups of Chinstrap Penguins marching towards the sea–see the image below–when I heard the scream “Big wave!” above the roar of the surf. I turned immediately but had missed the big wave hitting the zodiac; I made this image as a second smaller wave struck the boat. With great force. I figured that a slow shutter speed blur might best convey the sense of struggle so I did not attempt to change anything; when faced with unexpected action the very best tack is to shoot first and ask questions later. If you hesitate or think, you almost always wind up with nothing…. The strategy worked well here.

Way to Go CES! (Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris)

Many of you have been enjoying the images from my recently concluded Southern Oceans trip. Do understand that none of the images would have been possible without the planning, help, expertise, and execution of the plan by CES: Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris. The itinerary was a fabulous one. We had more than ample time to photograph at all the great spots; at St. Andrews Bay I was ashore for almost ten hours. When it came to landings and zodiac safety, the Cheesemans’ staff was beyond incredible. The opportunity for catastrophic developments exists with every zodiac landing. That is true in the Galapagos as well but with bigger seas on average in the Southern Oceans the dangers are far greater. Every landing and every exit went smoothly. I had tons of help with my gear. With 96 folks getting into and out of zodiacs as often as three times a day a perfect safety record is what you strive for and that is what occurred: zero injuries, zero gear lost or damaged.

Expedition leader Ted Cheeseman, son of founders Doug and Gail, made all the right calls. When plans needed to be changed out of concern for weather and safety, he made the right call every time; everyone on the trip benefited. The programs were excellent–there was lots of free time on the two long crossings. The two primary photographic leaders were both old friends of mine: Tom Murphy, and Rod Planck. I had not see either of them for more than two decades until I laid eyes on them on the Ortelius. It was great seeing them again and working with them. By attending their programs I learned a ton and changed a few things. Rod’s work was as inspirational as it was when I attended two of his programs in the 1990s; seeing images from the various landing planted many seeds in my head. Tom got me working at ISO 200 in sunny conditions and stopping down a bit more than I usually do. And both of them, having been on many Southern Oceans trips, were chock full of advice as to the best locations on each landing. Nobody is ever too old to learn.

The landing at Bailey Head, Antarctica, was especially rewarding to me as I had been sitting in a zodiac 100 yards off shore on my 2007 trip when the zodiac in front of mine swamped and the captain of the ship called off the landing…. Early that day it looked as if my weather Karma might not be working. Ted’s “Good morning shipmates” was followed by the news that we would not be able to land at Bailey Head that morning as the swell was too big. The beach there is sloped tremendously and the sea strives to pull the zodiacs back into the ocean before folks have gotten off with their gear. Tom Murphy had said to me several days before, “We will get you on the beach at Bailey Head.” Ted concluded his morning greetings by saying, “We are sending out a scout team to see if landing is possible.”

After breakfast I was thrilled to hear Ted’s voice again on the PA, “We will be landing at 8am.” Afterwards folks noted that it was the calmest landing ever at this amazingly beautiful spot. My good weather Karma (courtesy of late-wife Elaine) had come through one last time. Along with St. Andrews Bay, it was one of my two favorite super-great once-in-a-lifetime days of the trip. And we even got to enjoy three additional hours at Hannah Point, Antarctica before calling it a wrap and heading for the feared Drake Passage. All thanks to Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris.

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This image was created at Bailey Head, Antarctica with the tripod-mounted Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon 1.4X III TC (at 270mm) and the EOS-5D Mark II. ISO 200. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the white water: 1/8 sec. at f/13 in Manual mode. A 3-stop ND filter was placed on the front of the lens in order to get down to 1/8 second.

Central Sensor Rear Focus AI Servo AF on the closest penguin and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

CES/BAA Partnership

I am proud to announce that on the afternoon of January 31, 2012 Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris became a BIRDS AS ART sponsor. I am looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Doug, Gail, and Ted and the rest of the Cheesemans’ staff.


Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins is offering a used Canon EOS-1D Mark II in excellent condition for sale for $1150.00. Includes the manual along with one battery and the battery charger. There is a small ding on the lug on the upper left of the camera where the camera strap is inserted. UPS Ground shipping to the continental U.S. is included. Photos of the camera available via e-mail request. You can reach Bob as follows; home phone: 727-363-1687, cell phone: 727-501-6181, or via e-mail.

Elinor Osborn

Elinor Osborn is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS zoom lens in excellent condition for $990. Buyer pays FedEx shipping. Includes original packaging. Lens hood shows use. Rest in excellent condition. Picture available.

Contact Elinor by phone at 802-586-9994 or via e-mail.

Elinor is also offering a used Rod Planck N-VISIBAG Photography Blind with carrying bag, Realtree camo, breathable cotton; fits telephoto lenses up to 600mm: $87.00. Buyer pays FedEx shipping.

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Bald Eagle Sunset Squabble. Image courtesy of and copyright 1020: Robert O’Toole Photography.

For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.



Wed March 21st – Sunday March 25th, 2012, 4.5 DAYS: $2999. Limit 5/Openings: 1

Wed March 28th – Sunday April 1st, 2012, 4.5 DAYS: $2999. Limit 5/Openings: 3

These trips will be based in Homer, AK. You will enjoy virtually unlimited photographic action. This year, most folks opted to miss at least one boat trip due to photographic exhaustion. Robert will provide excellent in-the-field and in-classroom instruction that will include at least two Photoshop sessions. He is expert in both systems: Nikon and Canon.

Things you should know: at the last moment each morning Robert will schedule–weather permitting, and depending on tides and weather–either two 2-hour boat trips or one 4 hour boat trip. 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. The group will 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 the weather is unexpectedly bad). The dates were chosen carefully with regards to weather. Temps should be moderate to cold with a mix of sun, clouds, and possibly some drizzle. Snow is possible on either trip. That said we will be going to Alaska and there is always a chance, a very small chance, that it might pour every day that you are there. Robert will collect 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.

If you have additional questions or if you wish to register please call Robert on his cell phone at 310-619-8017 or contact him via e-mail.

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The above image is a rare one as Denise does not like being photographed…. She is pulling a fully loaded Eckla Beach Rolly alongside the Barnegat Jetty.


When I was on Long Island two weeks ago my shoulders as previously noted were hurting quite a bit due to too much swimming to soon after I got home from Bosque. No surprise there. I rested a lot while visiting New York but wanted to get in one last trip to the Barnegat Jetty. But I was concerned that the almost mile-long walk with the 800 on my shoulder might not be the smartest thing for me to do. Denise Ippolito saved the day with a suggestion. She volunteered to bring along her customized Eckla Beach Rolly and met me at the jetty. We put both of our big lenses in the rolly along with both tripods and Denise rolled the whole shebang rather easily through one mile of soft sand. I felt like the King of Siam walking along with no tripod and nothing on my shoulder. Thanks Lady D! She was pretty much amazed at how easily it rolled. Don’t get me wrong: Denise is in great shape but she was a bit tired after the long haul out and the long haul back.

That said I could not have made it without her help, and she could not have made it without her Eckla Beach Rolly. I envision several uses for my Beach Rolly. It will be great at places with boardwalks like the St Augustine Alligator Farm and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. You will be able to bring pretty much all of your lenses, and an extra body or two, your flash and accessories, and heck, you can even bring your lunch. On various Florida beaches where you are routinely walking good distances you will be able to do the same. Do realize that my shoulder problem started about eight years ago after twenty years of carrying big glass on a tripod all on my right shoulder… Not too smart. I wish I had had a Beach Rolly back then.

You can learn more about this great product or purchase one by clicking here. See below for accessory details.

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Above is the fully packed Beach Rolly: Denise’s 500mm f/4L IS is on your left, my 800mm f/5.6 L IS on the right in an old Domke Bag. I am still trying to talk Scott Elowitz of LensCoat into making something very similar. My Gitzo 3530LS Carbon Fiber tripod with the Mongoose M3.6 attached is on your left, Denise’s with the Wimberley V-2 is on the right. See details on the Eckla Cargo Net, the Eckla Multi Holding Bar, and the Staples Milk Crate below.

Denise customized here Beach Rolly Gear Cart by adding a black plastic milk crate from Staples. It is 11 1/2″H x 13 7/8″W x 16 7/8″D. Yours for only $7.99 here. The milk crate keeps everything in the cart. The Cargo Net keeps stuff safely in place and allows you to overload your rolly without fear :), and the tripods are attached snugly by the Multi-holding Bar. All is all is it a neat set-up that can make your life a lot easier. Please leave a comment and let us know how you use or will be using your Eckla Beach Rolly Gear Cart. (Note: I tried the Eckla Eagle Car Door Camera Support and did not like it at all. I far prefer the BLUBB for car as blind work.)


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Click here or on the picture above to double the value of your instant rebate on a variety of Canon lenses and Speedlites when you purchase a qualifying dSLR digital camera body; included are two of my favorites: the EOS-7D and the EOS-5D Mark II.

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