November 16th, 2013


  • Chilean Patagonia Trip Report
  • 300 II or 200-400 with Internal Extender?
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens
  • BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition
  • BAA Site Guide Kudos
  • 2014 Tanzania Summer Safari
  • Flight Plan
  • Alan Murphy Guides
  • Affiliate Links

This 3-frame in-camera Art Vivid HDR image of the Paine massif and its reflection was created at Torres del Paine National Park, Chile with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus lens (at 18mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop yielded a base exposure of: 1/80 sec. at f/22 in Av mode (+/- 2 stops).

Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF 1/3 of the way into the frame and recompose. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

When the possibility of doing some serious land-scape or bird-scape work with a short lens exists, I make sure to have a Wimberley P-5 plate and my Giottos MH 1302-655 Ballhead in my vest. It takes less than two minutes to mount the plate on the camera body, spin off the Mongoose M3.6, and replace it with the tiny ballhead.

Chilean Patagonia Trip Report

Denise Ippolito and I spoke at the Avistar Patagonia Bird Photography Festival two weeks ago. It was a superbly organized event that brought together a group of folks (many from Brazil and Argentina) interested in birds including avid photographers, avid birders, and others who enjoy the natural world. The cast of leaders and presenters was exceptional. They included renowned bird photographer David Tipling, Brazil’s top bird photographers Edson Endrigo and Octavio Campos, Photoshop and creative photographer Denise Ippolito, yours truly, and others. All of the programs were top notch and interesting and the field trips brought attendees to some great locations mostly in the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. The field trips were a fine introduction to various sections of the park.

Like Wide Angle Landscapes?

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These copulating Silvery Grebes were photographed at a small pond in Torres del Paine National Park with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/500 sec. at f/13 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the side of the upper breast and re-compose. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Having missed a chance to photograph this beautiful species on my last trip to the Falkland Islands I was thrilled to spend four afternoons with them in Torres del Paine.

Torres del Paine

We spent our second week with our skilled guides, Rodrigo Moraga and Cristina Trugeda; we all quickly became great friends. Rodrigo and Cristina shared their favorite animals, birds, and views of the park with us. While they are skilled puma trackers we opted to enjoy the great diversity of beauty in the park rather than get up at 3am every day for puma obsession. As many of their clients do. We stayed at EcoCamp Patagonia. The location was great with all of the bird photography hotspots easily accessible by car. Minutes before we arrived a puma had walked right through camp. The first morning that I peeked my head out of our dome I was greeted by the site of a tiny Austral Pygmy Owl perched on a rock in front of the next tent. Best advice: if you opt to stay at Eco Camp be sure to stay in either a Suite Dome or a Superior Dome. EcoCamp offers a great variety of tours and treks.

As the images here and in recent blog posts show, we had a great time in Chilean Patagonia.


This tight head portrait of a resting American Oystercatcher was photographed at James Bay, Puerto Egas, Santiago, Galapagos with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/50 sec. at f/11 in Av mode.

As normal AF is impossible at f/11 accurate focus was achieved by auto-focusing in Live View using contrast on the sensor. Click on the image to see a larger version.

300 II or 200-400 with Internal Extender?

If you can only own one, and you do not have a 500 or a 600, which is best for you?

Here is an e-mail exchange with Barry Ekstrand:

am: Hi Barry, Just got back from Chile.

be: Please forgive this unsolicited request for assistance advice!

am: Join the club :).

be: I sent a note to you at your address, but also see on the BAA website that you direct equipment questions to the verizon email address. As I’ve come up with another question I am re-sending with an updated set of questions below. Thanks in advance if you are able to help. To begin with, I read your blog post about using the stacked 1.4x III TC & 2.0x III TCs with an extension tube on the 600 f4L II lens with your 1DX, and finding that you could focus to infinity if you put the 2.0x on the lens and 1.4x on the body. You indicated that you were going to test it out with the 300mm f2.8L II as well. First question: am I understanding correctly that it focused to infinity and AF worked?

am: No. You can focus manually to infinity or, if there is enough contrast, you can focus using contrast off the sensor using many of the newer cameras.

be: I have a 5D Mark III and am looking to get my first ‘big’ lens (currently I have the old 400mm f5.6). I am trying to find a compromise in some flexibility in range of lens focal lengths (possibly via TCs), lens speed, and AF capability (tough to do but necessary as I’m only going to be able to get one lens for the forseeable future). I rented a 600mm f4L II and got wonderful photos but found it too big to hand hold for me. As a result, I have been interested in the 200mm-400mm f4L II lens with internal 1.4x TC with a 1.4x series III TC (your blog pics with that lens and external TC are great).

am: Agree :).

be: I know this lens is still heavy but shorter and I think that will help me; I may rent one just to be sure). I am also interested in the 300mm f2.8L II with series III TCs / extension tube.

am: Great lens with either TC. Super-sharp. And easily hand hold-able by most folks.

be: Second question: I want to ask, if you haven’t already tested these combinations, could you possibly try the stacked series III TCs with extension tube on the 300mm f2.8L II lens on your 5D Mark III body to see how the focus to infinity / AF works?

am: First off, that is not a combination that we would recommend for everyday photography. If it does indeed focus–theoretically, it should–AF would be slow at best and would require lots of contrast. Note however that I just sold my 300mm f/2.8L IS to a guy from Argentina. I will be getting another one before my Japan trip early next year and will try to remember to check things out and to let everyone know.

be: Although I am led to believe the 5D Mark III should autofocus (or not autofocus) the same as the 1DX, as you know nothing beats actual data on how it works.

am: AF is the same (to f/8) as long as you have a camera with the latest software. The 1D X offers a fast frame rate and more battery power to drive AF a bit faster (especially with TCs).

be: Third question–I posted this on BPN but the only response was to try emailing you): on the 200mm-400mm f4L II lens with internal 1.4x TC lens, is the resulting image sharper when using the external 1.4x TC III and internal 1.4x TC together, or when just using the 2.0x TC III without the internal TC?

am: I have never tried the 2-4 with the 2X other than once focusing with the internal TC in place (as in the oystercatcher image above). Sharpness was surprising. I doubt that you would be able to tell the difference between the two images.

File: American Oystercatcher tight close-up of head of sleeping bird _09U3664 James Bay, Puerto Egas, Santiago, Galapagos.tif
File size: 51.3MB
Camera Model: Canon EOS-1D X
Camera serial number: 082015001809
Date/Time: 2013:07:15 08:39:37
Shutter speed: 1/50 sec
Aperture: 11
Exposure compensation: -2/3
Flash: Off
ISO: 400
Lens: EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT +2x III
Focal length: 1120mm
Image size: 5184 x 3456
Color space: AdobeRGB
Color profile: Adobe RGB (1998)

am: The 1/50 sec. shutter speed at f/11 at 1120mm reminds me that the skill of the operator is more important than the gear….

be: The reason for my question is, either way you would have the same 2x magnification (that is, I believe the 1.4x TCs are actually 1.414x, as in the square root of 2).

am: Pretty darned close actually.

be: I am guessing you would be passing the light through less glass if you used the 2.0x TC III without the internal TC, and as a result could potentially get a slightly better image.
I doubt it.
I also realize potential is not necessarily reality, and it all comes down to the precision of the magnification lens(es) in determining whether either approach is any better and if so, by how much. But I have not seen any photos with this lens and the 2.0x TC III posted, hence the question. Have you tried and compared by any chance?

am: No.

be: On the 200mm-400mm f4L II with internal 1.4x TC plus external 1.4x series III TC: have you had any AF issues at all with this combination on the 5D Mark III body? I just want to check in case I missed a post about it.

am: None.

be: If AF works well with these lenses with the TCs, I would have working ranges of either 300mm (at f2.8) – 840mm (at f8), or 200mm (at f4) – 784mm (at f8). Both of these ranges, if with sharp photos, would be a big gain in flexibility for me as compared to where I am today.

am: Your reasoning is off as you have neglected 1120 with the 2-4 with manual focus and you do not know if AF will work with 300 II and stacked TCs.
Finally, the last question, if you have tested these combos: how would you compare the image sharpness of these 2 different combos at each longest focal length (i.e., 840mm vs. 784mm).

I have not used the 300 2.8 II with stacked TCs…. And again, I would not recommend it for everyday shooting.

be: Artie, I truly don’t mean to impose on you, but I’m hoping you have the same desire as I do to understand how the 5D Mark III will fare in this testing with these lenses and TCs/extension tube, and since you have the hardware…… And of course, this information would be very helpful to me as I consider my options for the big purchase.

am: Again, the skill and sharpness techniques of the operator are much more important than the sharpness of the various rigs either practically or theoretically.
I thank you in advance for considering it.

Here is my simple analysis:

The 300 f/2.8 offers lower price, lighter weight, greater ease of travel, super sharpness with either the 1.4X or 2X III TC, and hand hold-ability that the 2-4 does not.

The 200-400 with internal TC offers much greater weight and size but with much greater versatility and longer effective focal lengths across the board (contrary to your reasoning above).

Again, without considering the unwieldy stacked TC combos the math is simple 300 X 2 = 600, 400 X 1.4 X 1.4 = 784mm. 784 is greater than 600. By the square of the focal length no less….

I am very much hoping that you have not made your purchase and that when you do, that you use one of our B&H affiliate links. We ask folks who enjoy the blog and send long e-mails with many questions to do so as a way of thanking us and a way of earning free contest entries.

Here they are:

Canon 300mm f/2/8 L IS II lens

Canon 200-400mm f/4 L IS lens with Internal TC

Please remember, web orders only. Please send me your B&H receipts to me via e-mail so that we can send you your free contest entries. And let me know if you need links for the Series III TCs.

later and love and sorry that I took so long to get back from Torres del Paine.


This Torres del Paine image that was created with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter) (at 155mm), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/7.1.

Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus/Surround AF on the tip of the left hand tower and re-compose. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

See more 70-200 II imageshere. And if you do not own a 70-200 II see the great B&H deal immediately below.

Insane Deal on One of My Very Favorite Lenses

This amazing offers expires soon!

Right now B&H is offering one of my very favorite lenses, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, at the ridiculously low price of only $1899.00 The regular price is $2499.00. They are offering a limited quantity as follows: after clicking on one of the BAA affiliate links here proceed to checkout to receive the $2199.00 price. Follow that up with the mail-in-rebate $300.00. When the smoke clears you will own this great lens for only $1899. The rebate is good only for US purchasers. The $1899 is the lowest ever price anywhere. Get one today and earn a free contest entry.

Note: the rebate is good only for US purchasers. If you missed this blog post, ” Scenic, Wildlife, & B-roll Versatility,” click here. It featured a variety of images created at Torres del Paine with my 70-200 II,


I have the 70-200II with me on every trip. I use it as above for scenics and habitat images. I use it to create bird scapes and images of groups of birds, for flight images of single birds with either TC and often with the 1.4X III TC for flocks in flight and for blast off blurs. It is a great travel and all purpose nature and wildlife lens. It is rare that I am in the field without having the 70-200 II on my shoulder via the Black Rapid S-7 strap.


BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition

Learn more and enter the BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition here. Twenty-five great prizes including the $1000 Grand Prize and intense competition. Bring your best.

BAA Site Guide Kudos

BAA Sites Guides are designed to save you time when visiting relatively new sites. Having a BAA Site Guide in hand or on your laptop while photographing at various locations is the next best thing to being on an IPT. I, or the author, share years of local knowledge with you: where to be and when, how the weather and especially the wind affects each location, what species you will get to photograph, and the best lenses and techniques to use.

Here are the currently available Site Guides: the super-popular right now Bosque Site Guide, the Antarctica Site Guide, the Merritt Island/Brevard County Site Guide, the Central Florida Site Guide, the San Diego Site Guide, the Ohio Site Guide, the ever-popular Southwest Florida Site Guide, the Fort DeSoto Site Guide, the Barrow, AK Site Guide, the Michigan Site Guide, the Barnegat Jetty Site Guide, the Ontario Landscapes Guide, the Nome, AK Site Guide, and the Morro Bay Site Guide.

Have some folks complained that Site Guides are priced too high? For sure. But your time is valuable and knowledge is power. Maximize your photographic productivity by getting yourself a BAA Site Guide for your next dream trip.

Here are a few recent Site Guide-ralated e-mails:

From Robert O’Brien:

Artie: Per your request, I wanted to follow up and give you some feedback on my Morro Bay trip and your very helpful site guide. My rating on the Site Guide is pretty simple — I give it a 5 thumbs-up. It was spot-on and extremely helpful, well worth the bucks. I studied it carefully before I left and included a lot of Google map and other online natural history study of the area as well before taking off.

By the time I arrived, I was well grooved in on the key spots and how to get there. The driving directions were real precise and easy to follow as well. Even the restaurant recommendations were very good (Bayside Cafe at the marina — extremely friendly and welcoming with a great menu; and Frankie and Lola’s near the Rock).
Also, the Elephant Seal rookery recommendation was a great reminder on the last page. I’d been by there 10 years ago w/my kids but likely would have overlooked returning had his tip not been included. It turned out to be a real trip highlight for my daughter and her boyfriend who both got some good shots of the pups and adolescents doing their thing.

I was at Morro Bay for 3 days, 3 nights, Oct 11-14.

Since I met my daughter from L.A. and her boyfriend there, I was somewhat limited with shooting time, though i did get to Estuary Point (a fabulous spot w/ NOBODY there) twice during receding and low tides (one mid-morning and a late morning to mid-afternoon). And 2-3 mornings and one evening at Strand Beach at the Rock.

Estuary Point

My favorite spot, by far. The heads up in the Guide on what to look for on the trail out to the point was great. I did spot some White-crowned Sparrows, though no Anna’s Hummingbirds on my way out the trail, mainly because i didn’t linger much there. That whole estuary area out there would be well worth several days (or weeks) worth of hanging out for some good photo opps, given the time. I believe I spent easily 4-5 hours out there on my 2 jaunts, and only left because of family and travel commitments. It was my kind of nature hang-out spot — really hard to leave. (I have the same sentiments about Fort DeSoto which I’ve visited many, many time over the years. That’ll be the next Site Guide I buy before my next trip back down there.)

Notes on the Mud at Estuary Point

I bought the NEOS Overshoes from your store as recommended, but did not need them after all. And I ventured out through the mud pretty adventurously at low tide on both days out there and found the mud pretty compacted — only sinking 1/4 to 1/2 inch at the most. Given your credibly dire warnings in the Guide I wondered how that could be. I guessed rainfall (ie., moving mud out into the estuary), then did my research after the fact and discovered, sure enough, I was there at the end of the driest season — summer through early fall (see attached map and annual area rainfall graph below). Looks like late winter through spring would be the wettest and muddiest in the estuaries. I can see now how from early to late spring during and after the heaviest rainfall, Los Osos and Chorro Creeks and others could really deposit lots of fresh mud out there. (I’d be curious how the seasonal rainfall trends affect the various life cycles out there at the estuary and perhaps affect the bird species variations. Would take a local to observe that.)
In any case, no regrets on the NEOS purchase. They weren’t expensive and have been stowed easily under the back seat of my SUV for future needs

Thanks so much for the great guide. Bob.

Notes: Bob kindly included a monthly rainfall map, a bird list, and a selection of images. You will not find “Estuary Point” on any map but mine as it is a name that I created (as I love to do). As for the mud there, I’m not sure if Bob was there on the lowest tides or not but his rainfall explanation seems to fit. If you are there in winter or spring beware the warnings in the guide….

From Michael Kuijl, The Netherlands

Hi Arthur,

I just received the Merritt Island Site Guide on CD. Reading through this, I can only say, great stuff. Also love the SW Florida Site Guide. I have only a limited limited time to travel through Florida this December so it’s great that you write these guides.

Hope to ever bump into you 🙂

Best Regards, Michael

2014 Tanzania Summer Safari

If you are interested in joining us in Tanzania next summer please shoot me an e-mail and I will be glad to forward you the PDF with dates, itinerary, and price.


This image of a young Andean Condor in flight was created with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the sky: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

Central sensor Surround/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s face active at themoment of exposure. Click here to see the new version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Note that when you push the histogram to the right that high ISO noise performance is maximized.



Flight Plan

I can say without a doubt that after spending more than two months (part time) editing Jim Neiger’s great e-Guide, Flight Plan, that my flight photography has improved by leaps and bound whether I am working off a tripod or hand holding. His explanation of the bumping the focus technique finally sunk in. Learning to use this technique regularly is a huge help for any all types of flight photography.

You can learn more about Flight Plan here or order a copy by clicking here.


This male Striped Woodpecker image was created at Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/400 sec. at f/10 in Av mode.

Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the bird’s belly active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Alan Murphy Guides

The image above was created using a variety of techniques from Alan Murphy’s second e-Guide which details the proper use of audio playback. In his first guide, Guide to Songbird Set-Up Photography (106 pages), he taught the world to create killer images at backyard set-ups. In his second e-Guide, “The Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds,” Alan expanded upon topics covered in the fist guide and added new methods and techniques as well. As I proofread this new e-Book for readability, I was amazed not only by the images, but by Alan’s innovative and creative techniques. Heck, in many cases, I was stunned by his cleverness. To learn more about the creation of Alan’s 2nd great eBook, click here. This great e-Guide is available by download for $50. Click on the link below to get your copy. (PayPal payments are accepted.)

Buy Now

Note: those who would like to purchase both books via download can click on the link immediately above and save $10 on the combo.

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IPT Info

Many of our great trips are filling up. See especially the late registration details for the Bosque IPT Two great leaders ensure that you will not learn more anywhere about how to make great images.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo Tours (IPTs)

Click here for BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) General Information.

Click here for BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) Deposit and Cancellation Policies.

Click here for BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) Registration and Release Forms.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Please scroll down for info on each of the following:

  • Gatorland Mini-IPT: 1 1/2 days: AM and PM shooting sessions on Saturday, March 4 and a morning session on Sunday, March 5.
  • BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of April 22, 2017: $99
  • Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19, 2017 (meet & greet and afternoon session) through the full day on April 22, 2017. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599.
  • 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT, July 3-10, 2017: $5999.
  • 2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPT: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699
  • 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour: June 8-14, 2017: $2,499
  • GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. August 8-22, 2017 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half DAYS of photography: $12,499. Limit: 12 photographers plus the leader: yours truly. Sold out!.
  • 2018 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT: Monday, JAN 15 thru and including the morning session on Friday, JAN 19, 2018: 4 1/2 days: $2099

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Great Egrets in breeding plumage are a beautiful sight …

Gatorland Mini-IPT: 1 1/2 days: AM and PM shooting sessions on Saturday, March 4 and a morning session on Sunday, March 5: $749. Limit 6/Openings 4.

Join me in Kissimmee, FL in early March, prime time to to photograph Great Egrets in breeding plumage. We should get to make lots of head portraits with most any lens and to photograph them building nests, displaying, copulating, and flying. Eggs for sure. Tiny chicks likely. And most likely breeding Wood Storks as well. Learn to see, find, and make the shot in cluttered settings. Learn exposure and how to handle the WHITEs. Learn fill flash and flash as main light. Includes a working lunch on me on Saturday with image review and Photoshop. We may see and photograph some early Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons. And of course, we will see and photograph the captive American Alligators. All of the birds are free and wild.

To pay in full via credit card, call Jim or Jen in the office weekdays at 863-692-0906. You will be responsible for the cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s pass. Early entry both mornings and late stay on Saturday.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

I will be offering small group (Limit 3) Photoshop sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning if necessary. Details on that TBA.

Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.

We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

The group will be staying at the Red Roof Inn, St. Petersburg: 4999 34th St. North, St Petersburg, FL 33714. The place is clean and quite inexpensive. Please e-mail for room block information. And please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99

Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of April 22, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of April 22, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


Images and card copyright Arthur Morris/BEARS AS ART 🙂

2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPTs: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings 3.

Join me in spectacular Katmai National Park, AK for six days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears. Mid-July is prime time for making images of small, football-sized cubs. The cubs, and these dates, are so popular that I had to reserve them three years in advance to secure them. There are lots of bears each year in June, but the mothers only rarely risk bringing their tiny cubs out in the open in fear of predation by rival bears. In addition to making portraits of both adults and cubs, we hope to photograph frolicking and squabbling youngsters and tender nursing scenes. At this time of year, the bears are either grazing in luxuriant grass or clamming. There will also be some two- and three-year old cubs to add to the fun. And we will get to photograph it all.

We will live on our tour operator’s luxurious new boat. At 78 feet long its 24 foot beam makes it quite spacious as well. And the food is great. We will likely spend most of our time at famed Geographic Harbor as that is where the bears are generally concentrated in summer. On the odd chance that we do need to relocate to another location we can do so quickly and easily without having to venture into any potentially rough seas. We land via a 25 foot skiff that has lots of room for as much gear as we can carry.

Aside from the bears we should get to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin and should get nice stuff on Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Harbor Seal, and Steller’s Sea Lion as well. A variety of tundra-nesting shorebirds including Western Sandpiper and both yellowlegs are also possible. Halibut fishing (license required/not included) is optional.

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 17 to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of July 18. Again, with air travel in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter) subject to possible delays, being on Kodiak on July 16 is a much better plan.

Barring any delays, we will get to photograph bears on our first afternoon and then again every day for the next five days after that, all weather permitting of course. On our last morning on the boat, July 24, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will have the opportunity to do so. The group will return to Kodiak via float plane from late morning through midday. Most folks will then fly to Anchorage and to continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

What’s included? 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. National Park and guide fees. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional nature photographer; 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 informal Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). Your lodging and meals on Kodiak. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat and then back to Kodiak as above. The cost of a round trip last year was $550. The suggested crew tip of $200.

Have you ever walked with the bears?

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 5 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….), it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “BIRDS AS ART” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

Your deposit is due when you sign up. That leaves a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on September 15, 2016. The final payment of $2000 is due on February 15, 2017. I hope that you can join me for what will be a wondrously exciting trip.


Palouse 2016 Horizontals Card

Why Different?

Announcing the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour

In what ways will the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour be different from the most other Palouse workshops?

There are so many great locations that a seven-day IPT (as opposed to the typical three- or five-day workshops) will give the group time to visit (and revisit) many of the best spots while allowing you to maximize your air travel dollars. In addition, it will allow us to enjoy a slightly more relaxed pace.

You will be assured of being in the right location for the given weather and sky conditions.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills.

You will learn to design powerful, graphic images.

You will visit all of the iconic locations and a few spectacular ones that are much less frequently visited.

You will learn long lens landscape techniques.

You will learn to master any exposure situation in one minute or less.

You will learn the fine points of Canon in-camera (5D Mark III, 5DS R, and 7D II) HDR techniques.

You will be able to share a variety of my exotic Canon lenses including the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens and the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens, aka the “circle lens.”

You will learn to use your longest focal lengths to create rolling field and Urbex abstracts.

You will learn when and how to use a variety of neutral density filters to create pleasing blurs of the Palouse’s gorgeous rolling farmlands.

As always, you will learn to see like a pro. You will learn what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time. You will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images.

You will learn to use super-wide lenses both for big skies and building interiors.

You will learn when, why, and how to use infrared capture; if you do not own an infrared body, you will get to borrow mine.

You will learn to use both backlight and side-light to create powerful and dramatic landscape images.


Palouse 2016 Verticals Card

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour
June 8-14, 2017. Seven full days of photography. Meet and greet at 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 7: $2,499. Limit 10/Openings: 7.

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will enjoy spectacular sunrises and at least one nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. I will bring you to more than a few really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join me for this trip. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

Over the past three years, with the help of a friend, we found all the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and vistas. What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, my extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions. As above, there will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before the workshop begins.

To Sign Up

Your non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold your spot. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining this IPT. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours to arrange for the payment of your deposit; if by check, please make out to “BIRDS AS ART” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail: artie.

Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options. You can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


Tame birds and wildlife. Incredible diversity. You only live once…

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. August 8-22, 2017 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit: 12 photographers plus the leader: yours truly. Sold out!

Same great trip; no price increase!

My two-week Galapagos Photo-Cruises are without equal. The world’s best guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), and two great leaders with ten Galapagos cruises under their belts. Pre-trip and pre-landing location-specific gear advice. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea!

The great spots that we will visit 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. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour for nesting Blue-footed Boobies in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus tons more. And there will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny mid-days for those like me who wish to partake.

It is extremely likely that we will visit the incredible Darwin Bay and the equally incredible Hood Island, world home of Waved Albatross twice on our voyage. The National Park Service takes its sweet time in approving such schedule changes.

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 skies, we will often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip most snorkeled with a mega-pod of dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me. Note: some of the walks are a bit difficult but can be made by anyone if half way decent shape. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400. I sometimes bring a longer lens ashore depending on the landing. In 2017 I will be bring the Canon 400mm IS DO II lens. In the past I have brought either the 300mm f/2.8L IS II or the 200-400mm f/4 L IS with Internal Extender.


Do consider joining me for this once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago. There simply is no finer Galapagos photography trip. Learn why above.

An Amazing Value…

Do know that there are one week Galapagos trips for $8500! Thus, our trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations?

The Logistics

August 6, 2017: We arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat in case of a travel delay.

August 7, 2017: There will be an introductory Galapagos Photography session and a hands on exposure session at our hotel.

August 8, 2017: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2015 trip some people made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

August 22, 2017: We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of August 23 unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the 22nd).

$12,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/16. The final payment of $3449 per person will be due on 2/1/17. A $200 discount will be applied to each of the balances for couples or friends who register at the same time.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and a $600/person cash tip for the crew and the guide—this works out to roughly $40/day to be shared by the 7 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.

Please e-mail for the tentative itinerary or with questions. Please cut and paste “Galapagos 2017 Tentative Itinerary Please” into the Subject line.

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2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT: Monday, JAN 15 thru and including the morning session on Friday, JAN 19, 2018: 4 1/2 days: $2099.

Limit: 8: Openings: 4

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Sunday, Jan 14, 2018.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//2016. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

8 comments to BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #451

  • avatar Marc Lombardi

    Awesome silvery grebes!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Marc. You remembered! I have a zillion more great ones :). I will be posting at least a few more. artie

  • avatar David Policanskjy

    Thanks as always, Artie. Having used (your) 300 f/2.8L with (your) 2X TC on my 7D, I can vouch for the sharpness of the combo, which frankly surprised me. It was much sharper in my hands and on my camera than a 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L was, and probably sharper than a 400 f/5.6L. AF speed and accuracy seemed fine as well. But after using the lens/TC combo for a day and a half, my back hurt. That’s a long time, I know, to hand-hold a lens, but the 300 f/2.8L is quite heavy. Nonetheless, for short periods it’s quite feasible to handhold.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You back would have hut a lot more hand holding the 200-400 🙂 And if you sit and use the human knee pod it is a lot easier :).

  • avatar Gary S Meredith

    Hello Artie

    How good does the Kenko 2 X ( pro 300 ) tele-converter do compaired to the Canon 2x III
    I would like using the Kenko because it will have all of the 61 points active with the
    EOS 1 Dx while the Canon only has the center & the 5 points , I am using my 500 F4.0
    ( old version ) can’t afford the new version II yet .

    Gary S Meredith

  • avatar Joel Haas

    New topic. Lowe Pro Road Runner vs. Think Tank Airport Security 2.0. Blog/Bulletin searches reveal comments involving watch caps in Road Runner and neoprene pouches/bags in Think Tank. Is there a real difference?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Joel, I have not used the old Road Runner for many, many years. Presently I use a combination of watch caps and LensCoat products to protect my gear in the two Think Tank bags. Many folks prefer the LensCoat BodyBags, TravelCoats, hoodies, LensBags and pouches, etc. Al but my shorter intermediate zoom telephoto lenses have Hardwood Snow Lens Coats on them and all of my tripods have LensCoat tripod covers. Folks can learn about all the great LensCoat products here.