Arthur Morris / Birds as Art
Bulletins and Notes Archive
Click any image to enlarge it
Bulletins and Notes Archive
BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE Bulletin 53 August 26, 2001
QUESTIONS from Bulletin subscribers with my
I am 23 yrs old, in seminary studying to be a
missionary or a pastor. I am married and my wife
is currently supporting us on her elementary
school teacher's salary (i.e., not much). I have
recently developed a love for photography and am
particularly draw to the out of doors and love
I have done a good bit of reading about general
photographic techniques, exposure, etc. over the
last year as well as specifically on
nature photography. For the most part, all that I
have heard about professional nature/wildlife
photography is negative, lots of travel, little
time with family, inconsistent income, etc., etc.
Could you give me some reasons why I should pursue
professional nature photography?
I shall be totally honest with you. I cannot give
you one single reason why you should
pursue professional photography, but I can tell
you hundreds of reasons why I love it: I love
birds. I love photography. My business grossed
more than $1/4 million in 1999 and 2000, and will
gross close to $1/3 million this year. In the
nature photography community, I am somewhat well
known (and I enjoy that). I am, for the most
part, highly respected for what I do. My older
daughter runs my business and I have one
other employee. I love the process of photography
and I love being in the field with the birds. I
love the out of doors, especially the seashore. I
enjoy teaching and meeting and influencing dozens,
even hundreds of aspiring of nature photographers
each year, and I enjoy seeing their (often
amazing) photographs. I travel a lot, but I enjoy
travel. I am away from home a lot, but I enjoy
being on the road. I work very, very hard, often
well past the point
of exhaustion on my Instructional Photo-Tours--and
often 14-16 hours a day. It is the same when I am
at work in my home-office, but I even enjoy the
office work, and, the fruits of all that labor are
The downsides? I travel a lot. I am away from
home a lot. I work very, very hard, often past
the point of exhaustion on my
Instructional Photo-Tours, and often 14-16 hours a
day in the office when I am at home.
But all in all--as far as I am concerned--I have
the best job on the planet. Should you pursue
nature photography as a career? I have no idea.
You are the only one who could answer that
question. I laugh when I hear all of those nature
photographers who complain about their chosen
profession, especially those who complain that the
competition is too fierce and that the "beginners"
are giving away their images for $10 a pop. The
truth is that there are hundreds of
untapped markets out there. As well as BIRDS AS
ART is doing, marketing is our weakest link... I
know 1,000 ways to make more money, but I am
having too much fun doing exactly what I am
One last thought: It has not been easy to get
where I am today, but I am happy with the past, am
enjoying the present, and am looking forward with
great anticipation to the future and what it may
Exposure Questions Answered
CM: I have summarized your exposure comments from the
instructional slide show that you did for us on St. Paul
Island in Alaska's Pribilofs. The program was absolutely
superb & comprehensive.
AM: Thank you much.
CM: Could you please just check for the accuracy of my
statements and answer my questions?
CM: With regards to Canon;s Evaluative Metering
System--and to the matrix or honey-combed metering
patterns of most other manufacturer's cameras as well
including the Nikon F-100 (but not to the F-5):
1. Evaluative metering is programmed to expose correctly
for high intensity white (in full sun) without any
the softer light of dawn or before sunset white is not
seen as white by the meter and the photographer must open
up 1/3 to 2/3 stops.
AM: That is correct to some degree, but, you would need +1
or even +1 1/3 in extreme conditions with overall white
scenes and subjects, especially in cloudy or heavy
3: CM: On cloudy-bright or somewhat hazy days would you
add 1/3 or 2/3 stops of light to overall white scenes and
that is pretty accurate.
4. With darker backgrounds, is it always correct to stop
down by (underexpose) by 1/3 to 2/3 (-1/3 or -2/3 stops
AM: Yes, usually -1/3 is fine, but -2/3 or even more with
small bright white highlights that do not influence the
5. CM: I understand that you feel that many shades or
green are darker than we perceive them, and that we must,
therefore, underexpose by 1/3 stop.
is correct; beware especially of dark green reflections.
Evaluative meters concentrate on the center portion of the
image, therefore, dark colors or black in the corners can
Though that statement is pretty much true, I do not
believe that I ever stated that directly, nor do I
consider it to be a cornerstone for those seeking to
understand exposure theory.
What I have said over and over is that if there is a large
black subject in the center of the viewfinder, you would
need to subtract 1/3 or even 2/3 of a stop (or more), the
latter (again) if there were small bright (white or
yellow) highlights present in the frame. Do note that all
of the above (and in numbers 4 & 5 as well) are true for
sunny conditions; less (or in some cases, no)
underexposure is needed when working in soft light or
that my comments have helped. As a Nikon F-5 user, your
are to be commended for studying exposure theory so
thoroughly. As good as the F-5's RGB color matrix meter
is, it is not perfect; understanding exposure theory will
help you to know when to over-ride your meter and allow
you to make perfect exposures in most situations.
Remember, the F-5's biggest problems occur with bright
white subjects in full sun against middle or middle-dark
backgrounds. You do need to subtract from 1/3 to 2/3
stops of light in these instances to hold the detail in
beginning and intermediate photographers who are
scratching their heads at this point asking what the heck
are they talking about?," I would strongly suggest
ordering a signed copy of "The Art of Bird Photography"
off of the web site (www.birdsasart.com)
and studying the chapter on exposure until you are sick of
it. On a final note, the re-design of our folding,
laminated Pocket Guide to Canon Evaluative Metering
Systems has begun and we should have the finished guides
in here in Indian Lake Estates in about two months. We
will--of course--advise via this Bulletin.
Flash with Provia F 100
read your book "The Art of Bird Photography" and bulletin
#44 and am very confused...In bulletin #44 you write that
you use Velvia (pushed 1 stop) in low light and on dreary
days when NOT using flash...yet with Provia 100F you write
that many of the fill flash images are overexposed (when
flash exactly as with Velvia. What gives?
AM: I am still struggling with the possibility that Provia
F 100 may need slightly less flash than Velvia in
identical situations. I have an idea as to why many of my
Churchill images were flash-overexposed, but I need to
speak to Canon rep or two to see if they agree with my
reasoning. (I made lots of excellent flash images with
Provia F 100 pushed one or two stops both before and after
my problems at Churchill.)
J: Do you not use fill flash with Velvia pushed 1 stop?
AM: Yes I do, most often in cloudy bright conditions where
shutter speed is not a concern.
[ Bulletin Archive