September 14th, 2009

Birds As Art Bulletin #298



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Brown Bear with fresh-caught Pink or Hump-backed Salmon and Mew Gull, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400m f/4IS DO lens with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 500. Evaluative metering + 2 2/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/5. 6.

The 400 DO proved to be a superb lens for the bears. At times I hand held it and at times it was mounted on the Gitzo 3530 LS topped with a Mongoose M3.5. For this image I believe that I was on the tripod…. The Mew Gulls visit the streams to feast on salmon eggs. I selected the BKGR with a Quick Mask and then ran a Gaussian blur of about 18 pixels.


I flew to Anchorage on September 2 and met the group and co-leader Linda Robbins. (We all arrived a day early to ensure not missing our early morning September 4th flight to Kodiak and our float plane trip out to the bear boat. We had a free day on the 3rd and did lots of shopping mostly for gloves which we had all forgotten to pack. (Movie recommendation: if you can put up with some violence, do see Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. I have never in my life been so gripped with suspense by any movie. The violence was actually a relief from the tension that built in the various interrogations by Nazi Colonel Hans Landa played with deadly efficiency by Christoph Waltz. Enough said; see it!)

Our flights to Kodiak and the Bear Boat went off smoothly and with dead calm conditions that first afternoon we headed deeper water just outside of Geographic Harbor in Katmai National Park to fish for halibut, photograph endangered Stellar’s Sea Lions, and whatever else we could find. To see how we did, visit the blog here: and scroll down to the September 10th entry, “Bear Boat Overview.”

We started the trip with 3 ½ perfect days filled with almost endless opportunities to photograph adult Coastal Brown Bears and both spring and yearling cubs at very close range. Much of the time these bear were fishing for, catching, or eating salmon. Though I brought the 400 DO IS and the 500 f/4L IS as my big lenses, I wound up using the 400 DO and the 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens (the latter with the 1.4X II TC) almost exclusively. Next year I will bring the 800 f/5.6L and the 400 DO as my big glass. Again, see the blog for my reasons for choosing the 800 f/5.6 L IS over the 500 f/4 L IS. On day 4 we had heavy rain all day and spent the time reviewing images, doing Photoshop, and learning about advanced composition and image design. On day 5 the drizzle let up and we did get in a few hours of photography at Kinak Bay before opting to leave the bear boat early. The weather forecast for the 10th was for 40-50mph winds around Kodiak. Not only would this prevent the float plane from coming to pick us up, it would also shut down the Kodiak airport to all commercial flights. After a fairly short discussion, we all voted to leave late on day 5, which was the 9th. And we did. All travel to Alaska involves possible bad weather no matter the date or the season. George Brunt (who had been with me on the spring trip), Ken Canning whom I met at the Portland Maine Seminar, and newcomer Ron Hasty were all very understanding and truly appreciated the great success that we had during the first days of the trip (as well as the personal tutoring and small group instruction that they received when the weather turned against us). Three of us shipped more than 50 pounds each of halibut to our homes via Fed-X and everyone went home happy with lots of great images and more than enough memories of bears catching salmon and bear cubs to last a lifetime.

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Brown Bear cub after lunch, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC (handheld at 241mm) with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6.

On this trip, we stay fairly close together to minimize disturbance of the bears but we do have some freedom to move about within or along the edges of the group. By handholding either the 400 DO or the 70-200 with the 1.4X I am able to get into position quickly and to get down on the ground when I choose to as I did here.


If you enjoy these BAA Bulletins, you will simply love the BAA Blog. Be sure to check out the recent posts there by clicking here and then scrolling down. You’ll find lots of great info and beautiful images each with our legendary educational captions.

You can see Linda Robbins with her 105 pound halibut in the September 10th post.

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Brown Bear with fairly large Pink Salmon, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500m f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/8.

Oftentimes a bear will catch a salmon, turn around, and head to the far bank to eat it but at times they simply walk right at you. When this happens, my heart rate increases dramatically. Not so much in fear, but in excitement. I wish that both eyes had been visible in this image….


As we encountered damp and rainy conditions for most of the trip, I kept both of my Mark III bodies in a seal-able gallon plastic bag with a 4X4 Zorb-It™. This was especially helpful as my cameras performed flawlessly even though I left my gear on deck each evening.

I am continuing to store my camera bodies as described above when I am home to protect them from the high humidity here in Florida and to prevent long term corrosion problems. I will soon switch to Zorb-it Ci™ as it offers additional protection against the corrosion of sensitive electronic components. (Heck, my cameras and lens are often doused with salt spray.) If you live in a wet place like the Pacific Northwest, anywhere in the Southeast, or if you visit tropical countries with your cameras and laptops, you need to get yourself a few packets of Zorb-It or better yet, of Zorb-it Ci™. Unlike all desiccants, Zorb-It™ never needs to be replaced or artificially regenerated. (As below, Zorb-it Ci™ will need to be replaced every 7-10 years.)

This from the manufacturer’s web site:

Zorb-It™ is a unique, patented, double-action™ agent for the positive control of moisture and humidity. It is no mere desiccant. The Zorb-It formulation has been proven effective in the toughest industrial environments around the world. Zorb-It™ now is available to you exclusively through this Worldwide Web Center. Zorb-It™ is unlike the ordinary sugar-packet desiccants you find in leather goods, briefcases, camera and binocular cases, and so on. It is superior. Its granular structure absorbs at least 10 times more moisture from the air inside any enclosure containing your prized possessions and valuables. Additionally, it stabilizes the ambient relative humidity to a near constant level over the long-term. It does not need to be replaced or artificially regenerated.

Zorb-it Ci™ contains an extra granular element that helps prevent corrosion of electronics and electrical contacts, and also the tarnishing of silver. It transfers through its packet membrane a patented micro-thin coating of corrosion inhibiting molecules which attach to metal surfaces. It is never oily or greasy to the touch however. And it aids in electrical conductivity. While Zorb-It™ never needs replacing, Zorb-It Ci™ will need replacement about every 7-10 years,

The Zorb-It™ and Zorb-It Ci™ packets are easy to use. Their granules are contained in a semi-permeable membrane packet material. The packet material allows only water vapor to pass into and out of the packet. Since the granules are very aggressive in their absorption of liquid water and water vapor, the packaging material is designed to protect the granules from contacting liquid water. The handy packets eliminate the need for messy powders or having to dispose of “buckets of liquid” left behind by other types of desiccant products. The double-stick tape on the back of the packets allow for easy installation in many cases and other enclosures.

You can learn lots more about Zorb-it ™ products here:

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Brown Bear, white sky head portrait, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens handheld with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Here I was flat on the ground; this enabled me to utilize a sky background and resulted in a studio-like feel to the image.


I will be returning early in the month to Katmai next September with another group. I have two folks signed up already with two more interested. The dates and price below are tentative. If the dates change, it will only be by a day or two. If the rates are raised, the price of the trip will go up. Here’s the great news: register now and lock in the rate below which is the same as the 2009 rate. If the rates are not raised, early registrants will receive a $250 discount that will be applied to their balance.

Bear Boat IPT

Sept 4-10. 2010: $6,999. Limit (6 if one boat, 10 if two boats). It is advised that you be in Anchorage on the afternoon of the September 2nd to be assured of not missing the boat!). This is the bears-catching-salmon trip. In addition, Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls eating roe are a certainty. Stellar’s Sea Lions are very likely. Dark phase Northern Fulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes (including the gorgeous immatures), and Harbor Seals are possible. Did I mention bears catching salmon? And more bears catching salmon? We will spend some time fishing for halibut on the higher tides. (The bears are busy catching salmon on the lower tidal stages.)

Included: Round-trip airfare from Anchorage to Kodiak. Round-trip float plane airfare from Kodiak to Katmai. All meals on the boat. One night’s lodging in Anchorage. (If you opt to arrive on the 2nd as recommended, that night is on you.) Guide services. In-the-field instruction. Image reviews and Photoshop tutoring.

Not included: guide and crew tip ($200 recommended). Airfare from your home-city to and from Anchorage.

Non-refundable deposit: $2000 due immediately to reserve your spot. First payment: $3,000 due February 1, 2010. Final payment: $1,999 due May 1, 2010. To complete a valid registration, please fill out and complete the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms that can be found here: and Release Forms.pdf

You may pay your deposit only via credit card. Balances must be paid by personal check. Those using a credit card (phone only: 863-221-2372) to register will be advised to print, sign, and return the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms within ten days. I do hope that you can join us.

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Mew Gull on rock looking for salmon roe, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens handheld with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

For this image, I was right on the ground. I wanted to make an image of the birds with one foot up on the rock and I did.


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Mew Gull with salmon egg, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens handheld with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

For this one I was standing at full height; notice the difference in perspective in this and the image above. It is obviously easier to change your position while standing than while prone


I will be announcing a San Diego Instructional Photo-Tour in the next Bulletin. It—five full days—will run in mid-January 2010, that is, fairly soon. If you are interested, please e-mail me at and I will be glad to apply a $100 discount to your balance should you sign up. Be sure to see the details in the next Bulletin.

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Creating images like this is a piece of cake on the cliffs at LaJolla.


Alex Furman, a skilled photographer who was on the Panama Combo IPT, shared another great Photoshop workflow tip with me. When you are dealing with very rich and saturated colors—especially reds and yellows—(can you say Red-eyed Tree-frog?), you can control the appearance of those colors as follows. After you have made all of your basic adjustments (on the Basics tab) in ACR, click on the HSL/Grayscale tab; it is the fourth tab in the row. Click first on the Luminance tab. Then, one color at a time, adjust the sliders for the various colors in the image to your taste. You will be adjusting the brightness and—for lack of a better term—the amount that that each color seems to glow. You can determine if the various colors are actually in your image by moving the slider all the way to the right or the left. If the image does not change, then that specific color is not in your image. There is no need to adjust all of the colors in a given image; with a Red-eyed Tree-frog, for example, you would likely be adjusting the reds, yellows, and greens.

When you are done click on the Saturation tab and proceed as above. When you are happy with the new look of the image, go back to the Basic tab and check to see that you have not introduced any clipping. To do this, hold down the Alt key while holding down the Exposure slider. If any overexposed highlights are revealed, simply move the Exposure slider to the left. When you are finished, hit Open Image.

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Brown Bear eating Pink Salmon, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500m f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/8.

I selected the skin and flesh of the fish using Select Color and then applied a Linear Burn at about 20%. This increased the density and restored detail. Then I increased the saturation of the layer only (Control U) to brighten the reds. These technique plus dozens of others and our complete Digital Workflow are detailed in Digital Basics; learn more here:


At 3:30pm on Friday, September 18th, 2009 I will be presenting Digital Bird Photography Basics at the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, OH. The festival runs from September 16-20. For complete information including registration info—there are many great speakers, programs, and field trips–visit: . In addition, I will be leading an informal photo walk on Saturday morning from 7:30 to 9:30 am. Another may be added. There is a fabulous line-up of great speakers at this event. If you will be attending and would like for me to bring you a mail order item to save shipping, please let me know immediately. I hope to see many of you there.

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Brown Bear sitting in fog, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400m f/4 IS DO lens with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/4 set manually.

This is the original capture. I made sure that I pushed the histogram to the right to reduce noise. Many photographers do not realize the potential of digital images that are created in the fog. In fact, many would delete the image above. By simply following my normal workflow, I created the image below. See same in our Digital Basics file.


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This is the image that I created from the original capture above.

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A third option is to select the bear—I used the Magic Wand at decreasingly lower tolerances—and to leave the fog as in the original. I often make several versions of a single image.


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Great news: I just learned that this image will be one of eighteen honored images in this year’s National Wildlife Federation’s contest. More great news: I just learned that this image is in the finals of the Nature’s Best contest.

BIRDS AS ART proudly announces the limited sale of another classic Arthur Morris image, “Gannets in Love.”

This endearing image was created at Bonaventure Island, Perce, Quebec, Canada. The thick gallery wrap (1 ½ inches) canvas is hand-made in the US under the supervision of the artist and is available only through BIRDS AS ART.

This is the second in a series of Arthur Morris’ digitally signed, numbered, limited edition gallery-wrapped canvas prints. The canvas is stretched over custom-made wood supports. The canvas has no frame and appears to float on the wall. There’s no need for a frame for stability since the structure is inside the art. These fine canvas limited edition prints are covered with a rear black dust cover. The hanging wire is neatly attached and a courtesy package with two clear bump-ons, a nickel plated hanger and nail are included.

This edition will be limited to 100 pieces of any size. Once the final print is sold the edition will be permanently closed making each Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART print a valuable collectible. Each 16 x 24 inch print is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The first fifty prints will sell for only $349 plus $20 shipping and handling to all US addresses. Once 50 prints are sold, the price will rise to $424. The last five prints will sell for $499. (Please e-mail for prices on other sizes and for framing options.)

Prints ordered before September 30, 2009 may apply a $50 discount. These prints are in stock and ready to ship now.

Shipping and handling to Canada will require an additional $35 handling fee. (Canadian orders may be subject to Customs delays and duties and require payment via personal check or money order in US funds.)

Each image will be professionally packed to avoid damage during transit. All fees are due and payable in advance in US funds. (We cannot be responsible for delays at customs.)

Payment may be by check or money order mailed to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855, by Paypal to, or by credit card. Please call 863-692-0906 for credit card orders.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied we will gladly accept a return for exchange or refund provided that the item is returned within seven days of receipt and is in saleable condition. We refund only the purchase price plus the shipping and handling. Return shipping is the responsibility of the customer. This guarantee does not include prints that you damage or that are damaged in shipping. If your print is damaged in shipping, please let us know and we will arrange to have a replacement sent. Please allow 14 days for your check to clear.

We are 100% positive that ”Gannets in Love” will join “Fire in the Mist” and become a treasured collector’s item; thank you for your support of my work.

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Canon EOS 1D Mark III, in Excellent Condition with spare battery $2500 + shipping cost. The camera is in excellent condition, has been (too) lightly used, and has never had any problems. It is in its original packaging. (Cost new $3999). It has been stored in a cabinet with an electric dehumidifier whenever not in use.

Really Right Stuff L-plate (perfect condition) for 1D Mark III $60. (Cost new – $183).

Contact: David Moynahan, Crawfordville, FL, (c)850-445-7748 or (h)850-926-9088

Canon EOS-5D in mint condition. Includes extra batteries and the Really Right Stuff quick release L plate and the vertical battery grip: $1450.

(Please do not contact BIRDS AS ART as we do not have any additonal information on this gear.)


Canon 24-105 f/4.0 IS zoom lens: $900.

Canon 28-70 F/2.8 L zoom lens: $950.

Canon 90 F/2.8 Tilt/Shift lens: $900.

Lens Baby Control Freak: $200

All of the above in excellent condition.

Contact Phillip Berryhill by email: or at 1-505-850-3933. E-mail is greatly preferred.

(Please do not contact BIRDS AS ART as we do not have any additonal information on this gear.)


Do you have some gear to sell? Write for our Items for Sale guidelines. Why pay 20% elsewhere when you can sell your stuff quickly via the Bulletin for just a 5% brokerage fee?

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George Brunt and Brown Bear, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
For details and comments on this image, see the BPN Friends and Family post here:

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