December 8th, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #350


Sandhill Cranes, Fire in the Mist II, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM
Image copyright 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/10 in Av mode.

The Bosque Site Guide 2010 Update details the conditions that might lead to fire in the mist conditions, and tells you the most likely place to find it. See what the folks at BPN had to say about “Bosque Steam Bath.


Ten photographers (a sell out :)) spent a fabulous week with BIRDS AS ART at Bosque del Apache NWR (90 miles south of Albuquerque, NM and 20 miles south of the eco-tourist friendly town of Socorro). With a great crew of co-leaders (Robert O’Toole, Denise Ippolito, Jim Heupel, and Peter Kes), the best conditions at the refuge in recent memory, and lots of clouds and south winds, a truly great time was had by all. From our first glorious sunrise to our last action-packed afternoon there was–as always–tons of learning going on. I was sharp and on my game having the group in the perfect spot for all but ten minutes over the course of the seven days. We strive to teach folks what we are thinking when we move from one location to another. On some mornings we visited four or five locations during the first two hours. With great photo opps at each site.

We–joined by a dozen other bird photographer guests–enjoyed a great Thanksgiving buffet at the Hilton on University Boulevard in Albuquerque. Yours truly went on a rare binge. Instead of my usual 30 grams of carbs a day diet, I had some stuffing, potatoes, cranberries (my absolute favorite on Thanksgiving), and gravy on my turkey. And I topped that off with a piece of chocolate cake. Yikes. When I over-corrected with fast acting insulin and then waited too long to go out and grab a snack for dinner, I nearly bought the farm, rescued by my younger daughter Alissa (by phone) and Denise Ippolito who found and got some sugar water solution into me…. Lesson learned. But I really did enjoy that meal.

Best of all we had a crew of very happy campers. The ever-funny Danny Deen (a multiple IPT veteran) and his getting-into-photography lady Maurie Reynolds made a great couple and are as easy-going as you will find. Jan van der Greef, who traveled from the Netherlands and Clemens van der Werf, the second Dutchman, who traveled from Miami, are both very excellent photographers. I will be doing a feature on each of them in the Blog soon. (Co-leader Peter Kes who traveled from Switzerland was the third Dutchman).

Another very sweet and personable pair, Mark Hardymon and Deb Keller were both eager-to-learn first timers. The delightful Myer Bornstein, an active member of BPN and another multiple IPT veteran, made his way from Boston to the IPT. And he brought his accent with him 🙂 Robert Newman, a urologist from Florida was another first timer, as was Winn Krafton of Albuquerque who joined us at the last minute. Olympus-user (and proud of it!) Hany Aziz, on his second IPT in recent months, created this wonderful fire-in-the-mist image on the morning or the Blurry Day Workshop that Denise and I co-led on the Saturday after the IPT. Myer was also with us that day along with Patrick & Robin Sparkman, IPT veteran JP Bruce, and Joanne Schmidt of Albuquerque.

With lots of corn and lots of birds, Bosque was as good as it has been in many, many years. We started off with atypically warm weather and wonderful south winds, but by the end of the week we had one 9-degree and several 17-degree mornings but fortunately the winds from the north were, for the most part, on the gentle side. The refuge management team is to be commended for a job well done this year.

Blackbird Flock Blur, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM
Image copyright 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II (hand held at 160mm) with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 50 with 77mm circular polarizer. Evaluative metering +2 stops off the sky: 1/15 sec. at f/13.

Here the flock had wheeled well to my left and thus well left of sun angle. Since my panning rate did not match the speed or direction of the flight of the flock the degree of blurring at 1/15 of a second was both accentuated and the effect a bit on the unusual side. Bosque is a fabulous place to create pleasing blurs.


With my 65th birthday fast approaching this coming Flag Day (June 14th), I am continuing to make major course changes in my life. The first major change, made about two years ago, was to begin teaching fewer IPTs with smaller groups on longer trips. That has worked out exceedingly well. For 2011, I am scheduling only one traditional teaching IPT, the 2011 Complete Bosque Experience IPT (announced below).

So the question is, am I slowing down? The answer is an emphatic “No.” In addition to the upcoming trips to Greece for Dalmatian Pelicans in late February/early March, Homer, AK for eagles right after that, a return to Midway in April, and yet another wondrous Galapagos Photo Cruise in July, I will be traveling to Antarctica at the very end of 2011 (and returning home well into January 2012). I am looking at a trip to arctic Norway this June. In February/March 2012 Robert O’Toole and I will be leading a Once in a Lifetime IPT to Japan. In April 2012 I will be in Holland with Peter Kes photographing Black-tailed Godwit and a wide variety of other birds. We might be bringing two folks at most as a good deal of the photography is from the car. After the birds I am planning on leading my first-ever Tulip IPT. So not only am I planning on expanding my world travels but on expanding subject matter as well. Life is short, I have my health, and I plan on very much enjoying each breath.

Yikes, I almost forgot: if you are a very happy camper and are seriously interested in traveling with me on a killer South Georgia/Falklands trip in October 2012, please e-mail me at with “South Georgia/Falklands” cut and pasted into the Subject box. I already have a roommate on board (multiple bear boat IPT veteran George Brunt). In addition, highly skilled globe-trotting photographer Paul McKenzie committed to the trip the moment he learned of it.

Sunrise HDR from the Spur Road, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM
Image copyright 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 24-105mm IS L lens (at 24mm) with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Five frame bracketed around Evaluative metering -1 stop at f/14. Camera and lens on the Giotto’s MH 1302-655 (Tiny) Ballhead. Learn why and how I use this head here.

This image was created from four of the five original images with NIK HDR EFEX Pro. The NIK program is the first HDR program that does what it is supposed to do: take the details from the highlight areas and blend them with the revealed detail in the shadow areas. With Photomatix, every image that comes out of Tone Mapping has blown highlight and underexposed darks…. That has not happened to me once with NIK HDR EFEX Pro and I love the natural look that I can get if I want it. In addition, they have many, many optional pre-sets.

You can save 15% on all NIK products by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings. I have been using and learning and loving COLOR EFEX and SILVER EFEX also.


Since getting back from Bosque, I spent a full 12-hour day updating and synching the Bosque Site Guide and the 2009 Update. Then, starting from scratch, I spent two full 12-hour days creating the Bosque 2010 Site Guide Update. This update will be sent to all folks who have previously purchased the Bosque Site Guide no later than the close of business on Monday December 13. If you do not receive your update by then, please e-mail us on Tuesday December 14 and let us know how you paid.

You can purchase the complete Bosque Site Guide (which of course will include all updates including the 2010 Update) for $50 by calling Jim at 863-692-0906 with credit card in hand, by sending us a Paypal for $50 to, or by clicking here. When you purchase the complete Bosque Site Guide you will receive free updates soon after each visit that I make.

Now here is the new concept: the Bosque 2010 Site Guide Update was written as a stand-alone work. If you will be visiting Bosque this year you can purchase the 2010 Update Only (5779 words and 74 great new images, all with our legendary educational captions) for only $25. And you will know where to be on what wind in what light and when. And why. You can purchase the Bosque 2010 Site Guide Update Only for $25 by calling Jim at 863-692-0906 with credit card in hand, by sending us a Paypal for $25 to, or by clicking here. You will be getting the nearly complete Bosque course for half price. It’s the next best thing to being on an IPT.

Blue Goose, adult wheeling in flight, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM
Image copyright 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Both the Complete Bosque Site Guide and the 2010 Update Only will teach you how the wind affects the flight photography of both the cranes and the geese so that you can wind up in the right place at the right time and create images like this. Each guide goes into great detail concerning wind direction and the various locations for flight photography.

To see the original, and to learn to work in Manual mode, click here. To learn how to properly expose for the cranes and for the various morphs and ages of the geese, click here. All free :).


Here is the gear that I used to create the images for this Bulletin:

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens (My very best friend :))
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L II lens (My favorite new lens. By a mile.)
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body (I only own and travel with two.)
Canon EF 1.4X II teleconverter (I never leave home without at least two of these.)
Canon 24-105mm IS L zoom lens (I am never without this lens in my vest….)

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod (Sturdy and light and will last you a lifetime.)
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head (I use it every day with my 800mm.)
Double Bubble Spirit Level (Make your life easy by getting it right in the field; just a glance and you are square to the world.)
Giotto’s MH 1302-655 (Tiny) Ballhead (It takes me less than a minute to spin the Mongoose off and have this tiny head ready for a camera with a short lens mounted.)

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide. You will learn to find the lowest prices, comparison shop, and help us to keep offering tons of great free info and images.

Sandhill Cranes above the Chupaderas, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM
Image copyright 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/8.

As there was not much sky color I converted this to a bright B&W using NIK SILVER EFEX Pro.

You can save 15% on all NIK products by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings.


Fly South with the Birds 2010 Winter Workshops

Ah… Winter in Florida! Enjoy warm temperatures, dry sunny days, and an abundance of birds that make Florida their home for the winter. Its the perfect winter setting for birds and photographers. Flight School Photography is pleased to announce the fourth year of Fly South with the Birds winter workshops in central Florida. Your instructor and guide, Jim Neiger, is intimately familiar with this region and its avian subjects; and he knows the hotspots like no one else. He is the author of the Central Florida Site Guide and several articles about the birds of central Florida. Jim is also well known for his awesome images of birds in flight obtained by using his own techniques for hand-holding long telephoto lenses.

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Male Snail Kite Landing with Island Apple Snail
Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Each of the three Fly South with the Birds winter workshops will include eight 3 to 4 hour photo sessions: Four photo sessions via boat and four photo sessions on land. Commonly seen and photographed subjects include: Snail Kite, Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Red Shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, Osprey, Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, and numerous wading birds, songbirds, woodpeckers, ducks, etc.

The 5-Day Winter Workshops will begin with an afternoon classroom session, where you will learn techniques for hand-holding long telephoto lenses to photograph birds in flight. You will also learn how to safely use recorded bird songs to increase your photographic opportunities. This will be followed by 4 full days in the field. The group will explore remote and highly productive areas of central Florida and visit a variety of habitats. The boat sessions will give us access to some desirable subjects including Snail Kite, the rarest raptor in North America. Refreshments will be provided during all sessions.

Jims 2007 pontoon boat was purchased and customized specifically for use during photography workshops. It is roomy, comfortable, and stable. The boat is equipped with an extremely quiet, four-stroke motor for silent cruising. It also has a powerful, silent, electric trolling motor with wireless remote control. This allows Jim to position the boat precisely and silently. The boat can be configured with no top, with a half-canopy to provide shelter from sun and rain, or with a half-enclosure that can completely protect participants from the elements. The boat has capacity for twelve people, but Jim limits the number of participants to only 5 so that everyone has room to relax and photograph in comfort. Dont miss this amazing opportunity.

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Bald Eagle Returning to Nest with Prey
Image copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography
Flight School Photography
Image Gallery

FSB-1: January 6-10, 2011
FSB-2: January 20-24, 2011
FSB-3: February 10-14, 2011

Workshop details: The cost of each workshop is $1500 per person. Each workshop includes a four hour formal classroom instruction session, the welcome dinner, and morning & afternoon photography sessions each day. The photography sessions include personalized instruction in the field. A $750 non-refundable deposit is required for the workshops. The remaining $750 is due 15 days before the start date of the workshop. If you are unable to attend the workshop, after paying the balance, the balance payment will be refunded ONLY if your spot can be filled, on short notice, from the waiting list. All workshop payments must be made by check or money order. Credit cards are not accepted. Please make checks payable to Flight School Photography, Inc. and send them to: Flight School Photography, Inc.,
Jim Neiger, 550 Basin Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34744

Participants should know how to create a properly exposed image, should have a telephoto lens of 400mm or more (300mm with a teleconverter is acceptable), and be physically capable of holding their camera and lens up to their eye in shooting position for at least 20 seconds. Ground transportation is not included.

Contact Jim by phone at 407-247-5200 or via e-mail to


Merritt Island/Viera Wetlands Photographic Instructional Workshop

January 13-16, 2011 Three and one-half days of extensive in-the-field instruction at two of East Central Floridas best avian photography locations. Classroom sessions include daily critiques of images you created during the workshop, proper exposure and compositional techniques along with editing and processing your images. Field instruction includes isolating your subject, understanding light, proper exposure (exposing to the right), using depth of field to your advantage and lots more. The just concluded December MINWR/Viera Wetland PIW was quite successful with 6 delighted participants.

Two special attractions: On Friday morning a trip to a scrub habitat sanctuary; home to 4 family groups of endangered Florida Scrub Jays ranging in size of 6 to 10 jays per group. These birds are curious by nature and come to you without prompting. At the December workshop they quickly found us and were fantastic photography subjects amazing my group and making a memorable impression. We will also visit the Avian Reconditioning Center for a private up-close and personal photography session with raptors, a big hit this year on the workshop. CD with lesson plans are included no note taking required. Learn more here. Previous Amoruso workshop participants receive a 10% discount on this workshop.

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Florida Scrub Jay created during the December 2010 PIW
Image copyright 2010/Robert Amoruso/Wildscape Images
Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens with 1.4x TC and the Canon 7D. Evaluative metering set manually at 1/1250 sec., f/8, ISO 400.

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Barred Owl (captive) created during the December 2010 PIW
Image copyright 2010/Robert Amoruso/Wildscape Images
Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens with 1.4x TC and the Canon 5D Mark II. Evaluative metering set manually at 1/1000 sec., f/8, ISO 400. Fill-Flash at -2/3.

St. Augustine Photographic Instructional Workshop

April 14-17, 2011, Three and one-half days of extensive field and classroom instruction at the famous St. Augustine Alligator Farm with Robert Amoruso and Robert OToole. We will be using the Alligator Farms Educational Center for meetings and equipment storage between morning and afternoon sessions. Weather is pleasant in mid-April and mating, nest building, and chicks are all to be expected in the rookery- its one of my favorite times of the year to be there. Find out more here.

Private Photographic Instructional Workshops

As good as a group workshop can be, sometimes private one-on-one instruction is the ticket. My private workshops cater to your individual needs. We will discuss your objectives In advance of the workshop and how to meet them in a private setting. Then I design your workshop to meet those goals. My private workshops generally include areas close to my home as I know them well but I can travel to other locations in Florida if you have a specific locale in mind. Learn more here and here.


INDIA-Quest for the Tiger 2011 Leaving the US: March 29, 2011.

Returning: April 15. $11,999.00 double occupancy

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Indian Tiger, Kanha, India
Image Copyright 2010: Todd Gustafson/Gustafson Photo Safari

Travel with Gustafson Photo Safari (GPS) to India. Tigers are the main event, but India offers much more, including 9th century temples, wild elephants, one horned rhino, ungulates and great bird photography. Our host is closely tied to Project Tiger which puts us in great situations for tiger photography. Experience 16 days of action packed photography in the most dramatic locations at the exact right time of year for only $11,999.00 double occupancy.

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Indian Tiger, Kanha, India
Image Copyright 2010: Todd Gustafson/Gustafson Photo Safari

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Black-necked Stork, Baradpur, India
Image Copyright 2010: Todd Gustafson/Gustafson Photo Safari

GPS is also offering a shorter Tiger Intensive safari for those who cant get away for the entire 16 day tour.

INDIA-Tigers, Tigers, Tigers 2011.

Dates: Leaving the US: March 29, 2011. Returning: April 9. $8,999.00 double occupancy.

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Jungle Owlet, Bandhavgarh, India
Image Copyright 2010: Todd Gustafson/Gustafson Photo Safari

Request the full color PDF for both trips by e-mail to Learn more about Todd here. Do some tiger tracking here.

And be sure to get a copy of Todd’s great safari photo guide: The Photographers Guide to the Safari Experience.

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