May 13th, 2011



Great Egret chicks in the nest, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, FL
This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, the EF 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero (should have been +2/3 stop): 1/200 sec. at f/8 in Manual Mode.


Give the animated GIF a few seconds to play. Note that in the lower left corner of the Original I clipped the toes of the chick on our left. And I am guessing that you will not miss the big “Murphy’s Law of Nests” stick that cuts right across the two baby birds. Removing the stick was actually the easiest part of the image optimization process; I used my Divide and Conquer technique with the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, & some Quick Masks.

In the next pane (Added Canvas Left) you can see that I added canvas and brought in an almost-matching layer from another frame in the series. I thought that the slight mis-match might be fatal but decided to keep on trucking. First I tried to match the toe and a branch just below it using Edit/Transform/Scale. (Note, it is a lot easier to use the Keyboard Shortcut, Control T.) I got close but needed to move a Quick Mask of the toe to get a perfect match. Then, using the Patch Tool and a series of Quick Masks, I was able to smooth the obvious seam. Next I created a new layer of the entire image (Control J) and ran about a 20 pixel Gaussian blur on the Layer. This of course seriously blurred the bird so I added a Layer Mask and using my Layer Mask for Dummies mnemonic (BDX to erase a regular Layer Mask), painted away the bird. The last steps were some Eye Doctor work on the pupils, Contrast Mask sharpening of the birds’ faces using an Inverse (or Hide-All) Layer Mask (BD to reveal), and a 50% opacity Linear Curve (that was applied via an action).

Enjoy the original that plays for three seconds. Every tool and almost every technique that I used to optimize the image is detailed in the most recent free update of our Digital Basics File (a PDF that is sent via e-mail). The lone exception being the advanced Quick Masking techniques that are covered in Robert O’Toole’s APTATS I. Learn some great Layer Mask time-saving techniques in his APTATS II.

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This image features a single Great Egret chick in the nest with an o-o-f adult Snowy Egret juxtaposed in the BKGR. I am always on the lookout for neat juxtapositions: when you see one developing, be prepared to act quickly as they usually do not last more than a second or two. This image was created at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm with the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens, 2X III teleconverter, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/11 set manually after histogram and blinkies check. I focused (off the imaging sensor) using Live View/Live Mode as described in detail in both the 7D and the Mark IV User’s Guides.


In response to a recent blog post (90 Minutes in the Waiting Room; What to Do?), David Shertzer (in reference to the image immediately above) wrote:

“Simply amazing Photoshop skills…wishing I had them. And you did all this with one hand! I agree, that the natural history was maintained.”

I wrote back:

“Thanks David! You can learn those skills easily with Digital Basics (and some practice). And yes, all with one hand except for holding down the Control key occasionally with the thumb on the bad hand But that made my wrist hurt a bit; it is very stiff and sore from being in the cast. And all on the laptop with the mouse pad :). Which I am gonna take off right now for an ice job and a round of finger stretching.

More on Photoshop skills: get yourself a copy of Digital Basics and first learn to convert your RAW images properly. Then every few days work on adding one or two tools or techniques. In a month or two you will be right there!”

To see why David was so impressed see the original image (with its many problems) here.


I continue to put in 20+ hours most weeks towards making the blog informative, timely, and beautiful. Many of the educational features (like the one that opened this Bulletin) that formerly appeared in BAA Bulletins now grace the BAA Blog. It recently came to our attention that folks were having problems subscribing with various web browsers. We believe that those problems have been eliminated. If you do have a problem subscribing, please contact us via e-mail. If you are not subscribed, you are missing a ton of great stuff almost daily. You can subscribe to the blog posts by clicking here. Below are links to recent posts of interest.

For more great stuff on the St. Augustine Alligator Farm check out Afternoon Farming Lessons, Afternoon Farming Lessons II, and Photoshop and In-the-Field Tips and Tricks.

Ten days after A-1 pulley trigger finger surgery (left hand) on April 26th I had complete range of motion (left middle middle finger) and was 99.95% pain free. I had had zero post-surgery swelling. Then Jim drove me up to Orlando to have the four stitches removed. Little did I suspect that I was in for a Weekend Surprise!

Check out another illustrative and educational animated GIF; see Feather-head here.

There are more Photoshop lessons in 90 Minutes in the Waiting Room; What to Do?

Learn how to tame harsh light in Dip-Sticking/A Nearly Impossible Situation.

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The birds and wildlife of the Galapagos are very accepting of humans; only two of the nine images above were created with a lens longer than 400mm.


GALAPAGOS 2012 PHOTO-CRUISE OF A LIFETIME IPT: The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience: July 1-18, 2011 (July 3-17, 2012 on the boat): 13 1/2 days of photography plus a last morning panga ride: $12,749. (Limit 12/Openings: 9.)

Briefly, my two-week trip is without equal. The best guide, the best itinerary, a great boat (the Beagle), and the best leader, one with seven Galapagos trips under his belt, six with Juan Salcedo. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is required. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/11. The final payment of $3749 per person will be due on 2/1/12. Couples or friends registering together will have a $300 per person discount applied to their final payment.

Important note: if I do not have 8 or 9 deposit checks in hand when I need to commit to leasing the boat (for more than 1/10 of a million dollars) I will seriously need to consider scrapping this amazing trip…

Fly to Quito: July 1, 2012
Travel insurance and rest day: July 2, 2012 (perched hummingbird day-trip optional)
Fly to Galapagos, board boat: July 3, 2012
Fly back to Quito: July 17, 2012
Fly home: July 18.

Cost: $12,749.00 Includes three nights in the luxury hotel–the Hilton Quito Colon, round trip airfare to and from Baltra, all meals on the boat–the food is great, a killer buffet lunch with the tortoises!, all park fees and related costs, all ground transfers, and a five star thank you dinner on the evening of July 17th.

13 full and one half day of photography, plus a 90 minute early am panga ride on the last morning. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. The greatest-ever itinerary. By far. We visit every great spot on a single trip. The great spots 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), Fernandina, Peurto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, North Seymour, South Plaza, Black Turtle Cove, Floreana, Urbina Bay, and China Hat. Plus tons more. And lots of snorkeling for those who wish to partake.

And the world’s greatest Galapagos guide. By far. 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 weather, we often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, midday snorkeling on most sunny days depending on location. Note: some of the walks are strenuous. Great images are possible on all landings with a hand held 70-200mm lens. I always bring a big lens also as that fits my style.

Not included. Your round trip airfare from your home to and from Quito, beverages, phone calls, and the $500 (US cash) per/person tip for the guide and crew; that breaks down to roughly $35/day shared by the 8 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.

Limited to 12 photographers plus the leader.

If you are good to go, please e-mail first and then send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit made out to “Arthur Morris” to the address at the top of this e-mail along with the necessary paperwork here.

Travel insurance is highly recommended. I learned during the past week that three folks who were scheduled for the Midway trip needed to cancel for various reasons…. None of them had travel insurance. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and I recommend it strongly. Important note: we will notify when the trip is a go and will not cash your deposit check until then. (Most travel insurance policies mandate that you purchase your protection within two weeks of your check being cashed.)

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This image of a Least Tern on eggs was created at Nickerson Beach on May 31, 2010 with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/640 sec. at f/13. It is important to be at the beach very early to take advantage of the sweet light.


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This image of an American Oystercatcher with one of its chicks was created at Nickerson Beach on May 29, 2010 with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/60 sec. at f/8. The 800’s four-stop IS is truly amazing.

SHORT-NOTICE, DIRT CHEAP IN-THE-FIELD LONG ISLAND INSTRUCTION with Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. May 19-20, 2011. 6-9:30 am. Nickerson Beach: $250 per morning, $400.00 for both. May 19: Limit 8/Openings: 3. May 20: Limit 8/Openings: 5.

Payment in full due immediately. If you would like to join us please get in touch via e-mail.

Join Denise Ippolito and me at Nickerson Beach (just west of Point Lookout, Long Island, NY) for a morning or two of great in-the-field instruction. Two great instructors plus breeding American Oystercatcher (small chicks possible) and breeding Common and Least Terns. Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, Piping Plover, Sanderling, and other shorebird species. Breeding plumage Lesser Black-backed Gull possible. Courtship and mating behaviors; flight. Learn digital exposure and creative image design.


West Coast Flight 2011 – Orange County, CA

Join 2010 BBC award-winning photographers, Jim Neiger and Doug Brown, in July, 2011 for a workshop focusing on birds in flight. We’ve selected the area around Huntington Beach, California for its incredible number and variety of birds, not to mention the great weather! In July, Terns will number in the tens of thousands, and there should be no fewer than five different species (Elegant, Forster’s, Caspian, Royal, and Least). Black Skimmers, Pelicans, Egrets, Herons, and Gulls will all be plentiful. There will also be opportunities to photograph more challenging subjects such as raptors, Kingfishers, and shorebirds.

The focus of the workshops will be on mastering the hand held long lens technique favored by both Jim and Doug. Manual exposure for birds in flight will also be emphasized. There will be an instructional lecture on the first day, followed by morning and afternoon sessions in the field for each of the next three days.

As an added feature, you will have the opportunity to hone your Lightroom and Photoshop skills with Jim and Doug during the free time in between field sessions.

The workshop will be limited to twelve participants; with two expert instructors available, everyone will receive plenty of individualized attention both in the field and the classroom.

Workshop Details may be found here: West Coast Flight Workshop

(From artie: Man, if I weren’t gonna be in the Galapagos on those dates I would be on a plane to the west coast. Elegant Tern is a beautiful bird and I have nothing on this species. Plus, I love Bolsa Chica. Not to mention that whenever I go out with Jim I learn something new about flight photography. (I’ve been trying to get him to write a flight photography guide for two years now…. After the workshop I’d drive the three hours to the Salton Sea to photograph Yellow-footed Gull. Click here for more info on that species.

Lastly, give Jim a buzz if you’d like to get out with him for some Ospreys with young on Lake Blue Cypress or for Snail Kites with chicks near Kissimmee, FL.)

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Elegant Tern Shake off, Elegant Tern with Fish, Black Skimmer with Fish, Elegant Tern Diving
Images copyright © 2010: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography
Flight School Photography
West Coast Flight Sample Image Gallery

WCF-1: July 5-8, 2011

Workshop Cost and payment:

The cost of each workshop is $1350 per person. A $675 non-refundable deposit is required for the workshops. The remaining $675 is due 30 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. Contact Jim by phone at 407-247-5200 or via e-mail to


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Daisy with Purple Hydrangea background/Image copyright © 2011: Denise Ippolito

Chanticleer Gardens Creative Photography Workshop, Wayne, PA. Friday, May 20, 4:30pm- 7:30pm (rain date May 27): $195 (admission included).

Join Denise Ippolito and co-leader Arthur Morris (May 20 date only)

for a half-day Creative Photography Workshop at beautiful Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, Pennsylvania. The gardens are filled with a vast array of perennials mixed in with natural settings that include a meandering brook, an Asian garden, and even a teacup garden. There will be lots of flowers to see and photograph. We will work on compositions, macro photography with natural lighting, and even creating impressionistic blurs. Plan on spending some time before the workshop begins to relax and enjoy the sights. (Save your admission receipt if you wish to be reimbursed.)

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Tulip, with Fractalius Soft Fix/Image copyright © 2011: Denise Ippolito

The Softer Side of Macro Creative Photography Workshop, Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA. Sunday May 22nd, 9:00am – 12:00noon (rain or shine): $195 (admission included).

Join Denise Ippolito and co-leader Arthur Morris at beautiful Longwood Gardens, PA

for “The Softer Side of Macro” workshop. We will explore creative compositions and use natural lighting. If you like the soft dreamy looks but have had trouble recreating them then this workshop is for you. We may even have the chance to create some impressionistic blurs.

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Pansy with partial radial zoom blur/Image copyright © 2011: Denise Ippolito

For information on Denise’s love of flowers and her publications, please scroll down.

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American Oystercatcher chick, Nickerson Beach, LI, NY/Image copyright © 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Nickerson Beach Creative Photography Workshop. June 3-5, 2011: $799.

Join Denise Ippolito for 4 sessions of bird photography over 3 days for a hands on workshop at Nickerson Beach, Long Island, NY. Subjects will include nesting Common Tern (tiny chicks possible) and nesting American Oystercatcher (chicks likely). Black Skimmers will be setting up their territories and they and the terns will be exhibiting a variety of courtship behaviors. Meet in the parking lot at Nickerson on Friday June 3rd at 6:00pm for an afternoon/evening session followed by dinner on your own. On Saturday June 4th, after breakfast on your own, meet at the parking lot at Nickerson Beach at 6:00am sharp for a morning session. The morning session will be discussed during a lunch that will include image sharing for those who bring their laptops. You will have lots of time during the afternoon break to download and review your images. The afternoon/evening session will again begin at 6:00pm (again followed by dinner on your own) The last photography session will take place on the morning of Sunday June 5th. Meet in the parking lot at 6:00am. This will be followed by image sharing at lunch. Rain or shine. A sturdy tripod and a long lens are recommended. The cost of both lunches is included.

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Manhattan skyline: Canon EOS-5D with the 24-105mm lens. ISO 100: 5.0 sec. at f/5.6. Image copyright © 2011: Denise Ippolito

Manhattan Skyline Creative Photography Workshop. Sunday, May 15: $195.

The Manhattan Skyline CPW will be held in Weehawkin, NJ from 6:00pm sharp until 9:00pm. It will be jointly led by Denise Ippolito and Scott Vincent. Scott has been photographing at this location for many years and will share a variety of tips and tricks for creating successful late afternoon, twilight and post-sunset images. Scott, a skilled photographer who started photographing birds with Arthur Morris at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in the mid-1980s, has been published nationally in a variety of magazines and newspapers. He is well versed in both Nikon and Canon bodies. A sturdy tripod is mandatory. Scott and Denise will teach you to make great images using a variety of short lenses including wide angle zooms, short zooms, and fish eyes. Topics covered will include composition, long exposures, stitched panoramas, HDR’s, and a variety of pleasing blurs.

Denise Ippolito

Denise has been involved with flowers for much of her life. She is a fifth generation florist who owned a flower shop from 1989 to 1995. She followed that up by running first one and then another garden center for the next thirteen years. What can I say; the girl likes flowers. In recent years she has worked hard at becoming a skilled flower photographer and has succeeded admirably. Her incredibly creative mind led her to experimenting with a variety of filters and Photoshop effects. That led to her becoming the moderator at BPN’s Out of the Box Forum. She has written or co-authored several BAA educational publications. The first was A Guide to Pleasing Blurs that I proudly co-authored with her. Next came the Barnegat Site Guide–no flowers there! That was followed by A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects. And most recently, The Softer Side of Macro. All have been well received and highly successful.

You can learn more about Denise by visiting her blog, A Creative Adventure or her website.

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