June 24th, 2011




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This image of a wheeling Parasitic Jaeger was created at Lonyearbyen, Spitzbergen, Norway with the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM zoom lens (hand held at 140 mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 set manually.

This was my first time using this lens for flight; I was quite impressed with the sharpness. Inexplicably, they placed the focusing ring on this twist zoom lens closer to the camera and the zoom ring farther out on the lens…. Folks coming from the one of the 70-200 lenses will be driven nuts for a while until they get used to the new configuration. (I kept trying to zoom in or out by turning the focusing ring….) The 70-300mm IS USM zoom lens would make a great starter lens for folks living near tame birds. (Note: it does not accept a 1.4X teleconverter.)


My trip to Svalbard, Norway has been amazing, exhausting, fun, exhilarating, challenging, and–for a single night–disappointingly frustrating. For additional details please see “The Blog is the Bomb” feature immediately below.

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This laughing King Eider image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Lens/TC/Camera Body Micro-Adjustment: +10. After a month of banging around the micro-adjustment for this combo increased from +3 to +10.

Though seen most years in Svalbard, this tame bird was and unexpected bonus.


Even on my astounding Norway trip, I have–since I finally got on line the other day–continued to put in 20+ hours each week towards making the blog informative, timely, and beautiful. Many of the educational features that formerly appeared in BAA Bulletins now grace the BAA Blog. A while back we learned that some folks were having problems subscribing to the blog via 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.

Getting flat down on your belly may not always be the best tack. Learn why sitting or kneeling might be best in a given situation here.

There are some great photography and Photoshop tips in Five for Five.

For Your Critique: Image #1 generated more than 40 comments. From “delete immediately” to “contest winner” everyone had a strong opinion. Best news? There will be 19 more in the series.

After reading the above post most of you would get a kick out of My Comments on Your Comments and in addition, would learn a bunch.

My first 20 hours in Svalbard was, well, it was Beyond Amazing. Hear the tale and see the images of what was one of the greatest days of my 28 year career.

Learn to put variety into your images by reading and studying my seven favorite (and totally different!) Barnacle Goose images in Magic on Diabas!

Lastly, see how I wound up beyond frustrated in The Wrong Night to Sleep/The Best Laid Plans….


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.)

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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:

Note: Call Jim immediately for late registration discount information.

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 jimn@cfl.rr.com.


Katmai Alaska Brown Bear Workshop July 18-24, 2011. 7 Days, 6 nights: $5499. Limit: 6/Openings 2. Leader: Robert O’Toole

This previously sold out workshop is running at just about the prime time for tons of activity, awesome action and great weather. 2011 will be Robert’s sixth year photographing and leading workshops to photograph Coastal Brown Bears in Katmai. This workshop was previously sold out so act soon if you would like to join Robert’s group. This trip should offer opportunities for lots and lots of coastal Brown Bears of various ages including spring cubs (nursing and playing), eating luscious green grass, and clamming. Also we should have chances to photograph bears fishing for salmon. Bald Eagles with chicks in the nest are probable, both puffin species are also possible, and likely chances with hauled out and endangered Steller’s Sea Lions. Halibut fishing (license required) is optional.

For more information, click here.

You can get Robert on his cell at 310.619.8017 or reach him via e-mail.

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Coastal Brown Bear Family, Hallo Bay, Katmai, Alaska
Image copyright 2011: Robert OToole Photography.com

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR and TC-14E 1.4x II Teleconverter with the Nikon D700 (full frame). ISO 1250. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

This time of the year in Alaska some of the best photography happens late in the evenings when we have some of the best light. Most people would guess this image was made at 7 am but if fact it was made at about 10 pm.

Dalmatian Pelican Workshop, Northern Greece, Feb 6-11, 2012. Six full days. $2799. Three photographers/boat, leader: Robert O’Toole (You need to be at the hotel on the late afternoon or early evening of Feb 5, 2012).

My first trip to Greece with Artie to photograph these amazing birds was one of my best trips ever. Our biggest problem was trying to keep from filling our cards. Artie was close to filling a 32GB CF card for the first time in his life! This workshop will offer morning and evening in-the-field instructional photography sessions from shore and on the water from boats. Afternoons we will be spending time on image optimization, workflow and friendly helpful critique sessions as a group and one on one.

For more information, click here.

You can get Robert on his cell at 310.619.8017 or reach him via e-mail.

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Dalmatian Pelican in full breeding colors in flight, northern Greece.
Image copyright 2011: Robert OToole Photography.com

Nikon D700 with Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 APO OS HSM. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/8.0 in Manual mode.

These birds are most well known for the curly feathers on the bird’s nape and the top of the head; I time the workshop tso that we will see and photograph the birds in breeding plumage with their black bills, bright red pouches, and bright orange lores.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of my favorite gear and some of the other equipment mentioned in this Bulletin. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM zoom lens. Though I used this lens only once I was quite impressed with the sharpness and quick initial focus acquisition. It would make a great starter lens for folks living near tame birds. (Note: it does not accept a 1.4X teleconverter.)
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot with the 1.4X III TC which is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses. I used the 70-200 alone to create all of the images at Scott’s place.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.
Nikon D700. This is Robert’s favorite camera body.
The Nikon 500 VR is pretty much unavailable to the general public.
Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x Teleconverter for D-AF-S & AF-I Lenses ONLY. TCs are vitally important to all telephoto photographers.
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 APO OS HSM Nikon mount. I have seen with my own eyes the amazing images that Robert has produced with this versatile lens. )(Note: Robert is a Sigma Professional.)
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 APO OS HSM Canon mount. This one is also offered with a Canon mount.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable. Clicking on the link below will bring you to the Delkin web site. There is lots of great stuff there. If you see a product that we do not carry let us know via e-mail; we will be glad to have it drop-shipped to you and save you a few bucks in the process.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gift with each order over $50.

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