February 20th, 2012


  • Cheesemans’ Antarctic Peninsula In-depth Expedition to the White Continent
  • Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris

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Brash ice & iceberg, Cierva Cove, Antarctica. This image was created from a zodiac with the hand held Canon 16-35mm L lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/16 in Av Mode. AI Servo/lowest central sensor/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

For a much greater appreciation of this image, click on the photo.

Cheesemans’ Antarctic Peninsula In-depth Expedition to the White Continent/December 30, 2012 to January 17, 2013

This in-depth exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula will spend 16 days onboard the Ortelius during the peak Antarctic season featuring active penguin chicks and frequent “chick chases,” greater access to ice-sensitive areas, penguins and seals on sea ice, and large numbers of Humpback and other whales. Our ship, the comfortable Ortelius, has the highest ice-class notation and is very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. On our early 2102 voyage to the Southern Oceans, my roommate Pablo Fernicola and I both found the Ortelius to be a great ship, roomy and stable. It is strong, fast, and safe, the perfect vessel for travel to Antarctica. And the charter is an exclusive one; Cheesemans’ charters the entire ship to ensure a cohesive group experience and allow for maximum flexibility.

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This image was created with the hand held Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, 1.4X III TC, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1 in Av mode.

Close encounters with Humpback Whales will be likely on the Cheesemans’ In-depth Expedition to the White Continent. These two were photographed in the Weddell Sea.

With an incredible ten to eleven days (depending on sea conditions) set aside for landings along the Antarctic Peninsula, you will enjoy far more depth to this itinerary than the typical Antarctic tour. These landings will–weather permitting of course–include extended visits to must-see places such as Paulet Island, the spectacular Baily Head on Deception Island, and several rarely visited sites. This voyage will venture farther south than others to the Weddell Sea and to the Antarctic Circle along the Western Peninsula. Workshops, photo critiques and personal time with seasoned instructors including Patrick Endres and my friends Rod and Marlene Planck will make this an incredible photography experience. Rod’s presentations on my voyage inspired me tremendously and tips from Rod and Tom Murphy allowed me to maximize my ample time on shore; each told me where to go and how to get their quickly. This tour will allow you to truly bask in the magnificence of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 1.4X III TC (at 175mm), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/8 in Av mode.

The landing at Bailey Head, Deception Island was one of my two favorites on the whole trip. The Chinstrap Penguin colony seemed to go on forever…. See more Bailey Head images here.

There will be tons of time on shore and for zodiac cruising so that you can enjoy photography, wildlife observation, and soaking up the landscapes of the great Antarctic. Cheesemans’ priorities are to assure the most in-depth wildlife experience in the Antarctic and your utter and complete safety all made possible by the comprehensive itinerary and their large expedition staff of Antarctic veterans led by expedition leader Hugh Rose. With a total of 13 diverse leaders with a great variety of expertise you will be able to take part in photography seminars, drawing classes, bird and nature walks, plus lectures on geology, history, ecology, and more. This voyage offers a tremendous value with a lower cost per day than other Antarctica only tour while offering an unmatched participant to leader ratio of 7:1. Since 1994 Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris has operated the longest, most in-depth expeditions to the Antarctic region, a destination of unmatched splendor that deserves no less. If you’ve dreamed of visiting Antarctica to photograph the penguins and mind boggling ice-scapes, you will want to register for this trip asap. Click here for complete details and an itinerary.

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This Leopard Seal image was created from a zodiac with the hand held tripod-mounted Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, 2X III teleconverter (at 245mm), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

I cruised the brash ice and icebergs at Cierva Cove for about 8 hours and opted to head back to the ship at about 4pm. Others opted to stay out an additional 3 hours…. .

Here is a pertinent comment from shipmate and IPT veteran Mark Van Bergh: “It was indeed a great trip and I have to echo your comments that every “change of plans” call that Ted made worked out for the best (which I think was just about every day we were in the peninsula).”

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This Adelie Penguin image was created on Paulet Island with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, 1.4X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode.

It was typical of the trip; we started with bright sun on Paulet Island and wound up with clouds.

Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris

A great safari is more than remote destinations and remarkable wildlife – it is a journey woven through foreign lands and seas leading to experiences made possible through inspiration, organization, and leadership. For over thirty years, Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris has provided these unforgettable experiences during in-depth tours to the world’s richest ecosystems. Their itineraries are unique and preparation is thorough, but most importantly, the leadership is exceptional. With broad backgrounds in nature and wildlife, their leaders desire to deepen your understanding of each destination so you can take-away the photographs and memories that allow you to become nature’s ambassador.

Gail and Doug Cheeseman have been leading wildlife safaris to their favorite destinations since 1978. Inspired by his parent’s passion, Ted joined them in leading safaris over 15 years ago. Now the three work together with their staff to offer you superlative nature tours to destinations such as Antarctica, Tanzania, Kenya, Bhutan, Brazil, India, Galapagos, and many more. Doug is a professor emeritus of Ecology and Zoology, Ted holds a Masters in Tropical Conservation Biology, and Gail is a naturalist of the best kind – self-taught through a lifetime in the field. Together, they are a family of truly remarkable ecologists who seek to inspire travelers to enjoy and conserve the Earth’s wild landscapes.

Find out more about Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, including a complete tour listing, by clicking here. If you have any questions you can shoot them an e-mail or call 800.527.5330.

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SW FLA IPT. FEB 16-21, 2013. Introductory slide program: 7pm on 2/15. 6-FULL DAYS: $2999. Limit: 10.

Co-leaders: TBA. My bread and butter trip; learn the basics and the advanced fine points from the best; escape winter’s icy grip and enjoy tons of tame birds! Subjects will include nesting Great Blue Heron and Great Egret, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Mottled Duck, Brown and White Pelican at point-blank range, Snowy & Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Osprey, wintering shorbirds and plovers, gulls and terns, & Burrowing Owl. All ridiculously tame.

Click here to learn more about this IPT and to see lots of sample images from previous IPTs.

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This Great Egret image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, 1.4X III TC (handheld at 280mm), and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering 1 2/3 stops: 1/800 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode.

Folks who join IPTs always leave with a greater understanding of how to consistently get the right exposure. Especially in low light where pretty much everyone underexposes their RAW files.


Dear Artie: Thanks so much for an amazing 6 days. I think I learned more than I ever have in my life in such a short period, and you know I have been to school way too many times! You are such an inspiration to me and I really appreciated the opportunity to view your photographs as you were editing them and to hear you talk about the ways you achieve such incredible artistic renderings of youR subjects. I agree with you that the mystical extra 10 percent in nature photography is the spiritual connection to nature and to one’s subjects. That is what it is all about for me.

I am so thankful that Jeff Ripple recommended that I study with you. He knows my orientation to photography and he thought you would be the best teacher for me since I wanted to study bird photography and to learn to photograph moving objects. Please thank Jim at the BAA office also for encouraging me. He is a very sweet and patient man, as are you even though you claim that you don’t suffer fools gladly… Anyway, I just wanted you to know I had an incredible time and that I am so grateful that you are willing to share your gift with aspiring photographers like myself. I so appreciate your feedback and encouragement and I know my experience with you will improve all my photographic endeavors including my landscapes and macros. Birds aren’t so bad either–in fact I quite like them now.

Have a wonderful time in Japan. Please let me know whenever you are doing anything in Florida because I would love to study with you more. I will definitely be signing up for more trips too. You are welcome to visit and stay here anytime you are in the area. All the best!! Sending love, Lynne

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Roseate Spoonbill in flight above mangroves, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux, February 14, 2012. . With the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop off the blue sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo.


I am always amazed when folks who visit Florida for the express purpose of photographing Roseate Spoonbill go home disappointed. To say that Ding Darling ain’t what it used to be is a vast understatement…. If you want to photograph lots of spoonbills all that you need to do is spend a few days with James Shadle on his photo-customized pontoon boat, the Hooptie Deux. Click here and scroll down for complete details and to see some of James’ incredible images from Alafia Banks.

James’ “In the Field Workshops” is the original Tampa Bay nature photography (by boat) workshop and tour leader. He has an exciting list of locations that will give you the opportunity to create incredible images of dramatic behavior and stunning plumages. He knows the bay better than anyone as he has been doing it longer than anyone and as the images show, he knows how to make great pictures and can teach you to do the same. James owns and operates a 20′ tri-toon boat (The Hooptie Deux) that has been customized specifically for photography workshops. It’s roomy, comfortable, and stable. The boat is equipped with a quiet and environmentally friendly E-Tec outboard motor. It also has a powerful, silent, electric trolling motor with wireless remote control. The boat can be configured with no top for on-board photography or with a bimini top to provide shelter from sun and rain. Refreshments are available at all times.

Call or e-mail in advance to inquire about dates and rates. You can get in touch with James for additional info or to schedule a Custom Workshop or Tour via e-mail, by cell phone at (813) 363-2854 or on his home phone (early evenings best) at (813-689-5307). If by cell phone it is best to call back rather than to leave a message.

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Double-crested Cormorant with nesting material, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux. With the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the blue sky: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. On the Hooptie Deux, February 14, 2012.

Central Sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo.

If you are set up in Manual mode for spoonbills simply open up one full stop for a cormorant whether it is sunny or cloudy.

Hooptie Deux Practicalities

While it is possible to photograph from the boat, the best opportunities for spoonbills usually occur when you exit the boat and wade in the Gulf. The bottom is hard but you do of course need to wade slowly and carefully while being careful for rocks, holes, and oyster beds. By wading under James’ careful supervision and with his guidance, you will be able to get much closer to the birds and have more control over light angle and perspective. Waders and surf booties will be provided for those who need them. Do note however that folks without super-telephoto lenses and those who want to stay out of the water can create some great flight images by working from the boat. For those who exit the boat with their big tripod-mounted telephoto lenses it is often best to take only a single lens; having a flight lens on your shoulder may lead to all types of gear disasters….

Here are simple directions for getting to the dock in Gibsonton, FL, just east of Tampa: From I-75 north or south take exit 250, Gibsonton Drive. Head west a bit more than one mile to S. Tamiami Trail which is US 41. If the light at 41 is red do not stop on the RR tracks. 🙂 Turn right (or north) on 41 and cross the low bridge over the Alafia River. The first traffic light will be at Riverview Drive. Turn left there and then turn left immediately, and I do mean immediately, onto the road that leads into Williams Park. Take a spot on the right at the far end of the lot which is closest to the boat ramp. Find James and get ready for the time of your life.

James will let you know when to be at the dock. In a word, early. Here’s a great tip: you will almost always have some great chances to create pleasing blurs of the Fish Crow and White Ibis blast offs with handheld telephoto lenses. Intermediate telephotos and telephoto zooms are ideal. Be sure to set the RGB histogram check it often to avoid burning the red channel. To learn to when, why, and how to work in Tv mode when creating pleasing blurs see A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by yours truly and Denise Ippolito.

Breeding plumage spoonbill photography is generally best from late February through early April. In addition to the spoonbills you will get to photograph Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Great Egret in flight. As the season progresses you can add Glossy Ibis, a variety of shorebirds, and by June and July, baby spoonbills just out of the nest.

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This Fish Crow pre-dawn blur was created with the hand held Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens (hand held at 200mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/8 sec. at f/2.8 in Tv mode. On the Hooptie Deux, February 14, 2012.

After the fact I kicked myself for not grabbing the 300 f/2.8L IS II for the pre-dawn blast offs….

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Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images talked about in this blog post. 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.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Autofocus Lens. This is Canon’s top of the line wide angle zoom 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–as I did for the image of the eagle with fish–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens. This lens proved to be ideal on a tripod for both birds and wildlife with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. All images were super-sharp and the lens was light enough for hand-holding both in the zodiacs and when doing flight photograph from the ship.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital Camera. Canon’s lightweight full frame body is perfect for serious landscape photography and worked out great for wildlife on my Southern Oceans voyage.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
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.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine. Also available for the 7D and the Mark III here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

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