March 31st, 2013


  • Head Angle Lesson
  • Announcing the 2013 Bosque IPT
  • Affiliate Links
  • Google/NIK Price Slash
  • The Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux–Roseate Spoonbill IPT/with Two Shorter Options
  • The Blog is the Bomb!
  • Used Camera Gear
  • IPT Info

Head Angle Considerations

You’ve gotten close. The light is nice. You have data well into the right-most box of the histogram with no blinkies. You have the active sensor on the bird’s eye, a fast shutter speed, and a bit of extra depth-of-field. You are sure that you have framed what will be a very nice image design. So you push the shutter button somewhat indiscriminately once or twice and head off to look for another subject. You wind up with Image A above. You remember reading somewhere that having the bird’s head and bill parallel to the imaging sensor was best so you are pleased with Image A.

Now compare Image A with Image B. Which is more pleasing to you? Which bird looks more alive? Which image makes you feel more connected to the bird? Which image has the best light on the face? For most of you the answer will be Image B.

Note: both of the images in the animated GIF are unprocessed; they were created from the extracted JPEGs.

The Lesson

When the bird itself is square to the back of the camera (see Subject to Film Plane Orientation in ABP II) the very best head angle usually has the bird’s head turned 2 to 4 degrees towards you. There are, however, many different situations where a different head angle is best. To learn a ton more, check out the Head Angle Fine Points thread at BirdPhotographer’s.Net in BPN’s most under-utilized forum: Tutorials and Educational Resources. Though it has been pretty much inactive for a while, this thread, which has had 31,444 views and 380 replies, is indeed a tremendous resource for those who truly wish to learn.

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This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops off the sky just above the mountains: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Central sensor/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Announcing the 2013 Bosque IPT

BOSQUE del APACHE 2013 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 26-DEC 2, 2013. 7-FULL DAYS: $3399. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 6:30 pm on 11/25. Limit: 12.

Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks including point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. This will make 19 consecutive Novembers at Bosque for me. Nobody knows the place better than I do. Join us to learn to think like a pro, to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather, especially the sky conditions, the light, and the wind direction. Every time we make a move we will let you know why. When you head home applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable. Includes all lunches and the Thanksgiving Buffet at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque. I hope that you can join me for what will be an unparalleled learning experience.

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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Snow Geese cottonwood blast-off, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NW. This image was created on the morning of 11/20/2011 with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR)

. ISO 100. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/2 sec. at f/22 set manually. I panned with the birds. Histogram check via Live View.

Central Sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Lens/camera body Micro-adjustment: +2. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

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A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

As some folks believe, pleasing blurs are not out of focus mistakes. If you would like to learn how to create these increasingly popular images, get yourself a copy of “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and yours truly.

Affiliate Links

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

Regular readers well know that I spend an inordinate amount of time each week preparing blog posts and the BAA Online Bulletins in order to bring you the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information and to share with you my favorite new images. I have long resisted efforts to charge a fee for each. Please Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links below or on the product-specifics links in each post. in this blog post. Both B&H and Amazon offer world class service and the lowest prices you will find anywhere. And using one of our links will not cost you a penny more. When shopping at B&H be sure to place an item in your cart to see the often too-low-to show actual price. In many cases B&H is forbidden by the manufacturer from publicizing their lowest price!

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Consider doing all of your shopping using the search link below. You'll be getting the same low prices and great service that you are accustomed to and at the same time, supporting my efforts in the Bulletins and on the Blog to bring you great images, timely product news and info, and tons of free educational articles on an almost daily (and sometimes almost back-breaking) basis 🙂 Just type your search in the little white box and hit Go.

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This image was created this morning at Indian Lake Estates with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering + 1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

Central sensor Surround/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF on the base of the neck where it meets the bird's folded wing (on the same plane as the eye) active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Crane Colt

The crane colt in the image above is the same bird seen in the 2nd image in the blog post here; it is amazing how quickly this one grew in 3 weeks, 3 days.

Google/NIK Price Slash

Thanks to the many who notified me of the the NIK price slash. I believe that Leo Miller was the first when he sent me this link: Google to offer all of Nik’s software plugins for $149.

Here, in part, is the gist of it: Today the company announced the Nik Collection by Google, which is every single one of Nik’s desktop plugins in a single bundle, for just $149. This marks the end of them being sold as separates, and for that flat fee, you get Dfine® 2.0, Viveza® 2, HDR Efex Pro™ 2, Color Efex Pro™ 4 Complete Edition, Silver Efex Pro™ 2, and Sharpener Pro™ 3.0. Previously, individual plugins would run around the $100 mark, with a bundle of all of them costing as much as $500. The new, $149 bundle will not just feature all six plugins, but will work on all supported applications from a single installer: Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Apple Aperture.

Then, it got even better. IPT veteran Rachel Hollander sent me this via e-mail: Hi Artie - Happy Passover! I hope all is well with you. So far, so good with my new 300 II. I'm not sure if you saw that Google is now offering the complete suite of Nik Plug-ins for only $149. When I clicked in through your portal it also gave me an additional 15% discount bringing it down to under $130. Just thought you might want to let people know. All the best, Rachel

So there you have it. Price is no longer an excuse for not using Color Efex Pro. Click here, enter BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out, and then hit Apply to see your savings, and purchase the entire Suite for $126.65. Hard to believe indeed. Jeez, I forgot to mention that, as regular readers well know, NIK Color Efex Pro has drastically improved my digital workflow and the look and quality of my processed images in the past year.

As it turns out, NIK will give you the suite for free if you purchased one of the programs within the past five years. Most automatically received an e-mail from them to that effect. Some did not. Bill Richardson kindly provided this information via a comment on the blog post here: "Just talked to NIK. I did not get their email automatically for some reason. They sent it to me at my request after verifying I had bought a program from them in last 5 years. Here is NIK's correct phone number: 888 284-4085. If you are a past buyer, they will send you an email with the download link. Be sure to un-install all old versions before installing new suite.

You can find some NIK magic and image optimization tips here.

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This Roseate Spoonbill image was created at Alafia Banks in Tampa Bay on a Hooptie Deux trip with the tripod-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR AF lens (in stock!), the Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x Teleconverter for D-AF-S & AF-I Lenses ONLY, and the Nikon D-700 replaced by the Nikon D800 Digital SLR. ISO 640: 1/1600 f/8 in Manual mode.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: James Shadle/Wild Florida Photography. See lots more of James images from this year here.

Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux–Roseate Spoonbill Short Notice IPT

The 2nd New Concept IPT: the Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux–Roseate Spoonbill Short Notice IPT/April 3-7, 2013/5 DAYS: $2399. Strict limit: six photographers/ openings 3. Early April can be superb at Alafia Banks. Early April is almost always superb at Fort DeSoto. Click here for complete details.

With only three registrants, this one is shaping up to be a practically private affair and represents an amazing opportunity for you to grow as a photographer. For more info on the complete IPT, click here.

Two Short Versions of the Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux--Roseate Spoonbill IPT

Can't make the whole thing? Consider one of the two abbreviated versions below.

Short Version #1: Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux--Roseate Spoonbill IPT/April 3-5, 2013/3 FULL DAYS: $1399. Strict limit: six photographers/Openings: 5.

Early April can be superb at Alafia Banks. Early April is almost always superb at Fort DeSoto.

Here is the structure and schedule: I will be leading all three days of this Short Version 3-DAY IPT. We will spend one full day on the Hooptie Deux, either Thursday or Friday. The first day and one of the next two full days will be at Fort Desoto where the Laughing Gulls will be in splendid breeding plumage with their full black hoods, their wine-red bills, and white eye crescents. They are one of our most under-appreciated species. The Royal, Sandwich, and Forster’s Terns will also be in breeding plumage. And all of these species will be displaying, courting, and mating. You can also expect a variety of wading birds, especially Reddish Egret, and a variety of shorebirds including Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Dunlin, American Oystercatcher, and many more. And you will need to beat the Willets off with a stick. The additional possibilities are too numerous to mention.

As above, we will spend a full day on the Hooptie Deux with James Shadle on either Thursday or Friday depending on the weather. The morning will be at Alafia Banks with spoonbill as the main target species. There will be lots of great flight photography not only with spoonbills, many of which will be in full breeding plumage, but with Brown Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants, Reddish Egret and White Ibis in full breeding plumage, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Turkey and Black Vultures, and lots more. The afternoon Hooptie trip will be at one of several fresh water heronries. James will trailer his customized pontoon boat to the best rookery. Subjects, depending on location, will likely include Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, White Ibis, Black-crowned Night-heron, and Double-crested Cormorant. All nesting and in flight. Most but not all of the photography on a boat trip to the Banks with James is done while standing in the water with your tripod. James has lightweight chest waders and surf booties on board for all at no charge. Folks who wish to keep their expensive Gitzo tripods saltwater free often opt to use Drypods. Learn more here.

Short Version #2: With James Shadle/Roseate Spoonbill/Osprey IPT/April 6-7, 2013/2 FULL DAYS: $899. Strict limit: six photographers/Openings: 5.

Saturday and Sunday with James Shadle will feature a morning on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks and one or more sessions at Honeymoon Island State Park where many dozens of pairs of Osprey are nesting. There will of course be lots of flight photography. Depending on the winds and weather there may be an afternoon session at a Wood Stork rookery or some local beaches that James knows well. All subject to change depending on the weather including wind and sky conditions as well as local conditions. James has an intimate knowledge of each location and has visited them regularly for many years.

Deposit Info

A $500 deposit is needed to hold your spot; call Jim or Jennifer asap at 1-863-692-0906. Your deposit may be placed with a credit card. Your payment in full by personal check will then be due along with your completed paperwork both sent via US Mail. Please print, read, and sign the release form here and include it with your check. If you would rather pay in full via personal check, please call or e-mail immediately to save your spot. With one registrant, both of these will run. Yeah, I know that it might seem nuts but neither James nor I can live with telling folks who have arranged to take time off from work and made travel plans that we are cancelling a trip because we will not be making enough money to justify running it.... Please e-mail with questions or for additional details.

The Blog is the Bomb

I continue to put in 20+ hours a week towards making the blog informative, timely, and beautiful. Most of the educational features that formerly appeared in BAA Bulletins now grace the BAA Blog. 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. If you have a problem subscribing, please contact us via e-mail.

Here are some more links to recent posts of interest:

You will find lots of spoonbills by the young and talented Steven Blandin in "EOS-5D Mark III Sharpshooter" here.

Pick the best of 10 right-out-of-the camera images here.

"Best-ever Hand Holding Tip" is one of my most popular blog posts ever.

Spending to much time at the computer, behind the wheel, watching TV? Back hurt? Click here for some simple health tips.

To see exactly how the focal length of the lens affects the size of the subject in the frame, click here.

If you've never heard of UrbEx Photography, click here.

Learn why it is best always to push the shutter button when you are in doubt in the "Go Figure" blog post.

To learn why there is never a detailed itinerary on a BAA Instructional Photo-Tour click here.

Like flowers or photography? Check out Depth-of-Field Lesson.

Learn why I love my 5D Mark III here.

How good a flight photography camera is the Canon EOS-1D X? Click here to find out.

You can find complete Canon telephoto lens specs here; be sure to bookmark this page for quick reference.

Used Camera Gear

Walt Novinger

Walt is offering a used Sigma 300-800 f/5.6 EX DG APO IF HSM Autofocus Lens for Canon EOS, aka The Sigmonster in like new condition. Used only 4-5 times: $6,000. The sale includes the original shipping box and the original soft lens case. Includes shipping in the continental US. You can call Walt at 1-442.222.4081 or by e-mail. James Shadle used the Nikon mount version of this lens to create many great images. Strong folks can save a bundle as this is a steal at $2,000 below list.

Dr. Steve Bein

Steve is offering lightly used EOS-5D Mark II in excellent condition for $1,500. The body was just returned from Canon for a clean and check. The purchase includes an extra battery, charger, two straps--the factory strap and a wider more comfortable one. All manuals, cables, CD's. And insured shipping in the US. Steve just purchased a 5D Mark III. Lucky guy. A borrowed 5D Mark II saved my January Southern Oceans cruise after I trashed my two EOS-1D Maark IV bodies in the rain at the start of the trip....

Please contact Steve via e-mail or call him at home at 1-310-838-2346. As a last resort try him on his cell at 1-310-850-6061.

Ramona Boone

Ramona is offering the following used items for sale:

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS lens with its trunk, leather cover, hood, rear lens cap, drop in filter holder, forest green Lens Coat, strap, and 4th generation NP 51 low foot. All in very good condition. Just serviced by Canon: $5900.

Please contact Ramona with any questions: 1-719 231 5874 or via e-mail.


On all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. 🙂

9 comments to BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #436

  • avatar Nancy Hazen

    Thank you for posting such great information, Artie. I was hoping you will be at the PhotoExpoWest this year in Del Mar. Are you going to be presenting there?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      YAW. Can you send me a link to the Photo Expo thing? I know that Delkin is no longer involved. thanks and later and love, artie

  • Dear Arthur,
    Thank you for sharing your incredible images. They are truly amazing to me.

  • avatar Jamie Medford

    I much prefer image A to B, as Ron said bird looks more relaxed and looks like your an observer into its world. With B there is interaction with you, and whilst I agree it doesn’t looked stressed, you loose the sense of an observer.

  • Image B. All day, every day.

  • avatar Ron Toel

    Artie…….I disagree with your selection of the best image 0f A&B of the oyster catcher in your head angle series. I connect most with Image A because there the bird is at ease. Image B the bird has discovered it has been had and is ready to engage the figth or flight response. Look at the eyes of each image. Both are great images but I like A because the bird is at ease.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Not only do I disagree with your choice but your assumption that the bird in B is in anyway stressed is not at all accurate. The bird was totally at ease for the entire session. We actually crawled away and left the pair where we found them. Bird’s are routinely looking this way and that. I meant to mention that folks need to be aware of head angle. When a group of good photographers is on the same subject you will hear the shutters all fire at the same time. Another thing that I did not mention is that when the bird’s head and bill are angled slightly towards you the bill and the eye are pretty much on the same plane; that yields a sharper looking image that can really help especially when you are working wide open.