September 24th, 2009

Birds As Art Bulletin #299



no images were found

Creating images like this is a piece of cake on the cliffs at LaJolla.

no images were found

Brown Pelicans preening, La Jolla, CA
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
I regret that time constraints do not permit the inclusion of our legendary educational captions. Not to worry, this is not a permanent change and the EXIF data for all of the San Diego images here can be viewed in the San Diego IPT Gallery here:


After skipping San Diego last year (and visiting Morro Bay instead), I have decided that I missed San Diego and those gorgeous pelicans too, too much and will be returning this January. Here are the details:

San Diego IPT JAN 13-17, 2010 5 Full Days: $2395 (Limit 8/Openings: 7).

Slide program on the evening of TUE JAN 12. Deposit: $500 due immediately. You may pay your deposit with either a personal check or with a credit card and a phone call (863-692-0906). Folks who register before October 7 will have a $100 discount applied to their balance. Balances may be paid only by check and will be due on October 13, 2009. As always, this IPT will run with only a single participant.

To complete a valid registration, please fill out and complete the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms that can be found here: and Release Forms.pdf If you call with a credit card to register, please be sure to print, sign, and return the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms within ten days.

The gate at the Cave Store Cliffs has been unlocked for many, many months and my understanding is that the fence has now been removed as well. (Though I am not quite positive on the cause and effect here I do know that Scott Bourne had a show-cause order filed with regards to public access at this location.)

We will get to photograph killer breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with the red bill pouches at close range and in flight. Santee Lakes will yield close-up Wood Ducks and lots more; White Pelicans are likely there. LaJolla Shores Beach will yield Marbled Godwits in beautiful buff reflections and this spot and Coronado will give us chances on a variety of gorgeous gulls and several shorebird species as well. I selected dates that feature perfect tides for both our morning and afternoon coastal locations. And we will have extensive time for image review and Photoshop techniques.

100 Reasons to Register for the San Diego IPT You can view a gallery with my 100 favorite San Diego images here:

Click on the first image to see and then click on next to view the images as a slide show. Scroll down to see the EXIF data for each image (including those above and below). Then send your deposit check 🙂 I do hope that you can join us.

no images were found

American Coot, San Diego, CA
All images below Copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
The EXIF data for all of the San Diego images here can be viewed in the San Diego IPT Gallery here


If you are hungry for more Brown Bear images, be sure to check out the recent posts by clicking here I will soon be posting “Katmai Quick Mask Magic.”

no images were found

California Gull, San Diego, CA

no images were found

Heerman’s Gull, San Diego, CA


Below is an e-mail conversation that I had with BPN member Bryan Hix. There are lots of great lessons so read carefully to the end.

I did forget to mention that if you are desperate for speed, just crank up the ISO to the max. To see the spectacular gator eating baby pelican image and the developing BPN thread, click here:

BH: I have a question that I can’t seem to find in both ABP or ABP II. First off, I am so glad I have taken the time to try to learn exposure theory better because I can honestly say I have been doing it wrong.

AM: That is good. ABP is the place to learn exposure theory, and–as you know–the CD book can help you learn to create spot-on exposures with digital cameras by evaluating and adjusting your histograms.

BH: My question is this: what is the best way to determine the ideal ISO setting?

AM: In general I choose the ISO that would give me (approximately) a minimum shutter speed in a given situation. This minimum shutter speed can vary tremendously. For years, I strove to work with shutter speeds of at least 1/60 second when working in low light. I could routinely create sharp images with the 500 and the 600 with the 2X TC at 1/60 sec.. At times I would drop down to 1/30 sec. when working with the prime lenses alone. Things have changed a bit with the 800 f/5.6L lens and its new 4-stop IS system. I am now willing to try working at speeds between 1/6 and 1/30 sec. with the prime lens alone.

If the subject is moving, then I need to be in the 1/250 sec. range that you mentioned. The same goes if I am handholding an intermediate telephoto. If it is flying, I strive for at least 1/500 sec. And I strive for that on the rare occasions that I opt to handhold a long lens.

Another part in my thinking has to go with how much noise I am willing to deal with. As you can see, there are many complex factors involved in choosing an ISO setting.

BH: If I am generally out taking photos in early or late light, I try to pick an ISO setting where I can have the shutter be at least 1/250 with my 500mm and 1.4x TC to stop any blur (not sure if that’s even right).

AM: Are you on a tripod or handholding?

BH: At first light, I might be over ISO 1000, but I also might be using my Better Beamer as well. Do I need to have that high of an ISO with a flash or is there some ideal setting for that?

AM: Fill flash will always yield an increase in image sharpness so when using flash you can risk a somewhat lower shutter speed than the 1/60 or 1/30 sec. mentioned above.

BH: Also, once the sun is full strength, do you always try to go as high as you can regardless of flash or not?

AM: (Not sure that I understand your question….) My favorite MIII ISO is 400. In very bright sun I will sometimes drop down to ISO 320 or even 250.

BH: Finally, is there ever a need for auto ISO?

AM: Yes. In two cases (but only if your camera offers the feature) . The first is in very low light when you are trying to create intentionally blurred images. After setting ISO Safety Shift on my MIII body, I set the ISO to 200, set the amount of plus compensation that I need (being careful not to burn the RED channel if there is some color in the sky), and–while working in Tv mode–select a slow shutter speed, the darker it is, the slower speed I set but no slower than 1/4 second and that only for distant flocks. As the light levels increase, I can raise the shutter speeds to more :normal” blur speeds like 1/8, 1/15, and 1/30 second. The camera will set the ISO to the lowest needed to attain the shutter speed that you have set.

When the blurred action is over, I raise my ISO back to 400 (or to 800 if need be), and switch to either Av or Manual mode.

When working from a water craft in low changing light conditions I do somewhat of the opposite. I set up the camera as above but select the minimum shutter speed that I would like to use, usually 1/500 second. Again, the camera will switch to the lowest ISO needed to yield the selected shutter speed (with the compensation already set).

BH: After reading both books, I am using AV mode a lot more versus manual because I tend to take pictures with constantly changing backgrounds and I find that this has helped a lot.

AM: Ah. Once you get comfortable working in manual mode you can put what you’ve learned to better use by simply setting the correct exposure for the bird (against any background). Then you will not need to be changing from -2/3 to +2 stops when the background changes almost instantaneously.

Let me know if you have any additional questions. Later and love, artie

no images were found

Marbled Godwits fighting, La Jolla, CA

no images were found

Surfbird, La Jolla, CA


I will be returning early in the month to Katmai next September with another group. Four folks have already signed up. The dates and price below are tentative. If the dates change, it will only be by a day or two. If the rates are raised, the price of the trip will go up. Here’s the great news: register now and lock in the rate below which is the same as the 2009 rate.

Bear Boat IPT: Sept 4-10. 2010: $6,999. Limit (6 if one boat, 10 if two boats). It is advised that you be in Anchorage on the afternoon of the September 2nd to be assured of not missing the boat!). This is the bears-catching-salmon trip. In addition, Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls eating roe are a certainty. Stellar’s Sea Lions are very likely. Dark phase Northern Fulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes (including the gorgeous immatures), and Harbor Seals are possible. Did I mention bears catching salmon? And more bears catching salmon? We will spend some time fishing for halibut on the higher tides. (The bears are busy catching salmon on the lower tidal stages.)

Included: Round-trip airfare from Anchorage to Kodiak. Round-trip float plane airfare from Kodiak to Katmai. All meals on the boat. One night’s lodging in Anchorage. (If you opt to arrive on the 2nd as recommended, that night is on you.) Guide services. In-the-field instruction. Image reviews and Photoshop tutoring.

Not included: guide and crew tip ($200 recommended). Airfare from your home-city to and from Anchorage.

Non-refundable deposit: $2000 due immediately to reserve your spot. First payment: $3,000 due February 1, 2010. Final payment: $1,999 due May 1, 2010. To complete a valid registration, please fill out and complete the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms that can be found here: and Release Forms.pdf

Deposits may be paid by check or by credit card. Balances must be paid by personal check. Those using a credit card (phone only: 863-692-0906) to register will be advised to print, sign, and return the Registration and the Release & Assumption of Risk forms within ten days. I do hope that you can join us for the trip of a lifetime.


no images were found

Great news: I just learned that this image will be one of eighteen honored images in this year’s National Wildlife Federation’s contest. More great news: I just learned that this image is in the finals of the Nature’s Best contest.

BIRDS AS ART proudly announces the limited sale of another classic Arthur Morris image, “Gannets in Love.”

This endearing image was created at Bonaventure Island, Perce, Quebec, Canada. The thick gallery wrap (1 ½ inches) canvas is hand-made in the US under the supervision of the artist and is available only through BIRDS AS ART.

This is the second in a series of Arthur Morris’ digitally signed, numbered, limited edition gallery-wrapped canvas prints. The canvas is stretched over custom-made wood supports. The canvas has no frame and appears to float on the wall. There’s no need for a frame for stability since the structure is inside the art. These fine canvas limited edition prints are covered with a rear black dust cover. The hanging wire is neatly attached and a courtesy package with two clear bump-ons, a nickel plated hanger and nail are included.

This edition will be limited to 100 pieces of any size. Once the final print is sold the edition will be permanently closed making each Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART print a valuable collectible. Each 16 x 24 inch print is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The first fifty prints will sell for only $349 plus $20 shipping and handling to all US addresses. Once 50 prints are sold, the price will rise to $424. The last five prints will sell for $499. (Please e-mail for prices on other sizes and for framing options.)

Prints ordered before September 30, 2009 may apply a $50 discount. These prints are in stock and ready to ship now.

Shipping and handling to Canada will require an additional $35 handling fee. (Canadian orders may be subject to Customs delays and duties and require payment via personal check or money order in US funds.)

Each image will be professionally packed to avoid damage during transit. All fees are due and payable in advance in US funds. (We cannot be responsible for delays at customs.)

Payment may be by check or money order mailed to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855, by Paypal to, or by credit card. Please call 863-692-0906 for credit card orders.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied we will gladly accept a return for exchange or refund provided that the item is returned within seven days of receipt and is in saleable condition. We refund only the purchase price plus the shipping and handling. Return shipping is the responsibility of the customer. This guarantee does not include prints that you damage or that are damaged in shipping. If your print is damaged in shipping, please let us know and we will arrange to have a replacement sent. Please allow 14 days for your check to clear.

We are 100% positive that ”Gannets in Love” will join “Fire in the Mist” and become a treasured collector’s item; thank you for your support of my work.

no images were found


Do you have some gear to sell? Write for our Items for Sale guidelines. Why pay 20% elsewhere when you can sell your stuff quickly via the Bulletin for just a 5% brokerage fee?

Note: all of the items listed in Bulletin #298 sold almost instantly.

no images were found

Wood Duck, San Diego, CA


After a relatively peaceful start, the BPN thread that developed after I posted the image of George Brunt and the Friendly Bear image in the Friends and Family Forum became a firestorm of activity; 2 pages with 83 comments and 2762 views. Though the thread has been closed after a peaceful ending, it does make for some interesting reading. You can find it here:

no images were found

no images were found

Brown Pelican, La Jolla, CA (2 images above)


BOSQUE del APACHE 2009 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 21-27, 2009.

Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 20. 7-FULL DAYS: $3199. (Non-refundable deposit: $500; see details below.) Limit: 10/Openings: 1. Co-leaders: Scott Bourne and Robert O’Toole. 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. Plus two great co-leaders and lots of Photoshop instruction.


Slide program on the evening of FEB 9. Slide program on the evening of FEB 11. 6-FULL DAYS: $2799. (Non-refundable deposit: $500.) Limit: 10/Openings: 3. Co-leaders: Tim Grey and Alfred and Fabiola Forns.

Imagine having Photoshop guru Tim Grey at your side to answer your Photoshop questions for 6 full days! Escape winter’s icy grip and join me in Florida in the land of ridiculously tame birds. This IPT will visit Little Estero Lagoon which has been fantastic for the past three years (and been getting better each year), the Venice Rookery, several killer Burrowing Owl nests on Cape Coral, and several spots on Sanibel including Blind Pass, the Sanibel Fishing Pier, and the East Gulf beaches (for Snowy Plover). If we have a foggy drizzly morning we may visit Corkscrew Swamp and Sanctuary. We have arranged for morning low tides at Little Estero and a setting full moon for our Saturday visit to the Venice Rookery For the first time ever, we will not be visiting Ding Darling NWR as photographic opportunities there have been diminishing steadily for the past decade. As you can see, I am teaching less and less, taking fewer folks, and lengthening the IPTs to allow for a slightly more relaxed pace with repeat visits to the best locations.

A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold a spot for each of the above IPTs. Deposits may be paid by check, Paypal, or credit card. Payment in full (by check or money order) is due four months before the start of each trip and is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out. You will be required to sign a statement of understanding to this effect. Travel insurance is of course highly recommended. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options, you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage, which expands the list of reasons for your canceling to an infinite list, from a sudden work or family obligation to a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. We regret that we must implement this new policy but we have recently been plagued by last minute cancellations that make it impossible for others to participate and deprive us of essential income.

no images were found

no images were found

Brown Pelican, La Jolla, CA (2 images above)

Comments are closed.