January 20th, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #313



no images were found

Brown Pelican (California race) molting into breeding plumage, La Jolla, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/400 sec. at f/7.1.

California Brown Pelican is one of my very favorite bird species. In this stage of molt, I call them carpet heads because of the almost corrugated pattern on the back of their heads and necks. I am often asked about my composition choice when creating images like this: wishing to show the amazing patterns, details, and colors of the face and bill, I simply follow the “cut don’t clip” guideline. If I wish to create an image that includes the entire bill, I would simply move back a few steps if possible or switch to a shorter effective focal length, perhaps the 400 DO/7D combination. Note the pretty much perfect head angle here with the bird’s head turned perhaps two degrees towards me.


A funny thing happened on the way to asking for help with titles of some of the images in my upcoming exhibit at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida. First, I ran an item in the blog asking for help naming a Red-eyed Tree Frog image that I created at Canopy Lodge in Panama. I received one or two responses. Next, I needed help naming a breeding plumage Great Egret image. For this one, I sent the request to my entire address book on my laptop. Within two days I had received more than 150 responses. It would seem clear that the thousands of folks who enjoy reading the BIRDS AS ART Bulletins. With the blog I am more easily able to deliver important information in a timely basis. I am able to post new images and lessons more easily than I am via Bulletin. And I have striven to make the blog entries more personal than the Bulletin features.

Recent blog posts that you may have missed include: Mark IV and 7D AF Comments, Head Angle Lesson, Air Travel Update, Morton NWR, Noyac, NY, and Jetty Photography and Safety.

We will soon begin offering discounts on selected mail order items only in the blog. And I will post open invitations to IPT introductory slide programs only in the blog. If you have any ideas as to how I could make the blog better, please e-mail me at samandmayasgrandpa@att.net.

You can be notified automatically of learning about new blog entries by subscribing to the RSS feed by clicking here: Entries (RSS)

no images were found

Brown Pelican (California race), cleaning bill pouch, La Jolla, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS lens (handheld) with the EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3.

As mentioned above, the 400 DO/7D combination was a good one. I also used the 7D a ton with the 1.4X II TC and the 7D for handeld photography on the cliffs. I would guess that I used my 800 less than a quarter of the time when photographing the pelicans. For many applications, the 800 is simply too long a focal length on the cliffs. This image was made quite early in the morning and I love the soft, dreamy quality of the background.


The San Diego IPT was pretty much perfect. We had a great group of folks, amazingly perfect weather, ideal winds, overcast when we needed it, fabulous subjects that were most often extremely cooperative, and some great meals. The group dynamics were excellent; the conversations at dinner were interesting and lively and long. And as we packed our gear for the last time late on Sunday afternoon, it began to drizzle.

Yannis Arvanitis and Ray Shapland had been with me on one of the 2006 Bosque IPTs. Yannis–always a smile on his face–was as helpful as can be, quick to toss some scratch to the ducks or to lend a hand whenever needed. Yannis pilots his own small plane. Ray, a tool and die-maker, has a radiant smile and a distinctive British accent that delighted all. Bob Lewis had been to Panama with Linda Robbins and me last fall; he is a knowledgeable birder with a quick smile. Joel Kocen and wife Jo Ann had been with me at Morro Bay a year ago. As Jo Ann has been a Type 1 diabetic for 35 years we’ve always had lots to chat about. Joel and Jo Ann are committed Jews who visit Israel often. For the past ten years they taught youths at risk conversational English and have funded a humanitarian project involving more than a few of Joel’s former students. They were honored at a dinner in Jerusalem this month where they had a chance to visit with many of their young charges and learn of their successes. The Kocens were in Jerusalem to attend a grandson’s Bar Mitzvah at the Wall.

Though she had worked with BAA Posse members Mr. Shadle and Mr. Neiger before, Becky Field, from Minnesota (her images are regularly published by Minnesota Audubon) was on an IPT for the first time as was Darcy Murphy San Diego local who joined us for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. David Neilson, also an IPT first-timer, has led a most interesting life. His present career as world class gemologist followed his work as an ornithological researcher in Antarctica where he studied the two skuas and worked with many famed ornithologists at the Palmer Station.

Todd Gustafson was along as co-leader. His ability to compose the pleasing images in an instant and to create sharp images of birds in flight and in action left everyone in awe. Though he is not as well known as many big-name wildlife photographers his work is as good as it gets–or better (and I do not say that lightly).

Time after time I had the group in the right place at the right time, and even our mistakes proved to be beneficial: I was headed to my favorite scaup spot when Todd got a call on his cell phone from Yannis who was slightly lost. Yannis mentioned some great birds so I abandoned my original plans and we wound up with two great bonus species: Redhead and Surf Scoter. As I say often, “You gotta love it.” With the great success of this year’s trip, it is almost a guarantee that I will be running a 5-DAY San Diego IPT next January. Please e-mail me at birdsasart@att.net if you would like your name placed on the interested list.

no images were found

Redhead drake, Coronado, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/9.

Todd and I mentioned to the group often that for a straight portrait to succeed everything has to be perfect; this image is a good example of that: The bird is in fine feather. The sharpness and exposure are right on. With the bird angled slightly toward me, the head-on-straight position provides the perfect head angle. With the bird placed well back in the frame, the basic composition is fine. The bird’s head is nicely positioned in the reflection of the hull of a white boat immediately behind the subject. And the brownish-red reflections along the left frame edge (the reflections from another boat) connect nicely with the coppery tones of the bird’s head.


From Yannis to the group:

Wow & whew! Thanks again to everyone for making this IPT an outstanding, fun, exhilarating (and exhausting) 5 days for me! Artie & Todd, you guys were great and thanks again for all your hard work and input. I f anyone is interested, I have posted my little photo journal of the workshop on our website. (Mom already called this morning and wanted to know how the trip was 🙂 ) http://www.arvamont.com/photojournal/sandiegoipt/. If anyone else posts photos, I would love to see them too. Best wishes to all of you. Regards, Yannis.

From Becky:

Yannis – Thanks so much for sharing some great images, both of the birds and the pros! It was a fabulous full 5 days! I’ve got about 140 GB of memory to process, but it’ll be easy to delete most of it. I know I got some “killer” shots (as did everyone else) and will share a few when I can. We’re going to a wedding this weekend in D.C., but I’ll send something off by mid-Feb. Were we lucky with the weather??!!!!! So great to meet everyone and work with the best of the best . . . Artie and Todd. I feel extremely privileged and lucky, indeed. Becky

no images were found

Surf Scoter drake, Coronado, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/8.

My NEOS saved the day as we were standing in deep muck to to get light angle on this bonus species. We set a record on this trip with three folks plus me using the relatively new Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens.

From Bob to the group:

Great time, and a delight to meet everyone. Yannis, you are one speedy worker, getting all that up so quickly. I think you got some spectacular shots, and should be very pleased! I especially like the pairs of wood ducks! My attempts at that shot seemed to be persistently frustrated, so I know it wasn’t easy. I’ve posted a few I liked on my flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boblewis – the latest ones in the photostream. Todd, your photos were spectacular to see, and by all means don’t delete me from your mailing list! Artie, thanks as always for all the commentary and advice, and for setting up these IPTs. I know I am now a lot more aware of background, compensation, composition, sun angle, aching back, stiff neck ? Thanks everyone, for making it a very enjoyable, exhausting 5 days. Bob

From Bob to me:

Artie, thanks much for putting all this together. It was fun, and I again learned a lot. I especially liked the critique session, which really emphasized, for me, what makes a good photo or a really good photo… (maybe someday, a great photo!). Yannis and I were both thinking that it would have been interesting and helpful to repeat that session on one of the last days with a few of everyone’s images from the IPT, to reinforce the teachings regarding head angle, light, background, etc. I appreciate your stream of comments during the shoots, re compensation, angle, preparing for an event, etc. Most of the time, I am listening, and trying to incorporate what you’re saying. Some of the time, I tune out – down time needed! But it all worked well. Glad I brought mud boots, liked the fish restaurant, and happy the Jets pulled it out. And wow, thanks for having Todd as the co-instructor. I was somewhat overwhelmed with his slide show. Having just been in the Pantanal, admittedly on a birding, not photography trip, I got some nice images, but his were just spectacular. And I liked his constant upbeat approach to things. He, like you, is a special person. Have a great time on Midway! Regards, Bob

no images were found

Bird of Paradise blossom, Coronado, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/100 sec. at f/7.1.

The background here was a chain link fence and the hull of a boat. I got as tall as possible to keep the background uniform and used the depth-of-field preview button to make sure that I had not brought up the fence. I love using my big glass as a macro lens.

From Joel to the group:

Dear All, What a wonderful 5 days I had being in your company and getting to know such interesting people. I have special thanks for Artie who suffers fools like me with such grace. Each time I go on an IPT with him, I learn so much. Apologies to Yannis for taking the exact same picture as I did of the wood duck face on. We must have been at the same place at the same time. I have had time to process only a few pictures which I will try to share as attachments. Again, thanks for putting up with the only true amateur in the group. Deep regards, Joel


no images were found

Above (Roseate Spoonbill) and below (Sandhill Crane) are the signature images for the Bok Tower Exhibit

no images were found


Canon USA/Explorers of Light is sponsoring a 34-print exhibit of my work entitled BIRDS AS ART: The Bird Photography or Arthur Morris at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales Florida. The work of avian sculptor David Price will also be featured. Folks who would like to attend the Slide Lecture are urged to register immediate by phone as seating is limited: 863-734-1221

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Reception and gallery Walk: 6-7pm
Morris Slide Lecture: 7:30-8:30pm
Book Signing: 8:30-9pm

Thanks to the exhibit sponsors: Canon USA, Andy Thornal Company, Lakeridge Winery, and Lake Wales Medical Center

The exhibit will be open daily at the Visitor Center from January 30 to April 1, 2010, 9am to 5pm.

For the address and Bok Tower info, click here: http://www.boktowergardens.org

Seating for the Morris lecture is limited to 110 folks; pre-registration is required. Please call 863-734-1221 to register. There are less than 40 slots left as of 1/20/10.

no images were found

Wood Duck, Santee Lakes, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/8.

This bird was waiting on the deck of a shelter for a handout from a little girl feeding the coots so several of us were able to approach and create some tight head portaits. The background here is the painted floor of the deck.


Note: It was Tom’s e-mail that inspired me to put in the time and completely revise and overhaul Digital Basics late last year, so thanks Tom! Here is a fairly recent e-mail from him:

Art, Thanks for consolidating and revising Digital Basics; the revision is a huge improvement and I now find DB quite helpful. My Amazon rating gone up to 5 stars, A-One, Highly Recommended. BTW, I helped my 89 year old parents fly from their summer home in Michigan to their winter home in Stuart, Florida last week. After getting them safely settled I drove to the west side of the state to check out Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Little Estero Lagoon, Cape Coral for burrowing owls, the Venice Rookery, and Fort DeSoto. I took lots of photos and had an absolute ball, terrific, thanks to your tips and suggestions in the Southwest Florida Site Guide. My BLUBB worked beautifully, although someone must be wondering how 16 lbs of Wal-Mart pinto beans got from Stuart to a Ft. DeSoto trash can!

Another spot that I enjoyed was the relatively unknown Harns Marsh Preserve in Lehigh Acres near Ft. Myers. I was told that it was a good spot for Limpkins and Snail Kite. I saw the former but had no luck with the latter until I was headed back to my car to leave when a Snail Kite flew right over my head; I was too flummoxed to do anything much less photograph it. This location can be hard to find unless you have a GPS. In that case just plug in this address: 3399 38th St. West, Lehigh Acres, FL and your GPS will take you right to it, just beyond about 500 new and recently foreclosed on duplexes. This gem of a marsh is a real apple snail paradise. Bulletin subscribers can learn more about the site here: http://www.zvents.com/lehigh-acres-fl/venues/show/1055688-harns-marsh-preserve.

I will post some of my Florida pictures on Bird Photographers Net as soon as I edit them so that I can get some constructive criticism. I have looked at the site and think it is great. It inspires me to try harder and to improve.

Thanks again for all that you do! Tom Wilberding, Boulder, Colorado


no images were found

Bald Eagle landing silhouette, Homer, AK
Image copyright 2007/Robert O’Toole Photography


If you missed out on Homer at its prime, Robert O’Toole’s Bald Eagle workshops will bring back the magic. You will have lots of great opportunities to photograph eagles both at close range and set against beautiful scennic backgrounds while working legally outside the Homer city limits. Boat trips (tide & weather permitting) are included. Robert relies on the help and services of knowledgeable locals as well as on his five years of experience leading and co-leading workshops at Homer. He will put you in the right place at the right time to ensure the very best photographic opportunities possible. Back-up subjects include gulls (possibly including Slaty-Backed Gull), ducks, Northwestern Crow, moose, and others. Limited to just 5 persons, these trips will allow for lots of one-on-one and small group instruction. I would recommend acting quickly as these two workshops are likely to sell out quite quickly.

Bald Eagle Workshop 1: Feb. 20-23, 3.5 days: $1499 Limit 5, 2 openings.

Bald Eagle Workshop 2: Feb. 25-28, 3.5 days: $1499 Limit 5, 4 openings.

Note from artie: Robert has spent a ton of time in Homer over the past half-decade and has developed several invaluable local contacts to ensure that your Homer experience will border on those of the good old days in Homer when eagle feeding on the spit was permitted and when Jean Keane was alive and feeding the birds. In addition, Robert has really blossomed as an instructor. He has a rare combination of creativity, artistic talent, technical knowledge–he has bailed me out of technological jams on many occasions, and Photoshop skills.

To learn more about Robert click here: http://www.robertotoolephotography.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=6318&Akey=8T5M8YEK. You can contact Robert by e-mail at Robert@RobertOToolePhotography.com.

no images were found

Bald Eagle in snow, Homer, AK
Image copyright 2009/Robert O’Toole Photography

no images were found

Bald Eagle wheeling in flight, Homer, AK
Image copyright 2009/Robert O’Toole Photography

no images were found

Arthur Morris and Bald Eagles, Homer, AK
Image copyright 2006/Robert O’Toole Photography
That’s me above with the 300 f/4 and two of my friends. Short focal length lenses are great in Homer.


no images were found

Roseate Spoonbill, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL
Image copyright 2009/James Shadle

no images were found

Snail Kites copulating, Lake Toho, Kissimmee, FL
Image copyright 2009/Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography


Capt. Jim Neiger of “Flight School Photography” and Capt. James Shadle of “In the Field Workshops” are proud to present the “Best of Florida” workshop series: the best time of year, the best weather, the best species, the best colors, the best group size and the best instruction of it’s kind.

These eight day workshops will feature the unsurpassed avian opportunities of both central and west central Florida during peak season. Four days of learning and photography in central Florida with Jim Neiger and four days of learning and photography in west central Florida with James Shadle. This unique arrangement allows you to be exposed to widest range of subjects and habitats imaginable. The subjects and habitats are not the only thing that has a wide range. You will also be exposed to very qualified yet different instructional styles.

Come experience Florida at its very best! The main focus of these distinctive workshops will be solely on you. Class size is drastically reduced for maximum comfort, and the individual attention provided will be without equal. Your needs will take center stage during this unique experience. Weather permitting, all sessions except for one afternoon Great Horned Owl foray on the central Florida segment will be pontoon boat trips.

In keeping with our main focus (you), each workshop segment will be limited to only four (4) participants. This insures that everyone may photograph in comfort and receive as much personalized instruction as they need. While our workshops could easily accommodate more than 4 participants per segment, we keep the group size very small to ensure that you will have unparalleled access to the workshop leader and to make sure that you will not miss a photographic opportunity because somebody is in your way.

Best of Florida Workshop #1: March 21-28, 2010.

Best of Florida Workshop #2: April 5-12, 2010.

Best of Florida Workshop #3: April 29-May 6, 2010.

The cost of the Best of Florida 8-DAY workshop is $2500 per person. A $1000 non-refundable deposit is required for the workshops. The remaining $2000 is due 45 days before the start date of the workshop. If you are unable to attend the workshop after paying the balance your balance 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.

For more info or questions about the Central Florida segment please contact Jim Neiger of Flight School Photography: phone: 407-247-5200. e-mail: jimn@cfl.rr.com.

Flight School website: http://www.flightschoolphotography.com. Jim will be happy to provide you with any additional information.

For questions about the West Central Florida segment: please contact James Shadle of In The Field Workshops: phone: 813-363-2854. e-mail: james@wildflorida.net

Web sites: http://www.wildflorida.net and http://www.inthefieldworkshops.com. James will be happy to provide you with any additional information.

Note from artie: As you can see by the images here, both Jim and James are not only highly skilled photographers, but each of them is able to adeptly position their pontoon boat right down sun angle and in the very best position for photography. Images like the ones that you see here do not happen by luck or accident. Kissimmee Jimmy lives on Lake Toho and knows the birds there better than anyone alive or dead. Captain James Shadle (aka “Froggie”) know the birds of the Alafia Banks better than anyone living or dead. Both Jims have an intimate knowledge of how wind and light (and the tides in Tampa Bay) affect bird photography and will not only share that knowledge with you but will use it to put the group in the right spot at the right time every day.

no images were found

Laughing Gull & immature Brown Pelican, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL
Image copyright 2008/James Shadle

no images were found

Snail Kites, adult female feeding young, Lake Toho, Kissimmee, FL
Image copyright 2009/Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography



Slide program on the evening of FEB 9. 6-FULL DAYS: $2799. Co-leaders: Tim Grey and Alfred and Fabiola Forns. Limit: Limit 10/Sold Out. If you would like your name placed on the interested list for this IPT in 2011, please e-mail.

MIDWAY ATOLL IPTs: two trips, early March, 2010 (from Oahu, HI) 7-FULL DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY: $6395 ALL INCLUSIVE FROM OAHU.

There may be a single opening on either or both of these trips. Please e-mail at birdsasart@att.net or to see the complete information including registration information click here: http://www.photosafaris.com/photography-trips-2010/midway-photo-tour.

BOSQUE del APACHE 2010 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 20-26, 2010.

Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 19. 7-FULL DAYS: $3199. (Non-refundable deposit: $500; see details below.) Limit: 10/Openings; 7). Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole, Jim Heupel, and multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year honoree Chris Van Rooyen of South Africa (http://www.wildlifephotography.co.za). 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 great co-leaders and top-notch Photoshop instruction.

A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold a spot for this IPT. Deposits may be paid by check, PayPal, or credit card. Payment in full (by check or money order only) 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. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. We regret that we must implement this new policy but we have been plagued by last minute cancellations that make it impossible for others to participate and deprive us of essential income.

Important note: please print, fill out, and sign the registration and release forms and include them with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.” ) If you use a credit card to register, please fill out, sign, and mail the two forms asap. Your registration will not be complete until we receive your paper work. You can find the forms here: Registration and Release Form.


If you would like your name added to the interested/waiting list , please e-mail me at birdsasart@att.net

no images were found

Brown Pelican staring, La Jolla, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/160 sec. at f/13.

When working at point blank range with a telephoto lens, it is best to go with some extra depth-of-field when possible especially with a distant background (as there is little danger of bringing up unwanted background detail).

no images were found

Northern Shoveler, Santee Lakes, CA
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/9.

The Mark IV plus a 15% Linear Burn on the whites handled this high contrast situation very well. And the diffused light helped as well

Comments are closed.