February 22nd, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #317



no images were found

Great Blue Heron, White Pelicans, & shorebirds, Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, FL
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens at 155mm with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3.

I would love to have placed the sun on the right hand side of this image but a stand of mangroves prevented me from moving to my right. The wide range of framing options available with the 70-200 lenses make them one of my favorites when creating bird scapes. Here I used the Giotto’s tiny ball head that I prefer when doing landscape work: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=59


Despite nearly relentless northwest winds and unseasonably cold temperatures, the recently concluded SW FLA President’s Day IPT was a huge success. The group was a mix of experienced and intermediate photographers and everyone got along famously; many new friendships were formed. IPT veterans inlcuded Jon Sostarich, Carl Zanoni, Paul Wollam, James White, and 88 year young Rita Matthews. (See the FEB zz blog post about Rita here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2010/02/12/been-away-too-long-venice-rookery-update-rita-matthews) The repeat offenders 🙂 were joined by George Secor, birder James E. Brown, Nancy Bell, Dutchman Clemens Vanderwerf, and husband and wife team Jackie and David Labovitz. Though the DAY 1 photographic opportunities at the Venice Rookery, the traditional first morning location, were poor overall, several folks created some very nice pre-dawn blurs and some excellent flight images later in the morning. For a complete report on the state of the rookery, again check out the FEB zz blog entry here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2010/02/12/been-away-too-long-venice-rookery-update-rita-matthews. We had a great afternoon photographing Brown and White Pelicans at a location about 40 minutes south of the rookery. See the SW FLA Site Guide for details on this great spot: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=73.

no images were found

White Pelican incoming flight, Placida, FL
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering + 1 1/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/4.

In relatively low (and sweet) light I went with the wide open aperture to ensure a fast shutter speed. See the SW FLA site guide link to learn everything that you need to know about photographing both pelican species at this great location.

On DAY 2 we visited Ding Darling and enjoyed a backlit feeding spree in the morning and a loverly sunset that same evening. We headed to Little Estero Lagoon on the overcast morning of DAY 3 and had a ton of fun creating intentional blurs. Co-leader Denise Ippolito provided instructions for creating pleasingly blurred images and inspired folks who took the time to check out her images on the back of the camera. The forecast of a big deluge for that afternoon was accurate so we spent the whole afternoon enjoying the Photoshop excellence of Tim Grey who was along as one of four–no–make that five–no, six excellent co-leaders. Tim’s clear, conscise explanations of a variety of realy cool, not too complicated techniques were punctuated frequently by his dry sense of humor. He would often show us a great technique that obviously needed at least one more step to be completed. Tim would deadpan, “Amazing technique; looks great doesn’t it?” and pretend to go on to the next order of business until someone would ask, “What about the big red ring around the bird?”

no images were found

Tim Grey, Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL
Image courtesy of and copyright 2010/Denise Ippolito
It was great having Tim along. Once I check the tides and the dates for the 2011 San Diego IPT, I will try to arrange having Tim back for a second go-round.

On the morning of DAY 4 we returned to Ding Darling and were largely disappointed. A very cooperative Burrowing Owl at Cape Coral eased the pain that afternoon. On the morning of DAY 5 it was back to Estero in the morning with excellent results despite the continuing cold north winds. That afternoon Alfred Forns and one-day guest co-leader James Shadle took part of the group back to Cape Coral for a second owl-fix while the rest of the group joined Fabs, Denise, and me on a shorebird-strewn Sanibel beach. Storms had left the beach covered with a variety of fresh dead mollusks that provided on almost endless feast for hordes of Sanderlings, Black-Bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, and a variety of gulls among others.

no images were found

Sanderling foraging on shell-strewn beach, Sanibel, FL
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 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/8.

While I love the foraging posture, the pink shell, and the sharpness of the bird there are three foreground elements that I consider distracting: #1: the dark shell by the bird’s front foot; #2: the yellowish bit of weed (?) in the lower right corner; #3: the large, o-o-f whitish yellow shell in front of the bird’s rear foot. All in all, however, I still like it. 🙂


I received this e-mail from mulitple IPT veteran Carl Zanoni:

Dear Artie, Thank you for an excellent SW FL IPT last week. The photo sites and opportunities were awesome. The leaders and support staff were of the highest level of expertise, enthusiasm, and responsiveness to any request or question. I learned many useful capture and post processing techniques to enhance my photography skills. In addition, the participants were a joy to meet, to share the learning experiences with, and to share the photographic opportunities with. On balance, it was a terrific IPT. Thanks to you, Tim, Alfred, Fabs, and Denise. If you run this one again, next year, sign me up! With kind regards, Carl

And from Carl’s friend James E. Brown:

Art, I echo everything Carl says in his note. I was the only amateur in the group in spite of dozens of birding trips and maybe 100,000 bird photos, but I have learned so much from you, your colleagues and my fellow travelers. I agree with your dictum, “It ain’t the camera and it ain’t the lens” or as Pogo once said, “I have met the enemy and it is I.” Attached is a pelican that I just worked on. I wanted to share it with you. The original was darker; the wings left the frame and the space below the bird was greater than that above it. I cropped a bit to move the higher wing to the corner and move the birda bit to the right. There was no noise reduction done, some sharpening of the eyes and the beak, and some general sharpening. I lightened the eyes and belly and darkened the bill. All in Lightroom. Thanks for everything. JimBB.

After I replied I received this from him:

Thanks for the Pelican critique. I did not expect to hear from you so soon but hoped you would give me some feedback. That was way-generous of you. I will try Topaz DeNoise. Your colleague Jim Litzenberg is shipping me the ABP/ABP II Combo; I hope to learn more about exposure there. I was so wrapped up in getting my act together that I did not write down enough of your exposure advice. Best and thanks again, JimB.

And this just in from Jackie Labovitz:

Art– David and I have spent the last few days in Florida looking at birds in a completely new way. Thanks for a life-changing experience. All the goals that we set for ourselves were achieved and a wide range of new goals has emerged. Histogram, histogram, histogram tops the long list. In addition, there was a great group of people especially the leader. Hope your travel to NANPA was flawless. Jackie.

no images were found

Sunflower, greenhouse, NJ
Image courtesy of and copyright 2010/Denise Ippolito
The background for this image was corrugated cardboard. Denise used Fractalius’ Glow 100 pre-set to create this quite striking image. You can read Denise’s Fractalius tutorial here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/bulletins/birds-as-art-bulletin-315. If you would like to join the Fracting fun, please click on this link to purchase: https://www.plimus.com/jsp/buynow.jsp?contractId=1720292&referrer=birdsasart. The program costs only $39.90. And best of all, it is easy to learn and use. And tons of fun. To access another Fractalius tutorial by Denise (“Soft Fix”), click here http://deniseippolito.smugmug.com/Photography/On/9597965_bsEhJ and scroll down. This one covers using the Impression 1 pre-set.

Denise, who lives on the Jersey shore, offers individual and small group photographic and Photoshop instruction; you can learn more here: (http://deniseippolito.smugmug.com)

no images were found

Sanderling, Sanibel, FL
Image courtesy of and copyright 2010/Denise Ippolito
Denise used Fractalius’ Impressions 1 as a starting point. She created the image above from what was originally quite a cluttered photograph. When she was done moving the sliders she saved the settings as “High Key Sketch.” Now if she has an image that she thinks will work with the same settings all that she needs to do is click on that pre-set and she will start with a similar look. If you would like to join the Fracting fun, please click on this link to purchase: https://www.plimus.com/jsp/buynow.jsp?contractId=1720292&referrer=birdsasart.


Check out Ken Childs’ killer “Clouded Sulphur on Lantana” Fract here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=57361

Gerry Sibell’s “Wolf Image–First Fract Try” shows what folks can do on their first attempt: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=56803

William Maraldo’s “Pelicans Taking Off” uses one of the Fractalius pre-sets along with two Topaz filters to create a pleasing sketch-style image: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=56686

Jim Caldwell’s “Eagle-Fract” shows how easily Fractalius can transform a photograph into a dramatic piece of art: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=56522

In “More Fracting Birds” James Boland used Impressions 1 to create a high key watercolor Zen-like look: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=56522

no images were found

American Alligator, close-up of rear flank, Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Boynton Beach, FL
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: 1/500 sec. at f/8.

This is a two frame stitched panorama. I started with the Impressions 1 pre-set in Fractalius and tweaked the settings. Being in the process of teaching myself the program (with help from Denise) I have found that by moving each slider from one end of the scale to the other gives me a good idea of what that slider does. You are then better able to create the look that you want. If you would like to join the Fracting fun, please click on this link to purchase: https://www.plimus.com/jsp/buynow.jsp?contractId=1720292&referrer=birdsasart.


Visit the blog at http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2010/02/18/sharpening-tutorial-free-digital-basics-excerpt-the-great-laptop-miracle/ to check out the free excerpt from Digital Basics in the February 18th post; there are more misconceptions about sharpening than any other facet of digital imaging. This Sharpening tutorial will set you straight and put you on the road to successfully and pleasingly sharpening all of your images–from small JPEGs to huge prints. As for “The Great Laptop Miracle,” it is a hard one to believe. This morning, in the February 19th post I added a simplified suggesting for sharpening your 800 wide JPEGs. As always, you will find lots of great free info with a personal touch on the blog.

no images were found

Brown Pelican (swallowing two tiny fish), Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach, FL
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 +1/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3.

I created a pleasing five-frame sequence of this bird swallowing some tiny baitfish.


Flight School Photography in Osprey Heaven, Lake Blue Cypress (east of Vero Beach, Florida): May 13-17, 2009 and May 20-24, 2009. (Limit: 5): $1300.

Jim has spent the past several years perfecting his techniques for photographing birds in flight using large telephoto lenses hand held. The focus of these workshops will be learning Jim’s hand held, long lens techniques for photographing birds in flight and in other action. The workshops will be held in some of the most beautiful, wild, and unspoiled wilderness areas of central Florida. Lake Blue Cypress is a gem, a spot rife with Ospreys and gorgeous scenic opportunities. (Note from artie: Corbis grabbed many of my scenic images that I made at this location with Jim as well as a slew of Osprey images…)

Please contact Jim Neiger of Flight School Photography for additional information: phone: 407-247-5200. e-mail: jimn@cfl.rr.com. Or visit http://www.flightschoolphotography.com for more info or to register.

no images were found

Osprey landing, tight, Lake Blue Cypress, FL
Image copyright Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

no images were found

Osprey pair, male with fish, Lake Blue Cypress, FL
Image copyright Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

no images were found

Barred Owl, Lake Blue Cypress, FL
Image copyright Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography


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 and the best time of year, the best weather, the best species, the best colors, the best group size and the best instruction of its 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: 2 openings / $300 last minute discount.

Best of Florida Workshop #2: April 5-12, 2010: 4 openings / $250 late registration discount.

Best of Florida Workshop #3: April 29-May 6, 2010: 4 openings / $200 late registration discount.

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 $1500 is due 30 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


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 or see the complete information including registration information click here: http://www.photosafaris.com/photography-trips-2010/midway-photo-tour. (This second BAA trip was added by popular demand.)

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.

The 2011 San Diego IPT will run in January, 2011. I will announce the exact dates once I can get a look at a tide table. The big news here is that the brilliant Tim Grey will likely be joining me as co-leader. Here are the basics:

San Diego IPT JAN, 2011. 5 Full Days: $2495 (Limit 8/Openings: 5)

Slide program on the evening before the first day of the IPT. A fully refundable $500 deposit now will hold your spot until the dates are announced. Once the dates are announced let me know either way. If you opt in, then your deposit will become non-refundable and you will be asked to complete the registration and release forms. Brown Pelicans, Wood and Ring-necked Ducks, Western and Heerman’s Gulls, Marbled Godwits, and lots, lots more.

Comments are closed.