June 24th, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #329



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King Eider, swimming drake, Barrow AK
Image copyright 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: 1/640 sec. at f/9.

For the complete and amazing story of how it came to be that this image was captured, please see the June 19th, 2010 blog post, “Barrow Tundra March and More….” here: http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2010/06/19/barrow-tundra-march-more


On Friday, June 11, I flew to Barrow, AK in one fell swoop, leaving Orlando at 8:30 am and arriving in Barrow just after 7pm Alaska time (four hours earlier than Eastern time). I left Barrow on Sunday, June 20 at 11 am and made at back to Orlando at 7:15 the next morning. It was a long day of travel. On my visit I got to photograph three new species: King Eider–I had dreamed of photographing this bird for more than two decades, Stellar’s Eider, and Spectacled Eider. The latter two species are endangered. I celebrated my 64th birthday on June 14th, hurt my hip on June 17th–it is feeling much better already thanks, and got to hang out with a great group of folks. These included photographer-friends Brian Zweibel, Matthew Studebaker, and Judd Patterson, friends and IPT veterans Chas McRae, Jim Urbach, skilled photographer, technical, and computer expert E.J. Peiker (http://www.ejphoto.com/EJPhoto.htm), BPNer Lana Hays, and a very nice young man named Jesus who was visiting from Spain.

Barrow is several hundred miles above the arctic circle. The sun never drops below the horizon in summer for something like two months. The wind blows hard from the east pretty much day and night. We had days where the winds were a steady 30-40 mph. The extensive tundra that surrounds the town serves as home to a variety of nesting ducks, loons, and shorebirds as well as for a few gull and passerine species. Heck, there is a spot right in town where Northern Pintail, Pacific Loon, Baird’s and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Snow Bunting, and Lapland Longspur breed. Unless you live there, you will surely be a victim of sticker shock on your first shopping trip. Brian took me to the local AC to stock up on Day 1. I purchased two 8 oz. packs of Swiss cheese, a rotisserie chicken. a jar or mayonnaise, and two 12 packs of water. The damages: $119 and change. Yikes!

I visited Barrow in 2004 and missed all three eider species…. It was not a very productive trip at all. This year we got to photograph all three eiders including the two endangered species at close range. Much of the credit goes to Brian Zweibel who did a ton of research and had visited previously. I was so impressed with Brian’s knowledge of the birds of Barrow that I have pretty much gotten him to agree to do a Site Guide. I needed one when I visited in 2004! In addition there is a good possibility that Brian and I will be co-leading a Barrow trip next June. If you are seriously interested in joining us, please e-mail me at samandmayasgrandpa@att.net.

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Spectacled Eider, drake in flight, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/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 1/3 stops off the gray water : 1/500 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode.

I would rather have been at 1/1000 sec. at f/8 (wide open) for this image but I had been trying to photograph the pair in the water so I had gone to f/11 in an effort to make both birds sharp. When they took off, I followed my own advice: “When unexpected action occurs do not attempt to change your settings; just aim, focus, and push the shutter button. If you try to change your settings you will miss the action 99.9% of the time. As it turned out the head and face are razor sharp and I like the blurred primaries.

For additional comments on this image check out my “Even an Old Dog Can Hunt” BPN post here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=66262.


A note from Gary Farber at Hunt’s:

Hello to all my BIRDS AS ART Friends. I am currently offering a special price on the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, artie’s very favorite camera body. We have several in stock right now. For a limited time we are offering a special low price that includes free shipping . Interested BAA Subscribers can email me at digitalguygary@wbhunt.com call me directly at 781-462- 2332 for pricing information on this item. Be sure to ask also about pricing for all Canon lenses including the 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, artie’s favorite big lens. All of Hunt’s Canon equipment is USA warranty . Hunts doe not sell gray market. Feel free to call me with your questions or for all of your equipment needs.

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Stellar’s Eider, drake flapping after bath, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/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 +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/9.

As I barely fit the wings into the frame I added canvas left and right from another frame in the series.


Late this summer, I will again be returning with a small group to my old haunts–the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge–at the very peak of the juvenile shorebird migration. We will spend our afternoons at Nickerson Beach photographing a skimmer colony.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge/Nickerson Beach/Shorebird/Nesting Skimmer Photography-Tour (JBWR/NB IPT): August 22-24, 2010. Slide program on the evening of August 21. 3-DAY: $1399. Limit: 6/Openings 2.

For eight years in the late 70s/early 80s I conducted the International Shorebird Survey at JBWR for the then Manomet Bird Observatory. And it was there on the East Pond, in the summer of 1983, that I began to learn my trade with the old 400mm f/4.5 FD manual focus lens…. I remember the first roll of film that I got back; those dots on the slides, were they the birds? In a short time I was on my belly getting within 12 feet of my subjects, often even closer so that I needed an extension tube to focus. And I have been getting down on my belly in the mud for the past 25 years. And loving it. And I know the East Pond better than anyone living.

This trip is timed to coincide with the peak of the juvenile shorebird migration and with three perfect morning high tides. We will likely get to photograph the following shorebird species in fresh juvenal plumage: Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Stilt Sandpiper. Juvenile Pectoral and Western Sandpipers and several other species are possible. We should also get to photograph worn, molting adult White-rumped and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, and Short-billed Dowitchers. Not only will you get to photograph these species, you will learn to age and identify them. Getting a copy of my “Shorebirds; Beautiful Beachcombers” and studying it in advance would give you a huge head start. You can order a signed copy here: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=32. On some mornings we may spend a bit of time on the back porch of my friend Denis Macrae’s home where we will get to photograph Laughing Gulls in both worn breeding and fresh juvenal plumage. Snowy and Great Egrets and both night-herons are possible there as well.

Afternoons will be spent at Nickerson Beach just west of Point Lookout, Long Island, NY. For many years running there has been a large successful colony of Black Skimmers at this location. We should have lots of fledged young, lots of large chicks, and possibly a smattering of small chicks still in the nest scrapes in August. The existence of beach nesting birds is of course extremely fragile and in a given year the success of even a dependable colony like Nickerson may vary. There should be lots of adults both in flight and on the ground with fish for their young. American Oystercatcher and a variety of gulls are also possible at Nickerson. Two years ago we were blessed late one afternoon as several thousand Common Terns flew in to roost for the night, the nervous flock taking flight time and time again in front of a lovely setting sun. I will of course adapt to local conditions in an effort to always have the group in the right place at the right time.

I will not have a slide projector or a projection screen on this photography tour. All of the formal teaching will be done on the laptop. As we will be getting up very early (sunrise averages about 6:10am), and be staying in the field very late (sunset averages about 7:45 pm), our evenings will be free after dinner. Breakfasts will be on the run and the cost of lunch is included. We will of course have a midday break of three to four hours that will include instructor nap time. That will still leave us at least an hour or two for image review and some Photoshop lessons. To get the most out of this trip, experienced photographers should have at least a 500mm f/4 lens and be comfortable using at least their 1.4 teleconverter. The very best images will be created by those who are willing and physically able to either get down on the ground and photograph while prone or sit behind their lowered tripod. The latter approach is especially effective when the birds are actively feeding as it is easier to follow birds in motion while you are sitting than while you are prone. Added plusses at JBWR include jet fuel and Canada Goose dung 🙂

There will be tons of in-the-field instruction that will include stalking techniques and getting the right exposure via histogram review. You will learn to see and think like a pro. The closer you stay to me and the more questions you ask, the more you will learn. With this extremely small group, the opportunities for learning from a top pro will be unparalleled. Questions are limited to 500 per person per day. We will also get to do some fill flash work. As always, BAA reserves the right to exceed the noted limit by no more than one.

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Stellar’s Eider, preening drake, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/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 off the water : 1/500 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode.

I unexpectedly found myself at point blank range with this beautiful and endangered duck. After blowing several chances to create a good head portrait I was able to come up with a pleasing composition that included the flared tertial feathers.


Join me for a very muddy afternoon of shorebird photography and in-the-field instruction at the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens, NY or at Nickerson Beach–just west of Point Lookout–for a morning, an afternoon, or a full day of skimmer photography. When: any weekday/August 16-20. Rates: $500 per day includes two three hour photography sessions and one hour of image review/Photoshop. Morning or afternoons: $300. These include a three hour in-the-field session plus an hour of image sharing/Photoshop over lunch or dinner (by necessity). Two persons, full day: $400 each. Morning or afternoon sessions: $200 per person. Three persons (the limit), full day: $300 each. Morning or afternoon sessions: $150 per person. Multiple day registrations are welcome.

Likely subjects as above. Call us at 863-221-2372 or send an e-mail to birdsasart@att.net to check on availability and/or to register. Non-refundable payment in advance is due when you sign up. You will be required to fill out, sign, and return the registration and release forms to complete your registration: Registration and Release Form.

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Red Phalarope, female, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/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 off the gray water : 1/320 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Fill flash with Better Beamer at -1 2/3 stops.

All three phalarope species feature reversed sexual roles: the brightly colored females compete for the drabber males, lay the eggs, leave the males to incubate and raise the young, and then head off to search for another mate, and sometimes for another after that. This system is called sequential polyandry. In this image the bird’s eye and face would have been better lit had the bird turned its head a degree or two more towards me…. To learn more about head angle, visit this BPN thread: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/showthread.php?t=7781.


I received this e-mail from Arnon Wilson:
Dear Artie, Your 7-D User’s Guide was my last hope after trying several books. It was worth every penny. I feel as I upgraded my 7D! Thank you. Arnon

You can learn about all three of our camera User’s Guides, click here: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=32 and scroll down.

With limited flight and close-up opportunities I left my 7D/70-200 f/4 combo home. I will be bringing it on my upcoming Galapagos Photo Cruise and will be using it every day. The 800 and the Mark IV with and without the 1.4X TC was the perfect set-up for the Barrow trip.

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Rock Ptarmigan, male, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

Judd Patterson located this tame bird – a pair actually and called everyone by cell phone. All of us got some great images.

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Rock Ptarmigan, male, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4 X II TC, a 25mm Extension tube for close focusing, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/13 in Program Mode.

My flash was acting funky so I went to Program mode. F/13 brought up the distant background detail; usually I would not want to do that and would prefer a smoother background but it worked perfectly well with this image.


BPN’s Out Of The Box Forum: In Camera and Post Processing Techniques: Not every image conforms to the so called “rules” of photography. OOTB is dedicated to breaking out of the box of conformity. You can post avian, wildlife, macro, flora and landscape images that will expose folks to new photographic ideas, to new ways of seeing, thinking, and processing. There are exciting theme-based weekly contests. I wanted to alert everyone to the August 8th to 15th offering below. You can visit OOTB here: http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=51.

From Denise Ippolito:

AUGUST 8th-15th: Hit Me With Your Best Shot! Go ahead and fire away. There will be two categories: Digital Creations and In-Camera Creations. You may post your your best image in each category. Please indicate either Digital Creation or In-Camera with your post. (Previously posted images are eligible). All images must feature natural history subjects. Scenics are welcome. Remember, each image must be an OOTB image. The Digital Category will include filters, effects, Photoshop creations, etc. The In-Camera category can include blurs, zoom blurs, silhouettes, unusual poses and head angles, and more. For the Digital Creations category only, please post the original image in Pane 2. Please let us know why you think each image represents your best work and where the image was created.

The winner in each category will receive a copy of “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” (on CD only) by Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. We hope to have it finished in mid-August, September 1st at the latest.

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King Eider, pair taking flight, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/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 +2/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9.

Here I kept the center sensor (the only one available with a pro body, an f/5.6 lens, and the 1.4X teleconverter) on the drake and made a nice sequence of five sharp images.


I have been using Delkin Flash cards for nearly 8 years now. I have never lost an image because of a faulty card. I had one bad 4gb card that Delkin cheerfully replaced for me just as they would for you. Over the years about five folks have sent us bad cards. Delkin replaced them immediately without question. For about 2 years I used 8gb cards then two years with the 16gb cards, and now about two years with the 32gb cards. I have never had an 8, 16, or 32gb card fail. Folks caution others about “putting all of their eggs in one basket” by using 32gb cards but I would argue that when you use smaller cards you often have to change cards in the field thus increasing the chance of losing a card. And though I am a conservative shooter there are times when I put the pedal to the metal and take advantage of the 10fps offered by my Canon professional bodies but in spite of that I have never filled the buffer on a Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash card. I have inadvertently put my Delkin flash cards into the washing machine several times and each time they have gone on to perform as flawlessly before their dunking as after.

Just recently a friend was telling me about her San Disk cards and how fast they were reputed to be. She mentioned that she had put one card in the washing machine–I guess everybody does that once in a while–that the card had failed and that San Disk would not replace it. She went on to say that the year before she had another San Disk card just quit and the company had refused to replace that one as well…. My Delkin e-film Pro Flash Cards have been dependable for as long as I have been using them. And Delkin always has and always will stand behind their products 🙂

We are proud to announce that we are now able to offer the Delkin e-film Pro UDMA Compact Flash cards that I use and depend on every day at competitive prices:

Delkin 8gb e-Film Pro UDMA Compact Flash Card: $54.99

Delkin 16gb e-Film Pro UDMA Compact Flash Card: $89.99

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro UDMA Compact Flash Card: $139.99

Delkin 64gb e-Film Pro UDMA Compact Flash Card: $299.50

All phone orders plus $7.00 shipping. Shipping charges for orders placed through the BAA On-line Store may vary slightly.

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Lapland Longspur, female, Barrow, AK
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 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/10. Fill flash at -1 2/3 stops with Better Beamer.

This bird was on her nest but every once in a while she would leave the nest to forage on the tundra for a bit even though we were sitting absolutely still. See the blog for a great image of her made from right above the nest. Long lenses are not always best; I borrowed a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens which was the best tool for the job.


Bill Richardson is offering a used Canon EOS-50D for sale in excellent condition for $749 (e-check or cash). Add 3% for regular PayPal.. The sale includes the original box, the manual and CDs, the camera strap, etc.. Protective plastic was kept on both LCD panels. Only 14, 206 actuations. The buyer pays the insured shipping cost (lower 48 states only) to a verified address only. Please e-mail for photo links. Contact via e-mail is best: wfr2@comcast.net. Telephone: 1-(847) 304-0637.

I owned two 50D bodies at one point and though I used them only for several months I was really impressed with both the image quality and the AF system. artie

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Spectacled Eider, drake on tundra bank, Barrow, AK
Image copyright 2007/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Click on the image to see the before and after postprocessing image.
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

While we were in Barrow we coined a new bird photography term: bank shot (n.): an image of an eider resting on the bank of a tundra pond. Bank shots may be either clean or cluttered. Look at the image above for four seconds and you will see the before and after. The before is very cluttered and the bird’s eye is nearly closed–he seemed to be squinting in the sun and never opened it. The after is much cleaner and features an open eye. For the grasses I used protect and defend cloning, the Patch Tool, and some Quick Masks, all as described in Digital Basics: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=32 . To open the eye, I used the techniques described in Robert O’Toole’s APTATS I: https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=33

Many thanks to BPN Eager-to-Learn Moderator Lance Peters for creating the animated GIF file above. Be sure to check out Lance’s website here: http://www.lancepeters.com.au/. Lance is a very talented and creative photographer so do take some time to surf around.


Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge/Nickerson Beach/Shorebird/Nesting Skimmer Photography-Tour (JBWR/NB IPT): August 22-24, 2010.

Slide program on the evening of August 21. 3-DAY: $1399. Limit: 6/Openings 2.
Photograph and learn about migrant shorebirds, nesting skimmers, gulls, terns, and more. Three full days of photographic immersion. Please see terms and deposit info below.

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: 4.
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. Please see terms and deposit info below.

SAN DIEGO IPT JAN 19-23, 2011.

Slide program on the evening of JAN 18. 5 Full Days: $2399 (Limit 8/Openings 6)
Brown Pelicans in spectacular breeding plumage with their bright red bill pouches, Wood and Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Western, California, and Heerman’s Gulls, Marbled Godwit, and lots, lots more. Please see terms and deposit info below.


Slide program on the evening of FEB 17. 6 Full Days: 2899. (Limit 10/Openings 7).
Escape winter’s icy grip to enjoy a wide array of Florida’s tame birds: herons, egrets, Wood Stork, shorebirds, gulls, terns, skimmers, raptors, and more. Please see terms and deposit info immediately below:

Terms and deposit info:

A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold a spot for the above IPTs. 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 is Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that 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 or running your credit card. Travel insurance protects you against unexpected developments, injuries, or illnesses. 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 forms asap. Your registration will not be complete until we receive your paper work. You can find the forms here: Registration and Release Form.

2010 & 2011 Galapagos Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPTs/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience

July 2010 & July 2011: two weeks on the boat (Limits: 12/both sold out).

If you are a happy camper and would like to have your name(s) placed on a waiting list or either the 2010 or 2011 trip or on the the seriously interested list for the 2012 trip, please e-mail us at birdsasart@att.net


March 18-22, 2011 & March 24-28. 5-FULL DAYS: $3249. Limit: 12 (including the leaders/both sold out). Both of these trips sold out with long waiting lists within hours after being announced to the BAA Friends List. The Friends List consists of IPT veterans who fit in the happy camper category. If you have been on an IPT and would like your name added to the BAA Friends List, please e-mail me at birdsasart@att.net and include a short note.

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