August 3rd, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #333


  • GALAPAGOS 2012

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Brown Noddy & Brown Pelican, Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
This image was created with the handheld Canon 400mm f/4IS DO lens and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 320. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/4.

On the Beagle’s itinerary, our last morning includes a short panga ride at Black Turtle Cove. This year we were blessed with lots of action and gorgeous early morning light. By perching on the pelican’s heads, the noddies hope to snatch a small baitfish that escapes as the pelican squeezes the water from its bill pouch. The pelican’s head was not razor sharp due to movement; I darkened the eye using a Quick Mask and ran a contrast mask on the face and bill pouch. Both of these techniques and dozens more are described in detail in our Digital Basics File PDF.


To read the almost daily blog posts featuring entries from my Galapagos 2010 Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime Journal click here. Excellent writing, lots of great images, and our legendary BIRDS AS ART educational captions: a lesson with every photograph!

Here is an excerpt from the August 1st post:

Day 4/Afternoon, July 9: Afternoon: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

We sailed about two hours to Punta Suarez, Fernandina and made a dry landing in bright sun at about 2:30. Richard Owen, who traveled with loverly wife Dot from their home in the UK to join up with friends Jim and Linda White–both IPT veterans– in Chicago, is a tall Brit who claims to be only six foot six (but looked a lot taller to me). He scared the heck out of Dot and the entire group as well when he took a header face down on the lava rock and wound up with his head underwater in the Pacific Ocean. I saw the start of the fall and could only think of a giraffe going down one section at time. What I heard next–many loud thuds and crashes–was even more terrifying than what I had seen.

After it was determined that Richard would indeed survive, Juan tended expertly to the first aid. Richard’s wounds included a gashed chin, a badly scraped knee, and a scraped elbow. Gashed would be more accurate than scraped….. According to Richard the worse damage was to his Nikon D-90 and to his pride. Richard’s demeanor immediately after the fall and during the ensuing days was simply remarkable. He was as smiling and happy afterwards as he was before, never griped for a moment, and encouraged others to poke fun at him by taking the lead himself. All, including me, joined in eagerly 🙂 I came to calling him “Sir Richard” to honor his remarkable attitude but he said with a straight face that he much preferred “Big Dick.”

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Yellow Warbler, male, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC, a 25mm Extension tube, and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/9.

After photographing tortoises for several hours on a perfect drizzly morning several in the group along with their somewhat wet leader concentrated on the songbirds. This beautiful male of the Galapagos race spent most of its time foraging on the ground. Here it hopped up on a clean perch and posed for Patrick Sparkman and me for what seemed like ages but was probably about a full minute. I focused on the eye using One-Shot central sensor AF and then recomposed by pointing the lens down. Here’s the rule when creating large in the frame verticals of birds: leave about twice as much room above the bird as below.


When seeking new clients, I often include the following rejoinder: “happy campers only.”

On Saturday past, I received an e-mail asking about happy camper status. 🙂

Here is that communication:

Jim: Hi Artie, I know….don’t send a request if I’m not a happy camper…. I can guess, but please tell me how I can become a happy camper.

AM: You cannot become a happy camper. You are either a happy camper or a bitter and unhappy person. Most folks fit into the former category. I just try to prevent having folks who fit in to the latter category from showing up on IPTs or Photo Cruises, especially the longer ones.

I am looking for folks who are easy to get along with and fun to travel with. And for folks who show up knowing how to operate their cameras. Enthusiastic and eager to learn are plusses. I am looking for folks who gladly follow the rules, who exhibit reasonably good field behavior, and who have a working knowledge of proper field etiquette. On the recently concluded Galapagos trip we had one participant who consistently refused to follow our guide’s instructions, who repeatedly violated National Park Rules, and who regularly and intentionally blocked other photographers in the field and refused to move when asked to do so. And then as one would expect, she could not help but voice her complaints about me, the trip, and the guide while everyone else was enjoying the trip of a lifetime. You gotta love it.

Jim: I am a newsletter subscriber and have purchased a few things from your store.

AM: We appreciate both of those things.

Jim: What do to ensure that I get to register for your Galapagos 2012 Photo-Cruise?

AM: Look in the mirror, and if you are indeed–as I suspect–a happy camper, shoot me an e-mail asking to be placed on the Interested List for the 2012 Galapagos trip. Later and love, artie

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Galapagos Tortoise, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/8 sec. at f/22. 2-second self-timer.

I am unsure if I used mirror lock when creating this image but I think not. I went to f/22 as d-o-f is most important when working with large-in-the-frame subjects at point blank range, i.e., at or close to the minimum focusing distance of your lens.


If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our on-line Shopper’s Guide.

Here is a list of the equipment that I used to create the images in this Bulletin:


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Galapagos Tortoise, scales on leg (B&W & Fractalius filter), Puerto Ayoro, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with two Extension tubes (25mm & 12mm), the 1.4XII teleconverter, and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/40 sec. at f/8.

Wanting to fill frame with the pattern, I went for maximum magnification by putting the two tubes on the lens with the teleconverter behind them. Doing so means that you will need to turn AF off, focus manually, and listen for the focus confirmation beep. I created this image with the intent of running a Fractalius Impressions 1 pre-set on it. (I am learning to think Fracting in the field from Denise Ippolito.) The B&W conversion was an afterthought. To learn more about Fractalius check out Denise’s tutorials here. To purchase the plug-in which runs only on PCs, please use this link. To see the original Bulletin feature on Fractalius, click here.


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Marine Iguana, Punta Espinoza, Fernandina, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
I sent Denise a copy of the Marine Iguana image that ran in BAA Bulletin 332 and asked her to create a Glow 100 Fract as I need to get the codes to upload the plug in on my new computer. She tried her last pre-set, one based on Impressions 1 and came up with the image above.

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Then, starting with the same image she started with Glow 100 on its own Layer, tweaked the settings, and then erased the eye and the tongue using a Layer Mask so that she could go both ways. (If you erase too much without using a Layer Mask you are out of luck.) I like the first one above but I really love this one. Thanks Denise. To learn more about Fractalius check out Denise’s tutorials here. To purchase the plug-in which runs only on PCs, please use this link.


If you will be leaving the country with your photography gear and plan on returning with it, it would behoove you to read the following carefully and to get your schwerve on before you leave 🙂 Several years ago I was hassled in Miami about my photo gear. The complete story can be found here and here.

If you want to assure not being hassled at customs when returning to the US with your photography gear, it is best to print several copies of this form: 4457.

(Guard this link with your life; it took me weeks to find it. Many of the links on the CBP website for this form are either dead or incorrect.) Next find the Port of Entry office that is closest to you here. Be sure to call ahead and let them know that you are coming. Then bring all of your gear along with the filled out forms to have them signed. Do not plan on registering your gear on the day that you travel; they may be too busy to accommodate you. It is best to register your stuff well in advance of your trip. This goes for double if you will be visiting a major Port of Entry such as Miami or JFK; you might even need an appointment.

Also, everyone is advised to take a look at the Travelers Checklist on the CBP website. Item 5 there states clearly that travelers should bring either receipts or registration paperwork (CBP Form 4457) for any new electronics, such as a camera or a laptop but that those are only suggested if traveling with recently purchased goods. It goes on to say that neither is necessary for goods more than 6 months old. Furthermore, in Tip: Register Items Before You Leave The United States on the CBP website it states “If your laptop computer was made in Japan—for instance—you might have to pay duty on it each time you bring it back into the United States, unless you could prove that you owned it before you left on your trip. Documents that fully describe the item—such as sales receipts, insurance policies, or jeweler’s appraisals—are acceptable forms of proof.”

Thanks to the many readers who e-mailed with the updated information in the paragraph immediately above. And apologies to the one woman who brought her completed 4457 forms to her local post office.

Good luck with your international travels.

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Galapagos Shearwater, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
This image is another image created with the handheld Canon 400mm f/4IS DO lens and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the white sky: 1/1000 sec. at f/4.

Because of itinerary changes forced on the boats by the Galapagos National Park Service I had not been on South Plaza since my first visit. With the Beagle’s killer two week itinerary, my trips include visits to every great photographic location. Here I used 45-point AAFPS to create this vertical original.


If, after or before reading all of the Galapagos journal entries on the blog and checking out the images, you are seriously interested in joining me on the 2012 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime in either June or July, please e-mail me at . Happy campers only please 🙂 The trip will be offered first to the BAA Friends List. Patrick and Robin Sparkman who traveled with me this year are seriously considering re-upping for 2012. The 2011 July trip has been sold out for quite some time but there is the possibility of an opening or two so do e-mail if you would like to be #1 on the waiting list for the 2011 trip. I firmly believe that there is no other Galapagos photography trip that even comes close to offering what my two week trips offer.

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Landscape pan blur, South Plaza Island, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/15 sec. at f/25 in Tv Mode.

This is one of my very favorite images from the trip. I simply panned the lens while making the exposure. I varied my panning rates and tried to get the green bush in the upper right third. (I succeeded admirably here.) One of the tricks when trying to create pleasing blurs is to make lots and lots of images as the framing can be tricky; each image will be different. For a more traditional landscape image, check out my BPN post “Galapagos Landscape; Here to Learn“. That plus some excellent suggestions for improvement.


Brian Small is offering a used Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens for sale. He is the original and only owner. It is in excellent working condition and glass is perfect. It was into Canon’s Irvine, CA facility in May for a “clean & check” service. There are the expected minor wear and tear marks on the paint but nothing drastic. It would rate at about 8 1/2 or 9 on a scale of 10. The lens has always been protected by a LensCoat. The price is $6499 plus shipping costs and includes hard case, the LensCoat, all original straps, caps and paperwork that came with the lens. Insured shipping will be as to the buyer’s preference. PayPal or check/money order will be accepted. A check would have to clear before the lens is shipped. Contact Brian by phone as follows: home/day (310) 440-9443 or cell (310) 849-0306. Or e-mail him at

He is upgrading to the 800 at least in part because of my recommendation 🙂 BTW, the lens new is currently selling for $8,050.00 at both Hunt’s and at B&H.

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The Beagle at anchor, Bartolome, Galapagos
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
This image was created with the Canon15mm fish eye lens as we approached in a panga. The boat made a wonderful home for our two week voyage. The food was great and the crew pleasant and as helpful as could be.


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 for a morning or afternoon at Nickerson Beach–just west of Point Lookout for some great Black Skimmer photography. When: August 16, 18, or 19th. Tuesday and Friday are booked.

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.

BAA reserves the right to book up to three folks for all sessions.

Likely subjects are as above. E-mail me at to check on dates and availability. 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:


JIM NEIGER: 4th Annual Flight School Goes to Bosque Flight School Photography Workshops

With thousands of migratory birds in flight daily at Bosque Del Apache, what better site for Flight School Photography workshops? Previous year’s workshops were a huge success, so once again, Flight School Photography returns to Bosque. We are anticipating improved conditions and even more outstanding photographic opportunities than last year. Flight School Photography will be featuring two workshops in November, 2010. Each will be led by expert bird photographer, Jim Neiger who has perfected techniques for photographing birds in flight using large telephoto lenses, hand held. The focus of these workshops will be learning and practicing Jim’s hand held, long lens techniques for photographing birds in flight and in action.

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Dancing Sandhill Cranes, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM
Image copyright © 2008: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

The workshops will be held before the Festival of the Cranes and Thanksgiving. They will offer spectacular fall color that offers beautiful backgrounds for your photos and adds majesty to the already spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Going early also means there will be fewer photographers. Each workshop will include 3 hours of classroom instruction on the first morning followed by a welcome lunch and an afternoon photography session. The two remaining days include morning and afternoon photography sessions each lasting three to four hours. The workshops are limited to 6 participants.

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Northern Harrier, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM
Image copyright © 2008: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is located in Socorro County, New Mexico along the Rio Grande. A series of canals from the river carry water to various areas of the refuge. These waters are then managed to create numerous shallow ponds and pools. In addition, corn, alfalfa and other crops are grown in the nearby fields, and every year, the farmers leave some of the crops to feed the thousands of migratory birds that flock there. The water, food and shelter create a haven for the thousands of birds that call Bosque del Apache home during the fall and winter. Yearly visitors include Sandhill Cranes, many species of geese and ducks, bald eagles, hawks, and wading birds. In addition, Bosque is home to 377 species of birds throughout the year, so anything is possible.

The thousands of Sandhill Cranes, ducks and geese in flight provide spectacular opportunities for awesome flight images using Jim’s techniques. Jim is known for his consistent production of amazing flight images. A Flight School Photography Workshop is a must for all serious nature photographers.

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Snow Geese, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM
Image copyright © 2008: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Workshop FSP-B1: November 10, 2010 thru November 12, 2010: $999.

Workshop FSP-B2: November 14, 2010 thru November 16, 2010: $999.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required. The remaining $500 is due 15 days before the start date of the workshop. If you are unable to attend the workshop after paying the balance, the balance payment 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.

You may contact Jim Neiger of Flight School Photography via phone or email. Cell phone: 407-247-5200. E-mail: Visit the website: Flight School Photography.


ROBERT O’TOOLE: Bosque del Apache NWR and White Sands National Monument

This year Robert will be leading two photography workshops at Bosque del Apache and one at White Sands. Robert puts in an average of 200+ hours in the field at Bosque per year; you get a workshop leader who will know how to maximize your opportunities in the field.

Bosque Photography Workshop 1: November 29-December 2, 2010: 3.5 days: $999.

Sold out.

White Sands Photography Workshop: December 5-7, 2010 White Sands NM, New Mexico. 2.5 days: $599.

Limit 6, 3 openings.

Bosque Photography Workshop 2: December 8-11, 2010: 3.5 days: $999.

Limit 6, 4 openings.

Please follow the links above for more information. Photography topics will include: When to use manual mode, fine tuning your AF settings, the most effective technique to limit digital noise, fine tuning your flight photography, the most important DSLR settings you need to know, simplifying your camera settings to keep from being overwhelmed, learning to work fast in the field, and more. The workshop includes one classroom session daily.

The White Sands landscape workshop will cover wide angle, normal and short telephoto landscape techniques in depth. We will be entering White Sands NM early and will be leaving later with special permission.

Need help: e-mail or call Robert’s cell at 310.619.8017.

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Sandhill Crane landing blur, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM
Image copyright © 2009: Robert O’Toole Photography

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Yucca & dunes, White Sands National Monument, NM
Image copyright © 2009: Robert O’Toole Photography


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 1. 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: 3. Co-leaders: Robert OToole, Jim Heupel, and multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year honoree Chris Van Rooyen of South Africa ( 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 fn 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: 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:

2011 Galapagos Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience: July 2011

two weeks on the Beagle (Limit: 12/sold out).

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


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 and include a short note.

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