October 1st, 2010

Birds As Art Bulletin #341



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Brown Bear (coastal grizzly) enjoying lunch, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop set manually: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 set manually.

Sometimes the bears hop up on the far bank of the stream to enjoy their salmon.


I am flying to Chicago tomorrow, meeting Denise Ippolito, and continuing on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We will be photographing in Yellowstone for four days and in Grand Tetons National Park for another four. It ain’t just birds.I fly back to Orlando on October 8 and will be back in the office on the 9th for more than a month. I fly to San Diego on November 11th for Photo Expo West and fly from there straight to Albuquerque for the Bosque IPT and Thanksgiving.

Jim and Jen will be here as always to help you with your Mail Order and Instructional Photo-Tour needs. We still have room for three more in Bosque and there is lots of room on A Blurry Day in Bosque (NOV 27). See item last for details.

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Brown Bear (coastal grizzly), mom giving cub a shower, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC (hand held at 202mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop set manually: 1/250 sec. at f/7.1.

Each day that we went into the field on the Bear Boat IPT I had four or five lenses, one on a tripod, one on my shoulder, and the rest plus all my accessories, my tool kit, my blood sugar kit, the rest of my diabetes supplies, my rain gear, extra clothing, and two bottles of spring water in or hanging on my XtraHand Vest. To learn more about the only vest that I ever use, click here.


We ask that folks who are joining IPTs know how to operate their cameras. Here is what we expect: Folks should know how to turn their camera on and off. They should know how to add or subtract light to their exposures–different cameras allow you to do this in different ways. They should know when, why, and how to set AI Servo or One-Shot AF (Continuous or Single Servo for Nikon). They should know how to access the histogram on their camera. They should know how to access, view, and check for flashing highlights. That’s about it. We are of course glad to instruct you on the finer points of camera operation (even though most of those points are covered in our User’s Guides for various Canon cameras). And here is some great news; Robert O’Toole is working on a generic guide to Nikon camera bodies. It should be available in about a month.

On IPTs, on BPN, and via e-mail, folks are always asking about exposure. Always. It is my position that with a bit of study and understanding, getting consistently good exposures with digital is child’s play.

Here is what I recommend:

  1. If you are a serious student, study the principles dealing with Exposure Theory in the original “The Art of Bird Photography” (ABP: softcover)
  2. If you are either a serious student or a casual student, study the “Exposure Simplified” section in “The Art of Bird Photography II” (ABP II: 916 pages on CD only). (BTW, you can order ABP and ABP II together here and save $10.)
  3. Even though some very fine photographers do so, using an incident meter with digital makes zero sense to me in part because very few folks know to use it properly, but mainly because of the following:
  4. As above, folks make getting the right exposure with digital much too complicated. All that you need to do is add or subtract light so that you have data at least halfway into the highlights box on the histogram–the fifth box with Canon, the 4th with Nikon, while making sure that you have at most only a few flashing highlights. This approach only works perfectly 100% of the time with front-lit subjects.
  5. If you have more than a few seconds with a subject with digital, you should be able to come up with a decent exposure 100% of the time. In difficult situations that feature extreme and/or unusual lighting conditions you will need to make split second adjustments in order to come up with a use-able exposure. To do this consistently you will need to know exposure theory well so see #1 above and study hard. If you are forced to guess in these situations, you will likely fail.
  6. Serious students should know how to work comfortably in Manual Mode; doing so is a necessity when the light is constant and the background tonality is changing. In fact, all but beginning photographers should be competent working in both Manual mode and Av mode (or any other automatic mode). And regardless of what some very fine photographers will tell you, there are times when an automatic mode is best, and other times when it can save the day (while folks working in Manual mode will be dead in the water). Detailed instructions on working in Manual mode can be found in ABP II.
  7. Different digital camera bodies from the same or from different manufacturers will almost always require different amounts of exposure compensation (and these differences can be much larger than what most folks realize). Anyone who is moving say from a 40D or a 50D to a 7D or a MIII or MIV will need to learn to add a lot more light than they used to especially when working with low light and scenes that average to brighter or well brighter than a middle tone. In the same situations, Nikon cameras will need less plus compensation. Before you go thinking that Nikon cameras are better than Canon cameras you had best know that if you have a white subject in bright light with a blue water background with Nikon you will likely be subtracting at least one full stop of light (and lots more if the subject is small in the frame) while Canon users are making images with good histograms in the same situations at zero or even +1/3 stop. You need to pay at one end or the other.
  8. There is no need to come up with a “perfect exposure” with digital. You would need a microscope to see any possible difference between a good exposure and a perfect exposure. Not so with film . To repeat, all that you need to do to come up with a good digital exposure is to add or subtract light so that you have data at least halfway into the highlights box on the histogram–the fifth box with Canon, the 4th with Nikon, while making sure that you have at most only a few flashing highlights.

Final comments: if you are in the field with me, say on an IPT, and you ask me “What’s the right exposure?” there is only one right answer: “The exposure that gives you data at least halfway into the right-most (highlight) box of the histogram with only a few flashing highlights at most.” (I hope that that is sounding familiar by now.) Sometimes folks ask, “What’s the right exposure compensation?” In order for me to answer that one I would need to know the following:

  1. What you are photographing.
  2. What camera you are using.
  3. What metering pattern you are using.
  4. The magnification you are working at; this depends on the lens/teleconverter/camera combination. As detailed in ABP the size of the subject in the frame will influence the meter.
  5. The framing; again as detailed in ABP, the placement of the subject in the frame will influence the meter.
  6. The selected AF mode: AI Servo (C in Nikon) gives you the exposure at the moment the image is made while One-Shot (S in Nikon) locks the exposure when focus is locked. In conjunction with #4, this will effect the exposure.

As you might have surmised, you have asked me a question that would be pretty much impossible to answer quickly (much less accurately).

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Brown Bear stitched panorama, Kinak Bay, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image copyright & courtesy of Bill Keown
Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens (hand held at 70mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 160. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops set manually: 1/320 sec. at f/4.5.

Above is the spectacular pano that I promised to share with you in BAA Bulletin 338. I believe that this was created from 7 frames across and two high with lots of overlap. Bill will be joining me again next year in early August on the Baby Bears Nursing and Playing/Otters/Puffins/Bald Eagles Bear Boat IPT. If you are a truly happy camper and would like advance info on the trip, please e-mail me at samandmayasgrandpa@att.net. There are only three slots left.


In response to some questions from Peter Calamai by e-mail:

The base of operations will be in the attached confirmation letter for your convenience only. As for an outline, where we go each morning depends on the weather, the tides, local conditions, and my mood. Among others. Usually we photograph from sunrise till about 10:30 then head for lunch then nap and sometimes a program (depending on where we are) and then nap and then the afternoon session followed by dinner and sometimes a program… All of the above are subject to changes in the weather. For example, if it blows hard NW and is cold and clear (on a rare cold front) we might quit at 9am and do some stuff in the classroom.

In a word, we adapt constantly to maximize both the quality of the photography and the amount of instruction. Sorry, there are no printed schedules on BAA IPTs.

Are you a BPN member? I think that I recognize your name from there. See my listings in the Workshops Forum for BPN member discount information.

later and love, artie

ps: The locations included lots of spots on Sanibel, several visits to Fort Myers Beach–nobody knows that lagoon better than me, Venice Rookery–it has been less productive each of the past few years but is still worth a visit, Placida for Brown and White Pelicans on the water and in flight, and two afternoons on Cape Coral for the Burrowing Owls. If we have a foggy or drizzly day we may head to Corkscrew.

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Brown Bear (coastal grizzly) chasing salmon, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image copyright 2010 & courtesy of Monte Brown
I have seen a few images like this over the years with just a smidge of fish showing. In Monte’s great image we not only see the back and dorsal fin of the salmon but the eye too! This was Monte’s 3rd Bear Boat IPT!


Here is an excerpt from a recent e-mail post that was being deleted from BPN because the poster violated the forum guidelines. It was not deleted because of the comments about me.

Dear James, I have enjoyed reading the comments on this thread, especially yours. My impression is that you would be a fun man to spend a day with, who while serious about his photography, doesn’t take himself so seriously that he can’t enjoy life ether. On the other hand, I have seen many argumentative and rude posts from Mr. Morris that make this site less enjoyable than it should be. While I understand that being new to bird photography my images are nowhere near the level of the images of some of the wonderful photographers here, being told that they are “poor” or knowing that they are viewed as being poor doesn’t sit well. Tact, they say, is the art of telling a man to go to **** himself and having him look forward to the trip. Mr. Morris just tells people to go to **** themselves. It is offensive.

Note: For the purposes of readability, I corrected many grammatical errors in the excerpt above (an excerpt that was, interestingly enough, taken from what was to be the posters first-ever comment on BPN.)

Now here is a conversation from Roger Williams’ BPN excellent image post, American White Pelican here.

am: Whites look pretty good to excellent from here. Lovely fish, COMP, EXP, and even the dark above/light below BKGR works well. (It is usually a combo that I try to avoid.) In an ideal world the bird’s head would have been angled/rotated slightly towards us. To try to explain further, it would have been great if we could have seen a glimpse of the bowl-like opening that it the lower mandible. All in all a fantastic capture..

RW: I appreciate all of your comments. Joerg, FYI, the image was made at 7:24 AM so you may be seeing reflections off the water’s surface. And, a “fantastic capture” from Artie makes my day! Thanks!

AM: I am glad for that Roger. At times around here I feel like the executioner.

RW: Artie, I think your expertise & experience is well worth the occasional acerbic comment. Keep it up as your comments are invaluable to me & many others who post on this forum. You have earned your exalted position.

am: I do strive to be honest rather than acerbic . When an image, however, is a poor one, I need to say that. As for exalted, I am just a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who has worked very hard at doing what he loves best for too many years.

RW: Semantics Artie. The point is that you know what you are doing & have earned the right to offer critiques. Regardless of where you are from or your heritage, you are considered one of the best, if not the best, bird photographer. I am simply acknowledging that.

am: Many thanks.

RW: Its difficult being a teacher/critic. You’re dealing with egos and expectations and your student’s emotions span the full width of the Captain’s Sensitivity Scale. Your critiques will both thrill and disappoint. While there are many good teachers out there, I can think of no one who knocks himself out day after day, teaching photographic fundamentals to those wishing to learn. You’re Art of Bird Photography was the first resource I turned to after retirement when deciding to pursue nature photography in a serious way. I’ve since learned more through your other writings and teachings. Tough, a bit heady at times, but by no means an executioner IMHO. Thanks for your dedication and for sharing your acquired knowledge!

am: Thanks again Roger for your more than kind words. When an image has gotten a bunch of positive responses and I come along and point out seven major flaws, I do feel like “The Executioner” at times. I am very proud to say that that rarely happens around here any more. One thing that folks should know is that I critique each image as if it were my own. I do not go easy on beginning photographers or friends. And for some reason, I enjoy sharing my knowledge. Go figure.


So who’s the real art morris? Heck , the truth probably lies somewhere in between I do know that I work very hard at BPN and am proud of my efforts there, proud of the work done by my partner James Shadle, and extremely proud of the efforts and accomplishments our great staff of Moderators. Here are my stats as of 4:25 pm on September 28, 2010: 15.05 posts per day totaling 15, 358 posts since we opened the doors at BPN (honest critiques done gently). And I try to make each of my posts substantive. Check us out and see what’s up.

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Glaucous-winged Gull adult eating salmon gill, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK
Image copyright 2010/Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops set manually: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 set manually.

The streams are full of Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls grabbing both left-over scraps of salmon and roe that has settled on the bottom only to be stirred up by a charging bear.


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BIRDS AS ART Books is proud to announce the release of “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. This 20,585 word, 271 page PDF is illustrated with 144 different, exciting, and artistic images. The guide covers the basics of creating pleasingly blurred images, the factors that influence the degree of blurring, the use of filters in creating pleasing blurs, and a great variety of both in-the-field and Photoshop techniques that can be used to create pleasingly blurred images.

Artie and Denise will teach you many different ways to move your lens during the exposure to create a variety of pleasingly blurred images of flowers and trees and water and landscapes. They will teach you to recognize situations where subject movement can be used to your advantage to create pan blurs, wind blurs, and moving water blurs. They will teach you to create zoom-blurs both in the field and during post-processing. Artie shares the techniques that he has used and developed for making blurred images of flocks of geese in flight at his beloved Bosque del Apache and Denise shares her flower blur magic as well as a variety of creative Photoshop techniques that she has developed.

With the advent of digital capture creating blurred images has become a great and inexpensive way to go out with your camera and have fun. And while many folks think that making successful blurred images is the result of being a sloppy photographer nothing could be further from the truth. In “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” Artie and Denise will help you to unleash your creative self.

The book is laid out in landscape format to make for easy viewing and easy reading on any decent computer monitor.

You can order your copy of “The Guide to Pleasing Blurs” PDF now for only $33 either by PayPal or by phone: 863-692-0906. A download link will be delivered to you via e-mail within 12 hours or less (except on weekends). Please note: this book is available only as a digital file in PDF form. You will need either Adobe Acrobat Reader or Fox-it to read the file. Both are free downloads. Instructions will be included with your purchase.

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Dahlia, Image Copyright 2009, Denise Ippolito Photography
This may be my favorite of Denise’s flower images in the Blur Guide. When you read of the simple technique that she used to create it with a hand held 100mm macro lens you will likely want to give yourself a kick in the butt for not thinking of it yourself.


Merritt Island/Viera Wetlands Photographic Instructional Workshop

December 3-5, 2010 – Three full days of extensive in-the-field instruction at two of East Central Florida’s best avian photography locations. Classroom sessions include image critique sessions each day of images you created during the workshop, proper exposure and compositional techniques, and editing & processing your images. Field instruction includes isolating your subject, understanding light, proper exposure (exposing to the right), using depth of field to your advantage and lots more. We will also be visiting the Avian Reconditioning Center for a private up-close and personal photography of raptors. CD with lesson plans included – no note taking required. Learn more here. Previous Amoruso workshop participants receive a 10% discount on this workshop.

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Great Blue Heron, three-image stitched pano, Viera, FL.
Image copyright 2009/Robert Amoruso/Wildscape Images
Canon 100-400mm f/5.6L IS lens at 190mm and the 50D. Evaluative metering set manually at 1/1000 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800.

This image was stitched using Photoshop layers and masking of three images from a series created while I panned with the heron as he approached the nest and landed.

St. Augustine Photographic Instructional Workshop

April 14-17, 2011, Three and one-half days of extensive field and classroom instruction at the famous St. Augustine Alligator Farm with Robert Amoruso and Robert O’Toole. We will be using the Alligator Farm’s Educational Center for meetings and equipment storage between morning and afternoon sessions. Weather is pleasant in mid-April and coincides with a point in time at the rookery when nesting, chicks, mating and nest building are all occurring – one of my favorite times of the year to be there. Find out more here.

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Great Egret Chicks, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, FL.
Image copyright 2009/Robert Amoruso/Wildscape Images
Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens and the 5D Mark II. Evaluative metering set manually at 1/400 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800.

Private Photographic Instructional Workshops

As good as a group workshop can be, sometimes private one-on-one instruction is the ticket. My private workshops cater to your individual needs. In advance of the workshop we will discuss your objectives and how they can be met in a private setting. Then I design your workshop to meet those goals. My private workshops generally include areas close to my home as I know them well but I can travel to other locations in Florida if you have a specific locale in mind. Download my brochure here.

Find out about where I am photographing, how-to tips, workshop information and more on my blog.

Contact Robert by cell phone at 407-808-7417 or by e-mail to wildscapeimages@att.net.


Latest specials from Hunts: http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com.



“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 O’Toole, Jim Heupel, and Denise Ippolito. 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.


NOV 27, 2010. Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 26. 1-FULL DAY: $399. (Payment in full due upon registration.) Limit: 15/Openings: 10. Leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris.

SAN DIEGO IPT: JAN 19-23, 2011

Slide program on the evening of JAN 18. 5 Full Days: $2399 (Limit 8/Openings 3) 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.

SW FLA IPT: FEB 9-14, 2011

Slide program on the evening of FEB 8. 6 Full Days: 2899. (Limit 10/Openings 5). 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.


March 18-22, 2011

Limit 12 including the leaders/Sold Out. 5-FULL DAYS: $3249

March 24-28, 2011

Limit 12 including the leaders/Sold Out. 5-FULL DAYS: $3249

Homer the way it used to be. 100% legal eagle feeding. Both of these trips sold out 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. Non-refundable deposit: $1,000. See terms above. Please call to check on availability before sending your deposit check.

Please e-mail to have your name placed on the waiting list for one or more of the eagle trips above and below.

March 12-16, 2011

(slide program the evening of March 11) 5-FULL DAYS: $2799. ABSOLUTE LIMIT: 5/Sold Out.

The trip above was added by popular demand; only Robert will be leading it.


IPT: The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience: July 3-20, 2011 (July 5-19, 2011 on the boat): 13 1/2 days of photography plus a last morning panga ride: $12, 499. (Limit 11/Openings 1)

This two-week trip features an unparalleled photographic itinerary that will visit all the great spots in the islands; we will not miss a thing. The highlights include Tower Island—tons of nesting birds at knee and eye level, Punta Espinoza (Flightless Cormorants), Puerto Ayora (tortoises in their natural habitats), Hood Island (Waved Albatross and lots more nesting birds), South Plaza, and North Seymour. Each of these locations is on a par with Antarctica or East Africa when it comes to spectacular photographic opportunities. If you make only a one week cruise you will miss half of these great locations. With two full weeks we will enjoy a relaxed pace with shorter navigations and lots of time for snorkeling, image sharing, and small group Photoshop instruction. You will have a great photographic leader (that would be me) with 7 years of Galapagos experience teamed with the very best most knowledgeable guide in the entire archipelago. We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast weather, we often spend as much as six hours on a landing. Jeez, I almost forgot our spectacular and romantic motor sailing ship, the Beagle: http://www.thebeagle.com.ec.

The group will be flying to Quito on their own to arrive on July 3, 2011. We have a travel insurance day on July 4th (with an optional trip for perched hummingbirds at Tandayapa). On the morning of July 5 we fly to the Galapagos and board the boat around midday. We leave the boat two weeks later on morning of July 19 after our last photo session, a short panga ride. We fly back to Quito on that same day, July 19, overnight in Quito, and fly home on the morning of July 20.

Note: some of the walks are strenuous. Though I will be bringing my 800 f/5.6L IS lens along, great images are possible on all landings with a hand held 70-200mm lens.

Please e-mail me at for a complete 2010 itinerary. Happy campers only please.

Included: three nights in the luxury hotel–the Hilton Quito Colon, round trip airfare to and from the Galapagos, all meals on the boat, a killer buffet lunch with the tortoises!, all park fees and related costs, and all transfers. Not included. Your round trip airfare from your home to and from Quito, beverages, phone calls, and the $500/person tip for the guide and the crew. A $5,000 non-refundable deposit per person is due immediately. Please call me at 863-692-0906 or 863-221-2372 before sending your deposit to check availability.

Please print, sign, and return these two forms along with your deposit check.

Two additional non-refundable payments will be due as follows: $4000 on NOV 1, 2010. The final payment of $3,499 will be due on FEB 1, 2011. Travel insurance is of course beyond highly recommended as none of your payments are refundable. You need to protect yourself in case of an unexpected illness or accident or other unforeseen developments.


(from Oahu, HI). 7-FULL DAYS OF PHOTOGRAPHY. (Sold Out.)

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