September 24th, 2013


  • Flight Plan–a new e-Guide by Jim Neiger
  • Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT Report
  • Announcing the 2014 Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT
  • Sandesh Kadur
  • Current Events and Notices
  • Affiliate Links
  • Events & Seminar INFO

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Flight Plan–a new e-Guide by Jim Neiger

Flight Plan, by Jim Neiger: 97 pages, 127 images: $50

Fact: 99.9% of all photographers (including me) will find it easier to photograph birds in flight and in action while hand holding than when working with a tripod-mounted lens. (James Shadle and Todd Gustafson make up a large part of the 0.1%)

Here is the foreword that I wrote for Jim:

I have known Jim Neiger for a bit more than a decade. Even back then he was passionate about bird photography though he had purchased his first dSLR—a Canon EOS-10D–less than a month before. As many folks have done, he began with the venerable but oft-maligned Canon 100-400 zoom lens, hand holding of course.

As Jim tells the story, I called him at home at midnight in June, 2003, to secure a ride on his bass boat the next morning. I loaned him a 600. He saved mine from a swim in the lake when another boat sped by too fast. Jim and I had a good deal for about 18 months—he took me out on his boat for Snail Kites, Sandhill Cranes, Barred Owls, and a variety of nesting herons and egrets. I loaned him an extra 500mm f/4L IS lens. Within two years, he purchased his own.

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Swallow-tailed Kite, hand held 500mm f/4 L IS lens, South FL. Image copyright 2013: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Though he owned a flimsy tripod, Jim began hand holding his own 500 right off the bat. By 2006 he was running Flight School workshops teaching folks the techniques that he had used and developed for hand holding super-telephoto lenses for bird photography. Today, there is a legion of skilled photographers using Jim’s hand holding techniques to capture dramatic images of birds in flight and in action. Several of today’s top notch bird photographers including David Hemmings, Arash Hazeghi, Michael Zajac, Kevin Karlson, Dan Cadieux, and Doug Brown either learned directly from Jim or were greatly influenced by his teachings. And many dozens of his students are producing high quality, contest winning images on a consistent basis.

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Snail Kite, male, hand held 500mm f/4 L IS lens, central FL. Image copyright 2013: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

Before Jim popularized the hand holding of big lenses most serious bird photographers stated that doing so was simply not possible. Little did they know…. Most remarkably, yours truly has been seen hand holding his 600mm f/4L L IS II lens a bit lately. Thanks Jim!

In “Flight Plan; How to Photograph Birds in Flight” Jim shares everything he knows about hand holding big glass in clear, simple, easy-to-understand terms. If you study and practice, you will soon become a member of Jim’s tribe. Have fun and enjoy the rewards.

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Cooper’s Hawk, juvenile, hand held 500mm f/4 L IS lens, Texas coast. Image copyright 2013: Jim Neiger/Flight School Photography

After editing Jim’s great new e-Guide I gotta say that my flight photography improved a good deal as I gained a better understanding of–among others–his “bump the focus” techniques. Though Flight Plan pitches Jim’s hand holding philosophy and techniques many of the great tips will help folks like me who do most of their flight photography off a tripod.

There are several ways for you to get a copy of this long-awaited e-Guide. You can mail a check for $50 made out to “Arthur Morris” to BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855–be sure to include your e-mail address. You can send a PayPal for $50 to us to Be sure to include the words “Flight Plan”in your Paypal e-mail. Easiest of all is to place your order through the BIRDS AS ART Online Store by clicking here.

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The Swan Island IPT group. With the tripod-mounted 200-400, the 5D Mark III, and the 10-second time. A kindly employee pushed the shutter button for us when it turned out that I could not run fast enough to get in the picture. This was the only take–it is remarkable that it turned out so well with nobody looking dumb.

Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT Report

Denise and I worked with 14 great folks on the recently concluded Swan Island Dahlia Farm BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour. (Two folks cancelled at the last second.) The flowers were amazing. I was worried that I might not be as excited by the dahlias as I was by the tulips in Holland last spring. The dahlias were certainly different but were just as amazing; the incredible colors and the almost endless varieties were a delight to the senses and served to inspire everyone. Curious as to how the growers come up with so many vastly different variations I did some online searching; you can learn a lot about dahlias here, here, and here.

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This dahlia image was created on the recently-concluded Swan Island IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon Telephoto EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/25 sec. at f/8 in Av mode.

Live View for Mirror lock and live RGB histogram. 2-second timer. Join us in Swan Island next fall to learn my flower sharpness techniques.

Central sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus on the flower center and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

After a very hot day one, the weather was pretty much perfect; we had lots of soft light and not much wind to deal with. Best of all, the group was great. I met Larry and Diana Coleman on a workshop in Sacramento last year. Ron May was with us on the SW Florida IPT. Gary Ellwein is a Bosque IPT veteran; he attended with his lovely wife Lynn who is a beginning photographer–both Gary and Lynn are sweet as sugar. The always-smiling Joe Barranco attended an IPT or two way back when. Insu Nuzzi joined me for an In-the-Field session or two last summer at Nickerson where she met denise. Happy camper Susan Dimock was on Denise’s Swan Island trip last year. Happy camper Carolyn Peterson was on the Cheesemans’ South Georgia/Falklands trip with denise and me in October 2012. The newcomers included Pat Sweeney, Muriel McClellan, Felice Willat, Paulette Smith, and Megg McNamee. All were happy campers.

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This image was created from the image above using the Pinch and the Twirl filters in Photoshop, techniques that denise re-taught during one of our lunchtime Photoshop sessions. She had covered them briefly during the mini-seminar.

You can learn to apply those filters creatively (plus dozens more great tips and techniques) in denise’s great e-Guide, “A Guide to Filters and Effects.”

I have never encountered a group where everyone was willing to listen and learn and was so open to trying new stuff. And as we said each day at lunch, we have never had so many folks–make that everyone, routinely produce so great images. There was an assignment each morning followed by image sharing at the Hayden Grill. One great image after another made us feel really good about both the workshop and our teaching.

BAA Friend Don Nelson who had helped us with the trip logistics commented on Denise’s blog: (I was) absolutely blown away by the images shared by your students at lunch today. Each one had a stunning image. Each one demonstrated a different technique that you had taught. I learned a lot just be hearing about each images.

You should be very proud of your ability to teach such a diverse set of students–some beginners and some more advanced.

(and Artie made that outstanding Monet image–can’t wait to see that one posted.)


Note from artie: If you missed that (admittedly spectacular :)) image you can see it here and here.

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Images copyright Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART & Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure. Card design by denise.

Announcing the 2014 Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Swan Island Dahlia Farm Instructional Photo-Tour, September 8-12, 2014: 5 FULL DAYS: $1699. Meet and Greet: September 7 at 8pm.

Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm in Canby Oregon (just south of Portland) for a great learning and photography experience. Swan Island features more than 40 acres with over 350 varieties of dahlias in a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes, making it one of the largest growers in the United States.

Daily Photo Schedule

We will enjoy four morning (7:00am till 10:30am) and five afternoon (3:30pm till 6pm) photography sessions. While we will do most of our photography at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm, we will also visit the Portland Rose Garden and/or the Portland Japanese Garden on this IPT. We may visit the Hughes Water Gardens and a local sunflower field as well. The in-the-field instruction will include seeing the situation, the use of selective focus, creative use of depth of field, histogram and exposure guidance, designing creative images, choosing your background, isolating your subject, lens options, and the use of reflectors and diffusers. Our field sessions will include challenging photography assignments geared to make you think creatively. Both personalized and small group instruction will be provided. All times are tentative and subject to change based on the weather and on local conditions. All are invited to bring their laptops to lunch for image sharing on Monday and Wednesday through Friday.

The group will have lunch together daily except for Tuesday, the seminar morning; lunch will be on your own that day. We hope that you can join us for an intense five days of learning and some of the best flower photography to be had in North America.

Seminar Morning: Tuesday September 9: 8:30am till 12:30pm

Denise will begin by presenting her “Bloomin’ Ideas” program, an overview of the in-the-field and post-processing techniques that she has used and developed over the past few years to create her signature look. Artie will follow with a Photoshop session that will be geared towards all levels. He’ll be sharing some of his favorite techniques and tips while working on images from the first two days of the IPT. Denise will conclude the seminar portion of the IPT with a Photoshop demo; she will share her creative workflow using a variety of Photoshop filters and effects. The entire morning is designed to give you a peek into the minds of two very skilled and creative folks. Lunch on your own.

Deposit Info and Cancellation Policies:

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail

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This dahlia image was created with the hand held Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

Two sensors to the left of the central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF as framed active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

“Junkyard Dog” was my favorite dahlia. I spotted a large stand of them as we drove in and escorted about half the group to the spot. We had lots of fun with the back light. To learn my thoughts on the 100 macro see the “Learning About and Working With a New Lens: the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM” blog post here.

Follow-up Photoshop Saturday Seminar

As most of the folks on last year’s Swan Island IPT were wishing that we had time after the workshop to learn more Photoshop techniques from denise and me, more time to work on their images, and more time to try some of denise’s creative processing techniques, we have decided to offer a Follow-up Photoshop Seminar on the Saturday following the IPT. We will spend most of the morning teaching Photoshop expanding on the topics introduced in Tuesday’s Mini-Seminar. The afternoon will be devoted to helping you process your best images from the workshop.

Folks who are not planning to attend the Dahlia Farm IPT are invited to register and attend and bring 2-4 of their best natural history images for the afternoon session.

Follow-up Photoshop Saturday Seminar: Saturday September 13, 2014: 9am-4:30pm: $99.

Non-refundable payment in full is due when you register. See above for payment options. Credit cards are OK.

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This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter) (at 700mm), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/8.

Central sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo-Expand/Rear Focus AF on the flower center and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Everyone fell in love with the orange-brown sunflower variants. Here I used pretty much all the focal length that I had to isolate this single blossom. Do you like the inclusion of part of the yellow sunflower lower right?

Sandesh Kadur

Congrats to BAA friend Sandesh Kadur on the publication of his new book, “Himalaya, “Mountains of Light.” Sandesh will be making several east coast appearances during the next few weeks. For more info, and lots of great You Tube links to his work, see today’s blog post, Meet the National Geographic Explorer/Filmmaker.

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HVPN Fall Conference, Fishkill, NY

Both Denise Ippolito and I will be presenting at the Hudson Valley Photographic Network’s Fall Conference, September 28, 2013 at the Ramada Inn in Fishkill, NY. Here is the schedule:
9:00 -10:15am: Bloomin’ Ideas–Denise Ippolito
10:30am till 12:30pm: Choosing and Using Lenses for Nature Photography–Arthur Morris
1:30-2:45pm: Pleasing Blurs: artie and denise
3:00 to 5:00pm: The Art and Business of Fine Art Landscape Photography–Joe Brady

Click here for complete details. Click here to register. My portion of the program is free and open to the public thanks to Canon. The whole day including lunch is only $35.00.

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Exhibition Opening, American Museum of Bird Art at Mass Audubon, Canton, MA: September 29, 2013

BIRDS AS ART/The Bird Photography of Arthur Morris

All are invited to the exhibition opening at the American Museum of Bird Art at Mass Audubon at 1pm on Sunday, September 29, 2013. (963 Washington Street, Canton, MA 02021. 1-781-821-8853.) The exhibition, which is being sponsored by Canon USA/Explorers of Light, will run from September 29, 2013 – January 12, 2014. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

35 framed images. Denise Ippolito and I will be there and hope that you will be too. Click here for additional details.

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Expanding Your Creative Vision Nature Photography Seminar

Sept 30, 2013 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Canton, MA.

Sponsored by Mass Audubon/Museum of American Bird Art

Non-members: $89.00/Members: $79.00

Click here to register

Spend an amazing day with Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito in a full day nature photography seminar. Learn more about Denise on her website; be sure to visit her beautiful image galleries. You know me. 🙂 If you live within 3 hours of Boston and love photographing nature this experience is not to be missed. Artie will be doing a Tuesday night program for Mass Audubon. Both events will held be in conjunction with the opening of a 35-image exhibition of his work at the Museum of American Bird Art on Sunday, September 29, 2013. See details above.


9:00 to 10:45am: Choosing and Using Lenses for Nature Photography BIRDS AS ART Style – Artie Morris
10:45 to 11:00am: break
11:00 to 12:00 noon: Blooming Ideas – Denise Ippolito
12:00 to 1:00pm: Lunch
1:00 to 2:00pm: Refining Your Photographic Vision: Artie Morris and Denise Ippolito
2:00 to 2:30: Pro Gear Handling Tips – Artie Morris and Denise Ippolito
2:30 to 2:45: break
2:45 to 3:45: Creating Pleasing Blur – Artie Morris and Denise Ippolito s
3:45 to 5pm: Image Critiquing. Registrants will be asked to submit no more than three 1400 (wide) or 1050 (tall) sharpened JPEGs via e-mail 2-4 weeks before the seminar. At least one image from each participant will be selected for review.

Click here to register

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Mass Audubon Special Event: A Bird Photographer’s Story

I will be presenting ” A Bird Photographer’s Story” on Tuesday, October 1, 2103 from 7:00-9:00pm for Mass Audubon. This event, which will be held at the auditorium, Canton High School, 900 Washington St, Canton MA 02021, is being sponsored by Canon USA/Explorers of Light and will be free and open to the public. The event is being hosted by The Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon.

Click here for additional details.

Bosque del Apache 2013 IPT: “The Short Version.” NOV 30-DEC 2, 2013. 3-FULL DAYS: $1199. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:30 pm on 11/29. Limit: 12.

If you will be spending Thanksgiving with your family please click here and scroll down for complete details on the short version Bosque IPT.


On all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. 🙂

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Events & Seminar INFO Info

For complete events and seminar info and news of the upcoming exhibition of my work in the Boston, MA area, click here.

IPT Info

There is lots of room on the Bosque IPT and on the South Florida Mini-IPTs. And lots of room on the Holland/Tulip trip. For complete IPT info, please click here. Learn about the new Camargue & Provence France IPT here.

2 comments to BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #449

  • Bought Jim’s BIF guide yesterday and already read parts of it. Absolutely fantastic. The best resource out there on BIF. Anyone interesting in improving his/her BIF photography must(!) read this. Many lessons are also helpful for other subjects like running mammals or swimming ducks. The tips on hand holding are fantastic. I often handhold my new EF 4/200-400L IS 1.4x (e.g. for marmots, swimming geese, etc) because I am faster and more flexible than with a tripod.

    Many thanks to you and Jim for publishing this. I will recommend this to anyone who asks me about BIF photography.