Reddish Egrets at Sunset Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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Bulletins and Notes Archive

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BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE Bulletin #100 March 4, 2003

NANPA Summit Report

Bosque IPT Report

Canon EOS 10D Digital Camera

IPT Updates



NANPA Infinity Scholarship student Alexandra LaBine at work

Digital capture with Canon EOS 1Ds 35-350mm lens at 200mm 

ISO 250. Evaluative Metering -1/3: 1/250  sec. at f/5.6 handheld 

Image copyright 2003 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

When asked why she was always smiling, Alex would answer, "Because I'm so happy!" 


As usual, I enjoyed the NANPA Summit (Albuquerque, New Mexico--February 20-23) immensely.  First off, teaching assistant Ellen Anon and I had the privilege of working for an afternoon and a morning with the NANPA Infinity Scholarship students, ten of the finest young folks that you could ever hope to find.  Canon generously provided digital cameras for each of the students, more than $100,000 in loaner lenses, 6 Mac G4 computers, and skilled rep Michael Nadler to orchestrate the whole thing.  Delkin Devices provided 640 e-film Pro compact flash cards, and the eco-tourist friendly town of Socorro laid out the red carpet for the students.  Lou Nettlehorst coordinated the whole thing, assisted in part by Ray Pfortner.  The Super 8 Motel provided complimentary lodging for the entire group.  The Val Verde Steakhouse prepared a great lunch for all, and K-Bob's more than generously supplied dinner and a meeting room until the wee hours of the night.  These folks deserve your support whenever you visit Bosque.

On my afternoon with the kids, there was not much action.  At about 5:30 pm, the sun burst through the clouds in the west, illuminating the black clouds to the east with golden light.  I prayed for birds, but none flew.  The sun disappeared, then reappeared ten minutes later.  There were no Snow Geese in flight.  This time I prayed out loud, imploring the powers that be to send these great kids some birds.  Just then, a large group of geese blasted off to our right.  If they flew left, it would be a dud.  They flew right, right in front of the black storm clouds. 

The first keynote speaker at the Summit, Jim Brandenburg, pretty much blew everyone away with his somewhat mystical, philosophical, soft-spoken approach to nature photography and life and his incredibly wonderful imagery.  He was a tough act to follow, but the other keynoters were also entertaining, especially renowned insect photographer Mark Moffet whose sense of humor had most folks rolling in the aisles until the segment of his program that covered the death of a colleague from the bite of a tiny krait... Joel Sartore's tales of rotting flesh (his!) confirmed my feelings that photographing for National Geographic has not been and is not one of my career goals...  After the scholarship student's program, which brought tears to many eyes (including mine), Nature Photographer of the Year Gary Braasch put on a memorable program after the Saturday banquet that surely inspired everyone to put their images to work for the planet.   I dropped in on many of the breakout sessions and enjoyed most of them, especially Louis Kemper's Photoshop bit and Jack Jeffrey's program on photographing Hawaiian birds.   

As good as the programs were, the high points for me--as usual--were the interactions with friends and IPT participants and colleagues (with many folks fitting into at least two of those categories).  Seeing Darrell Gulin and sharing tales with him was--as always--a delight; he has been one of my biggest supporters and I value his friendship immensely.  Jim Brandenburg dropped by the booth on Friday and oohed and aahed over my Tanzania and Bosque digital images and the quality of the screen on my Toshiba laptop.  After 40 years of using Nikon equipment, he had me introduce him to the folks at the Canon booth.  He is very interested in the EOS 1Ds...  He brought a gift for me, a limited edition copy of "Chased by the Light."  (We had  connected previously when he spoke at the NANPA Summit in San Diego.)  He inscribed it as follows, "To the master, in the name of shared passions."  Talk about being totally blown away...   Afterwards, I came up with the following words that summed  up my feelings, "Exhibitor's Booth at NANPA: $1,150; Toshiba Laptop: $4,400; thirty minutes with Jim Brandenburg admiring your images, priceless!" 


      Snow Geese against black storm clouds, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM 

    Digital capture with Canon EOS 1Ds, 100-400mm IS Zoom lens at 135mm 

ISO 400. Evaluative Metering -1/3 stop = 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 

Image copyright 2003 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My prayers were answered...  Ellen taught me a neat Photo Shop trick in curves to render the sky as black as it was.


While working with the students, I noted that Snow Geese numbers at Bosque were a fraction of what would be expected in a typical February and that there was little of the typical flight and blast-off photography available between 8 am and 5pm.  Two weeks of 80 degree weather in early February drove most of the geese north far earlier than usual. In spite of the fact that there was lots to photograph from the car--the IPT group (5) was unusually small--and the fact that the widgeon photography was phenomenal, I e-mailed the entire group and offered them a full refund if they opted to stay home or a $300 discount if they chose to come.  Everybody came, and at least three of the group went home happy and satisfied. 
Sandhill Crane, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM   

Digital capture with Canon EOS 1Ds, 600mm IS lens and 1.4X II TC.

ISO 100.  Evaluative Metering at zero set in Manual Mode: 1/30 sec. at f/25.  

Image copyright 2003 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The beauty of doing pan blurs with digital is that you always know the exact shutter speed...  I have learned that for large in the frame birds, shutter speeds in the 1/30 to 1/60 sec. range will produce a pleasing amount of subject blur.  

One IPT couple was disappointed.  In talking with the wife, it became clear that she was troubled to discover that I photograph during IPTs.  In addition, she felt that I did not point out the best photographic opportunities at each stop. I was somewhat puzzled as just that day she had told me that they had found the previous evening's critiquing session extremely valuable.  Her comments raise two important issues for potential IPT participants.    #1: Although I photograph on all tours, I am extremely proud of the amount of in-the-field instruction that I (and Ellen Anon on some tours) provide.  And #2: Folks who stick close to the leader benefit most from the in-the-field instruction.  (The unhappy couple consistently set up more than 100 yards from the group.)  You can make all of the people happy some of the time...
That said, we did have some good pre-dawn blast-offs at the Flight Deck, and some great flight shooting for departing Sandhill Cranes at Harry's Crane Pool each morning. The weather was as lousy as I'd ever seen at Bosque, but despite the continuous gloom and doom forecasts, we encountered only a ten minute drizzle and, on a separate occasion, about 7 snow flakes. 
Red-tailed Hawk, adult, Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM   

Digital capture with Canon EOS 1Ds, 600mm IS lens and 2X II TC from car window with Kirk Hugger Beanbag

ISO 100.  Evaluative Metering -1/3 stop = 1/320 sec. at f/11

Image copyright 2003 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

There were some great opportunities from the car at Bosque in February.   

At the PMA Show in Las Vegas, Canon introduced the EOS 10D digital camera, an upgrade of the EOS D-60 that is no longer available.  I have not had a chance to field test the 10D, though I look forward to doing so.  My understanding is that the 10D is an improved D-60 with the autofocus system of an Elan 7.  (I have written previously that for birds in flight, especially those flying towards the camera, that I actually prefer the Elan 7's AF system to that of either the EOS 3 or the EOS 1v.)  The 10D will offer a 6+ megapixel file size as well as the same 1.6X multiplier effect offered by the D-60.  This relatively lightweight digital camera will offer an inexpensive trip into the world of digital bird photography and will be a great fit with either the 100-400mm IS zoom (which becomes a 160-640mm handholdable zoom lens)  or the 500mm f/4L IS lens.  The latter set-up will offer central-sensor AF with the 1.4X TC.  The 10D is expected to sell for approximately $1500, well less than the D-60 was selling for.  As the 10D is clearly a far better camera, it offers great bang for the buck.  
For more information, click through on these links:
IPT  & I-T-F-Workshop UPDATES 

Fort DeSoto Park In-The-Field Workshops: Monday March 24 and Tuesday March 25, 2003

These In-The-Field Workshops at Fort DeSoto Park are open to all. You may sign up for one or both days, each limited to 10 participants.   A 400 mm lens with a 1.4X teleconverter is the minimum recommended focal length lens for these Workshops.  500 and 600mm telephoto lenses are ideal.  (Pre-dawn to sunset with a two-hour break after lunch.)

The cost of the In-The-Field Workshops are $200.00/day. Probable subjects include Laughing Gulls in full breeding plumage performing various courtship displays, hundreds of shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, and various herons and egrets including both the dark and white phases of Reddish Egret (see the latter at: in spectacular breeding plumage with their bright pink bills and ultramarine blue lores.

To register for the one or both of the ITF-Workshops, send a check made out to “Arthur Morris” for $200/day to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART PO Box 7245 Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.   Please be sure to include your preferred date(s), your home address and phone number, your work number, and most importantly, your correct e-mail address( if you have one). 


Laughing Gull pair, courtship feeding, Fort DeSoto Park, FL

Canon EOS 1v, Canon EF 500M F/4 IS lens,  2X II TC.

Fuji Velvia pushed one stop.  Evaluative Metering -1/3 stop = 1/350 sec. at f/8 

Panning Ground Pod

Image copyright 2003 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

In late March the Laughing Gulls at DeSoto are strutting their stuff.

For information on the Sarasota Two-Day How-To Seminar, "The Art Of Nature Photography; It Ain’t Just Birds!" (SAT/SUN March 22-23, 2003) click here: 

Do note that BIRDS AS ART/Instructional Photo-Tours are not photo vacations.  If you are looking for a relaxed, informal trip with luxurious breakfasts, then my trips are not for you. If you want to get up early, really early at times, work hard all day (but for the midday break and Instructor Nap Time), enjoy lunch and dinner with the leader and the group (all the while asking photo-related questions and looking at images), stay out till dark, and then enjoy an on-topic, educational slide program until 9:30 or so, then do consider joining us.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm IPT is wide open.   MAY 16-18, 2003.  3-DAY $829  (Limit: 10)  Nesting Great, Cattle, and Snowy Egrets and Tricolored and Little Blue Herons (rare) at close range at or below eye level.  Learn to use your flash as fill and as main light and how to avoid clutter in your compositions.
Amazingly, the Fall 2003 Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM  IPTs already have four slots filled.  NOV 23-25 & NOV 29-DEC 1, 2003.  3-DAY IPTs: $829  (Limit: 14).  Take a $100 discount, sign up for both, and celebrate Thanksgiving in Socorro with us.  Tens of thousands of geese and ten thousand Sandhill Cranes.  Low mountain scenery.  Spectacular light.  And, if you are the least bit lucky, sunrises and sunsets that will bring tears to you eyes.  Bosque is the premier teaching laboratory for those wishing to develop their creative vision. (At present, I have scheduled only two, rather than the traditional three Bosque IPTs.)  
The first ever Upper Peninsula of Michigan Fall Color/Macro/Waterfalls IPT will be co-led by David Vore of Flint, MI who knows all the killer spots.  5-day, 10/3/03 to 10/7/03: $1299.  Limit 12, openings, 10.  Peak color averages to October 4th...  Do be aware that there are no guarantees as to the date of peak color... The introductory slide program will be at 7:30pm on the night of October 2.   Last year, the color was two weeks late, but in spite of that, we had an incredible time photographing little bits of color, some incredible reflections, mushrooms, birch bark, chipmunks, and moving water.  I did not make a single bird photograph yet came home stoked!  Two slots are already filled.



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