JULY 2, 2004
TEN IMPORTANT BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY FACTS (that you may or may not want to hear...)
Photo Theme: Mark II images from the Nome, AK IPT
Gyrfalcon triplets in the nest, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 600mm f/4 L IS lens.     
ISO 250. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/100 sec. at f/16.
We got to this nest after a relatively easy climb.  Both the parents and chicks were at ease with our presence--these chicks were fed very early each morning.  I stopped down tin hopes of getting the eyes of all three chicks sharp.  This pose was there for only an instant, then the lowest bird in the pile put his head pretty much under the rock!  (Note breakfast left-overs in the backgrounds...)
Blessed by glorious weather, the Nome IPT was a huge success.  I was joined by Wes and Patti Ardoin, Matt Haggadorn, John McRae, and Brian Zwiebel.  Brian did a great job with the birds songs on his MP3 player.  (Early in the trip the songbirds simply jumped all over the speaker, but the frenzy of activity and success tapered off dramatically after that.  Patti Ardoin helped me with the cooking (the restaurants in Nome stink!) and added her Louisiana touch to the menu.    We were astounded on our first morning to find several Western Sandpipers with chicks. On my previous Nome IPT, I did not even find a Western Sandpiper until about June 19, and those birds were still on eggs.  It had been an early, warm and dry spring before we got there and the weather pretty much held for the 10 day trip.  On several evenings we were photographing in bright sun after midnight!  As it turned out, it was a very good year for the tundra-nesting birds, at least for the early birds.  Dozens of Aleutian Terns nested on short-grass tundra within a few miles of town and we enjoyed several amazing photographic opportunities with nesting ravens.   We had lots of shorebirds, many jaegers, some wonderful passerines, lots of Arctic terns, and a gyr nest. Enjoy the images, and do consider joining me when I return to Nome in mid-June 2006.
Semipalmated Sandpiper in beach pea flowers, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 500mm f/4 L IS lens and 2X II TC.     
ISO 250. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/8 in Program Mode (usually best for fill flash).
Fill flash at -1 stop with Better Beamer.
This bird, which we learned later was with chicks (see below), kept landing in the flowers and then taking off immediately...  We were frustrated for a while, then I got lucky.
I shipped the 600 IS lens to Nome and carried on the 500 IS.  For hiking on the tundra, the lighter weight of the 500 is a pleasure.
TEN IMPORTANT BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY FACTS (that you may or may not want to hear...)
#1: I do not and will never recommend a side-mounting gimbal type tripod head (like the Wimberley Sidekick or the any of the regular Mongoose heads) for big telephotos lenses.  Why?  One of the keys to making sharp images is to rebalance your rig each and every time that you add or remove an accessory like a teleconverter or a flash.  Rebalancing (or even mounting) an 8-14 pound lens on a side-mounting Gimbal-type head is a dangerous proposition as the lens may easily fall out of the clamp when the clamp is loosened.  (Not so with the regular Wimberley head...)  Please do not write and tell me that this or that big name pro uses and recommends a side-mounting gimbal type heads for big lenses...  Sooner or later they will drop their big lens.  We will gladly sell you a Sidekick or a Mongoose head for your big lens, just don't  tell me about it!
#2: The King Cobra head is a piece of junk.  It is heavy and has the worst creep of any tripod head I have ever handled. If you want to properly frame a bird on the ground you had better point the lens at the sky before tightening the Swing-Arm control on your King Cobra.  Don't believe me?  Check out how many King Cobras are for sale on E-bay most days...
Semipalmated Sandpiper with chick & beach pea flowers, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 500mm f/4 L IS lens and 1.4X II TC.     
ISO 250. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/80 sec. at f/10 in Av Mode--I needed to control depth of field.
Fill flash at -1 stop with Better Beamer.
I subtracted 1/3 stop of light when this bird faced us to avoid blowing out the white breast feathers.  I stopped down in hopes of making an image of the chick next to mom (she was brooding the chicks and they kept running in and out and around her...)  This one was a true miracle as the birds held this pose for only a fraction of a second.
#3: The Mongoose M-262 head is far superior to the Sidekick (we sell both) for use with intermediate telephoto lenses because it is far lighter and is designed to be used independently, that is, without a ballhead (thus increasing many-fold it lightweight advantage...) 
#4:  Digital photographers have way more fun than film shooters.
Common Raven chick in nest, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera 28-135mm IS lens at 135mm.     
ISO 400. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/80 sec. at f/11 in Av Mode. 
We found this nest on a bridge 85 miles from town--gas was $3.49/gallon!  We held each other's ankles to ensure that nobody wound up in the river...  I held the camera with only one hand to while making this image (while using AI Servo AF of course to help maintain accurate focus.  I underexposed 1/3 stop and made a test image of the bird just sitting there and the histogram looked fine.  Then, I subtracted another 1/3 stop to avoid burning the light bright-pink mouth lining. 
#5:  We now recommend the Wimberley Arca-Swiss (our designation) Flash Bracket (see: for most users.  Because it mounts directly to your Wimberley lens plate, it is far more adaptable then the Wimberley Head Flash Bracket.  It can be used in any automobile, with the lens on a beanbag, or with the lens on a ground pod.
#6: For handheld flight shooting the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L lens (my old "toy" lens) is best in the world by far, mainly because it has a LONGER minimum focusing distance than any of the runners-up.  Because of the greater minimum focusing distance, the AF system does not have to search over as great a range--it does not need to search as close in...  AF acquisition is just about instantaneous with most camera bodies, and with a Mark II, AF performance borders on the surreal.  In Nome I switched from the toy lens to the 300 f/4 to the 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens to the 100-400 IS lens and the old 400mm f/5.6 blew everything else out of the water...
Long-tailed Jaeger landing at nest, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with handheld 400mm f/5.6 L lens. 
ISO 250. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop off of the grasses, 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6.
In contrast with my first visit, there were lots of nesting Long-tailed Jaegers and several of the birds, including this one, were quite easy to work with.
The old "toy" lens is great for capturing dramatic images of birds in flight and in action.
#7: The Gitzo Carbon Fiber 1348 and 13349 series tripods are worthless for use with big lenses.  Why?  The lowest leg section is the diameter of a pencil...  We recommend only the CF 1325 for most natural history photography with telephoto lenses and the CF 1548 for folks using the 600mm Nikon lens.  The 1325 is fine for those using the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS lens.
#8:  Good photographers make good images with whatever equipment they have in their hands, and likewise for great photographers...
Red-throated Loon, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 600mm f/4 L IS lens and 2XII TC.     
ISO 400  Evaluative metering +1 stop.
We think that this bird's mate was captured and killed in a net by a local fisherman...  "Incidental by-catch;" how sad.  
As I love water without any ripples, we tried for this bird whenever it was still and sunny...
#9:  Canon is light years ahead of Nikon as far as digital camera bodies and long Image Stabilized and Vibration Reduction lenses are concerned.  Why?  Canon is a huge company who can afford to spend lot of $$ on R&D (research and development).  Nikon is a much smaller company that can only afford to try and catch up...  (Sorry, those are the facts.)
10:  The vest that I use is an X-tra Hand from Vested Interest.  Mine is a personally adapted and designed "Big Lens" model based on their Magnum series of vests.  For more on my vest and a link to the Vested Interest site, click here:
Golden-crowned Sparrow singing, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 500mm f/4 L IS lens and 1.4X II TC.     
ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero:  1/640 sec. at f/11.
Several first year male golden-crowneds responded to the tape right off of the bat, but it took a while for this male to come to our perches.  Then he picked his own perch atop a budding stalk!  And then he sang from this perch on and off for nearly an hour.  Suffice to say, we made more than a few good images.


Great news:  the latest version of Breezebrowser, which will handle raw conversions for the Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera body, is now being tested.  Breezebrowser is a powerful browser that offers lightening-fast slide show editing and other amazing conveniences for serious digital photographers.  BIRDS AS ART is a Breezebrowser dealer; see for details.


I shall send a BAA Notes the moment that I hear from Chris Breeze that the latest version is available for downloading.


American Golden-Plover, nest distraction display, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 500mm f/4 L IS lens.      
ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/6.3 in Program Mode.  
Fill flash at -2/3 stop with Better Beamer.
We worked at active nests only in nice weather and only for ten minutes or so at a time so that the birds could return to incubating after a short break.   
We currently have eleven paid orders on the waiting list.  We will continue to accept orders and payments and will ship product on a first-paid, first served basis.  We expect our next shipment within two weeks. 
If you do not wish to be disappointed, it would be best to order yours immediately via Paypal.  
The Mongoose M-262 Action Head is available now for $295 plus $11 shipping via US Priority Mail/Certified/Return Receipt Requested.  Florida residents need to add $17.70 for sales tax. 
Common Raven wheeling in flight, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with handheld 400mm f/5.6 L lens.      
ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off of the sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6. 
The ability of digital to reveal the detail in black subjects in low light without flash is astounding.

The Lake Martin, Louisiana Roseate Spoonbill IPTs (Roseate Spoonbill--and Great Egret--rookery in budding cypress swamp; courtship & nest building.  Barring a natural disaster spoonbill chicks are expected on the 2nd IPT only. The first IPT will feature spoonbills in mind-boggling breeding plumage (unlike anything I've ever seen here in Florida).  They will be courting, building nests, copulating, and fighting. Good flight photography opportunities are expected on both IPTs).  500 and 600mm lenses with 1.4 and 2X TCs are mandatory (rentals are available).  Also: Cattle Egret, Green and Little Blue Heron, both night-herons, sunrise scenics, nutria, alligators with young, and lots of flowers.  Sunny afternoons will be tough at this Lake Martin but mornings will be spectacular.  With cloudy weather the days will be long...  Registration includes a complimentary homemade crawfish etouffe dinner; hosts: Wes and Patti Ardoin.  (Fly to Lafayette, La.)

LAKE MARTIN, LA SPOONBILLS, MAR 19-21 & MAY 13-15, 2005, 3 -DAY: $899 (Limit 10)

Dunlin chick, Nome, AK
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 600mm f/4 L IS lens and 2X II TC.     
ISO 500. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/250 sec. at f/8 in Program Mode.  
Fill flash at -1 2/3 stops with Better Beamer.
Though you are limited to central sensor only AF when using the big lenses with the Mark II and a 2X II TC, there are times when the best composition is achieved while using AI Servo AF...  (In many instances, you need to switch to One-Shot AF to make pleasing images..)
The Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM 2004 IPTs (geese and cranes, spectacular sunrises, sunsets, flight photography & blastoffs) are both nearly sold-out. Digital expert and Photoshop Instructor Ellen Anon will be co-leading both of these trips with me. 3-day IPTs ($869--limit: 14) 
NOV 21-23 IPT (3 slots open) 
NOV 27-29 IPT (only 1 space left!) 
The SW Florida IPTs (herons, egrets, gulls, terns, shorebirds, Osprey, & both pelicans. Spoonbills likely.  Ding Darling, Sanibel Island, Bind Pass, Placida, Venice Rookery, Estero Lagoon, and Cape Coral. 

POST X-MAS: DEC 28-30, 2004, 3-DAY: $869.  Limit 12/9 openings.

PRESIDENTS HOLIDAY IPT: FEB 18-22, 2005, 5-DAY: $1399  (Ellen Anon will assist me as co-leader on this IPT and conduct a Photoshop session) Limit 14/6 openings.

Click here to enjoy the SW-FL IPT Experience.

The San Diego IPT(California Brown Pelican in spectacular breeding plumage at close range, Brandt's and other cormorants, Western, California, Heerman's (also in full breeding plumage) and other gulls.  (There will be great flight photography opportunities with the preceding species.)  Lesser Scaup, Wood, Ring-necked, and other ducks. Marbled Godwit, Willet, Whimbrel, Surfbird, Wandering Tattler & other shorebirds, most at close range.  Harbor seals and sea lions.  Digital expert and Photoshop Instructor Ellen Anon will assist me as co-leader on this IPT and conduct a Photoshop session

San Diego IPT: January 6-9, 2005, 4-DAY: $1299  (Limit: 12, 6 openings.)  Click here to enjoy the San Diego ITP Experience.

Homer, AK, Bald Eagle IPT w/co-leader GREG DOWNING  FEB 4-8 & 9-13, 2005                 5-DAY: $1599.  10-DAY: $2999  (near sell outs)

The Fort DeSoto/Sarasota IPT (Royal Tern & Laughing Gull in spectacular breeding plumage/courtship and copulations), dark and white phase Reddish Egret in breeding plumage, several other heron and egret species, Sandwich & Forster's Terns, Long-billed Curlew and a dozen or more easily approachable shorebird species, great flight photography opportunities in Sarasota: Brown Pelican, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, & Black-crowned Night-Heron (head and shoulders portraits likely with this species).

Fort DeSoto/Sarasota IPT: April 8-10, 2005, 3-DAY: $869  (Limit: 12, 10 openings.)   

For additional details including deposit information and cancellation policies, visit:                          
Best and love and great picture making to all,  

Note: Arthur Morris has been a Canon contract photographer since 1994 and continues in that role today.  Hunt's Photo of Boston, MA is a BIRDS AS ART sponsor, as is Delkin Devices.  Do feel free to forward this Bulletin to one or more photographer-friends. Those wishing to subscribe click here: mailto:  Back issues of relevant Bulletins are archived on the web site at: