JULY 23, 2004
Photo Theme: Florida in summer: hotter than Hades, but lousy for nature photography?  
Banana Spider, Washington Oaks State Park, FL
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 62mm of extension.   
ISO 400.  Evaluative Metering at 0: 1/400 sec. at f/4. 
Fill flash at -3 stops with Better Beamer FX-2 (
SPIDERS AS ART?  One image.  So many lessons. I had photographed these spiders the previous day at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm with the flash set at - 1 1/3 stops.  All of the images suffered from too much flash...  Given a second chance the next day (and more easily able to parallel the subject to the plane of the sensor), I set the flash to -3.  The first image (seen here above) also looked over-flashed, so I took off the Better Beamer and slid the built-in diffuser in front of the 540's flash head.  As it turned out, the next 30 images needed more flash (as in -3 full stops)...  Aside from the flash lesson, I learned that it is not a good idea to try to judge the brightness of an image by looking at the LCD image on the back of the camera....
In the mid 1980s, folks kept telling me, "You should get over to the Venice Rookery, it is amazing."  But time after time I would respond, "Ding Darling is great.  Why should I go all the way up there?"   Then finally, I went... As it turns out, I should have listened, for the Venice Rookery (NOV thru at least FEB) is one of the premier bird photography hotspots in the world and is visited by nature photographers from around the globe.  (On some Friday mornings there are more than 50 super-telephoto-equipped photographers there!)   As most of you know, I made the cover image for The Art of Bird Photography; The Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques ( at the rookery.  I should have listened. 
When Chris Breeze, creator of the amazing Breezebrowser program ( that I use every day of the year, told me to try Downloader Pro, I should have listened.  But I didn't, and as a result I wasted hundreds of hours downloading my digital images as described in our ( Digital Basics File:
To begin, either insert or plug a card reader into the appropriate slot on your computer.  Next, insert your compact flash card into the card reader.  Double-left-click on My Computer.  An icon representing the folder with the images should appear on the screen.  Double left click on the folder until the folder or folders that contain the images comes up.  If you double click once too much, the individual image files will begin to appear.  If this happens, click the Back button.  Now highlight the folder or folders by left clicking first on one and then holding down the control key while left clicking on the others.  Once the folder(s) are highlighted, keep the cursor on a highlighted file and then right-click.  Left click on Copy.  Now hit the Back button twice to return to the My Computer screen.  Double left-click on the Digital Images folder and then double left-click on the Day Take A folder to open it.  Right-click anywhere on the screen and select and click on Paste.
I have repeated the laborious procedure described above thousands of times in the past twenty months... And even though I have the procedure down pat, it takes about a minute or so to copy and paste the images from a single card.  Now imagine that you put your flash card into your laptop and two seconds after your computer recognizes the card, a program opens and prompts you to enter the job code--I type in the name of the location where the images were made and then hit OK.  In less than a second, a list of the file numbers appears on the screen and a window pops up: Automation enabled.  Do you wish to automatically: download images from your CF card then soft eject card reader media and then close Downloader?  I click Yes and Downloader Pro downloads the images into a pre-designated file.  Better yet, my copyright and contact information are embedded into each image as part of the IPTC data.  And better even yet, the location appears in front of the file number for each image, likes this:  St. Augustine Alligator Farm, FL 279T2371.TIFF.  Now, when we process an image, there is no need to type in the location as part of the caption; Downloader Pro has done it automatically!  And once you have typed the location for the first card of a photo-session, there is no need to type it in again.  It will appear as the default until you type in a new location. 
When combined with the super-fast CardBus 32 Adapter (, the world's fastest PCMCIA CF card reader, the entire downloading process for a 640 e-film Pro Delkin Compact Flash Card takes less then 3 minutes.  To order Downloader Pro ($29.95 US) now, click here: and then click on the Paypal link.  To download a free trial version of Downloader Pro, click here:   If you use a digital camera and own and use Breezebrowser to edit and organize your images, you are simply wasting lots of valuable time if you do not order a copy of Downloader Pro.  Do note that Downloader Pro has many additional features that may prove valuable to you.  If you download or purchase a copy of Downloader Pro, I invite you to e-mail and request the BIRDS AS ART/Downloader Pro Instruction File (free).  This file will explain in clear and simple language how to set up your DLPro preferences so that it will perform the operations described above.  
BTW, thanks Chris!  I am glad that I finally listened to you... 

Long-billed Curlew, Fort DeSoto Park, Tierra Verde, FL
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 320.  Evaluative Metering +1 stop set manually (in constant light): 1/500 sec. at f/5.6. 
Most bird photographers do not realize that southbound shorebird migration gets underway in early to mid-July (even in Florida)!  On Monday, July 15, I missed a breeding plumage Curlew Sandpiper that had been seen and was well-photographed at DeSoto that Sunday and Monday...  Knowing the natural history and migratory routes of your subjects can only help to improve your bird photography.  To learn more about shorebirds, consider ordering a signed copy of my book, "Shorebirds; Beautiful Beachcombers:"  I am extremely proud of the book as it contains both natural history info and great tips for ageing and identifying all of the species seen regularly in North America. BTW, I just love the strip of green above the bird in this image.

Activating and using only the central sensor (CS) when photographing birds in flight will almost always yield the sharpest images and tracking accuracy with subjects flying towards the camera will be maximized.  The downside of using the central sensor only (CSO) is that it may be difficult for some folks (including me) to keep the sensor on the subject at all times, especially if the bird is flying fast or is flying an erratic path.  (Ideally the CS is placed on the bird's head, neck, or eyes.)  If the sensor detects distant trees or fields or mountains as background, it will lose focus on the subject; in this case it does exactly what it is supposed to do--focus on whatever is detected by the active AF Sensor. I once mentioned in a Full-Day Seminar that lots of practice would improve one's flight photography, and that fine motor control was a key factor in keeping the CS on the subject.  Someone asked, "Does Canon sell that?" (meaning Fine Motor Control).   When you do have only sky as background, the AF system will stay locked on the subject even if the active sensor "falls off" the subject.  Many of my sharpest flight images are made with CSO in cases where the CS has fallen completely off of the subject.  Breezebrowser's "Show Focus Points" feature often confirms that the CS was nowhere near the bird at the instant of exposure!  If the background is uniform and of low contrast, it is often possible to hold focus on a subject when using AI Servo AF even when the sensor is pointed away from the subject.  This is no big deal in situations where all 45 AF points are active, but can be a big help when, for example, using a 2X TC with an f/4 lens.  With smaller in the frame subjects, it is possible to focus on the subject and then recompose with the subject placed well off center.  If the background is low in contrast AF will hold even though the sensor is off the subject and you are in AI Servo AF mode!  I discovered and used this technique recently while lying in the mud on my belly photographing shorebirds.   I was trying to come up with a way to make a pleasing composition without having to reach up and toggle from AI Servo to One-Shot AF. And I did!


AFPS (Automatic Focusing Point Selection) is the autofocus mode in which the "ring of fire," the oval pattern made up of all the outer sensors, is illuminated   Even though only the outer sensors are lit up, all of the sensors are activated when using AFPS. With AFPS it is easy to attain and hold focus on flying birds.  With the EOS 1D Mark II, AFPS does pretty well with subjects flying against backgrounds other than sky, and the results are often exceedingly sharp.  Autofocus tracking accuracy, however, is not as consistently precise as it is with CSO, and there-in lies the rub:  which do you want, the most accurate focusing offered by CSO or the ability of AFPS to maintain focus?   I often find myself switching back and forth between the two when faced with consistently good flight photography opportunities.  I must confess, though, that when I am walking down the beach with the 1.4X TC on my 500mm f/4 IS lens ready for unexpected fly-bys or action, I have almost always set AFPS...


For a long time I have had a love/hate relationship with AFPS, and this continues to some degree even with the Mark II. With this amazing new camera, however, the love predominates by far.  In the short time that I have been using AFPS with the Mark II, it has helped me capture some truly amazing images that I could simply not have created with other cameras.  Its ability to grab a moving subject and focus-track accurately (even when working against backgrounds other than sky) often borders on the astounding.  On my recent Nome trip AFPS helped me make some wonderful images of a Black-bellied Plover flying around on the tundra and another of a hen Northern Shoveler blasting off from a roadside pond (thanks Matt!)  Thus the love.  In all of these situations, there was more than adequate contrast.   AF needs contrast to "see."   


Another time, we had a moose standing on the tundra a ways off from the car. It was dingy and a bit foggy.  I reached for the 400mm f/5.6 which had a Mark II on it set up with AFPS.  I focused easily on the moose but just as I depressed the shutter button the system lost the subject.  The moose scurried off (if a moose can scurry...) and I bemoaned my fate.  CSO would have held focus easily.  AFPS had a problem with the low contrast.  Thus the hate...  In short,  AFPS may have difficulty acquiring and maintaining focus in low contrast situations and this is true even with static subjects (like the moose)…  It is strongly recommended that users switch to One-Shot AF mode or utilize only a single sensor (or do both) when photographing in low light, low contrast situations.  (Note: when working with static subjects with AFPS in One-Shot AF mode, the sensor/sensors that lock onto the subject is/are illuminated.  If the system locks onto a spot other then the bird’s eye, face, head, or neck, simply re-acquire focus until you are happy with the result.


The EOS 3 film camera was the first to feature the 45-point AF pattern.  From the moment that I first held one I felt that the 45-point AFPS system was not as central sensor-dominant as it should have been.  And, even with the Mark II (amazing as is it), I believe this to be true.  At times, even when working in bright light with high contrast situations, AFPS fails to “see” a large-in-the-frame subject and fails to acquire focus even when the subject is in the center of the frame.  (This pretty much never happens when using the central sensor only.  Do note that the central sensor is more effective than any of the other 44 focusing sensors.)  If you have a problem similar to that described above, moving the subject out of the center of the frame may save the day.   With the EOS 1n and all five of its focusing sensors active, users were advised to begin AF with the central sensor.  That worked well because the 1n’s AF system was central-sensor dominant.  I do hope that it is possible to tweak 45 point AF system in the next generation of Canon cameras so that it works in a similar fashion.


The most recent high-end Canon cameras that did not feature 45-point AF were the Elan 7 series bodies and the EOS 10D (digital) camera body.  With both of these bodies, initial focus acquisition was more than adequate but not as fast as in the professional bodies (EOS 3, 1V, 1D, 1Ds, or 1D Mark II).  With both the Elan 7 series bodies and the 10D, however, AF tracking accuracy was excellent, especially with birds flying directly at the camera.  AF accuracy in these situations surpassed AF accuracy in all of the above-noted bodies except for the Mark II, and this was true whether using the central sensor only or illuminating the entire AF array.  I plan on using my 10D quite a bit at Bosque this November when the wind and the light are from the same direction. 


Note: Canon's top technical rep, Chuck Westfall, suggested that setting Custom Function 17-1, which expands the active focusing area by a radius of one point around the manually selected focusing point, would improve AI Servo AF performance.  I have set CF-17-1 on all of my Mark IIs and will let you know how I do.  Those interested in reading Chuck's thorough and extensive comments on optimizing the AF performance of the 45 point AF System are invited to e-mail and request "Chuck Westfall's AF Comments."

Royal Tern with fish for young, Egmont Key NWR, FL
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 400mm f/5.6 L IS lens (handheld).   
ISO 250.  Evaluative Metering at 0: 1/1600 sec. at f/8 in Av Mode.
I used AI Servo AF/central sensor only to make this image, then turned the bright blue sky to grey in Photoshop by selecting the sky and then desaturating only the blue.  (To learn about this technique and tons more, see:  When photographing birds in flight from below, I just love have them flying right at or right above me to give me as close to the "T" look as possible. 
Friend and IPT veteran participant Hal DuPont of Vero Beach, Florida has several brand new Canon EOS 1D Mark IIs for sale for $4695 plus shipping and insurance.  Florida residents will need to add sales tax.
If you are seriously interested, you can contact Hal at, call him on his cell at 772-913-1111, or reach him in his office (weekdays) at 772-231-1221.  Hal is 1,000% dependable.
Tricolored Heron--fledged young.  St. Augustine Alligator Farm
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 at 0: 1/250 sec. at f/4.
Fill flash at -1 stop with Better Beamer FX-2
Here the relatively distant background, the facing-forward bird, and the frond of vegetation hanging into the frame all caught my eye.  Images made when the subject is staring right down the lens barrel are usually successful. 
I am both thrilled and proud to note that most IPTs are filling up nicely far in advance.  If you are interested in joining an IPT, in dramatically improving your photographic skills, and in getting in on some great bird photography, it would be best to send a deposit ASAP to avoid disappointment).   
The Bosque Del Apache NWR, NM 2004 IPTs 1,000s of geese and cranes, spectacular sunrises, breath-taking sunsets, great flight photography, & incredible blastoffs.  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 openings)     NOV 27-29 IPT (Sold Out)  
The SW Florida IPTs (herons, egrets, gulls, terns, shorebirds, Burrowing Owl, Osprey, & both pelicans. Spoonbills likely.  Ding Darling, Sanibel Island, Blind Pass, Placida, Venice Rookery, Estero Lagoon, and Cape Coral. 

POST X-MAS: DEC 28-30, 2004, 3-DAY: $869.  (Limit 12--7 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 Basics 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, 3 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  (both are near sell outs)

Lake Martin, La, Spoonbills, MAR 19-21 & MAY 13-15, 2005, 3 -DAY: $899 (Limit 10) Roseate Spoonbill (& Great Egret) rookery in budding cypress swamp; courtship & nest building.  (Barring natural disaster, spoonbill chicks 2nd trip only.)  500 or 600mm lenses mandatory; rentals available.  Also Green & Little Blue Herons, both night-herons, sunrise scenics, & flowers.  Includes a complimentary crawfish etouffe dinner; hosts: Wes & Patti Ardoin.   Here is a message that I received from them last week:  

Dear Artie, During the last eight months my wife, Patti, and I have had the distinct pleasure of photographing with you on five different IPTs.  There is only one reason someone would schedule so many educational tours--- they are fantastic learning experiences.  At the time of this letter we have four more scheduled for the next year!  We each entered a photograph in a contest in Galveston before we left in June to spend three weeks with you in Alaska.  Out of more than 100 entries, Patti won Best of Show for her image of a Great Egret turning an egg, and my Roseate Spoonbill portrait was awarded third place.  Both of us feel that you really are the winner because of your willingness to share your knowledge and expertise with your students.  Both of the prize-winning images were made earlier this year at Lake Martin, LA. Patti photographs once and often twice a day at "The Lake" in spring.  We encourage photographers to sign up for one or both of the Lake Martin IPTs in the spring of 2005.   See you in SW Florida next!  Love to you and your family,  Wes and Patti Ardoin

The Fort DeSoto/Sarasota IPT Royal Terns & Laughing Gulls in spectacular breeding plumage/courtship and copulations, dark and white phase Reddish Egrets 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 (Note possible/likely date change to April 1-3), 3-DAY: $869  (Limit: 12, 10 openings.)  


Brown Pelican, large chick standing near nest, Egmont Key NWR, FL
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 125.  Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/5.6.
(High speed synch) fill flash at -1 2/3 stops with Better Beamer FX-2
In exchange for agreeing to donate images, I was able to secure a Special Use Permit to photograph at this location.  The nesting Brown Pelicans were totally placid upon our slow approach.  
To lessen our impact (which seemed nil), we concealed ourselves in the reeds and spent only a few minutes near a small group of nests directly adjacent to the beach.


Royal Tern grown chick running in surf, Egmont Key NWR, FL
Image copyright 2004 Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital camera with 400mm f/5.6 L IS lens (handheld).   
ISO 250.  Evaluative Metering at 0:  1/1250 sec. at f/8 in Av Mode.
Here again, I used AI Servo AF/central sensor only to make this image.  All of the Royal Tern chicks were away from the nests and wanted no part of photographers. On our way back to the dock, we were fortunate to find a few of them hanging out on the edge of the Gulf...
Best and love and great picture making to all,  
ps:  If you have read this far, I would like to send you a special image as a gift; e-mail with Send Special Gift Image as the subject line and we shall forward the image to you. Offer good only until July 31, 2004.  

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:  To unsubscribe, click here:  mailto: Back issues of relevant Bulletins are archived on the web site at: