MAY 20, 2005
Photo Theme: my very favorite images from my visit to Cordova, AK  
Western Sandpipers, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with EOS 1D Mark II.  ISO 400.
Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/60 sec. at f/22.   


I created this image more than 20 years after being inspired by Charles Krebs's images of large flocks of Westerns made at Gray's Harbor, Washington.  The photos appeared in Audubon magazine.  I liked one of those so much that I used it on pages 76-77 of my "Shorebirds; Beautiful Beachcombers." (


I attempted to fly to Cordova, AK on May 4th but missed my last connection (mechanical delay) and spent that Wednesday in Anchorage, put up in a very nice hotel by Delta.  I was greeted the next day by a most gracious host, Milo Burcham, A subsistence Wildlife Biologist, Cordova Ranger District, Chugach National Forest.  Milo and pal Tim Grams from Anchorage chauffeured me around for the better part of six days.  On my first afternoon, Milo took me to his favorite locale right in town where we lucked out, finding a mat of about 6,000 Western Sandpipers bathed in high overcast light.  I had two types of images in mind when I chose to visit this tiny fishing town in early May.  The first type of image would feature large groups of roosting Western Sandpipers.  I made many wonderful images of this type on that first afternoon.  The second type of image that I dreamed of creating was of huge flocks of shorebirds in flight set against distant snow-covered mountains or glaciers.
As it turned out, shorebird migration in Cordova had peaked unusually early in 2005, several days before my arrival so I will need to return for another migration if I am to get the huge-flock flight images that I have dreamed of for so long.  I did three programs for the Cordova Shorebird Festival:  A three-hour, two-part nature photography seminar, "A Passion for Shorebirds," and the keynote address, "A Bird Photographer's Story." All were well received especially the keynote which drew a standing room only crowd of more than 200 folks.  The remainder of my time in Cordova was spent photographing at Hartney Bay, along the road to the glaciers, or on Milo's boat (with a bit of fishing!)   On my second high-tide afternoon at Harney Bay, I spent about three hours on my belly crawling around in the wet muck with the beautiful breeding plumage Western Sandpipers.  It was hard work and great fun and I wound up with many wonderful images and a cold that I am still trying to shake...
I offer a heartfelt thanks to both Milo and to Mimi Briggs of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to Cordova and for their warm hospitality.

Western Sandpiper, breeding plumage, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 2XII TC and EOS 1D Mark II on Panning Ground Pod.  ISO 400.
Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/10.  High-Speed Synch Fill Flash at -2 stops with Better Beamer.    


On the first afternoon that I worked the individual birds at Hartney Bay, I worked with flash in Program Mode but due to the rapid head movements of the birds, had many soft images.  Additionally, the strong overhead sun caused big dark shadows around the bird's eyes.  The next day I increased the ISO to 400, used a bit more flash (-2 instead of -3), and employed the 580's High Speed Synch so that I could freeze the motion with a high shutter speed. As seen above, the refined technique yielded much improved results...


From Marc Schoenholz:  I really like the enhancements that you made for to the Digital Basics PDF. The steps that you outline in the PDF have really helped take my processing skills to the next level. This document is clear, well thought out and crammed with easy to implement processing tips.  This sets the standard for “how to” publications.  My $20 was well spent.

From Gary Carter:  I just want to let you know that after loading the updates from Photoshop CS to CS2 and having to go back and redo the actions, etc., I decided to re-read the digital work flow that I had purchased from you.  To make a long story short – it was the best investment in time and money that I could have made.  Many thanks for your help and for sharing the information.  I will be encouraging those who attend my workshops to invest in the digital workflow information if they are doing digital or even thinking about going to digital.  Hope all is well with you and yours and we look forward to seeing you again one day and hope you can get back up here to photograph some more.  Things are getting pretty around here; we have several new birds and many are nesting.

To learn about photographing at Gary's great farm in NC, click here:  Congrats to Gary who had the cover and several images in a recent Nature's Best Magazine.

To learn more about the Digital Basics File, visit:


Trumpeter Swan, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 2XII TC and EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 250.
Evaluative Metering -1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/18 in Program Mode.  Fill Flash at -3 stops with Better Beamer.    


We had many opportunities to photograph this spectacular species along the road to the glaciers. Subtracting 1/3 stop of light when photographing white birds against middle-toned backgrounds is a great place to start with either film or digital.  Here, I used a Shadow-Highlight adjustment (as detailed in the Digital Basics File) to lighten and open up the background.  The unusual BOOKED (the look and quality of the background) is a result of the smaller-than-usual aperture. 


The Art of Bird Photography; It Ain't Just Birds! Weekend Seminar
    Atlanta, Georgia, July 30-31, 2005  Presented by Photo Road Show    


This seminar is for all nature photographers who want to learn how to make better images. I will describe the methods and techniques that I have developed and used since 1983.  My comments on equipment (including digital), autofocus, light, composition and image design, and sharpness and my tips on getting close to wild subjects and photographing action and behavior will benefit everyone with a telephoto lens who wishes to dramatically improve the quality of their images. Since going all-digital in November 2002, I have--in short order--become a digital photography and Photoshop expert.  My approach to optimizing images is to create a master file of excellent quality in the shortest possible time.  I will share our workflow and numerous Photoshop tips during the Sunday sessions.


Weekend package (2 days): $159.  Either Saturday or Sunday:  $109.  To register send a check for the full amount made out to "Arthur Morris" to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.  We accept credit cards by phone: 863-692-0906.  In either case, we need your e-mail address, your mailing address, and your daytime and evening phone numbers. Here is the Cancellation Policy  for these events.  Photo Road Show is relying on your attendance, so if for any reason you need to withdraw, please notify Arthur Morris as soon as possible.  Once we receive written notice of your cancellation the following fees apply: cancel 31+ days prior to the start of the workshop and your fee will be refunded less a $50.00 cancellation fee; cancel less 30 days prior to the date of the workshop and there will be no refund.  Venue: Renaissance Waverly Hotel


Please e-mail us to request the SAT/SUN schedules.





Sea Otter with young, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 2XII TC and EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 400.
Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/11 in Av Mode.    


We went out on Milo's boat several times and had some excellent chances.  Image Stabilization is a huge plus when attempting to photograph from a rocking boat, especially when working at an effective focal length of 1300mm (which translates roughly to 26X)!   And by the way, it ain't just birds...


river delta, part of the Copper River Delta system, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS lens with the EOS 1D Mark II handheld at 110mm. ISO 250.
Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/8.    


Taking the time to get a window seat on the correct side of the plane on commercial flights and having an intermediate telephoto lens on your lap can pay huge dividends. Oh, and by the way, it ain't just birds...

Photograph Coastal Brown Bears safely at close range in Lake Clark National Park as they fish for salmon and cavort through streams.  There should be some young bears around, and in most years there are one or more pairs of spring cubs.  We will also fish for salmon ourselves and may do one trip for halibut if the tides cooperate.  We will fly to the fabled Silver Salmon Creek Lodge from Anchorage on the morning of Friday, September 16, 2005 and fly back to Anchorage about mid-day on Thursday September 22.  The 7-day/6-night package includes all meals, photo boat trips, salmon fishing and sea kayaks for the young and brave.  If we do fit in a halibut trip near the end of our visit, the cost is $50 per person.  There will of course be lots of in-the-field instruction and ample opportunities for image sharing and photoshop lessons.  The cost of the trip is $3399.  If you would like to join us, please--at your earliest convenience--send a $1700 deposit check made out to Arthur Morris (PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855).  Six of the ten slots are filled at present.
Western Sandpiper, breeding plumage, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 2XII TC and EOS 1D Mark II on Panning Ground Pod.  ISO 400.
Evaluative Metering at 0: 1/500 sec. at f/16.  High-Speed Synch Fill Flash at -3 stops with Better Beamer.    


I like this one because of the subject's posture and the great look at the detail on the top of the bird's head.  Working off of the ground pod at the bird's eye level creates intimate portraits with lovely out-of-focus foregrounds and backgrounds (here, because of the distant backgrounds, even at f/16.)  To learn more about ground-level photography, visit:  To learn more about the Panning Ground Pod, click here: or visit the home page and click on Photographic Accessories.


Bosque IPTs  3-DAY: $929.  All with co-leader Ellen Anon.  NOV 15-17, 2005 (Limit 14, 5 openings), NOV 20-22 (Limit 14, 6 openings) & NOV 26-28 (Limit 14; 11 openings).
SW FLA, Post X-mas IPT. 3 -DAY: $929. DEC 28-30, 2005.  (Limit 12; 10 openings)
SW FLA President's Holiday IPT w/co-leader Ellen Anon:  $1549.  FEB 17-21, 2006.  (Limit 14; 9 openings)                    
San Diego 4-Day IPT: $1399 w/co-leader Ellen Anon.  JAN 5-8, 2006    (Limit 12, 11 Openings.)


August 2005 Fly/Drive Kenya Photo-Safari with co-leader Todd Gustafson.  August 15-31, 2005--16 days on the ground: $8,200/person. Non-refundable $500 deposit required. See or request Bulletin 163 in the archives for complete details.


January 2006 Tanzania Photo-Safari with co-leader Todd Gustafson.  January 16-30, 2006  (14 full and one half-day of photography): $7500/person. Non-refundable $1000 deposit required.  See or request Bulletin 166 in the archives for complete details.  


Nome, Alaska  IPT June 10-20, 2006 in conjunction with Greg Downing: (Both groups are sold out.) Please contact me if you are interested in having your name added to the waiting list. Long lenses are a necessity.

Antarctica/South Georgia/Falkland Islands Zegrahms Cruise with Arthur Morris and Greg Downing:  January 4-24, 2007.  Please e-mail for details.  Note:  We have already filled well more than half of our allotted 30 slots for this trip...

For general IPT info, deposit and registration details, and cancellation policies, please visit:

If you would like your name placed on the waiting list for one or more trips, please e-mail, indicate the trip or trips that you are interested in, and be sure to include day, evening, and cell phone numbers.  We often have late cancellations. 


Trumpeter Swan, Cordova, AK
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 250.
Evaluative Metering -1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/20 in Program Mode.  Fill Flash at -1 1/3 stops with Better Beamer.    


The image above is the converted Raw file.  See the optimized image below.  Everyone who has ever attended an IPT knows that I generally do not like to photograph side-lit subjects, but here, I made an exception and used more flash than usual to illuminate the shadowed side of the birds neck (which was jet-black when the flash did not fire).

This image was optimized using techniques described in detail in the Digital Basics File:  After creating a Background Copy, I selected the detail-less, way-too-black bill using the Magnetic Lasso and opened it up in with a Shadow Highlight adjustment.  It is the first time that I had ever liked the results when using a Shadows Amount of 100%.  The tonal width was set to about 10% so that the changes would only affect the darkest 10% of the pixels in the image, in this case, the pixels of the black bill. Other steps in the optimization including cloning out the dust spots, rotating and cropping the image, and making Levels, Curves and Hue-Saturation adjustments.  I also darkened the eye and reduced the size of the catchlight.

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:  To unsubscribe, click here:   Back issues of all BAA Bulletins and relevant BAA Notes are archived on the web site at: