JULY 26, 2005

Photo Theme: A smattering of Galapagos favorites...

Blue-footed Booby/feet with eggs, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens handheld at 145mm with 1.4X II TC and EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 800.
Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/100 sec. at f/8.   


The 70-200 f/2.8 was an invaluable tool on this trip.  I used it often both with and (as here) without the 1.4X II TC.  This booby nest, photographed late on a cloudy afternoon, was on a path at Hood Island. 

Though I had heard of the Galapagos Islands since childhood, and dreamed of visiting ever since I began photographing in August, 1983, nothing prepared me for the marvels that I encountered on my recent visit.  Blue-footed Boobies nesting in the paths; we had to step over the chicks.  The birds just sat their, oblivious to our presence.  Waved Albatross displaying three feet from my group on Hood Island, the only place in the world where they touch the earth.  Marine Iguanas by the hundreds.  Sea Turtles.  Orcas eating seals.  (Sorry; no photographs).  Red-footed Boobies with pink and blue faces and bills that made them look as if they were surely related to Reddish Egrets.  Nazca (formerly masked) Boobies courting in late afternoon light.  Finches and mockingbirds.  Sea lions and fur seals.  More Sally Lightfoot Crabs than you could count.  Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds nesting side by side, often with chicks in the nest.  Bright yellow Land Iguanas.  Sea turtles.  Red-billed Tropicbirds banking against the blue Pacific.  Lava and Swallow-tailed Gulls.  A great boat with an amazingly attentive crew, and a knowledgeable guide who consistently put us in the right place at the right time.  A good group interested in learning and photographing.  I am already looking forward to my return visit next July.  Thanks again to Janie Bullard of Distinctive Journeys ( for arranging this great trip.
Waved Albatross, displaying to mate, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens handheld at 145mm with EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 400.
Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/2.8.
Watching the two birds displaying on our second morning was the highlight of my trip.  I chose the 2.8 aperture because the background bushes were so close to the birds. 



When using Canon teleconverters in situations where the system will not autofocus, for example, when using the 1.4X on the 400mm f/5.6 L lens with a 20D, or the 2X on that same lens with an EOS 1D Mark II, you can place a piece of tape over three of the pins in order to have the system autofocus.  AF will be excruciatingly slow, but it will work.  For more on this technique (including a rather poor photo), click here:  Using a tripod with these slow combinations is of course highly recommended.  

Nazca Boobies, allo-preening, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens handheld at 115mm with 1.4X II TC and EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 400.
Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/8.
Here, I sat down on the ground to make this image so that I was able to have the sky as background rather than the lava flats. The birds were completely oblivious to my presence.  The rest of the group was a few feet away photographing a Short-eared Owl.
Here is my e-mail to a Pamela Fucci, wife of my friend Nick Fucci, formerly my Anchorage moose guide:
Hi Pam,

PF: I would like to get Nick a new laptop (and then I'll take his to keep up with e-mails, receipts when I travel nurse).  What do I look for in terms of memory?
AM: For laptops, 1gb is the minimum that I recommend for running Photoshop.  Upgrading to 2 gigs of ram is highly recommended.
PF: How about weight and size?
AM: This is a highly personal decision.  My original Toshiba Satellite (5-205 S703, no longer in production) had a 12" X 9" screen that measured 15" diagonally and weighed 8 1/4 pounds.  (All weights and measurements approximate.) This rugged machine has provided 2 1/2 years of great service.  My second Toshiba Satellite (P-35 S-629) is a monster, with the 14 1/2" X 17" screen measuring 17" diagonally.  It weighs 9 1/4 pounds.  It is working out great for laying out and designing my latest book, "The Art of Bird Photography II" (which will be released on CD only in about a year). I would, however, recommend against a laptop this big for most traveling digital photographers.   I have had a few problems with the new machine but, after a few visits by the in-home team, all is well.  The P-35 performed flawlessly on the Galapagos trip.  Do know that I travel with two laptops on all major trips...  My friend Kay Kaylor purchased a P-35 at the same time I did and has not had any problems at all with her machine.  Realize also that I am very rough on all of my equipment.  I believe that all Toshiba laptop owners should purchase their Three- (or better yet, four-) year in-home service plus their System Guard protection.  With System Guard physical damage caused by the user is covered.  
Another friend just purchased a Toshiba Satellite A-75-S213.  The screen is 13" X 8 3/16", measures 15 1/4" diagonally, and weighs 7 3/4 lbs.  I would highly recommend this model.
PF: How about battery life? 
AM: The bigger and faster the machine the worse the battery life.  The older the batteries the worse the performance.  
PF: Is anything extra needed for downloading flash cards?
AM: All modern laptops include PCMCIA slots as standard.  Then you will should purchase the Delkin BusCard 32 Adapter (
from us as it is the fastest, most elegant card reader available.
PF: How about the hard drive?
AM: We recommend a hard drive of 80-100 gb.
PF: Can I get one in $1,000-2,000 range or do I need to spend a bit more? 
AM: You will need to spend about $2500 for a quality machine with an upgrade to 2 gbs of ram.  A slower but similar machine would have cost about $4500 two years ago.  We use Dell in the office, but after having an all around horrific experience with Dell laptop that I purchased new, I tried Toshiba Satellites and have been extremely satisfied.  Best,  artie
Swallow-tailed Gull in flight, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens handheld at 280 mm with 1.4X II TC and EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 400.
Evaluative metering -1/3 stop set manually: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.
I used AI Servo AF with central sensor only to create this image which is a vertical crop of a horizontal original.  I upsized the image using Bicubic Smoother.  I believe that this beautiful gull is closely related to Sabine's Gull.
Subscriber Mike Beeson is offering a used Canon EOS 10D digital SLR camera (body only) for sale for $650.  It is in excellent condition and includes all original packaging, manuals, cables, software, battery, battery charger plus an extra battery.  The buyer will pay for shipping and insurance.  Mike will ship the camera after the funds clear.  You can reach Mike best by email at  His home phone is (707)762-5653 and the work phone is (415)388-8466.
Red-billed Tropicbird banking in flight, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 500 mm f/4 L IS lens with 1.4X II TC and EOS 1D Mark II.  ISO 250. 
Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6.
With the bright sun, the relatively small-in-the-frame subject, and the dark blue ocean as background I knew that I would need at least 2/3 stops of underexposure.  When the birds are banking below you in flight, 45 Point (AFPS) AF can perform superbly as it did here.


The Art of Bird Photography; It Ain't Just Birds! Weekend Seminars
    Atlanta, Georgia, July 30-31, 2005  Presented by Photo Road Show
It is not too late to register by phone (863-692-0906) or via Paypal for the Atlanta Seminar: walk-ins are welcome.  
If you do join us on the day of the event as a result of seeing this notice, please mention that yours is a BIRDS AS ART registration.
 Thanks <smile>. 
Please note the following date change for the Dallas Seminar. The new date is November 4-5, 2005.  Venue to be announced.
We just learned that the original venue hotel, which is located on DFW Airport property, was forced to cancel all public meetings and events in the interest of national security. If you are already registered, you will be hearing from us individually. 
If you wish to improve the artistic and technical qualities of your images, and you are within a three hour drive or a one hour plane flight of Atlanta, it would behoove you to pick up the phone and register for this event right now.  We already have more than 100 folks registered but have room for 200, so bring a few friends <smile>  In addition to two fabulous days of learning and laughing, and more than 1200 great images, there will be loads of wonderful door prizes including Lowepro Roadrunner AWs!  (One will be given away at both the Atlanta and Dallas Seminars.) 
Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon 28-135mm L IS lens handheld at 44mm with EOS 1D Mark II. ISO 400.
Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/40 sec. at f/8.
The IS feature on my favorite grab-shot zoom allowed me to stop down and still make a sharp image at a slow shutter speed.
Remember, it ain't just birds!


These seminars are 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 and especially digital equipment), 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 Digital and 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 than 30 days prior to the date of the workshop and there will be no refund. 


The Atlanta Venue is the Renaissance Waverly Hotel.  There are no special rates available at this location which is currently sold out.  Please e-mail us at for a list of additional lodging options.  


The Dallas venue will be announced in early August.




Magnificent Frigatebird, sac inflated, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    

Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART 
Canon EF 500 mm f/4 L IS lens with 25mm extension tube and EOS 1D Mark II.  ISO 250. 
Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/8.  
Creating this somewhat obligatory Galapagos image was more difficult than I though it would be...  This bird was backlit with soft sunlight so the blacks in the face were--out of necessity--way too dark as I had to keep from over-exposing the backlit upper ridge of the bill.  Optimizing the image with Shadow-Highlight and Levels adjustments as described in detail in our Digital Basics File ( improved the image about 1,000%!  


Here are the tentative schedules: 

SAT: Principles and Techniques for Successful Nature Photography

9:00 am: Welcome and Introduction

9:15 am: Putting Art in Your Nature Photography: Composition and Image Design

10:15 am: Break/Marketplace

10:30 am: Understanding and Using Natural Light

11:00 am: Tripods, Heads, Tripod Handling, Ground Pods, and Stalking Tips

11:30 am: Getting Close; 1,000 Ways to Skin the Cat

12:00 noon: Lunch/Break/Marketplace

1:30 pm: Choosing and using lenses

2:30 pm: Better Beamer and Flash set-up Demonstration

2:45 pm: Understanding .Flash as main light and Flash as fill

3:00pm: Break/Marketplace

3:30 pm: Capturing action and behavior (with more Autofocus tips)

4:00 pm: Image sharpness, Depth-of Field, Shutter Speed and ISO Choices,

4:15 pm: Door prizes/Break

5:00 pm: A Look at Some Recent Images

5:15 pm: Q&A/Closing

5:30 pm: The End

Marine Iguanas (in love???), Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    

Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART 
Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS lens handheld at 105mm with 1.4X II TC and EOS 1D Mark II.  ISO 800. 
Evaluative metering +1/3 stop set manually: 1/80 sec. at f/14.  
In spite of using a high ISO, a slow-as-I dared shutter speed, and a relatively small aperture, I did not--while focusing on the eye of the right-hand iguana--have quite enough depth-of-field to yield the closest claws in sharp focus.  In retrospect, I might have done better by focusing on the elbow joint of the same animal to better utilize D-O-F.  Next year I will carry the tripod collar for the 70-200 in my X-tra-Hand vest ( so that I can put the lens on the Wimberley head in a pinch when I need lots of D-O-F... 

SUN: Digital Rocks!  Digital Photography and Photoshop

9:00 am: Welcome and Introduction

9:15 am: Why Digital? (And Why Not?)

10:45 am: Break/Marketplace

11:15 am: Understanding, Evaluating, and Adjusting Histograms

11:45 am: Comments on Canon Digital Cameras

12:00 noon: Lunch/Break/Marketplace

1:30 pm: Creating Intentional Blurs, Zoom Blurs, and Flash Blurs.

2:00pm: Photoshop CS: the BIRDS AS ART Workflow.

3:00 pm: Break/Marketplace

3:30 pm: Downloader Pro, Breezebrowser Pro (Image Handling,

Editing, and Filing), and Pictures to Exe (slide program software!)

4:00 pm: Working with Selections in Photoshop

4:30 pm: Door prizes/Break

5:00 pm: A Look at Some New Images

5:15 pm: Q&A /Closing

5:30 pm: The End

Sally Lightfoot Crab, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    
Image copyright 2005: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART 
Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 25mm Extension Tube and EOS 1D Mark II.  ISO 400. 
Evaluative metering -2/3 stop set manually: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6.  
After letting some of the folks on the trip use my big lens, I accidentally created this image as a j-peg.  I used a reverse S-curve Curves adjustment to reduce the extra j-peg contrast.  We advice all serious photographers to create their digital images using Raw Mode. 
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: