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Photographic Theme: My favorite images from my recent Texas trip.



Black-throated Green Warbler, male, South Padre Island Convention Center, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 2X II TC and EOS-1Ds Mark II.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering at zero: 1/160 sec. at f/11 in Av Mode.  Fill flash -2 stops with Better Beamer.


The relatively slow frame rate of the1Ds MkII hurt me at times as I was only able to get off a frame or two when the birds paused for an instant…  Next time I think that I will give it a go with my EOS-1D MkII N and its 8 frames per second drive. This handsome guy actually stayed still long enough for me to rotate to vertical, focus, and make a single frame.   Note the perfect head-angle.





I will be leading my fourth Galapagos Photo Cruise for Distinctive Journeys, July 18-28, 2007.   There is no need for me to elaborate on the amazing photographic opportunities available at this amazing location.  (To see some of my 2005 images, click here:  This trip is strictly limited to 14 participants and will most likely sell out within days.  There are 4 slots filled already.


Included:  2 nights at Colon Hilton including tax and Breakfast, 1 night at Hampton Inn Guayaquil, city tour of Quito (an alternate day trip will be offered for a nominal charge), all ground transfers, all inner Galapagos airfares, 7 nights aboard the private yacht Beluga including naturalist and meals, and Galapagos National Park entrance fees.


Not included:  International airfare; please do not purchase your round trip tickets to and from Ecuador without first contacting Janie Bullard at Distinctive Journeys.   (Add-on air fares from gateway cities are available.)  Costs of passport.  Alcoholic beverages and personal incidentals.  Meals in Quito and Guayaquil.   Phone calls and gratuities.  We may offer an optional post-trip.  Details will be announced.  Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance are highly recommended. 

Cost: $4499.00 per person based on double occupancy. A non-refundable $1200.00 per person deposit is required at the time of booking.  (We will refund your deposit if your slot is filled.)  Final payment is due on February 1, 2007.   Your fees will then be non-refundable (unless your spot is resold).  We are requiring a large deposit in order to keep the pricing for 2007 at the 2006 rates.  This will ensures a saving of $400 per person over the 2007 rates.  A valid passport valid for six months beyond the last date of travel is required.

Checks are the only accepted for payment.  If you are interested, please call Janie Bullard immediately at 888-419-6677 (best to leave a message stating your intent) or email her at  If you are seriously interested, do not waste a moment.  (Both 2006 trips that I am leading are sold out).


Painted Bunting, first spring male, South Padre Island Convention Center, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 2X II TC and EOS-1Ds Mark II.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/11 in Av Mode.  Fill flash -2 stops with Better Beamer.


A friend called me to alert me to the presence of several Painted Buntings.  I set up beside her and when this guy landed right in front of us she was blocked while I had a clear shot…

 Good friends are hard to come by. Photographing migrant landbirds is the most challenging form of bird photography.  



For nearly two years I have been trying to find something to replace my Quantum Turbo Z as an external battery pack for powering my flash.   Two months ago, friend Linda Robbins told me about the Canon Compact Battery Pack CP-E3 (for the 580EX, 550EX, 540EZ, 430EZ, MT-24EX and MR-14EX Flash Units) Canon part: 9836A001.  This pack runs best on rechargeable AA batteries.  All that I can say is that it is amazingly powerful and light in weight.  I can make six or eight flash consecutive images in a burst before the flash fails to fire.  The weight of the unit plus the weight of the two six-battery chargers that I travel with plus the weight of two sets (24 in all) of AA rechargeable batteries is about the same as the weight of the Quantum Turbo Z plus the charger.  And many or the other external battery packs are far heavier than the Quantum Turbo Z.  I have shied away from using any of the 2X2 units as they mount to the bottom of the camera and totally destroy the ergonomics of the camera’s vertical grip.  The CP-E3 attaches easily to the leg of your 1235 Gitzo CF tripod via a Velcro strap.  I am thrilled to have learned of this great product (even though it took me two years to find it!)



Harris’s Hawk, Las Colmenas Ranch, Edinburg, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 400mm f/5.6L IS lens (handheld) with EOS-1D Mark II N.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering plus 2 1/3 stops off the sky: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6 set manually 


I got to try out Lowry McAllen’s raptor set up for the first time and did quite well.  The 400 f/5.6 and 1D MII N make an effective flight photography rig.   You can learn about visiting Las Colmenas by clicking here:




The Canon Off-Shoe Remote Cord 2 is the weak link in an otherwise great flash system.  Over the years, I have probably purchased two dozen of them.  The biggest problem is that when your flash is mounted on a flash bracket, the constant vibrations cause the screws that hold the distal hot shoe (the one that screws into your flash bracket) in place loosen over time, sometimes to the point that the flash no longer makes contact with the hot shoe (at which time your flash is rendered inoperable). There is a rather complicated fix that involves prying off the u-shaped cover with a tiny flat blade screwdriver and then tightening the tiny screws with a cross-type or Phillips head screwdriver.  (It is best to tighten the screws after applying some non-permanent Loc-Tite.)  Even with the hot shoe securely tightened in place this unit experiences other problems.  With frequent use, the Remote Cord 2’s wiring fails quite often causing the LCD on the flash to go haywire.  I always traveled with a spare Remote Cord 2.  If your flash goes whacky, first try fresh batteries in your flash head, then remove your Remote Cord 2 and try your back-up.  If you are using any other external battery pack, it is necessary to travel with a backup cord as well.  Lastly, if your flash rig hit against some branches as you were walking through the woods, the hot shoe mentioned above often simply broke in half.  


Once again Robert O’Toole’s vast technical knowledge saved the day.  He suggested using the remote cord that he uses, the Photographic Research Organization’s “Flash Extension Cord/Off Camera TTL unit.  He stated that he had been using one for two years without a single problem.  It took me a few weeks to get my hands on one, and several months more to order 100 units.  I have been using mine for more than three months and am impressed with the sturdy construction and the performance.  Full automatic flash exposure control is maintained with all modern Canon flashes. 


BIRDS AS ART is proud to announce the latest product in our mail order line, Research Organization’s “Flash Extension Cord/Off Camera TTL” unit is now available for $60.00 plus $4.00 shipping and handling.   Overseas customers please e-mail for additional shipping charges.  Florida residents please add 7% sales tax to the cost of the cord only.   For Florida folks, the cost is $64.20 plus $.4.00 shipping = &68.40.   If you are tired of buying Remote Cord 2 after Remote Cord 2, you will find this new product an amazing improvement.



Laughing Gull drinking on the wing, South Padre Island Convention Center, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 1.4 II TC and EOS-1D Mark II N.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering -1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at  f/8 set manually.  


On a slow morning for migrants I noticed that there were many Laughing Gulls flying into the fresh water pond near the Convention Center to drink.  In a few minutes I was set up there and created many unique images. For flight photography the 1D Mk II N allows you to capture many more frames on each pass thus increasing your chances of coming up with a really sweet pose.  Many folks think that making a sharp image ensures a successful flight photograph but nothing could be farther from the truth….



Tim Grey announced in a DDQ last week that his team at Microsoft has just launched a new program; the Microsoft Future Pro Photographer contest is aimed at college student photographers, with a grand prize that includes $20,000 cash and a digital prize package worth over $5,000. Besides an overall Grand Prize winner, there will also be individual winners in three categories: Nature & Landscape, People & Portraits, and Fine Art.  If you are a college student, or know someone who is, this is the photo contest to enter! The deadline for entries is May 31, 2006, and the winner will be announced at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit, held on the Microsoft campus June 28th & 29th, 2006.   For more details, or to enter the contest, follow the link "Enter the Microsoft Future Pro Photographer Contest" on the home page of the Microsoft Pro Photo website:

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American Alligator baby on mom’s snout, private ranch, Cameron County, TX 

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 2X II TC and EOS 1Ds Mark II. ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/10 in Av Mode.  


Rex Hewitt, whom attended the DeSoto IPY a few weeks ago, invited me to his Valley Land Fund Contest ranch to photograph.  This big momma gator was in a tiny mud hole with about 20 young gators ranging in size from a foot to about four feet in length. When this little guy climbed up on mom, I moved quickly to my left—at the risk of scaring the baby-- to avoid shooting from behind the subject.  My philosophy is to attempt to make the very best possible image.  I would rather do that than settle for something that would not please me…    




I will be doing two programs for the IRCC on June 3, 2006 from 9am until 1pm.  The day’s events will be held at the Kight Center for Emerging Technologies, Indian River Community College main campus, Ft. Pierce, Room 110.


From I-95 take Okeechobee Road east to Virginia Avenue, continue east on Virginia Ave approx. ½ mile to 35th Street .Turn south (right) on to 35th Street and go several hundred feet to the tall 4 story building with a sloped roof.  This is the Kight Center.


The address of the college is: 3209 Virginia Ave., Ft. Pierce , FL 34981.  Each building on the campus does not have an individual street address.   This event is being hosted by the Indian River Photo Club of Vero Beach.  For additional info, click here: or contact J. Patrick Rice by e-mail at:





American Redstart, male, South Padre Island Convention Center, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 2X II TC and EOS-1Ds Mark II.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering at zero: 1/200 sec. at f/10 in Av Mode.  Fill flash at -1 stop with Better Beamer.


With a relatively large area of black in the center of the frame, there was no need to add light to the metered exposure.  I use more flash (less minus on the fill) when photographing birds like this with black hoods or masks in an effort to open up the detail in the dark areas especially around the eye.  I do wish that the bird had been looking down rather than up as this would have provided a much more pleasing head-angle.




I am not much of a framing person… Recently, I needed to have some prints (baby animal images for my new grandson Ilyas) prepared for hanging.  I asked Leslie Collins of “F/8and Being There” for help.   She suggested Plak-It Laminating.  After speaking by phone to the folks at the Largo firm that does the work, I sent nine prints to be mounted for hanging and was totally thrilled when I got them back the other day.  PLAK-IT® is a unique and attractive process of mounting, protecting and displaying your photographs.  The print (or document is first mounted to specially selected wood which has been custom cut and finished to your specs. The surface of the plak is then completely sealed under heat and pressure with a tough, durable, transparent laminate.  The edges of the plak are beveled and colored. There is a large variety of edge-colors to choose from. A slot in the back allows for easy hanging flush to the wall. 



 I was amazed at how little the whole job cost and how great the images looked.  All that Alissa needs to do is put a few number 6 wood screws in the wall with a screw anchor and she is good to go.   You can learn more about Plak-It here:  There are four locations in the US that do the work.  As I mentioned above, I used the one in Largo, FL.



Green Jay, Las Colmenas Ranch, Edinburg, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with EOS-1D Mark II N.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11 in Av Mode.    


Here I chose 45 Point AFPS to achieve accurate focus.  With the sweet light, a pleasing background, and a  perfect head angle, this is my al- time favorite Green Jay image. Lowry’s songbird blinds are superbly designed.




The Art of Bird Photography II is pretty much complete.  I need to have the cover art converted to CMYK and write Preface 4.  Then it will be off to Acme CD.  In the meantime we are offering updated pre-publication copies for $30 as we have been doing for the past several months.  For those of you who received a version that included the new Chapter 9, we need to hear about any typos no later than the first week of June.  We will surely have the final version (with CD packaging) available to ship when I return from Nome at the end of June.  The final, manufactured version will cost $50 plus a buck shipping.  We are not accepting pre-orders.  (Folks who purchase a pre-publication copy will receive a $20 discount if they opt to purchase the final version.)


Chuck Westfall, Canon’s top US tech rep, was kind enough to review ABP II for me.  Here, in part, is what he had to say:  “Thanks so much for the CD.  It's magnificent!    I was just talking with Steve Inglima, head of the Canon’s Explorers of Light program, and  told him that I have never been as blown away by any other photo book as I was by this one.  The amount of useful information is incredible, and the quality of the images is outstanding overall. I'm not saying that all of them are museum pieces, but they fit so well with the text, that as a net result, they prove the points you are making.”


From noted professional Carl R. Sams II ( & via e-mail:  "Arthur Morris¹s digital book is a 900+ page masterpiece. I don¹t read many photographic books, but reading this one was addictive.  It¹s chock full of incredible images, ideas and information about locations, composition and use of all types of gear for bird and wildlife photography.  Even top photographers will learn tons from this book. Arthur is a master of bird photography and a great teacher who keeps no secrets. He loves photography and in ABP II shares all with the world."


Lastly, here is the CD cover-quote from Jim Brandenburg, one of my heroes:  “Arthur’s bird photographs have a truly unequalled elegance. As artist, he shares a rare gift of quiet intimacy in his work, then as teacher, powerfully describes the steps of this most delicate ballet with his shy and elusive feathered partner.”



Great-tailed Grackle displaying on corn flowers, Cameron County, TX  

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4IS lens with 1.4X II TC and EOS 1Ds Mark II. ISO 500.

Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/5.6. 


You need to keep your eyes open when working in new areas.  We found several spots where this species was feeding atop the blossoms in large cornfields.  I had forgotten to pack my BLUBB so I set the tripod up in the car.  With the Wimberley head, this is a very cumbersome set-up.  I missed several great images because I did not have the flexibility offered by the BLUBB.  




We received 20 BLUBBs early this week and they are all gone.  We will receive another shipment of 25 soon.   About half of those are already accounted for.   The popularity of this fantastic new product has been even greater than I anticipated.   You cannot buy a BLUBB anywhere else in the world, so if you spend a good deal of time photographing from your vehicle, your best course of action is to order a BLUBB right now.  If you call with a credit card number, we will not bill your card until the product ships.  To learn more about the BLUBB click here: 



Black-throated Green Warbler, female, South Padre Island Convention Center, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 2X II TC and EOS-1Ds Mark II.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering at zero: 1/100 sec. at f/11 in Av Mode.  Fill flash -2 stops with Better Beamer.


In order to create an image like this it is necessary to follow the bird as it moves through the clutter, wait until it hops onto a clear perch, and hope that it stays still for a second or two.  Can you say frustration?  Yes, but with lots of patience and  hard work and a bit of luck the rewards are great…




I will be doing three programs at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival on Saturday, May 20 (and a book signing on the evening of the 19th.)  For details and registration information visit:



Gull-billed Tern, private ranch, Cameron County, TX 

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART 


Canon 400mm f/5.6L IS lens (handheld) with EOS-1D Mark II N.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering plus 3 full stops off the white sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/8 set manually 


I noticed two of these guys flying over the tiny gator pond in search of something to drink.  Since bird behavior is often repetitive, I ran back to the car and grabbed my flight set-up. Getting to photograph a new species is always a thrill for me.  




Amazingly, all four Bosque IPTs are almost all filled.  If you want to join us in New Mexico, you need to act right now to avoid being disappointed.





KENYA FLY-DRIVE PHOTO SAFARI, AUG 2006.  SAMBURU, MAASAI MARA, AND MORE.  With co-leader Todd Gustafson.  Leave the US AUG 21.  Amsterdam to Nairobi: AUG 22.  Amsterdam to US: SEPT 7.  $9499 per person (round trip airfare to Kenya not included).  Please e-mail for itinerary.  Four slots left.

Bosque #1: "The Fall Color IPT"  NOV 14-16, 2006.  Slide Program on the evening of NOV 13.  3-DAY: $929.  (Limit 14, Openings: 2)  This IPT should feature a better chance for a day or two of the rare south winds that drastically improve flight photography and will definitely feature the brightest fall-color cottonwoods. 

Bosque #2:  "The Pre-Thanksgiving IPT"  NOV 19-21, 2006.   Slide Program on the evening of NOV 18.  3-DAY: $929. (SOLD OUT)   This and the next IPT have sold out for the past eight years.  In 2006 I may once again be hosting a Thanksgiving day luncheon buffet. If it goes, folks will need to reserve a spot and pay in advance.  Details TBA. Dinner will be strictly limited to 50 folks.  This IPT will feature increasing numbers of geese and cranes with lots of great opportunities.  

Bosque #3:  "The Post-Thanksgiving IPT"   NOV 25-27, 2006.  Slide Program on the evening of NOV 24.  3-DAY: $929.  (SOLD OUT) This IPT has sold out for the past eight years as it is scheduled on dates that I consider peak for Bosque. 

Seminar: DEC 2-3, 2006.  BIRDS AS ART "The Art of Nature Photography; It Ain't Just Birds!" How-To Weekend Seminar in Albuquerque, NM.  Details TBA.  Folks wishing to combine an IPT with the Seminar should sign up for Bosque #4 (below). 

Bosque #4:  "The Full Moon IPT"  DEC 4 (mid-day) through DEC 7 (mid day), 2006.  3-DAY: $929.  (Limit 14 Openings: 5)  Slide Program mid-day on DEC 4.  Co-leaders include Manuel Presti, 2005 Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Robert Amoruso. This IPT includes a half day of photography on the 4th, two full days of photography on the 5th  and 6th, and a final half day on December 7th.  Limit 14.  This IPT has been scheduled to maximize the opportunities to include the rising and setting full (DEC 5) and near-full moon in your images.  There will be lots of the usual chances as well, and this time period has provided more than its share of spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the years. 

Coming Soon:  Dates TBA for the 2006 Post X-mas SW FLA IPT and the 2007 President's Week SW FLA IPT.

Tennessee Warbler foraging, South Padre Island Convention Center, TX

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 2X II TC and EOS-1Ds Mark II.  ISO 400.

Evaluative Metering +2/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/10 in Av Mode.  Fill flash -2 stops with Better Beamer.


In this image, the foliage provides a pleasing backdrop for this often hard-to-photograph species. The bird had an ugly looking bug in its bill so I created two versions of the image, one with the bug, and, as above, one without.  As described in Digital Basics and ABP II, I selected and protected the bill, used the clone tool to get rid of the bug and a leaf behind the bird’s face, and finally used the patch tool (coming soon to Digital Basics) to redo the leaf just below the bird’s bill.


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 BAA sponsor as it Delkin Devices.  Back issues of all BAA Bulletins can be found in the Bulletin Archives which may be accessed from the home page at