August 18, 2006


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Sea Otter praying, Kodiak, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Manual Mode: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6 verified by histogram check.   


The sea otter kelp bed offered more good opportunities than one could imagine.  The June 4-10, 2008 Bear Boat trip will spend at least ¾ of a day with these tame otters.



Photographic Theme: A few more of my favorite images from my recent Bear Boat trip to Katmai National Park, AK.  I have scheduled two Bear Boat trips for 2008.  (That is not a typo: 2008 is correct.)    Details will be posted in a Bulletin once I return from Kenya.




Brown Bear lunging for salmon, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Evaluative Metering: 1/1000 sec. at f/4.   


In order to totally freeze the water droplets in situations like this choose an ISO and an aperture that will yield a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 sec.  The Sept 4-10, 2008 Bear Boat trip has been planned two years in advance to coincide with the big surge of chum salmon in Kinak Bay. Those dates in 2005 saw as many as 39 bears fishing the creek mouth at once…




Even if you are not traveling by air to or through the United Kingdom, you might pick up some good tips in my e-mail to Bulletin subscriber Peggy Flood. 

            AM: Hi Peggy,

            PF: My husband and I have been anticipating a vacation to Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands for months.  We will be flying home from London on October 8, 2006, and now the terrorists are at work again. 

AM: It’s what is; you gotta love it…

PF: Now, no one is allowed to carry on anything when you are flying from London to the USA.  I am in a panic thinking I will have to check my camera gear. 

AM: I can understand that but there are lots of options…

PF: I just purchased a soft-sided Pelican rolling case and wonder if you think this would adequately protect my gear. 

AM:  I am not familiar with the soft-sided Pelican rolling cases…  I would not put any photo equipment in a soft-sided case that is to be checked.

PF:  I have a Canon digital 20D, 28-135 IS lens and also the 70-200 IS 2.8 lens and would be terribly upset if my gear was damaged. 

AM:  Aside from the possibility of having your stuff damaged, there is a great and real danger of theft.   It is much easier to safely pack photography gear that is to be in your checked baggage than it is to guarantee that it will be there when you arrive at your destination…

PF: Do you have a suggestion?           

           AM:  There are many complex issues to be considered.  Here are some of my thoughts:  



Folks traveling to the UK may wish to consider using Federal Express or some other international courier service. In your case, the cost should not be prohibitive, but for folks traveling through the UK on their way, say, to Africa, the cost of shipping their gear by courier might total many thousands of dollars...  (Do realize that many nature photographers will be traveling with a lot more gear than you.)  If I were stopping in the UK on the way to another international destination I would first try to change my travel plans to avoid the UK.  Annie and Micael Katz who are joining Todd and me on our Kenya trip that begins next week (I fly on Wednesday), had first class tickets on British Airways.  They opted to purchase new tickets on Continental (avoiding the UK completely) in spite of the fact that BA told them that the price of their tickets would not be refunded in full or in part.  I suspect that they will eventually get most of their money back or get substantial credit from BA. 

If I were flying to the UK I  would consider sending all of my gear by courier provided there was someone I could trust to receive it on the other end.  I have always been comfortable sending gear ahead by courier to established motels and hotels in the US, even if it will be arriving a few days before I do.  It is best to get the name of the manager of the property and send it to yourself in care of the manager.  Then at least someone is responsible for it. It is also a good idea to alert folks that your gear is on the way and that it needs to be stowed safely until your arrival.

If you choose to put your equipment in your checked baggage, your first consideration needs to be whether your luggage will have a combination lock or if it can be locked with the TSA locks (and I am not sure if they will be OK for use on flights to and from the UK.)


If you have or choose bags with combination locks, you may or may not be able to lock your bags…  When I fly from Orlando, I am required to bring my one or two checked bags from the check-in counter to TSA for inspection.  Before I reach the  TSA site, I twirl the numbers on my combination locks thus locking the bag.  I tell the agent that the bags are locked and then I wait until they go through the x-ray machine, pass inspection, and are put on the belt.  The strange thing is that since I have employed thais strategy my bags have never pnce been opened for inspection in Orlando, but when I fly home with my bags unlocked, they are almost always inspected.  (When your bag is inspected they put an info sheet in your bag.)  I rarely place a camera or a lens in my checked bags but I have done so on occasion and have never had anything stolen.  I have, however, heard many horror stories.  When flying home from most foreign countries I have been permitted to lock my bags at some point during the check-in procedure.  

In many airports, however, the TSA inspection areas are behind the scenes; you give your bag to the agent at check-in.  I have been told that if you give the combination for your bags to the ticket agent and request that they enter the numbers by with your ticket information on computer, that the TSA will call the airline before breaking the lock…  I have never been brave enough to try that because I fear that they would simply break the lock and then ship the bag with the likely outcome that all of the contents would fall out of the bag… I have tried placing a note my bags requesting that the TSA agent spin the combination lock after the bag is inspected but they have always ignored the note and failed to lock the bag…

If you opt for a bag that can be locked with a standard lock, you have the option of purchasing the special TSA locks.  I have never used them.  You lock your bags with the TSA locks.  The TSA has the combination for all of these locks. Thus, your bag is supposed to be safe…  Do realize that any time that you put a camera or lens in a checked bag that either the bag or the equipment may be stolen. 


Once you have decided on the type of lock on your bag, you need to decide whether you will go with hard-sided cases or soft sided cases.  If you will be placing a camera or lens in a checked bag I would recommend only hard-sided cases.  I routinely send my Gitzo 1325 Carbon Fiber tripod ( and my Wimberley V-2 head ( in my checked bags as it is impossible to carry those on along with my Roadrunner AW and my computer bag. At times I have used a large rolling duffle (as a checked bag) for the tripod provided you used a hard-sided bag as your second checked bag and placed any cameras or lenses in the hard-sided case. 

I  use Delsey 29" hard-sided cases and love them.  They have been all over the world several times.  On two occasions, baggage handlers managed to rip out one of the locking clasps on the side of the case, but the lock on the front of the case and the lock on the other side of the bag have always held.  Unfortunately I am pretty sure that the type of Delsey bag that I use is no longer available… A friend purchased a hard-sided Delsey bag a few years ago on my recommendation. It was similar to the new Delsey Meridian Plus bags.  The bag turned out to be junk; the lock broke on her first trip and the case was pretty much unusable. 


Once you have your bag, you need to pack your gear safely.  As far as I am concerned, the best way to protect gear is with clothing, lots of clothing.  I normally travel with a heavy bathrobe; it is ideal for wrapping around an intermediate telephoto lens or a valuable camera body (if placing the item in a checked bag is your only option).  Coats and heavy sweatshirts also work well as packing material.  I often use my hiking boots and or my tripod to form a sort of protective barrier around a lens or camera body.  I always place a lens or a camera in the bag close to the handle so that the weight of other item in the bag do not press down on it when it is handled by the handle.  You should never travel anywhere with a camera body attached to a lens as damage to or destruction of your gear is likely no matter how well it is packed.

For now, it is still OK to fly to most locations with one legal carry-on and one computer bag (but those days may be coming to an end…)  I still rely on my Roadrunner AW to protect the lenses and cameras that I carry aboard. To learn more about the Roadrunner AW, click here:  Note: we are expecting our first shipment of Roadrunner AWs on Friday, August 18.  To learn how I travel with all my gear at present click here:  


Important note: After 9-11 lots of folks felt that it was impossible to travel with photo gear.  I felt (and wrote) that things were really not very much different at all after 9-11 than before.  Do realize that traveling by air today with photographic gear (with non-UK itineraries) is pretty much the same as it was before the recent terrorist threats (but for the fact that we cannot carry on anything to  drink and the fact that we will have to get to the airport an hour earlier).   So while traveling with our photographic gear by plane has become a bit more difficult, there are safe and practical solutions provided that you give the problem some thought and make wise choices.




Brown Bear yearling cub running, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Evaluative Metering: 1/160 sec. at f/5.6.   


Once I saw this bears sibling amble off with momma, I hurried to get down on the ground knowing that he would soon be re-joining his family.  Just as I got on the ground, I was rewarded when he started to run.  Smooth panning with the V-2 Wimberley head allowed me to follow it easily and create a sharp image.




For many years, I have been extolling the virtues of the Lowepro Roadrunner AW, the world’s largest legal carry-on.  In all of my extensive travels I have never once been told that the bag was oversized when I was traveling on a full-sized jet.  As is usually the case, many folks have been listening to what I have been saying. On most nearly everyone traveling by air is using this great bag because it allows you to maximize the amount of gear that you carry on while at the same time fully protecting your valuable photographic equipment.   You can learn more about the Roadrunner AW by clicking here:


In an effort to offer you a more complete one stop shopping experience we have added the Lowepro Roadrunner AW to our BAA Mail Order line-up:


Lowepro Roadrunner AW: $449.98 plus $20 shipping by UPS ground.  Signature required. US only. Florida residents please add 7% sales tax to the cost of the Roadrunner only.  Overseas customers please e-mail for shipping options.




Brown Bear “Scar,” Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Manual Mode: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 verified by histogram check.      


This was “Scar’s” good side.  He looked as if a huge bear had bitten him as he had a large wound on the other side of his head in the same spot.  After a few minutes you are completely comfortable being around the Katmai bears.  Scar was the best fisherman in Geographic.




For as long as I can remember, folks have been asking to see photos depicting exactly how I pack my Roadrunner AW.  Well, I have finally gotten around to it.  Here goes:




This is the empty Roadrunner with all of the harnesses removed and all of the straps cut off.



First I remove the hood (which will go in a checked bag) and then place the 99 cent  Corning Ware plastic cover over the front of the lens. 

Then I wrap the lens strap around the foot and place the 500mm f/4L IS lens in the case as show.



Then I place each of my camera bodies (an EOS-1Ds Mark II and an EOS 1D Mark II N) in double watch caps for protection and place them in the case as shown.

I find it easiest to place the bottom of the cameras on the bottom of the bag.



Next I place two intermediate telephoto lenses in their own watch caps and place them in the case as shown. 
In this image the 70-200 f/2.8L IS lens is on the upper right and the 400mm f/5.6L lens is on the lower right.



Next I place the 24-105 IS L zoom lens (front element down) in the lower left hand corner of the case (in its own light grey watch cap) as shown. 

Then a set of stacked teleconverters (a 1.4X II and a 2X II) is placed in the empty spot at near the end of the 500 IS. 



The 1.4X TC that I use with my 70-220 (lower center in a black watch cap) is placed atop the near-end of the lens barrel

while my 580 flash, also in its own black watch cap is laid in the slot atop the 70-200 lens.



A set of three extension tubes (two 25mm and one 12mm tube stacked, in the brown watch cap) is put into place

next to the lens foot and plate that has been shifted to the left as shown.  Lastly, an extra battery (in the green cap, upper center) is placed in the case as shown.


The image above shows exactly how I pack my Roadrunner AW for a typical trip.   (On different trips I will often take a different combination of intermediate telephoto lenses.)  On most trips I pack my Gitzo CF 1325 tripod, my V-2 Wimberley head, and an extra camera battery or two in my checked bags and also include an extra set of stacked teleconverters.  The Roadrunner AW as shown above weighed just a shade under 40 pounds (which is the legal limit for carry-ons in the US).  I could have squeezed in my flash cords, a flash bracket, and an extra camera battery or two but I did not want to go over the 40 pound limit in case the TSA was watching...


To order a Roadrunner AW, see the information in the previous item.




It's a fact.  As determined by refuge biologists, the crane pools west of Highway 1 will be kept dry this winter to ensure to protect the alkali plant communities. This will help visiting photographers by forcing them to look for new and different opportunities and to expand their creative vision.  You can read the entire text of John Vradenburg’s explanatory article by clicking here:, clicking on the link to the “Friends Newsletters,” clicking on the May-June 2006 Edition, and then scrolling down to page 4.   




Brown Bear, blonde yearling cub with momma, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with 1.4X II TC and EOS-1Ds Mark II.  ISO 800.

Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6.   


When you are photographing two birds or two animals, you need to be alert for pleasing juxtapositions, head angles, and body angles.  If you think, “mother bear with baby,” and push the shutter button only out of excitement, your buffer may be full when the perfect pose (see image above) is there…




I fly to Dulles on Sunday to visit younger daughter Alissa, her husband Azik, and my second grandson, Ilyas.  On Monday I fly to Nairobi via Rome and Addis Ababa, getting to Kenya midday on Tuesday.   I get home on September 7 and am scheduled for hernia repair surgery on September 8.  As always, Jennifer and Jim will be here to help you with your mail orders or with trip registrations.  Till then, be safe and make some wonderful images.



Moose, adult female, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

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: 1/320 sec. at f/11.  


We were all amazed when this Moose walked right up to us.  I like the soft background in this image.

Note:  It ain’t just birds!  See Albuquerque Seminar below:




Lots of out of town folks from California, Colorado, Texas, Maryland, Toronto, and even two from Norway have already signed up for the weekend.   The Albuquerque “The Art of Nature Photography; It Ain’t Just Birds” Weekend Seminar will take place at the Carlisle Hotel, 2500 Carlisle Boulevard NE in Albuquerque on December 2-3, 2006.  Saturday will be devoted to learning the techniques needed to create pleasingly designed, technically perfect images of natural history subjects.  Saturday topics will include getting the right exposure, advanced composition and image design, making sharp images, creating effective motion and zoom blurs, using flash as fill and as main light, and tips for getting close to free and wild birds and animals.  Sunday will be devoted entirely to Digital Photography and Photoshop with much of the time being spent on live Photoshop demonstrations.  On our IPTs I see many great photographs that are ruined because folks have no clue as to how to effectively optimize their images.  Join us to learn how to make your images look great in minutes.  


We are now accepting registrations.  Paypal is best but we will be glad to take your credit card information by phone (863-692-0906) or to cash your check.  If sending a check, please make it out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7145, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.  Be sure to include your snail mail and e-mail addresses and your day, evening, and cell phone numbers.  The cost of the weekend seminar is $159.  The cost of either single day is $99.  Register with a friend or spouse and take $10 off each registration.  Here is our Cancellation Policy:  If for any reason you need to withdraw, please notify us ASAP. Once we receive your e-mail, phone call, or written notice of your cancellation the following fees apply: cancel before September 2, 2006 and your fee will be refunded less a $20.00 cancellation fee; cancel by November 2, 2006 and your fee will be refunded less a $50.00 cancellation fee; cancel after November 2, 2006 and there will be no refund.




Glaucous-winged Gull and Brown Bear, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Evaluative Metering -2/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/8.   


I was tracking the gull in flight when I saw the bear in the background so I pushed the button <smile> 




As most of you know, I have used Delkin e-Film Pro Compact Flash Cards for more than 3 ½ years now and have found them to be fast and dependable.  I have been using the Delkin 2gb and 4gb cards exclusively now for more than two years and have experienced one card failure, that with a very old 2gb card about a month ago.  Delkin promptly replaced the card.  Do remember that I take tens of thousands of images in a given year.  We have joined with Delkin to ensure that we can offer you the great e-Film Pro Cards at very low prices in any quantity that you might need:


1gb Delkin e-film Pro Card:      $44.98  

2gb Delkin e-film Pro Card:     $74.98 

4gb Delkin e-film Pro Card:   $154.98 

8gb Delkin e-film Pro Card:    $299.98 


Please add $7.00 per order shipping and handling. Florida residents please add 7% sales tax to the cost of the cards only.



Pigeon Guillemot taking flight with large fish, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Evaluative Metering -1 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6.    


We photographed this species from both the skiff and the big boat. For the most part, they were always flying away when we got near them… As they always run across the water when taking off, I envisioned an image like this well before I created it.  Can you figure out why I needed one stop of underexposure?  




It is quite gratifying for me to note that all four Bosque IPTs are sold out so far in advance. <big smile>  We urge interested folks to have their names placed on the waiting list for sold out IPTs as cancellations are virtually a certainty.

Bosque #1: "The Fall Color IPT"  NOV 14-16, 2006.  3-DAY: $929.  Slide Program on the evening of NOV 13.   (SOLD OUT)  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.  3-DAY: $929.  Slide Program on the evening of NOV 24.    (SOLD OUT) This IPT has sold out for the past eight years as it is scheduled on dates that I consider peak for Bosque. 

Bosque #4:  "The Full Moon IPT"  DEC 4 (mid-day) through DEC 7 (mid day), 2006.  3-DAY: $929.  (SOLD OUT)  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. 

SW FLA Post X-mas IPT:  DEC 27-29, 2006. Slide program on the evening of Tuesday, DEC 26.  3 -DAY: $1029.  (Limit 14, Openings: 11.)  Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole, Alfred Forns, & Robert Amoruso.  Sanibel Island, Little Estero Lagoon, Venice Rookery, Cape Coral.  Herons, egrets, gulls, terns, skimmers, shorebirds, both pelicans, Osprey, Burrowing Owl, and lots more.  


San Diego IPT:  FEB 3-6, 2007. 4-FULL DAYS: $1359.  Introductory slide program on the evening of Thursday, FEB 2. (Limit 12, Openings: 10.)    LaJolla, Shores Beach, Coronado, and Santee Lakes.   Brown Pelicans, Heerman’s & Western Gulls, Marbled Godwits & lots more shorebirds, Wood & Ring-necked Ducks & Lesser Scaup.  And lots more. 


SW FLA President's Holiday IPT:   FEB 17-21, 2007.  Slide program on the evening Friday, FEB 16, 2007.  5-DAY: $1649. (Limit 14.)  Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole, Alfred Forns, & Robert Amoruso.  Sanibel Island, Little Estero Lagoon, Venice Rookery, Cape Coral.  Herons, egrets, gulls, terns, skimmers, shorebirds, both pelicans, Osprey, Burrowing Owl, and lots more.   


Fort DeSoto IPT: APR 13-15, 2007. Slide program on the evening of Thursday, APR 12.  3-DAY: $999 (Limit 14: (SOLD OUT)  Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole, Alfred Forns, Robert Amoruso, and Todd Gustafson.  Courtship and breeding behaviors of Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Tern.  Herons, egrets (including both dark and light phase Reddish Egret), shorebirds (including Long-billed Curlew), gulls, terns, and skimmers among others.  



Sea Otters in kelp, Kodiak, AK

Image copyright 2006: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


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

Manual Mode: 1/200 sec. at f/10 verified by histogram check


I made this image while photographing from the deck of the big boat. I wanted to show both the animals and the patterns in the kelp.  


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