APRIL 30, 2008












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Photographic theme:  More images from my recent SUV trip.  


Important Request: if responding to this e-mail, please take the time to delete all images and all irrelevant text.




White Ibis chick, Lakeland, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens (on the Wimberley head/Gitzo 3530 LSV CF tripod) with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/4.  Fill flash at -2 stops.   


The ibis nests at the Lakeland Rookery are much more open than they were last year.  James is highly skilled at getting and keeping his big pontoon boat in perfect position for photography, and image stabilization is a huge help in such situations.  Note the sharpness at a relatively slow shutter speed.  You can contact James via e-mail to set up a photo-trip at either or  Yikes, I forgot to mention: there are lots of Wood Stork chicks too.



My e-mail to Ullin Leavell covers all the basics.  Ullin, a retired physician and multiple IPT-veteran, is 85 or 86 and is happily married.


AM: Hi Ullin,




UL: I am having trouble focusing on birds flying against the sky.  The auto focus just goes wild.  In and out in and out.  Could you kindly tell me how to set my Canon Mark II?


AM: In many cases, this is due to operator error, the failure to keep the central sensor right on the subject.  (See more comments on that in #4 below.)   With advancing age, this becomes more and more difficult (and as I recall you have me by at about  2 ½ decades!  God bless you.) 


When I used MII series bodies, I learned about a Personal Function that helped to prevent erratic AF searching.  It was a real pain to set it up.  Interested folks using MII series body can find the details here:  With MIII series bodies, that can be done as a Personal Function.   For details on that, see our MIII 1D & MIII 1Ds Users Guide:


For now, let’s stick to the basics.


#1:  Make sure that your lens is set to the far-only distance-range setting. 


#2:  Make sure that your tripod is raised so that you do not have to bend over to see through the viewfinder.  I like to have the viewfinder right at eye level.  (If you can easily handhold your intermediate telephoto lens, then doing so is always best for flight.  Some folks--most disciples of Jim Neiger--are even able to use big lenses like the 500mm f/4 and the Nikon 200-400 VR zoom lens for extended sessions of flight photography.)


#3: In either case, take a comfortable posture (relative to where the birds will be entering “the zone.”  See more on that in # 6 below.)   


#4: Start off with the central sensor only.  Concentrate on panning smoothly and on keeping the central sensor right on the bird's head, neck, or face.   As I have gotten older, I have found that this has become more and more difficult.


#5:  If the birds are flying erratically, I will often switch from the central sensor to AAFPS (all focusing points selected, or the “ring of fire.”)  with my Canon bodies.   Using the full array of sensors will make it easier to maintain focus, but focus will sometimes not be as consistently accurate as when you are using the central sensor only.  Be sure to place the center of the array on the bird’s head or face when acquiring AF.    James Shadle, our Nikon Advisor ( or -- all Nikon-related questions welcome), recommends the following:  “With the newest Nikon bodies, the D-3 and the D-300, set Dynamic 3D and use the central sensor to acquire focus.  With the older Nikon bodies, like the D-2, the D-2X, and the D-200, set Dynamic and use the central sensor to acquire focus.”  


#6:  Try to make your flight images when the bird is “in the zone,”, that is, fairly large in the frame, flying either parallel to your position or somewhat towards you, and flying towards the light.  This happens most often when the sun is directly behind you (point your shadow at the bird!) and the wind is somewhere from behind you. On very rare occasions flight images work very well when the bird is flying a bit away from you as with Alexander Koenders' wonderful Purple Heron on BPN:


There is lots more on flight photography in the Bulletin Archives and in ABP II (916 pages on CD only):


Hope that that helps!


UL: I hope that you are well and have lots of beautiful women chasing you.


AM: Thanks and ditto.   And later and love, artie




White Ibis taking flight, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens (on the Wimberley head/Gitzo 3530 LSV CF tripod) with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6.  


It is important (but often not too difficult) to predict bird behavior.  After a few White Ibis from a large flock took off from out left, it did not require rocket science to predict that the rest would follow.  I made one quick image at -1/3 stop because of the dark BKGR, checked the histogram, and saw that it was perfect—well to the right with no flashing highlights.  Then I set that exposure manually and was good to go.  




I received this via e-mail from Geoff Jones of the UK:


Just thought I would drop you all a line to tell you about my latest escape.  I have just come back from Florida where I spent time learning a great deal from Jim Neiger. I was very fortunate to be able to spend 3 weeks with Jim in Florida; he is without a doubt the foremost expert of in-flight bird photography.  To see the ease with which he consistently takes superb, sharply focused shots of birds in flight (while working in  full manual mode) is an amazing thing to see.  He consistently nails the correct exposure on the run whether the birds are dark or white somewhere in between.  It is like watching a great composer or a great artist at work.   Kindest regards, Geoff


(Note:  Jim Neiger, who co-led my last Homer IPT (see my eagle image below), has pioneered the hand-holding of large telephoto lenses for flight and action photography.  He offers individual and small group instruction in Central Florida and at Bosque.  His schedule this spring is quite full but you can try him via e-mail at to see if he has any openings or for Bosque 2008 info.)




Bald Eagle banking, Homer, AK

Image copyright 2005:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens (sorry Jim: tripod-mounted) and the EOS-1D MII. ISO 250. Evaluative Metering +1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/8.  


This image, or photo-illustration if you would prefer), was created from the image below using the advanced Quick Masking Techniques that are described in Robert O’Toole’s fabulous APTATS PDF:  I must admit that I am getting better at Quick Masking; this image required warping and sizing the portion of the wing on the adjustment layer for a perfect fit/match.







At Michel Pilon’s silhouetted heron here:

Michel wrote:   Thank you very much for your quick replies to my repost...  Fabs, very cool tool to point out posterization ;)   Seriously, I appreciate very much the work you done with my picture bringing a very much dramatic impression...   Interesting to see the impact of saturation on the feeling a picture can transmit...   Arthur, thank you very much for your nice comment about my pic... Coming from such a notorious photographer, it is very stimulating :)   I really like the final picture I obtained following all your recommendations (Jody, Fabs and Arthur)... and that is what I'm expecting from a forum such as BPN!!!  :):):)  Thank you very much and see you all again soon!  Michel 


At a thread that I started, "My Pictures Don't Look Like That,” (, Franko wrote:

Artie, since I stumbled upon you and your website and your bulletins, my photo life has changed dramatically.  Everything you said above is right on the money, and as in all things, the hard I work the luckier I get.  I will say to anyone who will listen, the O'Toole APTATS information is the single best piece of photographic knowledge I have purchased so far. Quick masks will change your life.  (I also have your CD and Digital Basics, but I am at a point in my life where I must read in the morning or I fall asleep at the computer, so those are taking a little longer). To me, Photoshop manipulation is no different from all the dodging and burning I used to do in the darkroom, and it is most rewarding when I can make a good photo look great. Soon I will have something worth uploading for critique.  Thanks for all you do, Artie.  Frank


At Anthony Healy’s Great Blue Herons, Venice Rookery post here:, Tony wrote:

Wow! This image hasn't been up for 10 minutes and is already getting some great feedback. I do have some with both heads turned properly and from the same sequence. This was the moment of the "pass" or exchange. I look forward to sharing them with you on my next post. Venice was great!. It was a great way to end a week of FL birding by bumping into an IPT. Thank you all for the great conversation and advice, then and looking forward to more on the web.




Dunlin, molting to breeding plumage, early morning light, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS 1D MIII. ISO 400.   Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/800 sec. at f/7.1.  


Rather than getting right down on the ground with the Panning Ground Pod, I sat behind my tripod as it was much easier to follow the birds as they were foraging. My Mark III is the “lightest” digital camera that I have ever used; it needs lots of plus compensation in most situations to yield a good histogram.   You  can learn to understand and evaluative histograms in ABP II (916 pages on CD only):


There have been some important developments at Fort DeSoto: I will be updating the DeSoto Site Guide soon.  If you have previously purchased the DeSoto guide, please do not e-mail for the update until you see a release notice in a BAA Bulletin or Notes.   You can learn about all of our great Site Guides here:




We are (finally) expecting delivery of the Giotto's MH 1302-655 Professional Socket and Ballhead this Friday.  Jim will begin shipping them on Monday.  We have 61 pieces coming.  More than 45 are already sold.  You can order yours today from us today for $119.95 plus $8 shipping and handling via US Priority Mail.


You can learn more about this great new offering in the Bulletin Archives:




Mottled Duck hen with six chicks, early morning light, Edward Medard Park, Turkey Creek, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens (on the Wimberley head/Gitzo 3530 LSV CF tripod) with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/4.     


We saw this family just as we left the dock at sunrise and were stunned as they changed course and swam right towards us.  James knowledge of the Brandon/Tampa Bay area is mind-boggling.  At some point, he will be doing a Site Guide for that area for us. 




The e-mail below was received from J. Lynn Bacon of the UK not from Lynn Thompson of Phoenix.  (The former Lynn is a lady, the latter Lynn a gentleman.)  Thanks again Lady Lynn!


Dear Art, I would like to sing praises of your BLUBB design.  I have had a large bean bag for years that worked OK.  Until I got your BLUBB!   The support is far superior to any other bean bag I have tried.  And 

what a relief to have it cling to the vehicle in all but the bumpiest conditions.  At first the price might seem expensive, but it is replacing a tripod head!  I use freezer zip lock sandwich bags to hold the beans/rice/birdseed/etc to load the bag with.  Adds more water proofing and seems to fill out the bag just as well.  (Keeps the contents clean too for whoever/whatever makes a meal out of them.)  I just received my second BLUBB, so both sides of the vehicle are ready.  Thank you for the brilliant design.  Lynn


By e-mail from Atlee Hart:


Hi Art,  Here is another BLUBB tip:  If you fill your BLUBB with bird seed, do not leave it in the garage.  The mouse had a great winter.  Al, Farmington Hills, Mi.  ps:  Is rodent-ruin risk covered under warranty?


You can learn more about the BLUBB here:





Wood Storks copulating,  Lakeland, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens (on the Wimberley head/Gitzo 3530 LSV CF tripod) with the EOS-1D MIII.  ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/500 sec. at f/4.     


I was set up for low light flight photography when I saw these two going at it.  Rather than try to adjust my settings I simply framed the image and pushed the shutter button.  The exposure was fine.  If you would like to get in on the action, you can contact James via e-mail at or at



Bosque IPT #1:  NOV 22-25, 2008.  Slide program on the evening of NOV 21.  4-DAY:  $1799  Limit: 10/Openings:  3


Bosque IPT #2:  NOV 29-DEC 2, 2008.  Slide program on the evening of NOV 28. 4-DAY:  $1799  Limit: 10/Openings: 3

SW FLA POST X-MAS IPT: DEC 27-29 or 30, 2008.  Slide program on the evening of DEC 26.   4-DAY: $1799   (3-DAY OPTION:  $1349)  Limit: 10/Openings: 4

SW FLA PRESIDENT'S DAY IPT: FEB 13-17, 2009.  Slide program on the evening of FEB 12.   5-DAY: $2249   Limit: 10/Openings: 5



                         Brown Pelican bathing, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL aboard the Hooptie Deux

           Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens (on the Wimberley head/Gitzo 3530 LSV CF tripod) with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS 1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6.


Backlit images succeed best with dark BKGRs.  As the head and eyes of the bird in this frame was largely obscured by the spray, I used a QM to grab the head of the same bird and used it here.








BIRDS AS ART Bulletin Subscriber’s Specials                                      (Expires May 31, 2008)


Currently Hunt’s has the Canon 1DS Mark III and Nikon D3 in stock.  With the purchase of these items, free shipping is being offered to the Birds as Art subscribers.


Canon 1D Mark III (in stock; free shipping with purchase)                                 $3999.99

Canon 5D with 24-105 lens (includes an extra battery)                                     $2699.99

Canon 40D Body                                                                                              $1149.99

Canon XSi with 18-55 IS lens (color: black; in stock)                                         $  899.99



Hunt's Photo & Video is not only the place to get the latest photography gear, but we can help you further by purchasing your used gear - whether it's a lens, camera, or a complete studio. Click the link above then use the form to tell us the condition your gear is in and we'll make you an offer. Upon acceptance all you have to do is send us the gear and we'll quickly send you a check.


New Canon Lenses

Pre-orders are being taken on the 800mm 5.6 IS lens and the 200 2.0 IS lens.  Those interested in being placed on the waiting list, please email Gary Farber.  Include your full name, address, and telephone number.   When the product is available, you will be notified and the order will be filled as soon as possible.


Canon Lenses

Ask for the price on Canon 500mm and 600mm lenses.  Hunt’s stocks the full line of Canon lenses.  Hunt’s carries USA warranty only.


New Nikon Product

Nikon’s shipments of the Nikon 500VR, 600VR, 24-70, and 24 Tilt Shift lenses are arriving slowly.  Subscribers interested in purchasing these lenses, please email Gary Farber with your full name, address, and telephone number.  When the lens is available, you will be notified.


BIRDS AS ART subscribers who are NPS members interested in placing an order for the Nikon “hard to find” products, contact Nikon to submit your NPS number and request that you would like to place your order with Gary Farber at Hunt’s .  The product will arrive at Hunt’s from Nikon attention: Your Name.


Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Currently Hunt’s has in stock the D300 with the 18-200 lens.  Contact Hunt’s for the price.  A $300.00 instant rebate is being offered with the purchase. 


Nikon D60 with 18-55VR lens is in stock.  Contact Hunt’s for the price.


Nikon Lenses

Hunt’s is a full line authorized Nikon dealer.  Call for the price on the “hard to find”

200-400, 70-200VR, 80-400VR, 105VR, the new 60 macro, and other Nikon lenses.


Canon and Epson Printers

Canon IPF 5100 Printer (“no shipping charge” with purchase)                           $1799.99

Epson 3800 Printer (“no shipping charge” with purchase)                                 $1149.99


Hunt’s is offering a $250.00 discount on the everyday low price of the Epson 7880, 9880, and large format printers.  Also, being offered is a “no shipping charge” with the purchase of these printers.


Contact Hunt’s printer expert Ora Lea at extension 2360 or email


Sigma Lenses  5% off is being offered on Hunt’s every day low price of selective Sigma lenses; including:   


10-20, 12-24, 50-500, 80-400, 120-300, 300-800, 70 macro, 105 macro, 150 macro, and the 180 macro


“Free Shipping Offer” on the following selective items:

Canon 1D Mark III                                                                                            $3999.99

Canon 1DS Mark III

Canon 5D with 24-105 lens (includes an extra battery)                         $2699.99

Nikon D3

Nikon D300 Body

Photo Shop CS 3 Upgrade                                                                                $  189.99

Photo Shop Light Room                                                                                   $  269.99

Photo Shop CS 3 Full Version                                                                            $  619.99

Eye One Display 2 (Artie’s favorite calibrator)                                                    $  199.99

NIK Viveza                                                                                                        $  209.95

WACOM 12” WX Tablet                                                                                                $  999.99


Hunt’s now carries Think Tank bags.  When ordering Think Tank products, “free” shipping is being offered.


In the event Gary Farber is unavailable, we invite you to receive excellent service from a member of our professional sales staff.  At our flagship store in Melrose, please contact Kathryn Nazzaro,; Ora Lea,; Bob Roche,, or Keith Patankar,  You may ask for them by calling 800-221-1830 extension 2360.


Best and love and great picture-making to all,


Note: Arthur Morris has been a Canon contract photographer since 1996 and continues in that role today.  Hunt's Photo of Boston, MA is a BAA sponsor as is Delkin Devices.  Back issues of all BAA Bulletins can be found in the Bulletin Archives which may be accessed from the home page at


Ps:  The Hudsonian Godwit is the tenth bird in from the left, sleeping in the first row in front of two Marbled Godwits.