September 28, 2008











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Clarke’s Grebe, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the 2X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero:  1/250 sec. at f/11.  


Though the geese and cranes have not arrived yet there were a few good birds around to photograph.  This Clarke’s Grebe was photographed from the Marsh Loop boardwalk.  This was the last image of a 26 frame sequence that I created as the bird swam towards me, into the light, and into the perfect background.  Note the perfect head angle...  It was the first and only good one of the series!  You gotta love it!




Ten hard-working folks, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


With apologies to Richard Kowalski and Sara Cole who had to leave on Tuesday morning after five days of exemplary service, the Bosque “Open Windows” Volunteer Group. From left to right: Bill Lloyd, Andy Rokoczy, Gary Roleau, Steve Garner, Dr. Dick Curtain, Debbie & Jerry Stephens, Kristen Westlake, Emory Moody (below), and yours truly, Arthur Morris.




As many of you may remember, last year at Bosque was—photographically--the worst ever.   See here for the details:  A follow-up can be found here:


Refuge Biologist John Vradenburg and I did not get off to a very good start when we first met in early November 2007, but having worked hard on my people skills over the past few years we were able to forge a good working relationship that came to fruition on September 11-16, 2008.  A group of 11 volunteers (twelve with me) met with John and Outdoor Recreation Planner (aka Officer) Shawn Gillette for an orientation and ride-around. By mid-morning we had our gloves and our tools and, after splitting into two groups, were hard at work.  The group that I worked with (soon to become the “B” team) began cutting a viewing window at the spot on the Farm Loop (past the big tree on the right) where tall vegetation frustratingly blocked views of nearby cranes last year.  When we first began, our task seemed insurmountable.  But in short order, we began making appreciable progress.  The other group began cutting a big window at the end of the first field after the turn to the southwest at the north end of the Farm Loop.  This can be a great spot on the rare cloudy morning or on afternoons when the geese often land in the southwest corner of that field.  As with the “B” team, progress was slow at first.  And worst of all, both groups were responsible for carting away the huge amounts of vegetation that they had cut and then unloading it at the dump site south of the Marsh Loop road.  Richard Kowalski (no relation to Killer) and Sara Cole handled that task admirably at first with a pickup truck and later on with a long trailer.  Still, by the end of that first day, we had accomplished a great deal. 




The “B” team at work on morning one, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


From left to right: Dick, Kristen, Bill, and Andy getting the hang of things.


At this point the days have blended together but I do recall the following:  At some point the “B” team cleared two windows at the south end of the East Farm Loop road, right after you make the left turn off the “H” road to head north.  (The “H” road runs east from the Pay Booth and bisects the refuge with the Farm Loop to the north and the Marsh Loop to the south.  These viewing windows will primarily benefit visiting birders and Festival-of-the-Cranes-folks as the fields are scheduled to be burned in the next few weeks.  While we were working there the “A” team began work on a very large and imposing virgin (never before cut) window.  It was filled with tall (some as tall as 25 feet and as thick as 3-5 inches) Coyote Willows, a species that would turn out to be our main antagonist during the project.  (We were taught to identify both the Cottonwoods and the Black Willows so that we would avoid cutting them.) The salt cedars, especially the dead ones, were vicious foes with wood as tough as nails.  Both species grew in tight clumps, and to make matters worse, in spots where viewing windows had been cut previously, the clumps of new growth that were several years old made our lives difficult; it was hard to get the loppers around the 2-3 inch trees as they were growing so close together.   For the larger trees, we used a variety of hand saws. For the younger stands of Coyote Willows, the hedge clippers were best.   In addition, we used several other tools that proved effective for various chores.  When we first looked at the proposed virgin window (also located along the southern half of the East Farm Loop road) it seemed that it would be a completely impossible task.   After a full day of effort by the “A” team (we were amazed at how much they had done) we joined them the next morning and that window was finished and hauled away by lunch time—all in all that single window required 1 ½ days of backbreaking work.  And the hauling loading and unloading the trailer required the efforts of 4-6 folks. 




An “A” team masterpiece at the virgin window, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART



Once work on the virgin window was completed we began to pick up our pace. Our spirits had been buoyed by that amazing accomplishment, we were more familiar with the effective use of our tools, and each group had improved their teamwork and workflow.  What was most amazing is that though no tasks were assigned to specific persons, each member of the two groups sort of fell into their own niche.  On the “B” team, Kristen, Emory, and I did much of the lopping while Dick and Bill did much of the hauling (and that was always uphill!).  Andy filled in where and when help was needed and was in charge of snake and general natural history education (while toiling away at the same time).  When we needed to cut stuff in a water-filled ditch Bill and Dick and Kristen donned their hip boots or waders while I stayed dry <smile>   As far as I know, the “A” team folks just slogged through the water in similar conditions.


For the most part I worked with Bill Lloyd who had been to Bonaventure in August with Chris Dodds and me for gannets, Dick Curtain and Emory Moody, both multiple IPT veterans,  Andrew Rokoczy whom I had met at several NANPA Summits, and Kristen Westlake.  The “A” team was comprised of Jerry (who was funnier than you could imagine) and Debbie Stevens, Steve Garner, Gary Roleau, and Richard and Sara (when they were not doing the hauling).   At times the “B” team would loan someone to the “A” team.  On the morning that we joined forces at the virgin window, we stood transfixed as we watched Jerry, Steve, and Gary tear into the large trees with a vengeance while Debbie dragged three or four of them at a time up the slope to the road to be piled and then loaded on the trailer.  From that moment on the foursome of Jerry, Steve, Gary, and Debbie were affectionately referred to as “The Animals.”  While each and every person worked to their full capacity and the high temperatures averaged about 85 degrees (not fun in neoprene waders…), the efforts of Jerry, Steve, and Gary must be judged as super-human.  I could not recall doing as much manual labor in my entire life and everyone else pretty much agreed.  I need to note here that BPN Avian Free & Wild moderator Doug Brown lent a helping hand on Sunday and Monday.   Gary Roleau, who works as a nuclear physicist in nearby Los Alamos, was as tough and hardworking as anyone I have ever encountered.   When he attacked the large stands of young Coyote Willows and phragmites with the big clippers he most resembled a human threshing machine.  He and several others from the “A” team often worked non-stop for two hours without a water break.  The more mortal among us stopped for some water about every 45 minutes or so. 




“The Animals,” Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


From left to right: Gary, Debbie, Jerry (always laughing), and Steve trying to get some respite from the heat.




Gary Roleau taking a rare water break, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Note the scratches on his right forearm.


Officer Patti Briggs helped supervise the more wayward among us and refuge volunteer Monte Farmer was a huge help as well.  He got us the tools we needed, shared his personal tools with us, relayed messages, hauled and unloaded cut brush, pitched in when an extra hand was needed, and was an all-around good guy.  He so enjoyed working with us that he came in on Tuesday morning to lend a hand.  Tuesday was his day off and after he kissed us all goodbye he had to hightail it up to Albuquerque to keep an appointment with the Veterans Administration.  Speaking of the VA, more than a few tears were shed by the several Vietnam veterans in the work crew. 


After about four days of our having to cart off the cut vegetation and the trees, Officer Shawn happened by with some good news.   We would just need to pile the brush along the side of the road where the refuge staff would pick it up with some sort of mechanical loader.  Whew, what a relief that was.  On day 5, I traded several “B” team members for Gary mostly out of selfishness…  During the last two days, we really began to roll, and our pace and progress peaked on the last morning when, working as a single group, we cleared a 40 yard wide by forty yard deep window in less than 90 minutes.  Out of gas, we all agreed to take that last afternoon off. 


The refuge staff was amazed by our accomplishments.  (And so were we.)  On Tuesday afternoon, about half the group made a ride-around with Biologist John Vradenburg and Officer Shawn.   We traversed the entire Marsh and Farm Loops noting areas where the refuge staff needed to use the slope mowers on the opposite sides of the creeks to open up lines of sight in areas where we had completed the vast majority of the needed work.  In addition we reviewed and noted the areas that needed to be mowed especially along the entire corn field—there is only one by the road this year, the same one as last year.  John stated that the needed work would be completed well before the festival. 


In addition to opening about ten large viewing windows, we opened many doors.   Gary Roleau had been volunteering to do some work on the viewing windows for years but was never able to get his foot in the door.   Now, he will be visiting the refuge over the next few weeks with one or two others to do additional volunteer work.  And in anticipation of continuing and expanding the Open Windows project next year, Gary—who is a federal employee--is planning to take the chain saw training program.  Cutting the virgin window which took about 80 man-hours of intensive labor this year, could be done by one person with a chain saw in an hour or two. And best of all the refuge staff was thrilled by our efforts and is eager for us to return. 




The Enemy,  Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


This is a “before” image of the virgin window…  With tracts like this, knowing that we had to cut a 40 yard wide 40 yard deep swath was daunting at best.


Two local businesses pitched in big time to help.   Louise Darnell of the Socorro Super 8 Motel arranged with her boss to have the rooms for the entire group provided at zero cost to the volunteers for the entire length of our stay.   The Super 8 has long been the most photographer-friendly place to stay in what is a very eco-tourist friendly town.  They deserve your business.  You can make a reservation by calling them at 505-835-4626.  The Super 8 is located right off the I-25 exit at the north end of town at 1121 Frontage Road, Socorro, NM  87801.  And best of all, they are located right next door to K-Bobs which graciously provided all of our dinners at no charge.   The food was better than ever—they have added some great new menu items—and the service was friendly and excellent as always.  The K-Bobs Salad Wagon is always freshly stocked-they even have hikama, a healthy veggie that most folks have never heard of.  My absolute favorite menu item is the very healthy Combo Sizzling Fajitas Combo—steak and chicken, extra onions and hold the green peppers please.  Big time kudos go to owner Mike Myers and managers Dave Patterson ad Debbie Tofte for their help and generosity.  As all the volunteers paid their way to and from Socorro and provided their own transportation, the generosity of both the Super 8 and K-Bobs made things a lot easier and was greatly appreciated.  When you visit Bosque, be sure to return the favor by patronizing these two photographer-friendly businesses.  And don’t forget to add your thanks!


Our visit was not all work/no play.  Most of us went down to the refuge early each morning and were delighted to find a smattering of birds and wildlife, a lovely full moon, and about four quadrillion sunflowers in full bloom. Jim Heupel was good to go and was scheduled to be my car pool/photo partner but needed to cancel at the last minute as his lovely wife Jackie broke her ulna while on safari with Todd Gustafson and had surgery in Kenya.   She is such a trooper that she insisted that they fly back to meet the group so that Jim could get to enjoy the last five days of photography at Maasai Mara.  Join me in sending a ton of love, strength, and energy to Jackie to help speed her recovery.




On the last morning, we worked as a ten-person team at opening an old viewing window.  Total elapsed time:  1 hour, 29 minutes. That’s Monte Farmer below right in the pink shirt working on his day off.  The rest of the gang is out of sight!




Just getting our rhythm, 9:25 am


All images this series copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART




Making progress, 10:13 am




The view from behind the pile, 10:15 am




The masterpiece complete, 11:29 am. 





My advice for the 2008/2009 Bosque season is to come on down!  Conditions should be great this year.  In addition to the viewing windows opened up by the volunteer group, Biologist John Vradenburg has stated that he will see to it that the additional mowing and slope-cutting work needed to ensure clean lines of sight to the corn fields and the areas that we worked on would be completed before the birds start arriving in mid- late October.  The edges of both of the crane pools are clean and green (thanks to the refuge staff for that) and both pools are scheduled to be filled in October. 


And the very best news is that D-19, the main impoundment that fronts the Flight Deck, has been disked, i.e. plowed and bulldozed as part of the cyclical management of the successional wetlands.  What this means is that the great majority of D-19 will be a blue lake.   With these conditions geese often fly in during the late afternoon and land near the road.  If you are lucky enough to encounter that, you will enjoy some spectacular flight photography on west winds.  I had mentioned to John that it would be wonderful if the section of D-19 north of the Flight Deck could be disked and plowed.  They tried, nearly losing two large bulldozers to the soft mud, but were unsuccessful.  That section of D-19 was unusually soft due to excessive rains during the summer.   


If you do choose to make the journey to this wondrous photographic location, make sure that you stay at the Super 8 and that  you eat most of your meals at K-Bobs.   If you are visiting for the first time, it would be foolish to show up without a copy of our Bosque Site Guide on your laptop:!





D-19, the Main Impoundment, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


This is the view of the disked and plowed impoundment that should yield spectacular photographic opportunities both at sunrise (for fly-ins and blast-offs) and on afternoons with west winds; it will be a blue lake when the birds arrive!  John Vradenburg promised to cut most of the sunflowers at various spots along the road to the Flight Deck to ease the pressure on the deck.




Tim Grey has been answering questions as part of his Digital Darkroom Questions (DDQ) email for more than six years and in that time has become recognized as a top expert in Photoshop and digital imaging. He recently launched a print newsletter called Digital Darkroom Quarterly, which features in-depth articles on subjects that are important to photographers trying to make the most of digital tools.   The Summer 2008 issue contained two extensive feature articles.  The first, “Field Downloading,” covers every imaginable aspect of managing your images in the field and on extended trips.  The second, “What’s in a Name?” covers all the bases for those who wish to learn to efficiently label and name their image as part of their workflow.   You might be interested to learn that Tim (as I do) recommends Downloader Pro:


You can get more information on the Digital Darkroom Quarterly and subscribe to this informative newsletter at  




Full Moon Set, Ed Kranepool, Bosque Del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens on the Mongoose M3.5 with the EOS-1D MIII.  ISO 400.   Additional data unavailable.   


I have enjoyed learning about and creating stitched panoramas.  This is a five frame stitch.  The cottonwood on right is the large one in the crane pool to the south which I long ago named the “Ed Kranepool” in honor of the former NY Mets first-baseman.


PORTLAND, MAINE: “The Art of Nature Photography; It Ain’t Just Birds” Weekend How-To Seminar


The Art of Nature Photography; It Ain’t Just Birds” Weekend How-To Seminar in Portland, Maine

October 11-12, 2008

Eastland Park Hotel, 157 High Street, Portland, ME


Time is growing short.  We have 81 folks signed up.  Walk-ins will be welcome.  Do consider joining us for great weekend filled with learning, slide programs, demonstrations, and super door prizes.  Saturday: creating great images in the field.  Sunday: optimizing your images quickly while making them look great.  


The cost of the weekend seminar will be $169.  The cost of either single day will be $99.  Members of qualifying camera clubs are invited to apply a $10 discount.  (If you are a member of a camera club or other photography organization please e-mail us before registering to learn how your group can become a qualifying club).  Register with a friend or a spouse and take $10 off each registration.  Register in groups of four or more and take $20 off of each registration.   Register in a group of ten or more and take $30 off each registration.  It is highly recommend that folks purchase the buffet luncheon option ($15/day includes tip and tax).  Those purchasing the lunch option will receive their lunch coupon when they check in each morning.)  The cost of the weekend seminar plus the two lunches is $199.


There are three ways to register:


1- Send a check for the full amount made out to "Arthur Morris" to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

2- Call us with a credit card at 863-692-0906.

3- Send us a Paypal (using either any link on our site or your Paypal account) to us at


In all cases, we will need your e-mail address, your mailing address, and your daytime and evening phone numbers.  




Folks attending the Portland Seminar and those studying ABP II will learn why most others will over-expose images like this and how to avoid doing so.


All sunflower images this series copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART




And those same folks will learn how to create pleasing zoom blurs…




and how to vary their techniques to create different looks…




and how to use a windy day to their advantage.




And how to create sharp-focus/soft-focus overlaid images for the dreamy look.  (This technique is not covered in ABP II.)   The stuff that looks like ground fog is mulie grass. 

And most importantly, folks will learn how to vary their approaches when confronted with good situations…   After all, sunflowers ain’t birds!  See you in Portland!




Bosque IPT #1:  NOV 22-25, 2008.  Slide program on the evening of NOV 21.  4-DAY:  $1799  Limit: 10/2 cancellations. Co-leader: Robert O’Toole.


Bosque IPT #2:  NOV 29-DEC 2, 2008.  Slide program on the evening of NOV 28. 4-DAY:  $1799  Limit: 10/Openings: 1.  Co-leader: Robert O’Toole.


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: 5.  

Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole and Alfred & Fabiola Forns.


SW FLA PRESIDENT'S DAY IPT: FEB 13-17, 2009.  Slide program on the evening of FEB 12.   5-DAY: $2249   Limit: 10/Openings: 2.  Co-leader: Robert O’Toole and Scott Bourne


NEW  POST-NANPA 2 ½ DAY BOSQUE IPT.   FEB 22-24, 2009.  2 1/2-DAY:  $799. Limit:  15/Openings: 10.  Best combined with my Sunday morning NANPA Summit program: "Photographing Bosque Del Apache:  In-the-Field Strategies and Post Processing Techniques" Sunday FEB 22, 2009. (Registration for the Sunday program only through NANPA.)  Photograph Sunday afternoon till sunset and all day Monday and Tuesday.  


Bear Boat #1: June 4-10, 2009 (It is advised that you be in Anchorage on the afternoon of June 2nd to be assured of not missing the boat!).  This trip will feature an afternoon (and possibly more) of otter photography (weather permitting), Bald Eagles and likely chicks in the nest, and lots and lots of coastal Brown Bears clamming and eating luscious green grass. 


Bear Boat #2: Sept 4-10, 2009  (It is advised that you be in Anchorage on the afternoon of the September 2nd to be assured of not missing the boat!).  This one is the bears catching salmon trip.  In addition, Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls eating roe are a certainty, and dark phase Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes (including the gorgeous immatures), Harbor Seals, and Stellar’s Sea Lions are likely.   Did I mention bears catching salmon?  And more bears catching salmon?


The rates for the 2009 trips have increased due to increased fuel costs.   Bear Boat #1 (cheaper by $250 as we use the float plane only once):  $6749.   Bear Boat #2: $6999.




Captain Marian Schneider of Grande Tours and Coastal Brown Bear, Katmai National Park, AK

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Join me on a 2009 bear boat trip and that could be you in the catbird seat!   .



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  To unsubscribe click here: unsubscribe.