NOVEMBER 14, 2008


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Marbled Godwit foraging at sunset, La Jolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the EOS-50D.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at +2/3: 1/400 sec. at f5/6. 


As you can see here, 50D images feature vivid color and are stunningly sharp.  Note the amazing rendition of the texture in the sand in this 150kb JPEG. 



Above is a JPEG representation of the properly exposed RAW file.  There are several things to note:  1-I exposed to the right with a substantial amount of data in the fifth box (as described in Exposure Simplified in ABP II (916 pages on CD only:  2-There were actually some over-exposed pixels that were saved during conversion with Adobe Camera Raw.  3-The image that you see above looks washed out.  That is what it should be when you expose to the right.  4-The optimized image above looks pretty much as I peered through the viewfinder (with much excitement).   5-Simple Levels, Curves, Hue Saturation, and Selective Color Adjustments as described in detail in Digital Basics ( transformed the washed out original into a lovely, rich, vibrant master file.  If you can follow a simple recipe you can learn to make your images look great in minutes by following the easy-to-read, easy-to follow, easy to understand instructions in the Digital Basics PDF File (sent by e-mail).  5-The blackish spots in the upper right corner and elsewhere were eliminated using Quick Masks as described in Robert O’Toole’s fabulous APTATS PDF Tutorial (on CD only:




I flew to San Diego on Wednesday, November 5, 2008.  I was surprised to learn that photography at the usual spots in La Jolla turned out to be better than I had expected.  (Learn about all of the great spots in and around San Diego in our San Diego Site Guide (  For the most part I photographed in the mornings.   On Thursday I learned a new an important lesson; see item next…  Photo Expo West is a trade show that was started by Delkin Devices several years ago and has grown and grown to the point where Delkin withdrew from running it but remains an active participant and a driving force behind the event.  Many of the big industry guns had booths including the two major players, Canon and Nikon.  It was great seeing many old friends from Canon most notably the recently promoted David Carlson and Pro Markets Rep Michael Nadler.


There was an extensive program of seminars and programs.  I presented “BAA on the Road” twice on Saturday and attended the EXPO on Sunday (after an early morning in La Jolla) to chat with a great variety of attendees and to see some of the programs.  One of the highlights of the weekend for me and many others was meeting fellow Canon Explorer of Light Douglas Kirkland (

and enjoying his program, “A 50 Year Love Affair With Photography.”  Douglas has photographed just about every famous celebrity of our times.  I found him to be a most intriguing gentleman. 


Another Explorer who was presenting at the EXPO was Eddie Tapp:  I sat in on one of his Photoshop sessions and was totally blown away.  The guy is in another universe.  Yet his easy-going style made even complex techniques seem simple.  His travel/teaching schedule is insane; in 2008 he was all over the world and did several workshops in Dubai.  Amazing.  Here’s what some of the big guns have to say about Eddie:


"Eddie makes some of the most complex concepts understandable. His easy-going style, mixed with his years of real world experience, makes him one of the top trainers in the industry today."
-- Scott Kelby, President, Nat'l Association of Photoshop Professionals.

"It's so great to learn from a Photoshop expert who's a photographer, himself, and who knows exactly what photographers need to learn. Eddie Tapp gets right to the heart of each new Photoshop upgrade and teaches us in a way that we can all understand and grasp. Eddie's my guru, my shining star. I credit everything that I do in Photoshop to what he's taught me. I'll never stop learning...and I'll never stop learning from him. What a joy to be teaching together with the one person who can talk to each photographer and have him grasp what he's showing....regardless of what level of expertise you have with the Photoshop program."
-- Monte Zucker, Photographer and Photographic Educator.


I addition to the two great Explorers that I had the privilege to meet, there were dozens and dozens of great folks who stopped by to chat and a slew of great vendors.  Thanks to Martin Wood and Alan Parry of Delkin for inviting me (and for the great dinner on Saturday night) and to Steve Inglima and Canon for sponsoring me appearance.    I am already planning to return next year if my schedule permits.



Canon Explorer of Light Douglas Kirkland with one of his iconic images, Del Mar, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS handheld at 121mm.  ISO 800.  Program mode with on-camera 580 EZ flash at +2/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/4.5.  (This is an effective flash as main light image.) 


I met Douglas at Photo Expo West last weekend in Del Mar, CA. Over the past 50 years Douglas has photographed just about all the famous celebrities you have ever heard of. This image was created during a slide program; Douglas was obviously moved as he spoke about Marilyn Monroe.  The situation was near-impossible as there were black velvet drapes as background. I knew that if I went low and right I could get the image on the screen as the background. I did that a bunch as he was talking about his favorite images but focusing in the low light was difficult. Several times he advanced to the next slide just when I had everything right and I got nothing. I am, however, very proud of this one. It's a good thing that it ain't just birds! The principles are the same whatever the subject.

Here's a tip for improving your creative vision; if you cannot imagine the various juxtapositions of subject, background, and light, put your camera down and simply move up or down, left or right or even around the potential subject. With practice, you will learn to "see" the image without having to move; being able to do that is a huge part of the creative process and good photographers are much better at it than bad photographers...   The key here was juxtaposing the photographer against the projected image...




My second morning of photography in La Jolla was one of my best ever.   I created me best images of several shorebird plumages.  I killed winter plumage Sanderling on the edge of the rocks with the Pacific as background—blue water, a breaking wave, white foam, and lovely combinations of these.  Those in early morning light.  Then some killer winter Least Sandpipers, a few nice first winter Semipalmated Plovers, my best-ever Black Turnstones, a ton of great images of a first winter Spotted Sandpiper foraging, and a totally tame Whimbrel.  First the Whimbrel walked right at me in a large pool of still blue water. Then he posed atop a round rock with a lovely background of buff-yellow sandstone.  There, the bird let me approach for head portraits.   When I got back to the Hilton (thanks again Canon!), I was sure that I had taken the card out of the 50D but could not find it.   In somewhat of a panic—it was one of my best mornings ever anywhere—I ran down to the car only to find the Delkin 16gb card still in the camera.  How do you spell relief?  Back up to the room, I stuck the card in the Delkin Express Card 54 to download my prizes.   As the images started to download, I saw from the thumbnails that there were a very few images on the card from the day before.  To avoid double-downloading them to the previous day’s folder (that I had already finished editing), I went to he card in Breezebrowser and deleted just those images.  Now came the fatal mistake; anxious to see the images before me in Breezebrowser, I edited the images on the card without realizing that they had not been downloaded…  Of the nearly 800 images I had made that morning, I check-marked 130 super images, about 40 of them were from the Sanderling series.  I was thrilled. 


I popped the 16gb card into my pants pocket and headed for my favorite afternoon spot in the San Diego region.  I checked to see which images were on the card and said to myself, “I have seen these on the laptop so it is OK to format the card.  As fate would have it, I had a great afternoon—almost as good as the morning but without the great diversity of species.  I created more than 500 images while getting soaked to the waist.  And the sunset was killer.   Back to the motel again I downloaded the afternoon’s images and opened the folder for NOV0708.   Uh oh.   The afternoon images were there but the morning pictures were not.  In short order I figured out what I had done, edited the morning’s images on the card without ever downloading them…  Can you say operator error?  In nearly seven years of digital I had never done that and the odds are that I will never do it again.   When I stick the card in the machine I will allow Downloader Pro to do its thing right on the spot and without interruption.   Lesson learned. 


I ran Card Recovery and was able to save about 250 images.  Of those, I kept about 25.  That meant that I had lost about 105 keepers and among those, there were surely 25-30 family jewels type images.   And best or worst of all, I had lost every single one of the 40 killer Sanderling images that I had kept.  As I had processed one image, I do have a single 800 wide JPEG to remind me of my mind-set error…  It is a good thing that I am a lover of what is; see the work of Byron Katie at   




Sanderling in winter plumage, LaJolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-50D.  ISO 400.  Mongoose M3.5 on Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripod.   Exposure data lost along with the RAW <smile>


This is one of the 40 Sanderling keepers that I “kept” and then lost because I was editing on the card rather than on my laptop’s hard drive. Live and learn…  All that I have left is this 800 pixel wide JPEG and some great memories…




I used my brand new Canon EOS-50D almost exclusively for most of my San Diego photography.  I use the 50D (as I did the 40D) with the vertical battery grip as it gives the camera more of a pro body feel.   I absolutely love the camera.  The images are absolutely stunning: amazingly sharp with incredible color.   Some of the images against pure backgrounds are so sharp that they almost look as if they are cut-outs.  The good news about the 15 megapixel files is that they feature amazing image quality and allow for lots of cropping, the bad news is that with the smaller pixels packed onto a smaller sensor, noise at the higher ISOs needs to be dealt with.  To help you there visit this great tutorial thread on BPN here:


On my last morning, the camera apparently died.  “Oh no,” I thought.   I turned the camera off and on and removed the batteries but no matter what I did the LCD on the top of the camera was lit but the viewfinder and the rear LCD were dead and the lens did not focus…  So I spent the rest of the morning working with one of my three Mark III bodies.   Then, as I was packing up, I removed the vertical battery grip and then re-mounted it: the camera was fine.  You gotta love it.


I am bringing my 50D to Bosque.  I will test the AI Servo AF tracking accuracy and report my findings in a December Bulletin. 




Surfbird, LaJolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the EOS-50D.  Mongoose M3.5 on Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripod.  ISO 400: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 set manually after histogram check.

With the BKGR changing from dark blue to pure white (to anywhere in between) as the waves broke it was mandatory for me to work in manual mode.  To learn how I selected the background and used the Noise Reduction in CS-3 to reduce noise, check out the BPN thread mentioned above: The thread has the converted image before noise reduction and four 600% images that let you see the varying degrees of noise reduction from the original to the finished product.




James Shadle, our Nikon Answer Man, was kind enough to answer a subscriber’s question as to which TTL mode should be used on a Nikon flash for bird photography.  Here is his summary:


TTL alone is of course through the lens flash metering.

TTL FP is TTL with High Speed Sync.

TTL BL is TTL with Balanced Fill.

TTL BL FP is TTL with Balanced Fill and High Speed Sync.


For most of his bird photography, James uses TTL BL FP. 


If you have a Nikon-related question, please e-mail James at


Brandt’s Cormorant head and neck portrait, LaJolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-50D.  Mongoose M3.5 on Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripod.   ISO 500.  Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/5.6 set manually after histogram check.  Fill flash at -2 stops in the predawn.   


Even in winter plumage the adults of this species feature killer blue eyes.  I am not quite sure how to name the color.   Here I waited for a perfect pose and head angle before depressing the shutter button.




For the first time we are seeing the struggling economy effecting IPT registrations; we received one cancellation for Bosque that stated the need to conserve dwindling funds.   The guy was lucky; as he had not paid his balance he lost only his $200 deposit.   As a result, we are doubling the Bosque late registration discount and offering a late registration discount on the Post X-mas SW FLA IPT.  Please call us at 863-692-0906 for the details. 


My philosophy is that life is short.  Knowing that I will only get one ride on the merry go round helps me to strive to enjoy each and every moment. 



Brown Pelican braking to land, La Jolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS L lens (handheld at 116mm) with the EOS -50D.  ISO 800.  Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.  High Speed Synch Fill flash at -1 stop.  


With a big onshore wind on Sunday morning the pelicans were landing in strange places.  You need to keep your eyes open and note changes in bird behavior. I am looking forward to testing the AF system of the 50D at Bosque.




On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, 2008, I will once again be hosting a lunch for visiting photographers and birders.  We can accommodate as many as 50 folks but right now we have only 15 attending.  For the fourth consecutive year, the lunch will be held at the Luna Mansion, an historic building in Las Lunas, New Mexico that is about an hour up the pike from Socorro on I-25.  And oh, the food is superb.  You can learn more about Luna Mansion here:  The cost of the complete lunch will be $35, the same as last year. This will include several courses including your main course, a dessert, a non-alcoholic beverage, and the tip.  If you have wine or a cocktail with your meal you will need to pick up the tab for that.  All reservations must be paid for in advance by check, Paypal, or credit card.  Please make your reservations ASAP.  Checks (made out to “Arthur Morris”) should be sent to us at PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. 


If you will be joining us, please plan on being at the Luna Mansion no later than 11am sharp. I do hope that you can make it.  



Whimbrel, head portrait, LaJolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-50D.  Mongoose M3.5 on Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripod.   ISO 320.  Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/500 sec at f/9 set manually.


This is one of the 20 or so keepers that I was able to recover even though I had formatted the card and written over a good portion of it.  This species is normally quite wary.  When working with the 50D I will try to remember to drop down a bit from ISO 400 as I did here to keep the noise to a minimum.




I hope to post a BAA Notes featuring a selection of Linda’s amazing new hummer images before I leave for Bosque on Wednesday, NOV 19.  You can learn about Linda’s “The Hummingbird Guide – How to Photograph Hummingbirds Using High-Speed Multiple Flash” here:



Brown Pelican, in flight over the Pacific, LaJolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII.  Mongoose M3.5 on Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripod.   ISO 400: 1/1600 sec at f/8 set manually after histogram check.


To create this image I manually selected the right-most AF sensor.  Though not my main reason for creating this image, it would—with lots of room for text—make an ideal two page spread.    




Due to four recent Bosque cancellations please note that we now have two openings on each 2008 IPT.


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


Bosque IPT #2:  NOV 29-DEC 2, 2008.  Slide program on the evening of NOV 28. 4-DAY:  $1799  Limit: 10/Openings: 3.  Co-leader: Robert O’Toole.  Call for late registration discount!


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: 6.   Co-leaders: Robert O’Toole and Alfred & Fabiola Forns.  This IPT is shaping up to be a practically private affair.   If you can fit it in your holiday schedule, do consider joining us.  There is some truly great photography available in Florida while winter is setting in in most of the country...    Call for late registration discount!


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


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, 2009Openings:  3.  (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.  Openings:  3.   (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.   Two slots are filled on each trip.





Marbled Godwit feeding sequence, LaJolla, CA

Image copyright 2008:  Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with the EOS-50D.  Mongoose M3.5 on Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripod.  ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/7.1.

The 6.3 fps frame rate of the 50D is more than adequate for bird and nature photography.  Using all nine focusing points yielded consistently sharp images.


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.