FEB 11, 2009


Visit Arthur Morris / BIRDS AS ART

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Brown Pelican, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-50D. ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero: 1/80 sec. at f/5.6.  Mongoose M3.5 atop the Gitzo 3530 LS.  


Robert O’Toole taught me the K9000 trick; when working with wishy-washy sunrises set your White Balance to K (Kelvin) and set the color temperature to 9000.  This will dramatically enhance the colors.   I have refined that technique somewhat and now usually set the color temperature to 8000K on my Mark III bodies or to 7000K on my 50D bodies (as I did here).  Now here is a fine point: if I turn around to photograph the blue/pink/purple light opposite the sunrise, I always go back to Auto White Balance lest the colors get too muddy.  Be sure to re-set your White Balance after the sun comes up.  If you forget, you can always switch to the correct Color Balance during conversion of the RAW file.  (Just another reason that everyone reading this should be using RAW capture.


At this point, careful readers should be asking themselves, “Why no plus compensation with this image?”  Spurred by comments made by crack BPN Moderator Juan Aragonés, I have realized recently that when working with high Kelvin setting pre-dawn and at sunrise I have been inadvertently clipping the RED channel.  I have therefore, been working mostly at the metered exposure to avoid that problem.  See the two great BPN threads on handling REDs here  and here






Click here to find out what motivated Ken Watkins to post this:  “This thread illustrates perfectly to me why you need to be on this forum: friendly criticism, very useful tips, and a willingness to share hard-won knowledge.”




Enjoy the work of talented photographers the world over.  Click here to see South African Chris van Rooyen’s spectacular Verreaux’s Eagle:


An e-mail from John Chardine,  


Hi Artie,  re:  “You are getting good at this photography stuff.”  I appreciate this comment very much, as it comes from a master. I can tell you with 100% confidence that the improvement  I've made in my photography over the last year has been the direct result of being involved with BPN.    Best wishes,  John


From John Lowin via e-mail:

Hi Artie, I just wanted to send a personal "Thank You", for encouraging me to join the forums. In the few short days that I have been a participant, I have already gained so much. I am forever grateful. I knew that my post production skills were weak; the members not only identify those shortcomings but they provide the expertise to correct them. This is truly a blessing for me, and I have a long way to go.    So thanks.   Best Regards,   John



Tricolored Heron, head and shoulders portrait, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-50D. ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1.  Mongoose M3.5 atop the Gitzo 3530 LS.   


Note that though the image below features a much nicer look at the single breeding plume, the image above has a much better head angle with the bird’s head turned about 3 or 4 degrees towards me.  In the image below, the bird’s head is turned about 1 degree away from me which relegates it to my trash heap.  Had the bird’s head in the image below been even parallel to the imaging sensor it would have been not only a keeper but a Family Jewel.  Folks need to be aware of the head angle when creating avian images.  Check out the Head Angle Police thread here:






Here is an informative e-mail exchange with subscriber Cindy Smith:



AM: Hi Cindy, re:

CS: I read your last bulletin about not asking questions that could be answered in “The Art of Bird Photography I & II and have not been able to find answer to my question below.

AM: Thanks for trying.

CS:  I have been am an avid birder for many years and am just getting into bird photography and have been slowly acquiring some lenses.  I am a Nikon shooter and have a  Nikkor 70-200 F2.8 lens and the Nikkor 200-400 VR f/4 zoom lens as well as some among shorter lenses and a macro lens.  In reading your books and the Bulletin, I see that you use the 500, 600 and 800mm lens (as well as an extra intermediate lens on your shoulder).  How do you make the choice of which of your longer lenses to carry in the field? Do you decide that today is a 600mm day or an 800mm day? Do you start with one and then go back and get another?

AM:  Since I have the 800, I have already sold my 600 F/4.  If I am in my car in Florida I make my decision right before each outing.  If the birds are very tame and/or the light is low, I would likely go for the 500 f/4.  Lately I have been using the 800 a lot.  It has become my primary telephoto lens. I can travel with it by plane as easily as I did with my 500 f/4.  At the alligator farms where the birds are at point blank range, I will likely stick to the 500.  And at the crane pools at Bosque the 800 and the MIII body (1.3X) yield too much magnification for single cranes.  If I do not have a 500 then my solution is to go with the Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens and a 50D camera body; this focal length is perfect for single cranes taking flight.   

CS: If you have more than one long lens with you, how do you manage and carry them?  

AM: That is no problem if I am in my own car.  If I am traveling by plane, I will usually bring just one of the big lenses depending on the factors mentioned above.  If I am staying at a US location for a while, I often ship the big lens that I left home so that I have an option.   

CS: And lastly, what would be your recommendation for my next long lens?  (I have read that a lot of your IPT participants use a 500mm f/4 lens. I am 5'6" and 130 pounds and do worry about carrying and handling the weight of the 600mm.

AM: I would suggest the most current Nikkor 500 mm f/4.   The 500 mm f/4 lenses are light enough for most folks to carry and offer sufficient magnification for lots of bird and nature photography.  The 600s are simply too heavy and too bulky for most folks. 

 CS: Thanks for all of your excellent advice and for your books. I have read 6 or 7 other photography books and none have lived up to their expectations.  Yours have exceeded the others 100 times over.

AM: <smile>  Thanks for your kind words!  And later and love,  artie



Roseate Spoonbill, head toss, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 and the Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripod.  ISO 500.  Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6. 


Here I used the central sensor with One-Shot AF with the focus and recompose technique to get the bird out of the center of the frame.  The next two months will be prime time for spoonbills on Tampa Bay so get in touch with James Shadle and get out for a day or two on the Hooptie-Deux. You can reach James Shadle via e-mail to and   Or give him a buzz on his cell at 813-363-2854.  (Cell phone tip: my advice is to keep trying Jim rather than to leave a message as his cell phone is his business phone.  He is pretty good at picking up in the afternoons.)   And remember,

James is our Nikon Answer-Man and will be glad to answer your Nikon-related questions.  To learn more about James and his spoonbill trips, click here:




Here is an informative e-mail exchange with subscriber Dan Logan,


AM: Hi Dan, re:


DL: I was at the San Diego ITP a year ago, so maybe that entitles me to a quick question?  ;)


AM:  <smile>  Yes, you and the rest of the world.


DL: I have had Nikon equipment since the early 70's and have never changed.   I am currently very happy with my D300 and 200-400 VR lens.  However, I would like a longer lens, mainly for birds, but really for anything in the natural world.    On Dec 3, 2007, almost 14 months ago, I ordered and made a down payment on a Nikon 600 VR lens, with Hunt in Boston.  I call them every few months, including 2 days ago, and they have no idea when they can fill my order.   They are very vague about where I am on the list, and how often they get them in.....


AM: My understanding is that for quite some time, they were available only to NPS members.  That did not quite strike me as being very fair to loyal Nikon users like you.  My understanding is that Hunt’s has been shipping a few to the general public over the last few weeks.  


DL:  So..... I was thinking of canceling the order and getting a Canon 800 lens.  I would need to know which Canon body to get for this lens.  Perhaps the 50D? 


AM: Any camera body would be great with the 800.   I am currently using either the EOS-1D MIII or the EOS-50D on the 800.   The 800 and the 50D is an awesome combination as it offers 15 million pixels at an effective focal length of 1280mm which plays out to 25.6X.   At times, the magnification can be too great and you might be unable to move back.  (This is a nice problem for bird photographers to have….)   With the 50D you will have all nine AF points active but will not have AF if you add the 1.4X teleconverter (which I do only rarely).  The 50D offers the most accurate AI Servo AF system of any Canon camera that I have ever used and the images are so sharp as to be scary. 


With the 1.3X pro bodies like the EOS-1D MIII you will you have 10.1 megapixels at an effective 1040mm (20.8X).  You will have all nineteen AF points with this combo and when you add the 1.4TC, you will have central sensor only AF.  I always use my MIII bodies in low light situations as noise control at the higher ISOs is excellent. 


DL: I plan to keep the D300 and various Nikon lenses, so for now, the Canon body would be used only on the 800.


AM:  Your call. Using two systems would drive me nuts.


DL: And thanks for your newsletters, which are a highlight of my pretty boring life. :)  The Bulletins certainly accomplish their purpose with me as I order stuff all the time, most recently Todd's great book that I have read from cover to cover.


AM:  We provide tons of free info, product evaluations, advice, lessons, tips, and great images and in turn folks order lots of stuff from us.  That is the plan and everyone has been most appreciative as the mail order business continues to boom in spite of the world’s economic problems.  Later and love,  artie



Great Egrets fishing (three images below), Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART



Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 and the Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripod.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero: 1/3200 sec. at f/7.1.



Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 and the Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripod.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1.



Canon 400mm f/4 L DO lens (handheld) with the EOS-50D.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero:  1/2500 sec. at f/8.  


All of the images above were created using 9-point AI Servo AF on the 50D to prevent losing focus when the bird strikes.  These are three keepers from the more than 100 images that I created in what was an excellent situation:  lovely still water with reflections, nice light, and lots of active subjects.  Note that I attempted to capture a variety of feeding and hunting behaviors.  I started with the 800 as there was another photographer working the birds, but when she moved on I went to the 400 DO so as to be better able to follow the action. Note the different shades of blue in each image, the result of variations in the light, the angle of declination to the birds, and post-processing color work.




Here is my current Gear Bag:

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens.

Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens.

Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens.

Canon 100-400 IS L zoom lens.

Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens (on my shoulder with a 50D for most outings).

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens (for use in extreme low light conditions where little hiking is involved).  

Canon 24-105 IS L zoom lens.

Canon 15mm Fish Eye lens.

Canon 580 EZ II flashes (2).

Canon 180mm Macro lens and the Macro Twin light.  

Canon EOS MIII bodies (2).

Canon EOS-50D bodies (2).

Gitzo CF 3530 LS tripods (3)

Mongoose M3.5 head: 3

Mongoose M2.3 head: 1

Wimberley V-2 head: 3

Wimberley WH-100 head: 1


Forster’s Tern (four images below), Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART






All: Canon 400mm f/4 L DO lens (handheld) with the EOS-50D.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering -1/3 stop.    


This was another good situation but with the light a bit harsher as it was later in the morning.  I got down on my belly in the wet sand and created a variety of images. Again, these are some of my favorites from a long series of images; on the first edit I kept 17 of the 86 of this bird on the edge of the surf.   I guess that I like the first one best.  .





I have used Fed-X COD Secure for years now to sell various cameras and lenses.  The pitch is that you send your merchandise and the Fed-X driver hands it over only after receiving “secure” payment in the form of a teller’s check, a cashier’s check, or cash.    Well, a guy who said that his name was Paul Forte called and said that he wanted the EOS-1Ds Mark III body that had been offered for sale in a recent Bulletin.  I always price my used gear to sell quickly.  So we set up the Fed-X COD Secure shipment and the driver received a Bank of America cashier’s check (#482988 for $3094.57) from an A. Fort (???) who signed for the camera.  Jennifer deposited the check, which I am sure that most of you have figured out by now, bounced.  We called Fed-X and they explained that COD Secure does not really mean secure….   The camera was sent to Paul Fort, 3252 Euclid Avenue, Lynwood, CA 90262.  If you are Paul Fort and you were not aware that you sent a phony check, please do get in touch.


There are lots of lessons to be learned from this.


In any case, I am now offering one of my three EOS-1D Mark III bodies for sale used in excellent condition for $2800.00 plus the shipping and insurance.  Includes original box plus all materials and warranty card.  The camera is selling new for $3724.95 at B&H.  It is a “yellow dot” version, the latest.  It performed well for me as described in various Bulletins.   This time we will accept only personal checks and will not ship the camera until the check clears. 



Great Egret coming in for a landing, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 400mm f/4 L DO lens (handheld) with the EOS-50D.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero:  1/8000 sec. at f/4 (don’t ask me why…)  


Another reason for getting closer and using a handheld lens is that it makes it easier to do flight and action photography.



After being back-ordered for a month, "Light on the Earth" is now back in stock.  The book features winning images from 20 years of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.   My “Fire in the Mist” graces the book as the wrap-around cover art.   I will gladly inscribe a copy for you.   See here for details:


I have long stated that one of the best ways to improve as a nature photographer is to look at as many great images as you can; “Light on the Earth” is a great place to start studying.



Black Vulture, Alafia Banks, Tampa Bay, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 400mm f/4 L DO lens (handheld) with the EOS-50D.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering +3/3 stop off the blue sky: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual Mode.     


Here I used the central sensor AI Servo AF.  I worked in Manual mode to prevent the meter from under-exposing small-in-the-frame Black Vultures and to keep it from over-exposing large-in-the-frame Black Vultures.   If this makes no sense to you and you wish to learn Exposure Theory, click here to purchase a signed copy of the original “The Art of Bird Photography” (reprinted in 2008 by BIRDS AS ART Books).   



Guango, Ecuador, NOV  7-13, 2009.  (Limit 6: openings: 2).  3 FULL and 2 HALF-DAYS of photography:  $3,000.  Non-photographer spouse or friend: $1,000.

Guango, Ecuador, NOV 13-19, 2009. (Limit 6: full, pending group deposit).  3 FULL and 2 HALF-DAYS of photography:  $3,000.  Non-photographer spouse or friend: $1,000.

Guango, Ecuador, JAN 10-16, 2010.  Co-leader: Arthur Morris (Limit 6: openings 6). 3 FULL and 2 HALF-DAYS of photography:  $3,000.  Non-photographer spouse or friend: $1,000.

Guango, Ecuador, JAN 16-21, 2010.   Co-leader: Arthur Morris (Limit 6: openings 1) 3 FULL and 2 HALF-DAYS of photography:  $3,000.  Non-photographer spouse or friend: $1,000.

Tandayapa, Ecuador, Extension JAN 22-26, 2010.  Co-leader: Arthur Morris .  (Limit 4: Sold Out): 2 FULL and 2 HALF-DAYS of photography: $1,600.  Non-photographer spouse or friend: $600.  

For the past two plus years Linda Robbins has worked very hard to become one of if not the best high speed flash hummingbird photographers around, and in the process, taught me to make some great hummer images.   She wrote and published (with a bit of help from me) “The Hummingbird Guide – How to Photograph Hummingbirds Using High-Speed Multiple Flash by Linda Robbins.”   Learn more and see some great images here:  As above, she is now running her own tours; the first four are to Guango Lodge in Ecuador.   On some hummingbird trips you are required to bring your own set-up.  Ugh! On some hummingbird trips you take turns on a single set-up while sharing with 6-8 other photographers (while the so-called leader is photographing on his very own set-up.  How nice.)  That means that you get chance every three or four hours if you are lucky.   On Linda’s trips she provides all of the equipment.  She routinely travels with 30 flashes, 21 light stands, 400 rechargeable batteries, and with numerous backgrounds, clamps, clips, eye-droppers, and lots more.  All you need to do is show up with your camera (and a back-up), a decent lens of from 300-500mm, one flash, some flash cards, and your laptop and you are good to go.  With only two photographers per set-up, you will be photographing 100% of the time if your arm or your trigger finger does not give out.  (I once created 3,500 images in a single morning at Guango.)  Linda is an excellent Photoshop instructor and does lots of image optimization and teaching on the trips.  

See FLYER FOR GUANGO TRIPS NOV 2009.pdf and FLYER FOR GUANGO TRIPS JAN 2010.pdf for complete details, registration and cancellation info, and a slew of great hummingbird images.  If you would like to join Linda (or Linda and me) for the hummingbird photo experience of lifetime without having to spend thousands of dollars to purchase the needed gear, e-mail her at or call he on her cell at 941-350-5796.  Do not tarry.  




Great Egret with pipefish, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Linda Robbins, Hummingbird Addiction


Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IIn on the Wimberley V2 head atop the Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripod.  ISO 500.  Evaluative metering -2/3 stop (should have been either -1/3 stop or zero): 1/6400 sec. at f/8.  Central sensor only with AI Servo AF.


As this image shows, Linda is—in addition to being a great hummingbird photographer—a skilled all-around bird photographer. 






Photoshop guru Tim Grey has released a DVD featuring almost two hours of video covering the many tools and techniques for creating and fine-tuning selections in Photoshop. The videos allow you to watch Tim work as he performs the tasks in Photoshop, explaining step by step as he works. It is like looking over his shoulder while he creates and optimizes selections.

The Photoshop Hands-On video series, available on DVD, provides instructional videos for photographers who want to learn to master Photoshop so they can optimize their photographic images.  Featuring screen-capture videos along with Tim Grey's spoken guidance, you'll feel like you're in a hands-on workshop learning to make the most of your images.  The first in the series, Photoshop Hands-On: Selections, will teach you how to create selections using a wide variety of tools and techniques in Photoshop.


You can learn more about the DVD or order your copy by visiting Tim’s website at



Royal Tern., flapping after bath, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 and the Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripod.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2500 sec. at f/8.


Understanding bird behavior can help competent observers to create images like this; there is no substitute for time spent in the field. When you see a bird dipping its breast in the water, know that 99% of time it will rise up and flap.  Here again the 50D’s 9-point AI Servo AF worked well. 




You can find details on Wildbird Magazine’s 21st Annual Photo Contest on pages 44-47 of the current (March/April) issue.  The entry form appears only in the magazine.  You do not need to be a subscriber to enter; the contest is open to all. Check your local newsstand for a copy. Be sure to check out my article “Bigger is Not Always Better” (pages 40-43).  The postmark deadline for entries is May 15, 2009.  This contest always features great prizes and this year’s grand prize is no exception: a Canon EOS-50D digital camera body.  The contest includes five categories; participants can enter two images per category. The category sponsors – Droll Yankees, Kowa, Leupold, Minox and Nikon—provide 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-place prizes. The winning images will appear in the September/October issue.  I am positive that BAA On-Line Bulletin subscribers and IPT veterans would walk away with the lion’s share of prizes if only they would enter. 



Ring-billed Gull yawning, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL

Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 and the Gitzo 3530 LS CF tripod.  ISO 250.  Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2000 sec. at f/10.


This image was created just before 10am on a cloudless morning.  When working in bright sun I always make sure—as this image shows—to have my shadow pointed directly at the bird.   I added canvas at the  top here and removed a significant magenta color cast.   The next update of our Digital Basics File which details both of the techniques mentioned above will be sent this week if my grandchildren would just quit getting sick.   Click here to learn more about Digital Basics:




I will be teaching fewer and fewer IPTs each year.  If you want to learn from the very best, do consider signing up ASAP.

SW FLA PRESIDENT'S DAY IPT: FEB 13-17, 2009.  Slide program on the evening of FEB 12.   5-DAY: $2249   Limit: 10/(Sold Out.) Co-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: 1.  Call 863-692-0906 for late—registration discount info.  Co-leader: Jim Heupel.  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 through NANPA only.)  Photograph Sunday afternoon till sunset and all day Monday and Tuesday. 

Bear Boat #1: June 4-10, 2009Openings:  4.  (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 with chicks in the nest probable, puffins possible, and lots and lots of coastal Brown Be ars 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. 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? 

Bear Boat #1 is cheaper by $250 as we use the float plane only once:  $6749.   Bear Boat #2: $6999.  

Bosque 2009 IPT:  “The Complete Bosque Experience.”  NOV 21-27, 2009.  Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 20.  7-FULL DAYS:  $3199.   Limit: 10/Openings: 6.  Co-leaders Scott Bourne and others TBA. Non-refundable deposit:  $500 per person (Deposits may be paid by check, Paypal, or credit card.)  Please note our new cancellation policy:  A non-refundable deposit is required to hold a spot for each BAA IPT, Photo-Cruise, or Photo-Safari. Payment in full (payable only by check) is due four months before the start of the IPT and is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out (10 in this case).  You will be required to sign a statement to this effect.   Travel insurance is of course highly recommended.   Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options.  Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options, you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage, which expands the list of reasons for your canceling to an infinite list, from a sudden work or family obligation to a simple change of mind.  My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel.  You can learn more here:  Travel Insurance Services    (We regret that we must implement this new policy but we have recently been plagued by last minute cancellations that make it impossible for others to participate and deprive us of income.  The new  policy does not apply to any of the previously announced trips listed above.)

Australia Birds, DEC 2009.  Please e-mail us at or for details, costs, cancellation policy, and itinerary.


Best and love and great picture- making to all,


Note: Arthur Morris has been a Canon contract photographer, part of the Explorers of Light program, 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 please click here: unsubscribe