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JANUARY 11, 2011 
Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245  4041 Granada Drive, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.  Telephone: 863-692-0906.  Computer fax: 877- 265-6955
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American Bittern in snowy marsh, Westhampton Beach, Long Island, NY
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIV.  ISO 800.  Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1 set manually.   
Thanks a stack to Mike Lotito for calling me on my cell to alert me to the presence of this great bird Smile emoticon  From my rental car with the lens on the BLUBB.
Thanks to the brilliant Michael Tapes of both the Lens Align MII and this product shot. 
As far back as Bosque my sharp images got even sharper....   With help from Peter Kes I began fine tuning the focus on my various lens/camera body combinations by calibrating the focus using the Lens Align Pro.  Just yesterday I tried out the new Lens Align Mark II, cheaper, lighter, easy to travel with, and yes, better.  If you have spent thousands on a super-telephoto lens it would seem foolish not to ensure the absolute best results. 
Here is an adapted excerpt from today's blog post: The Lens Align Mk II & the Lens Align Tutorial: Micro-adjusting Magic!
Ever since the introduction of digital camera bodies that feature micro-adjustments for individual lenses, folks–including me–have been searching for a quick, easy way to make those micro-adjustments. In the recent updates of the 7D and the Mark IV User’s Guides, I worked hard on developing a make-it-yourself cardboard rig that was a big improvement on the original version. But in reality, it does not offer the needed precision. And in addition to the extremely low cost, the rig took up lots of space–heck, it was huge, and using it was tedious work.
I had heard about Lens Align for some time, but a quick web check revealed that it was expensive. And performing the calibrations seemed to require somewhat of an extraordinary effort…. Well, Michael Tapes, the designer/creator/inventor of Lens Align has–with the recent introduction of the Lens Align MkII–drastically changed the playing field And by tethering your camera to a laptop computer the process itself is now not only simple and easy to do, but it is actually fun. Before I headed to New York I had a blast micro-adjusting all of my lenses. For the first few sessions Peter Kes was tutoring me via Skype!
I began writing this draft about two weeks ago after having used the original Lens Align Pro to do my initial micro-adjustments. On the afternoon of Monday, January 10, 2011, I broke open a Lens Align Mark II. As I took the pieces out of their plastic bags my original thoughts were “$79 for this flimsy set-up.” But I faithfully followed the directions and within minutes I had assembled a sturdy, jeez, practically rugged little kit that amazed me with its precise design. Michael Tapes should win some sort of Nobel prize for engineering and design ingenuity. Within minutes I had my 800mm rig tethered to the laptop to check on my previous micro-adjustments and to make sure that the tutorial was clearly written, error free, and as clear as the proverbial bell.
The new Lens Align MkII offers an inexpensive, accurate and repeatable methodology that allows photographers to test for potential front/back focus issues. The MkII maintains the high quality standards of the original LensAlign Pro and uses the same patent pending True Parallel Alignment™ (TPA™) Sighting System that is an exclusive feature of all genuine LensAlign products. TPA allows the user to establish exact parallel alignment between the camera’s sensor-plane and the focus target of LensAlign quickly and easily. A failure of almost all other AF adjustment products and procedures (including my incredibly crude efforts in the two most recent User’s Guide Updates) is their inability to ensure exact parallel alignment. It is however, an absolute requirement for accurate and repeatable AF testing and and for making accurate and repeatable micro-adjustments. The standard DOF focus display ruler that ships with LensAlign MkII is 10.5 inches and offers a choice of 2 different display patterns, one on each side.
And here’s the very best news: the Lens Align MkII costs only a fraction of the original Lens Align Pro and–with the slightly longer ruler, and the new ruler patterns, it performs even better. You can order yours right now for only $79.95 plus shipping: ~$6/US or ~$13/INT via Priority Mail. Please be aware that the shipping fees may vary a bit depending on your location or when you order through the BAA On-Line Store. International shipping charges will also vary by country depending on additional fees for customs, VAT, duties, or fees depending on their laws, rules or policies.
Folks ordering before January 15, 2011 will receive a free WhiBal G7 KeyChain Card. The WhiBal KeyChain Card sells for $18.95. (It won’t do much good for telephoto photography but heck, it’s free.)
You can find the complete tutorial here.
This blog post will be a continuing resource and will be updated as questions come in and are answered.  
Thanks a stack to Peter Kes for helping me to get started with Lens Align. Thanks to former BPN member Arash Hazeghi for inspiring me to do this right and to teach others to do it properly. And finally thanks to Michael Tapes for Lens Align MKII.
I fully expect our stock of Lens Align Mark IIs to disappear almost instantly. If we are out of stock when you call please give us a day or two to get our next order Smile emoticon.
American Bittern, close-up of neck feathers, Westhampton Beach, Long Island, NY
Image copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIV.  ISO 800.  Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/11.  
Notice that with the subject at point blank range I stopped down considerably as depth-of-field at a given aperture is reduced as the distance to the subject is reduced. Again from my rental car with the lens on the BLUBB. 
Though I lived in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area for nearly two decades as a birder and bird photographer (and for 46 years in all), I never made it to the famed Barnegat Jetty until last December (2009). Why famous? It is the best place in the Northeast to view and photograph a variety of sea ducks and wintering shorebirds most noticeably Harlequin Duck and Purple Sandpiper. When I got there, a 26″ snow storm sent me running back to my Mom’s home in Holbrook, Long Island, leaving the motel in Ship Bottom at 3am to drive through the storm. Yikes! I returned a week later and with Denise Ippolito as my guide created many wonderful images.  The jetty is very long. And can be very dangerous. Denise, who spends many days each winter season on the jetty, knew right where the birds would be, took me right to them, and gave me more than a few tips on how to avoid killing myself
Denise Ippolito has written a fabulous Site Guide for the Barnegat Jetty. (I helped out just a bit.)  The Barnegat Jetty Site Guide will help to ensure that your very first visit to this great bird photography location is both productive and safe. Denise explains the effects of the winds and the tides and the light on the photographic opportunities. She lets you know what birds you will find there and where and when you will find them. She shares her favorite conditions and her tricks for getting close. And she will keep you safe while you are there, the same way she kept me safe.  A good portion of the guide deals with safety issues.  Kudos to Denise for a job well done.
The Barnegat Site Guide (6190 words, 68 images) is available from BIRDS AS ART by e-mail as a PDF for only $22. You can call Jim with a credit card in hand at 863-221-2372, send us a Paypal to, or purchase it through the store here.  
Just for the record book, Barnegat is located on Long Beach Island less than 30 minutes from Manahawkin, NJ.
Long-tailed Duck, alert swimming posture, Barnegat Jetty, NJ
Image copyright 2010: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4XII TC and the EOS-1D MIV.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/8. 
To find out what caught this sea duck's attention, check out "Do Birds Understand Death?  Two Tales: One Old, One New" on the BAA Blog here.  And be sure to read the comments... 
Below is the gear that I used to create the images that you see in this Bulletin.  Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens (My very best friend Smile emoticon)
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body (I only own and travel with two.)
Canon EF 1.4X II teleconverter  (I never leave home without at least two of these.)
And from the BAA On-line Store: 
Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod  (Sturdy and light and will last you a lifetime.)
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head  (I use it every day with my 800mm.)
Double Bubble Spirit Level   (Make your life easy by getting it right in the field; just a glance and you are square to the world.)
Delkin e-Film Pro 32 gb Compact Flash Card   (Fast and dependable.  Everything I want in a flash card.)
If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper's Guide.  You will learn to find the lowest prices, comparison shop, and help us to keep offering tons of great free info and images.  
SAN DIEGO IPT: JAN 19-23, 2011.  Slide program on the evening of JAN 18.   5 Full Days: $2399 (Limit 8/sold Out).  Co-leaders Tim Grey and Todd Gustafson.   Brown Pelicans in spectacular breeding plumage with their bright red bill pouches, Wood and Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Western, California, and Heerman's Gulls, Marbled Godwit, and lots, lots more.  Please see terms and deposit info below.  
SW FLA IPT: FEB  9-14, 2011.  Slide program on the evening of FEB 8. 6 Full Days: 2899.  (Limit 10/openings 1; please call for late registration discount info).  Escape winter's icy grip to enjoy a wide array of Florida's tame birds: herons, egrets, Wood Stork, shorebirds, gulls, terns, skimmers, raptors, and more.  Please see terms and deposit info below. 
BOSQUE del APACHE 2011 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 19-25, 2011.  Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 18.  7-FULL DAYS:  $3299.  (Non-refundable deposit: $500; see details below.) Limit: 10/Openings: 8. Co-leaders: Robert O'Toole & Jim Heupel.  Geese, cranes, ducks, sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs.  Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world's premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet.  Plus great co-leaders and top-notch Photoshop instruction. Please see terms and deposit info immediately below. 
With my ever-shrinking teaching schedule and all but this spring's SW Florida IPT sold out, this trip may well represent a rare opportunity to learn from the best, so do not wait too long before sending your deposit.  Clemens van der Werf who was on this year's Bosque trip is already registered for next year.  If you missed the Photographer Experience Quiz and the Mystery Photographer & Experience Level Revealed! posts on the blog, you will surely want to check them out to see what Clemens has accomplished in less than a single year of bird photography. And how! 
Terms and deposit info:  
A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold a spot on the above IPTs. Deposits may be paid by check, PayPal, or credit card.  Payment in full (by check or money order only) is due five months before the start of each trip and is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out.  You will be required to sign a statement of understanding 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 is Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that 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.   Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card.  Travel insurance protects you against unexpected developments, injuries, or illnesses.  We regret that we must implement this policy but we have been plagued by last minute cancellations that make it impossible for others to participate and deprive us of essential income.  Please consider your schedule and your work and family obligations carefully before plunking down your deposit.  
Important note: please print, fill out, and sign the registration and release forms and include them with your deposit check (made out to "Arthur Morris." )  If you use a credit card to register, please fill out, sign, and mail the forms asap.  Your registration will not be complete until we receive your paper work.  You can find the forms here.    
GREECE/DALMATIAN PELICAN EXPLORATORY IPT.  FEB 27-MAR 5, 2011. 6 1/2+ Full Days of Photography: $2499.  (Limit: 6/sold out). Co-leaders: Arthur Morris, Robert O'Toole, and Yannis Arvanitis as our bi-lingual guide.  Payment in full is due immediately.  Please call to hold a spot pending the arrival of your check made out to "Arthur Morris."  Europeans please e-mail for wire transfer details.  No discounts.  For images and complete information click here.  If you would like additional info on Lake Kerkini please e-mail me at and request same. 

GALAPAGOS 2011 PHOTO-CRUISE OF A LIFETIME IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience: July 3-20, 2011 (July 5-19, 2011 on the boat): 13 1/2 days of photography plus a last morning panga ride: $12, 499. (Limit 11/sold out.) 

If you would like your name placed on the seriously interested list for the SUMMER 2012 trip, please e-mail me at

Best and great picture-making, 
Note: Arthur Morris has been a paid 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.