Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
October 15th, 2018

Last Minute Miracle

Stuff

We are all packed and headed for the airport as I type. I fly MCO to MIA and then red-eye to EZE (Buenos Aires). Then we take a bus to AEP, the in-country Buenos Aires airport. From there we fly to Ushuaia arriving — if all goes well — at about 7:30 pm on Tuesday. A svelte 27 hours door to door. We are scheduled to board the ship on Friday afternoon. Again — if all goes well — I will be back in my home-office on the afternoon of November 2.

Just a single participant on the DeSoto winter IPT. And I do go with one. 🙂

Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime/Limit 12/Openings: 3

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for a couple or for two same-sex roommates, and for a male single. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Airbnb

For the past few months, I have been hearing folks use the word Airbnb, most notably, Amy Novotny. Out of curiosity I asked a few questions. What I learned amazed me. Join Airbnb and become part of a community that connects global travelers with local hosts across the world. Find a place to stay and discover things to do. Airbnb lists more than 4.5 million homes across 200 countries; you’ll find spacious, affordable options for every occasion. With Airbnb you will travel with confidence as reviews from past guests help you find the right fit. Once you do, our secure messaging makes it easy to coordinate with your host. And Airbnb support teams are available 24/7. Last night I made a reservation for an Airbnb apartment for my upcoming January San Diego visit: 13 nights with a full kitchen and two bedrooms.

Yikes. I almost forgot the best part: Airbnb rates average less than half of even the least expensive chain hotels and motels. If you would like to save $40 on your first booking sign up by using this link: Airbnb. Airbnb does charge clean-up and service fees that make short stays less attractive bargains than long stays.

Those who prefer to stay in a motel or hotel are invited to use the Booking.com link below to save $25.00.

Booking.Com

Several folks on the UK IPT used the Booking.Com link below for their Edinburgh hotels, got great rates, and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Last Minute Miracle

In the Desperate to Give Away a Free IPT/Urgent Help Needed blog post here, I offered $500 in cash or a free DeSoto in Winter or San Diego IPT in to the first person who would loan me a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens. In no time at all my cell rang. It was multiple IPT veteran Michael Goodman. He was both a good man and good to go on my offer.

Soon after Michael called I got this e-mail from Jemini Joseph:

Arthur, Are u in Tampa/St. Petersburg area? I live in Lutz and own the lens. Do u consider meeting somewhere in the middle and taking the lens yourself? I’m busy with work and a little baby. I won’t be able to shoot much for few weeks anyway. I can rent you the lens for your offer of $500. I won’t be able to join the tour. I’m sure you won’t abuse the lens. Please let me know.

A very kind offer and I could have had Jim drive over and meet him halfway. But as Micheal had been on two IPTs, he had been the first to respond, and there was no reason in the world to think that I would not have the lens by Thursday so I politely declined.

Jim prepared an United Parcel overnight airbill and printed and scanned it. We e-mailed the scan to Michael who packed the lens up safely in an old B&H box. Have you spotted the danger yet? It was the shipping box for a camera … Spotted it yet? He kindly took the box to a local Staples in New Hampshire on Wednesday afternoon and we were good to go for a Thursday delivery. With plenty of time to micro-adjust the new lens with two camera bodies, one of my two TC-E14 IIIs, and my TC-E17 II. Or not?

As you have likely figured out by now, the lens did not arrive on Thursday. I went online to track the shipment and saw the words you do not want to see:

A hazardous materials irregularity occurred with this package. We’ll contact the sender with additional information.

With us preparing the label, we were both the sender and the receiver. We did receive an e-mail on the office computer from the HazMat team on Thursday afternoon:

Violation
Acct# W99F52
Tracking#: 1ZW99F520146778090

Violation: Air package with a partially covered UN3481 caution label. That label must be completely visible or completely covered up, or completely visible to travel through the UPS system.

Shipper Address: BIRDS AS ART

Consignee: JIM
BIRDS AS ART
4041 GRANADA DR
INDIAN LAKE ESTATES FL 33855
UNITED STATES

Status: Held

If held, address of pick-up location: 92 INDUSTRIAL PK DR, DOVER, NH, 03820-4332

Shippers may contact the Hazardous Material Support Center at 1-800-554-9964, 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday if they have any questions about their Hazardous Materials Regulations.

Due to your recent hazardous materials shipment violation I want to re-emphasize the importance of proper and thorough hazardous materials training with you. The DOT regulations require training every 3 years. Failure to ensure your company’s hazardous materials employees have been properly trained in areas of General Awareness, Function-Specific, Safety and Security Awareness can result in fines of up to $600 per employee in each of the four areas. At UPS we offer both on-site and public hazardous materials training. For more information please go here.

Ted K.
UPS Hazardous Material Associate

So, I called Mr. K. He explained that there was a partially exposed Hazardous Materials label on the box. Ugh. Micheal had re-used an old B&H box with the label still partially visible. You would think that the folks at Staples might have picked up on that …

He told me no problema and sent a follow-up e-mail with instructions for preparing a letter to get the parcel released. Jim did a great job writing the letter that stated that there were no hazardous materials in the package and that we gave permission to UPS to re-box the parcel. We scanned the letter and sent it to Ted K. via e-mail.

I called him an hour later to see if he received it. He said that he had and that he had been in touch with his auditors who would be in 6:30pm central time and that the lens “would be on it’s way that evening for Friday delivery.” Or not 🙂

By midday Friday UPS tracking still showed that the lens was being held in Dover, NH for a HazMat violation. So I started calling UPS. “It made it to Philadelphia.” Each time the message was the same but with a different time. 8pm on Thursday, 9:08 on Thursday, and 12:38m on Friday. YOu will get the package on Friday.” So I thought that I still had hopes of getting it that Friday. But the tracking remained the same; the package was not moving. So on Friday afternoon I called Ted K. He told me that he did not know what happened but that the would contact the auditors to find out. He called back in an hour and said, “They were very busy last night and your package did not go out.” It will do out tonight for Monday delivery.

Now, when I was sitting next to Jim who was filling out the label, we considered checking the box for “Saturday Delivery”. “What could go wrong? we asked each other. I think that at one point we have the box checked and then un-checked it … I spent several more hours on the phone with UPS that afternoon trying to get the shipment upgraded to Saturday delivery. Sorry, no can do …

When I tracked the package late on Friday night it showed this:

Louisville, KY, United States 10/13/2018 4:37 A.M. Departure Scan
10/13/2018 1:34 A.M. Arrival Scan

And that is what it showed all day on Saturday. So early on Sunday morning, I e-mailed Jemini to explore the possibility of renting his lens and picking it up as early as possible by meeting him half way. I had of course, lost faith in UPS as my continued phone calls continued only to raise my blood pressure (not my hopes). Then my ATT e-mail went down. When service was finally restored I got this e-mail from Jemini.

Arthur, Sorry to hear that the other lens didn’t work out. Hey thanks for the comment on my pictures. It means a lot since it came from you.

I’m down with flu since Friday and whole family got infected; I’m not in a shape to drive any distance. 🙁 I live close by Veterans (Suncoast Parkway or 589) and 54. I cannot leave the baby at this stage as my wife is down too. I don’t want you to get infected either. Do you want it today? If I feel better I can try this afternoon or tomorrow. Where are you coming from? I don’t want to make someone like Arthur Morris to drive all the way here! Please let me know if afternoon or tomorrow will work for you.

By the time I got back to him it was too late on Sunday to grab the lens as that involved a four-hour round trip. I told him to get well fast along with the rest of the family.

I kept tracking the lens all day on Sunday but it kept saying the same thing:

Louisville, KY, United States 10/13/2018 4:37 A.M. Departure Scan
10/13/2018 1:34 A.M. Arrival Scan

So I hit the sack on Sunday night still hoping to get the lens early enough on Monday to have time to micro-adjust it. At 6am on Sunday I refreshed the tracking window:

Lake Wales, FL, United States 10/15/2018 4:45 A.M. Arrival Scan
Jacksonville, FL, United States 10/15/2018 1:08 A.M. Departure Scan
Jacksonville, FL, United States 10/14/2018 5:18 P.M. Arrival Scan

I was too, too happy. The lens was at our Lake Wales UPS center. I had called our regular UPS driver on his cell on Sunday afternoon and he said that if the package arrived that I could have Jim drive into town and meet him at his first drop-off location. And, after a few Monday morning phone calls that is exactly what happened.

When Jim called me at 8:35am my heart sank. What can it be now? “This can’t be the 500mm lens. The package is too small and too light.”

He did not know that that was exactly why I so badly wanted to get it for the Emperor Penguin trip.

He was home before nine and I spent the rest of the morning micro-adjusting. Hooray! More on the micro-adjusting here soon.

If you had written the above in a book or a movie nobody would have believed it …

Your Story?

If you have had a Catch-22/Murphy’s Law shipping nightmare, feel free to share by leaving a comment below.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in early winter is rife with tame birds. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The 2018 Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT/Thursday December 7 through the morning session on Monday December 10, 2018: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 7.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in early winter. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As with the fall IPT, this one will run with only a single registrant. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please remember that the meet and greet will take place at 7:30 on the evening of Sunday, September 23. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in late September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours; on this particular trip we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers arrive.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.





Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

October 13th, 2018

Nikon Long Lens/TC-E (teleconverter) AF Problem Illustrated

Stuff

I have been opening an unending stream of Amazon Prime packages and trying on all manner of sneakers and boots and gloves and long johns in preparation for the big Emperor Penguin attempt. We fly next Monday.

News on the Galapagos Front/Limit 12/Openings: 3

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for a couple or for two same-sex roommates, and for a male single. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



OOF-puffin-_MAI1604islands-off-Seahouses,-UK

This image was created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT on the afternoon of July 8, 2018. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II, and my souped up (9 fps) mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 800. Matrix metering +2/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 3:42pm on cloudy-bright afternoon.

Three to the left and three up from the center AF point/d-9/Shutter Button/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #1: Out-of-focus Atlantic Puffin with food for young

Nikon Long Lens/TC-E (teleconverter) AF Problem Illustrated

As I have been reporting here from the get-go, Nikon long lenses when used with all three TC-Es (teleconverters) often have a problem acquiring and/or holding AF. The problem gets worse as you move the AF point away from the center AF point but it does occur at times even when you are using the center AF point. You will of course have fewer problems with the TC-E 14 III than with the TCE-17 II. With the TC-E20 you can expect problems more often than not. The image below was made less than a minute before the out-of-focus image above. As always, AF has a better chance when the AF point is on an area of higher contrast rather than when it is on an area of lower contrast.

puffin-ORIG-_MAI1591islands-off-Seahouses,-UK

This image was created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT on the afternoon of July 8, 2018. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II, and my souped up (9 fps) mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 800. Matrix metering +2/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 3:41pm on cloudy-bright afternoon.

Three to the left and three up from the center AF point/d-9/Shutter Button/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #2: Atlantic Puffin with food for young/full frame

A Sharp One With the Same Gear

With this image the selected AF point was on the left edge of the puffin’s bill. With the subject relatively far away, this yielded enough depth-of-field to render the bird’s bill and eyes as well as the fish sharp. Notice too that as the background was a good ways from the subject that no background detail was brought up. The problem with the AF acquiring and then losing and then re-acquiring is that you may miss some really good poses. Had the out-of-focus image been sharp, it looks as if I would have preferred it to this one with the bird’s head turned to our right … C’est la vie.

Atlantic-Puffin-with-sand-eels-_MAI1591islands-off-Seahouses,-UK

This image was created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT on the afternoon of July 8, 2018. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II, and my souped up (9 fps) mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 800. Matrix metering +2/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 3:41pm on cloudy-bright afternoon.

Three to the left and three up from the center AF point/d-9/Shutter Button/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #3: Atlantic Puffin with food for young/cropped

The Final Image

Because the bird had its head turned so that it was looking out of the frame, I decided to crop to a vertical. I tried to leave the same amount of room on each side of the bird’s breast. WDYT?

D850 Image Quality

With the outstanding image quality of a sharp D850 image, you can execute even large crops with impunity. The cropped master file here is still 57.2 MBs.

Your Favorite

Which image do you prefer, Image #1 or Image #2? Do let us know why you made your choice.

UK-puffins-2018-CARD-

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All of the images on this card were created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 10 photographers. Co-leader: Peter Kes.

Join me in the UK in late June and early July 2019 to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet, Red Kite, and more both in flight and at close range. We will also have great chances with Arctic and Sandwich Terns, both with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many of those chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks; plus Grey Seal. There will be tons of great flight photography. As on all IPTs, if you pay attention, you will learn a ton, especially about sky conditions and the relationship between light angle and wind direction and their effects on flight photography.

Why go all the way to Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine, endure a two-hour boat ride, and have to photograph Atlantic Puffins from a cramped blind usually in bright sun (and well off sun angle) when you can hop a red-eye flight from Newark, NJ and be in Edinburgh, Scotland early the next morning. First we drive down to Bridlington for easy access to Bempton Cliffs where our primary targets will be Northern Gannet in flight. We will also get to photograph Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, Herring Gull, and Black-legged Kittiwake. While in Bridlington we will spend one afternoon visiting a Red Kite feeding station that should provide lots of flight photography action.

While in Bridlington we will staying at the Lobster Pot by Marston’s Inn, just fifteen minutes from Bempton Cliffs. After 3 1/2 days of photography at there, we drive down to Seahouses in Northumberland to the two lodges that will be our home base for a week. After a short boat ride each day we will have hundreds of puffins posing at close range all day, every day — usually in ideal cloudy-bright conditions. While we are in Seahouses we will do six puffin/seabird trips, all weather permitting of course; last year we did not miss a single landing. In five years we have averaged losing less than one half day per year to bad weather. We land at Staple Island in the mornings and then sail over to Inner Farnes for our afternoon sessions. In addition, we may enjoy a session or two photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level from a rocky beach in Seahouses.

In Seahouses, we stay 7 nights in gorgeous, modern, upscale lodges with Wi-fi. They are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The bedrooms are decent-sized. Each lodge has one double bedroom and two twin bedrooms. (See the single supplement info below.) At the lodges we cook our own breakfasts each morning and prepare our own lunches to be brought on the six puffin boat trips. For dinners we will alternate cooking in the lodges with fine dining at several excellent local restaurants. We stay two nights at the Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. We will enjoy a fine-dining Thank You dinner at the Dunbar Hotel on the Tuesday evening before we fly home.

On the morning of Monday, July 8, 2019, the plan is to sleep late, pack, and head up to Dunbar Harbor, Scotland for lunch and an afternoon gannet boat chumming trip: flight photography until you cannot lift your camera. The next morning, Tuesday July 9, we will enjoy our second gannet boat chumming trip (both weather permitting). On both trips we will enjoy great views of the huge gannetry at Bass Rock. Included will be two nights lodging at the Pine Martin by Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. Very early on the morning of Wednesday, July 10, we will drive up to Edinburgh Airport so that everyone can make their flights home. No moaning please. You will need a flight that leaves at 8:30am or later. Not too much later is generally best. Note: this trip needs a minimum of four photographers to run.

UK-Puffins-2017card

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All images were created on the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The Details

This IPT is all-inclusive except for your airfare and alcoholic beverages. All ground transportation, lodging costs, meals, your National Trust membership, and all boat, entry, and landing fees are included. Weather permitting, we will enjoy three and one-half days (at least six sessions in all) at Bempton Cliffs, an afternoon with the Red Kites, six full days on the puffin boats, one amazing afternoon gannet chumming trip, and one spectacular morning gannet chumming trip. The trip cannot be finalized until I have at least six deposits as we will be renting a lovely 15-passenger bus with our private professional driver who happens to be my web-master, Peter Kes, who is also a skilled photographer and my co-leader 🙂

IPT Details

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome, heck, we actually need two couples — please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on February 28, 2019. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Info

Single supplement rooms in Bridlington and Dunbar are available for those who register early. The cost of the single supplement for those six nights is $600.00. Single supplement rooms at the lodge may be available on a limited basis but only if the trip does not fill with ten photographers. The single supplement fee for those seven nights is $700. If you would like your own room in Bridlington and Dunbar, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement with your deposit: $2,600.00. The single supplement deposits are non-refundable as I will need to make the reservations well in advance.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. 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 that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even 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. 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. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

I truly hope that you can join me on this exciting venture.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.





Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

October 11th, 2018

What's Your Plan?

Stuff

Well, the hoped for miracle occurred yesterday; Multiple IPT veteran Michal Goodman Fed-Exed his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens to me. As soon as it arrives I will begin micro-adjusting it. I was so excited when he called that I could barely stand it.

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity

Not sure how the conversation began, but when Micheal was with me at Nickerson last summer we wound up talking about college and discovered that we had both been AE Pi. I was AE Pi Beta Pi (at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where I pledged) and Phi Theta (at Brooklyn College). If there are any other brothers out there, please leave a comment or get in touch. On a related note, if you missed the part I of the Savior Labs podcast yesterday, click here to access it.

News on the Galapagos Front/Limit 12/Openings: 3

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for a couple or for two same-sex roommates, and for a male single. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

New Listings

Canon EOS 1DX dSLR

Multiple IPT veteran Mike Gotthelf is offering a Canon EOS 1DX in near-mint condition for $2299.00. The sale includes the instruction manual, the front cap, the strap, the charger and cord, one battery, the original box and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at 1-978-407-0679 –Will be in Hawaii until 10/26, then Eastern Time Zone; will be able to arrange shipment while away).

Two 1DX bodies severed admirably as my workhorse digital camera bodies for several years. The original 1DX has a superb AF system and produces high quality image files. It is fabulous for photographing birds in flight and in action. Some folks wish that they had kept their 1DX bodies and not upgraded to the 1DX Mark II … artie

Canon EOS 7D Mark II dSLR

Multiple IPT veteran Mike Gotthelf is offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II in near-mint condition for $799.00. The sale includes the instruction manual, the front cap, the strap, the charger and cord, one battery, the original box and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at 1-978-407-0679 –Will be in Hawaii until 10/26, then Eastern Time Zone; will be able to arrange shipment while away).

Both Patrick Sparkman and I used and loved the 7D Mark II until about two years ago when we both committed to using full frame Canon bodies. We both made some truly great images with it. BPN’s Dan Cadieux (try a blog search) uses a 7D II with great success. And two of my three 2016 Nature’s Best honored entries were created with the 7D II, one still, and one video. One thing is for sure: the 7D Mark II is the greatest value ever in a digital camera body. Mike’s camera body is priced to sell. artie

Canon EOS 1D Mark III dSLR

Multiple IPT veteran Mike Gotthelf is offering a Canon EOS 1D Mark III in excellent condition (with a very few tiny scratches on the corner of the viewfinder housing) for the amazingly low, might-as-well-be-giving-it-away price of $449.00. The sale includes the instruction manual, the front cap, the strap, the charger and cord, one battery, the original box, the AC adapter, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at 1-978-407-0679 –Will be in Hawaii until 10/26, then Eastern Time Zone; will be able to arrange shipment while away).

Two EOS-1D Mark IIIs served as my workhorse camera bodies for more than 2 years. I created thousands of consistently sharp, saleable images with them. As with my two 1D III bodies, Mike never experienced any AF problems with his 1D III. This is a great price for a rugged professional digital camera body. artie

Airbnb

For the past few months, I have been hearing folks use the word Airbnb, most notably, Amy Novotny. Out of curiosity I asked a few questions. What I learned amazed me. Join Airbnb and become part of a community that connects global travelers with local hosts across the world. Find a place to stay and discover things to do. Airbnb lists more than 4.5 million homes across 200 countries; you’ll find spacious, affordable options for every occasion. With Airbnb you will travel with confidence as reviews from past guests help you find the right fit. Once you do, our secure messaging makes it easy to coordinate with your host. And Airbnb support teams are available 24/7. Last night I made a reservation for an Airbnb apartment for my upcoming January San Diego visit: 13 nights with a full kitchen and two bedrooms.

Yikes. I almost forgot the best part: Airbnb rates average less than half of even the least expensive chain hotels and motels. If you would like to save $40 on your first booking sign up by using this link: Airbnb. Airbnb does charge clean-up and service fees that make short stays less attractive bargains than long stays.

Those who prefer to stay in a motel or hotel are invited to use the Booking.com link below to save $25.00.

Booking.Com

Several folks on the UK IPT used the Booking.Com link below for their Edinburgh hotels, got great rates, and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

CAPT-NX-Murre

This image was created on Staple Island on July 8 on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (at 550mm) and the blazingly fast professional dSLR, the Nikon D5 (with Dual XQD slots). ISO 800. Matrix metering +2 stops off the grey sky: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 11:25am on completely cloudy morning.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed (above).

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +3. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

The original for today’s featured image/Capture NX-D screen capture
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Your Plan?

I liked the head of the second bird in the bottom of the frame but did not like that the subject was angling away from it. Before you scroll down, consider what you would do with this image …

EXIF Question

If you check the image caption carefully and compare it with the EXIF data in the screen capture above, you should be confused by something. If one person lets us know the source of their confusion, I will provide an explanation.

Limited Time …

On our puffin boat trip landings we enjoy about two and one half to three hours on each of the two islands, depending on the weather and the sea conditions. Knowing where to be on what wind with a given sky condition is instrumental to the photographic success of each landing. On every IPT, you will learn to analyze the wind direction and sky conditions and learn the principles involved so that when you get back home or to another travel destination, you will be able to maximize your time in the field by being in the right place at the right time.

Alex Becker’s Guillemot Image

The moment that I saw the thumbnail of Alex Becker’s very fine guillemot image here in the Avian Forum on BPN, I knew exactly where the image had been created.

Note: this species is called Common Murre in North America, Common Guillemot in Europe.

Common-Murre-landing-with-fish-_DSC4037islands-off-Seahouses,-UK

This image was created on Staple Island on July 8 on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (at 550mm) and the blazingly fast professional dSLR, the Nikon D5 (with Dual XQD slots). AUTO ISO 800. Matrix metering +2 stops off the grey sky: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 11:25am on completely cloudy morning.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed (above).

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +3. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Common Murre landing with fish for chick
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Image Optimization

I knew from the get-go that I wanted to move the head at the bottom of the frame to the opposite side of the frame so that the bird landing with the fish would be flying toward the second bird rather than away from it. And I knew that I would crop to a vertical. The very sharp D5 image held up nicely to the substantial crop. The NEF file was converted in ACR.

To move the head, I painted a Quick Mask of the head along with some surrounding water. Then I placed the selection on its own layer, flopped it using the Transform Tool, and moved it into place using the Move Tool (V). There was a tonality mismatch with the water so I added a Regular Layer Mask and — working very large — painted away the water and then hit X to paint back in the edges that had been slightly smudged.

Though the RGB values from the fish were OK, there was little detail in the brightest areas so I selected the highlights with the Quick Selection Tool (W), applied a Linear Burn, reduced the Opacity to 15%, and then fine-tuned the selection with a Regular Layer Mask painting away the edges that had gotten a bit too dark.

Then I selected the head and the fish, again with the Quick Selection Tool (W), and applied a layer of my NIK Color EFEX Pro 40/40 Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast recipe. Even though the RGB numbers looked fine the white breast looked too dingy. Working on a new layer I made a Selective Color adjustment by removing 20 points of WHITE from the BLACK channel. That really brighten up the image. Last was a slightly boxy vertical crop.

Everything above is of course detailed in the Current Workflow e-Guide, aka Digital Basics II. Learn more or purchase here.

UK-puffins-2018-CARD-

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All of the images on this card were created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 10 photographers. Co-leader: Peter Kes.

Join me in the UK in late June and early July 2019 to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet, Red Kite, and more both in flight and at close range. We will also have great chances with Arctic and Sandwich Terns, both with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many of those chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks; plus Grey Seal. There will be tons of great flight photography. As on all IPTs, if you pay attention, you will learn a ton, especially about sky conditions and the relationship between light angle and wind direction and their effects on flight photography.

Why go all the way to Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine, endure a two-hour boat ride, and have to photograph Atlantic Puffins from a cramped blind usually in bright sun (and well off sun angle) when you can hop a red-eye flight from Newark, NJ and be in Edinburgh, Scotland early the next morning. First we drive down to Bridlington for easy access to Bempton Cliffs where our primary targets will be Northern Gannet in flight. We will also get to photograph Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, Herring Gull, and Black-legged Kittiwake. While in Bridlington we will spend one afternoon visiting a Red Kite feeding station that should provide lots of flight photography action.

While in Bridlington we will staying at the Lobster Pot by Marston’s Inn, just fifteen minutes from Bempton Cliffs. After 3 1/2 days of photography at there, we drive down to Seahouses in Northumberland to the two lodges that will be our home base for a week. After a short boat ride each day we will have hundreds of puffins posing at close range all day, every day — usually in ideal cloudy-bright conditions. While we are in Seahouses we will do six puffin/seabird trips, all weather permitting of course; last year we did not miss a single landing. In five years we have averaged losing less than one half day per year to bad weather. We land at Staple Island in the mornings and then sail over to Inner Farnes for our afternoon sessions. In addition, we may enjoy a session or two photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level from a rocky beach in Seahouses.

In Seahouses, we stay 7 nights in gorgeous, modern, upscale lodges with Wi-fi. They are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The bedrooms are decent-sized. Each lodge has one double bedroom and two twin bedrooms. (See the single supplement info below.) At the lodges we cook our own breakfasts each morning and prepare our own lunches to be brought on the six puffin boat trips. For dinners we will alternate cooking in the lodges with fine dining at several excellent local restaurants. We stay two nights at the Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. We will enjoy a fine-dining Thank You dinner at the Dunbar Hotel on the Tuesday evening before we fly home.

On the morning of Monday, July 8, 2019, the plan is to sleep late, pack, and head up to Dunbar Harbor, Scotland for lunch and an afternoon gannet boat chumming trip: flight photography until you cannot lift your camera. The next morning, Tuesday July 9, we will enjoy our second gannet boat chumming trip (both weather permitting). On both trips we will enjoy great views of the huge gannetry at Bass Rock. Included will be two nights lodging at the Pine Martin by Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. Very early on the morning of Wednesday, July 10, we will drive up to Edinburgh Airport so that everyone can make their flights home. No moaning please. You will need a flight that leaves at 8:30am or later. Not too much later is generally best. Note: this trip needs a minimum of four photographers to run.

UK-Puffins-2017card

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All images were created on the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The Details

This IPT is all-inclusive except for your airfare and alcoholic beverages. All ground transportation, lodging costs, meals, your National Trust membership, and all boat, entry, and landing fees are included. Weather permitting, we will enjoy three and one-half days (at least six sessions in all) at Bempton Cliffs, an afternoon with the Red Kites, six full days on the puffin boats, one amazing afternoon gannet chumming trip, and one spectacular morning gannet chumming trip. The trip cannot be finalized until I have at least six deposits as we will be renting a lovely 15-passenger bus with our private professional driver who happens to be my web-master, Peter Kes, who is also a skilled photographer and my co-leader 🙂

IPT Details

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome, heck, we actually need two couples — please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on February 28, 2019. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Info

Single supplement rooms in Bridlington and Dunbar are available for those who register early. The cost of the single supplement for those six nights is $600.00. Single supplement rooms at the lodge may be available on a limited basis but only if the trip does not fill with ten photographers. The single supplement fee for those seven nights is $700. If you would like your own room in Bridlington and Dunbar, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement with your deposit: $2,600.00. The single supplement deposits are non-refundable as I will need to make the reservations well in advance.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. 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 that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even 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. 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. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

I truly hope that you can join me on this exciting venture.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.





Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).