Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
August 23rd, 2017

A Unique Red-billed Tropicbird Image and the Absolutely Amazing Versatility of the Canon 100-400mm II Lens

What’s Up?

The 2017 Galapagos IPT was the best ever. We had memorable photographic opportunities for virtually 15 straight days, a group of 12 eager to learn nature photographers, and the world’s greatest-by-far Galapagos leader. Aside from Juan Salcedo’s encyclopedic knowledge of everything Galapagos (and more), his pleasant manner, his understanding of photography and photographic situations, his ability to spot even distant situations that might be worth exploring added tremendously to the group’s experience. I will be returning in late-July 2019. Those dates are firm and will be announced here soon. Please shoot me an e-mail if you are interested in joining us. The trip will need eight photographers signed up by next spring to run. Right now it looks as if two of the folks on this year’s trip will be returning …

After a great landing at North Seymour we flew back to Guayaquil yesterday, Tuesday, August 22 and were in the hotel at about 4:30pm. Most of us met for an early dinner. I was in bed and asleep by 7:30pm and up working on this blog post at 2:00 am. Those (including me) on AA 948 to Miami will be on the 4:00am shuttle. Jim will be picking me up at MCO at about 3:00pm. After a refueling stop at Publix in Lake Wales we should be home at about 5:00pm.

As I have a ton to share with you, expect lots of great images from the trip in coming weeks. I will be catching up on e-mails and Used Gear stuff in the next few days and will then be working on my 2016 tax return. Right now the only thing that I have scheduled before San Diego is the DeSoto Fall IPT and the ITF Morning Meet-up Workshop that follows it.

with love, artie

The Streak

Today marks thirty days in a row with a new educational blog post. This blog post took about an hour to create. My plan right now with all of my free time is to break the current record streak of four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com

I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Revamped

I finally updated the IPT page to properly reflect the recently completed trips. If you doubt that I am really slowing down do click here to see the meager IPT schedule. Right now there are only two US-based IPTs on the schedule. Best news is that I turned up the missing registrant for the Fort DeSoto IPT so that will run. Do consider joining us if you would like to learn from the best.

Photographers Wanted

If you would like to learn to be a better bird photographer, consider joining me on either the Fort DeSoto IPT in late September or the San Diego IPT in January, 2018. With just one person signed up, DeSoto will offer practically private instruction. And you can tack on the In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for free. Click here for IPT info and the current but abbreviated schedule.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor gear purchases. For best results, use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Red-billed-Tropicbird-pair-courting-on-legde-_P3A7401-South-Plaza-Island,-Galapagos,-Ecuador

This image was created on the 2017 Galapagos IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 241mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering (probably at about -1/3 stop as framed: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. The EXIF shows Custom WB; I have no idea where that came from …

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -3.

Bottom Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter button AF as presented was active at the moment of exposure. The system selected two AF points that fell on the eye and the base of the bill of the bird on the bottom of the frame.

Red-billed Tropicbirds (probably at pair) squabbling on a cliff ledge. South Plaza Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.

The Situation

Photographing Red-billed Tropicbirds in the Galapagos is a huge challenge. They are a bit easier on Hood Island where the cliffs are a lot lower and the flight patterns are more predictable than on South Plaza. We struggled in high winds photographing backlit birds overhead. I continued along the high cliffs and finally found a spot where a few tropicbirds were angling in trying to land. I made a few decent flight images but failed miserably on some spectacular chances at point blank range. I noticed one bird land successfully (and and out of sight) high on the vertical rock face about fifteen feet to my right. I gingerly made my way over to the edge of the cliff. I had been photographing the birds in flight at 1/3200 second at f/5.6 in Manual mode so as I approached the spot where I might be able to get a peek at the bird I lowered the shutter speed two clicks as I knew that there would be less light on the cliffs than there had been in the sky. That guesstimate turned out to be perfect.

When I looked over the cliff I was excited to see a tropicbird almost directly below me, perhaps a foot or two to my left. I struggled to frame an image of the whole bird and fired off two images but they failed as the cliff had slightly blocked my view of the bird’s head. Then another tropicbird, probably the bird’s mate, landed. Instinctively I acquired focus and fired off two quick frames. The second was completely mis-framed but the first resulted in a unique image (to say the least). Images of perched Red-billed Tropicbirds are extremely rare and I have never seen an image anywhere similar to this one.

As is typical of birds when they are fighting, both tropicbirds had their nictitating membranes in place. As I had my lens pointed almost straight down I was unsure at first of whether to present this image as a horizontal or a vertical but as it did not make much sense visually as a horizontal the decision turned out to be an easy one.

The Absolutely Amazingly Versatile Canon 100-400mm II

I took the 1-4 II ashore on every landing and on every panga (zodiac) ride. I used it to create probably 80% of my keepers (roughly half the time with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and almost always hand held). I used it as a flight and action lens, as a portrait lens, as a macro lens, and as scenic lens. And I used to to create more than a few pleasing blurs. I made many landings with only the 100-400 II (with the 1.4X III TC in my fanny pack). It would be entirely conceivable to make a Galapagos trip with only this great lens. As I left my 1DX II at home all of my Galapagos images were created with one of my three Canon EOS 5D Mark IV bodies.

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. 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.

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.

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 :).

August 22nd, 2017

A Fabulous DAY 1 in Guayaquil. And the story of Miracle Merle ...

What’s Up?

I have been without internet access since 8 AUG. I should be back online late today. I look forward to re-connecting with y’all soon.

Please call the office at 863-692-0906 on weekdays and speak to Jim and Jennifer about all things BAA Online Store- and IPT-related. And anything else that you might need help with or would like to chat about.

Please continue to patronize the BAA Online Store and to use my B&H affiliate links. Both are hugely appreciated.

with much love, artie

The Streak

Today marks twenty-nine days in a row with a new educational blog post. This blog post took about two hours to create.


Booking.Com

I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Revamped

I finally updated the IPT page to properly reflect the recently completed trips. If you doubt that I am really slowing down do click here to see the meager IPT schedule. Right now there are only two US-based IPTs on the schedule. Best news is that I turned up the missing registrant for the Fort DeSoto IPT so that will run. Do consider joining us if you would like to learn from the best.

Photographers Wanted

If you would like to learn to be a better bird photographer, consider joining me on either the Fort DeSoto IPT in late September or the San Diego IPT in January, 2018. With just one person signed up, DeSoto will offer practically private instruction. And you can tack on the In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for free. Click here for IPT info and the current but abbreviated schedule.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor gear purchases. For best results, use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Guayaquil-DAY-1

Guayaquil: DAY 1

A Fabulous DAY 1 in Guayaquil, Ecuador

IPT veterans Frank and Laurie Sheets arrived several days early, did some photo scouting, and shared what they found much to the groups benefit. The Sheets had spotted a hillside right behind the hotel covered with colorful houses. They thought that we might have been able to photograph it from the pool level but the great view was blocked completely by a slatted glass wall. Then hotel staff member Charles came to the rescue. He showed me a wide open sub-roof one floor up from the swimming pool with a completely clear view. The group — all but Merle Greenway that is — assembled there at 9:30am for an introductory session. Wow, did we have fun. Kathy Tyson looked behind us and inspired us with her architectural images.

After lunch — the food at your hotel was consistently superb — we grabbed a few cabs and headed to the Parque de las Iguanas to photograph the iguanas. Again we had a blast. Though we were the only photographers getting a few good images was a challenge for three main reasons: the environment was cluttered, hundreds of local families were out enjoying the iguanas (most feeding them lettuce leaves), and the animals did not stay in one spot for very long.

The images above, just nine of my 71 keepers, were all made on our layover day, Monday August 6th, with one of my three Canon EOS 5D Mark IV bodies with the following lenses: the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS, Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM and the amazingly versatile Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II (that was used for all of the iguana images).

We flew to the archipelago on Tuesday, August 8 to begin our great adventure.

The story of Miracle Merle …

IPT newbie Merle Greenway was one of the very first to sign up for the trip nearly two years ago. He was supposed to be on the last flight out of Miami on Sunday August 6. That evening I received this e-mail from him at 10:49 that day.

Hi, It’s now 11:45 p.m. And I’m stuck in Miami. Flight AA927 has been delayed repeatedly since 6:05 p.m and they just announced another 2-hour delay. Any advice? Next one is tomorrow evening, and I am not sure I can get on it. Merle

And then the next one at 3:16am on the 7th:

They stuck me in a Sheraton. Yesterday’s flight is supposed to be go at 11:00am this morning. Merle

And then at 11:00am on Tuesday AUG 7:

During the hours-long delay last night, it appears my passport was stolen, along with my other ID, credit cards, cash, etc. The Miami passport office is closed due to flooding. It’s doubtful I’ll be joining you. Merle

That seemed to be about the end of the line for Merle. The key phrases being “appears my passport was stolen …” and “seemed to be.”

Then, at 2:39pm that day:

New news. I’m on AA933 arriving this evening and my bag is on the next flight this evening, I believe AA927 (not sure of number), arriving at 9:30- something. Will explain later. Merle

Merle made it. His bags made it. How? He was on his way to the airport to get tickets for his flights home. Then he decided to make one last-ditch effort to find his passport. He made a list of all the possibilities. He had already asked at the Sheraton if they had found his passport. “Nope.” After all the other possibilities were exhausted, he called the Sheraton back. “Yes, we have your passport. It was in the manager’s office. Sorry.”

And thus began the tale of Miracle Merle.

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. 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.

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.

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 :).

August 21st, 2017

Tips on Pattern Images ...

What’s Up?

I will be without internet access from 8 AUG through late in the day on 22 AUG. There will be a brand new educational blog post every day in my absence. I toiled long and hard on August 6th and 7th to make that happen 🙂

Please call the office at 863-692-0906 on weekdays and speak to Jim and Jennifer about all things BAA Online Store- and IPT-related. And anything else that you might need help with or would like to chat about.

Please continue to patronize the BAA Online Store and to use my B&H affiliate links. Both are hugely appreciated.

with much love, artie

The Streak

Today marks twenty-eight days in a row with a new educational blog post. This blog post took about two hours to create.


Booking.Com

I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Revamped

I finally updated the IPT page to properly reflect the recently completed trips. If you doubt that I am really slowing down do click here to see the meager IPT schedule. Right now there are only two US-based IPTs on the schedule. Best news is that I turned up the missing registrant for the Fort DeSoto IPT so that will run. Do consider joining us if you would like to learn from the best.

Photographers Wanted

If you would like to learn to be a better bird photographer, consider joining me on either the Fort DeSoto IPT in late September or the San Diego IPT in January, 2018. With just one person signed up, DeSoto will offer practically private instruction. And you can tack on the In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for free. Click here for IPT info and the current but abbreviated schedule.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor gear purchases. For best results, use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

monkeys-on-snow-_P3A4449-Jigokudani,-Japan

This image was created on the 2017 Japan IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 153mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops as framed: 1/640 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +3.

One AF point down from the center AF Point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was a bit down from the center of the frame.

Snow Monkeys foraging for seed on snow

Tips on Pattern Images …

My #1 tip for photographing medium sized groups of birds, flowers, or monkeys is to seek out patterns without merges. For today’s image of a group of monkeys on a hillside I did not have to wait long. The individual Snow Monkeys were nicely spaced out on the hill so my main concern was with the framing. That was controlled by zooming in and out till everything looked good. In this case I made only two or three images.

If two of the monkeys had been merged eliminating one of the two in post would have been a difficult proposition because of the fur … With larger groups you can always remove one or two or three whatevers that are cut by the frame edge during post processing.

Hard Question …

What is the one monkey merge that I could do without in this image?

Jigokudani Monkey Park

The famed Jigokudani Monkey Park is about an hour outside of Tokyo. I remember the night before the first time I climbed that big hill. I went to bed dreaming of photographing the monkeys soaking in the natural hots springs and forage for leaves and stems of of low growing bushes and the trees on the hillsides. Surprise! As it turned out, the Monkey Park is really just a big zoo. The natural springs? They turned out to be large manmade rock bathtubs. And while on occasion you will see a Snow Monkey dining on parts of a hemlock, most of them subsist on grain spread by the zookeepers who, by the way, call the monkeys down from the hillsides for breakfast with plastic whistles. Please do not take this as a criticism. Many decades ago the local farmers hatched a plan to kill all the Snow Monkeys as they were eating their crops, apples, and grapes and nuts, perhaps. A local man intervened and came up with a plan to capture, re-locate, and fence in most of the monkeys and feed them with grain. And that is exactly what happened and exactly what carries on to this day.

Still, I have enjoyed photographing at Jigokudani. I have entered several of my Snow Monkey images into prestigious contests (without success). Do understand that every year a Snow Monkey image from the park is honored in one or more major photographic competitions. Realize however, that things are not always as they seem. I will not,however, be climbing that hill anymore. If I do ever return to Japan to do an IPT, my two great loves, the Red-crowned Cranes and the two species of sea eagles, will be on the menu, perhaps with a side order of Whooper Cranes.

DBII-cover

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop workflow that will make it easy for you to make your images better in Photoshop (rather than worse). That true whether you convert your images in DPP 4 or ACR. See the blog post here to learn lots more and to read a free excerpt.

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

Everything mentioned above plus tons and tons more is detailed in the new BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. Just so you know, the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow. Do note that you will find the RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing tutorial only in the new e-guide. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

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. 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.

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.

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 :).