Barnegat Miracle… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Barnegat Miracle...

Barnegat Miracle…

Despite high winds on Friday and Saturday, gusts of more than 50mph, water washing over the jetty, and waves of 40 feet in the inlet, a great time was had by all on the Barnegat Jetty IPT. All four of us: Denise and I and Bill Wingfield from South Carolina and David Policansky from the Washington, D.C. area. As David had left after lunch the leaders had the participant out-numbered two to one that afternoon. We said goodbye to Bill at about 4:30pm on Saturday.

As is my custom I removed my Delkin 700X 64gb PRO CF card from my 1D X and placed it in my left hand front pocket with the key card to the motel room. When Denise and I got back to the hotel in Weehawkin I stuck my hand into the same left hand front pocket and came up empty. I searched the room. I went down to the car and searched around and behind it. It was cold and still very windy. I searched in the parking lot and the motel lobby. And in the hallway leading to the room. All without success. As we had had a rather productive afternoon despite the fierce winds I was having some problem loving what is. But then I realized that there are a lot worse things that could happen than losing a compact flash card.

I decided to head back to the state park and look for the card on the ground. Denise volunteered to make the ride with me. Twenty-five minutes later I made a u-turn at the end of the road buoyed by the fact that two street lights illuminated the parking area outside the gates. (Note: never park in the lot in the afternoon as they lock folks in promptly at 4pm.)

I swung the Sequoia around and pointed my headlights in the vicinity of what I thought was my parking spot. As I stopped the car I spotted something on the ground. “That could be it.” I exited quickly, bent down, picked up my precious flash card, held it over my head and let out a whoop of joy as I leaped about as high into the air as I have in recent decades. It was then that I realized that the card had been soaked in salt spray by the vicious west wind.

But back in the room the card downloaded perfectly. Sometimes you just gotta love being lucky.

ps: I did the exact same thing at Bosque last year. With help from Jim Heupel I found the then missing card in the pitch dark at 5:15am in the parking lot at Harry’s Crane Pool.

Moral: it is a lot harder to lose a card that has been safely placed in a Delkin CF Memory Card Tote. Only $9.99 here.

Four Reasons to be Happy


This first-winter Purple Sandpiper was photographed on the just-concluded Barnegat Jetty IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Central sensor/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

For unknown reasons, the young bird above perched atop the rock and posed for more than two minutes despite the high wind. When the sun came out I went to a darker exposure but failed to check the histogram. The result? About 20 toasted frames of this lovely shorebird.


This first winter Sanderling image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Those of you who are mystified by the term “first winter plumage” should get themselves a copy of my “Shorebirds: Beautiful Beachcombers.” You will learn that ageing shorebirds is often easier than identifying them as to species.


This Black-bellied Plover–I think that it is a first-winter but I am not 100% sure, was photographed with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s eye and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

How’s that for sweet light and a killer background. Lesson for beginners: the farther the background from the subject the softer it will appear. Here the inlet lit be gorgeous late afternoon light was at least 100 yards past the shorebird.


This yawning first-winter Herring Gull image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s eye and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image optimization tip: with the light so warm I went to Hue/Saturation and decreased the saturation of the REDs and the YELLOWs about 20 points.

Easy Quiz Question

Why were all the birds facing to the left?

Which is Your Favorite, and Why?

Take a moment to let us know which of the above images is your favorite. And be sure to let us know why.

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Weekend Creative Nature Photography Seminar, Tampa, FL: February 23 & 24, 2013: $149 Limit: 50/Openings: 45

Join Denise Ippolito and me on the weekend of February 23-24 on the outskirts of Tampa, FL for a great weekend of fun and learning. Learn to improve your photography skills, your skill at designing images in the field, your creative vision, and your image optimization skills. Sunday critiquing session. Click here for additional details and the complete schedule.

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And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gizo GT3532 LS CF Tripod. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. Learn more about this great tripod here.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.
Delkin Flash Cards. I use and depend on Delkin compact Flash Cards and card readers most every day. Learn more about their great 700X and 1000X cards here or about my favorite Delkin card here.

32 comments to Barnegat Miracle…

  • lost keys, lost wallet and lost CF cards … memories of a sweet IPT spent in NYC a couple of years ago flood back!

    great photos of good birds … Purple Sandpiper I have never seen let alone photographed and Gulls are always great

  • Great shots! I was there two days earlier and MY problem was fitting the birds into the frame with a 500mm lens – they were just too darned close and it can be difficult to put distance between yourself and the birds.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      YAW. You must have been using a 1.3 or more likely a 1.6 crop factor camera. The 1D X is full frame. Enjoy the holidays. artie

  • avatar Nancy Bell

    My fav is the Purple Sandpiper. Just love the fine details of the feathers and the soft shades of blue & gray in the image. Also really like the contrast of the orange bill and legs against the blues and grays. Is there a particular reason for using f5.6 with the Purple Sandpiper and f9-f10 in the other images?

    Good save on the compact flash card! I wish Colorado was closer to the East coast so I could participate in these workshops.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Nancy. I was at ISO 400 and the sun went behind a cloud just as the bird popped up. So I did not have time to think or change the ISO :). Enjoy the holidays and say “Hi” to Rusty/Chuck for me. artie

  • avatar Billy Wingfield

    As to why all the birds are facing left, they must be Democrats. We had a great time on the Barnegat IPT, Arthur. You and Denise are the best teachers ever. And the birds cooperated tremendously.
    Bill Wingfield

  • avatar MJ Speingett

    The purple Sandpiper is my favorite because the feet are included against the textured rock, sets this image ahead of the others for me, MJ

  • They must have been facing into the wind. So glad you find your card! Merry Christmas Eve!

  • They are facing into the wind. I remember when John lost his wallet and Artie lost his rental car keys. Artie why don’t you get a wallet to put the cards in after you finish with them bigger and harder to lose 🙂

  • avatar Faraaz

    The purple sandpiper image is the winner for me – figure I may be a bit biased toward that bird though! The birds all face the wind.

  • avatar Jon

    I prefer the black bellied plover the angle appears to be slightly more at eye level and the DOF is just about perfect.
    Your experience with the card reminds me of my previous experiences. on two occasions I have arrived home from photographing waders, I was been filthy and I immediately took off my dirty clothes and chucked them in the washing machine – along with the CF cards. I simply ensured they were thoroughly dry before attempting to read them. They were fine and so were the images (very clean images too I might add!) The cards have been trouble free ever since.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I was off the jetty for the black-bellied image so it was easy to be at eye level.

      Been there done that with the washing machine. My Delkin cards have always come out with flying colors. And clean.

  • Agree with Doug West, all the birds were facing the wind.

    Artie, most of the time u r using ur biggest gun 800mm and sometimes with extenders. Are those birds always seen far away from u? So far we know, in your region getting close to the birds is not very difficult. So, do u mind letting me know the reason?

    Thanks in advance.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Quazi,

      I will answer your question in the next blog post. BTW, I am not in Florida :).

  • avatar Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

    Glad that card came back to you, Artie…
    So we can enjoy these handsome birds ….as they stand facing into that fierce wind..

    I like the Purple Sandpiper, even though the f5.6 left some of the bird a bit soft….
    What needed to be sharp was TAC sharp,
    …and I am a sucker for the rich color of the deep amber (legs & bill) juxtaposed to the many (50?) shades of gray…

    A treat… Thanks

  • avatar Andrea Boyle

    I bet Denise was doing “Air Angels” when you found your card, too! Woo hoo!! Lovely shots and I bet the answer to the question was wind. And I like the sanderling shot best. Probably more of a seasonal feeling than anything else. It just grabs me!

  • avatar David policansky

    Hi, Art. Glad you found your card! I can answer your easy quiz, but that wouldn’t be fair because I was there, so I won’t. The winds were some kind of fierce, but made for some interesting opportunities both for birds and those amazing waves. I guess my favorite image is the purple sandpiper because of the rich texture and color detail, but I like them all. Best wishes to you, Denise, and Bill for your company and all you taught me.

  • As far as why the birds were facing to the left…they were
    facing the wind?


  • avatar John Snodgrass

    Oohh, it reminds me so much of our time together at Jamaica Bay when I left my wallet in the hidden trunk hold of my rental car! We did not give up and recreated every step and found it. It’s always an adventure for the wildlife and the experience. Artie, thanks for keeping on!