Nickerson Beach Gear Bag with comments… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Nickerson Beach Gear Bag with comments...


My late afternoon flight to Islip was a breeze. My younger daughter Alissa picked me up and brought me to my Mom’s. Forecasts of my Mom’s imminent death are at least somewhat premature. After three steps its as if she ran a marathon. Other than that she is as good as new. She will be 93 on September 19 if she makes it that long. She has been ready to check out for at least a few months in part because it is so hard for her to get around.

I head to JBWR early tomorrow for a short scouting visit.

This seemingly easy to assemble, mostly cut and pasted blog post actually took me about 3 hours to prepare. It will be published automatically from my Mom’s house in Holbrook, NY at 6:00am on Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

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Folding Beach Cart by Wheeleez Rolling Caddy Large Heavy Duty 165 lbs. Capacity

Wheeleez has extended my long lens beach photography career by at least a decade (or two)


Without my Long Island Wheeleeze I would not be taking much gear to the beach at all. And I cernainly would not be lugging the 600 II. You can learn more about the great beach cart that enables me to get a ton of gear out on the beach without much effort here. Purchase yours Wheeleeze by clicking on the logo link below.

Nickerson Beach Gear Bag

Though my shoulder has been bugging me a bit and it was a close call on going with the 600 II as my big lens, I decided to bring–actually to ship, the big glass. Read more below on that decision in the section on the 400 DO II.

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. I’ve never been to Nickerson Beach without either the 600 f/4 or the 800mm f/5.6L IS. Aside from my bum right shoulder, there is no reason to start now. I expect to use the 600 most often with either teleconverter or naked for flight photography, the latter often from behind my seated tripod. I will have my Long Island Wheeleeze with me on all beach outings. I shipped the 600 II via UPS ground to my Mom’s house last week.

I am headed to the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge early tomorrow morning with Chris Billman to do some scouting. No carrier can make it through the mud there so I will be carrying the 600 II with the 1D X mounted on it in the LensCoat 4X Expandable Long Lens Bag (with harness). Call it shoulder love.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. I will be using this lens as my on-the-shoulder intermediate telephoto zoom lens with either the 5D III or the 7D II via a Black Rapid RS-7 strap). The 100-400 focal length fits almost perfectly with the 600. I will be using it for both for flight and for close work. I will be doing lots of pre-dawn and late in the day blurs where its sometimes problematic f/5.6 aperture will not be an issue. It was a pretty easy decision to leave the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at home for the Nicerkson Beach IPT.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens. This all-purpose B-roll lens will be in my Vested Interest Xtrahand vest where it can be grabbed when needed.

For me it was a no-brainer to bring the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens. Many would think that it duplicates the 100-400 II but there are lots of advantages that come along with its lighter weight (as compared to the 600 II) and its wider f/4 aperture (as compared to the 100-400II).

If my right shoulder gets worse instead of better, the 400 DO II if fully capable of serving me well as my big lens. Working with the 2X III TC (extender) gives me 800m mm of reach with the 1D X at f/8. In a much lighter and easier to maneuver package. If I need additional reach I can go to the 7D II. In addition, my suspicion is that the 400 DO II/1.4X III/1D X combo will outperform the 400 DO II/7D II combo as far as AF tracking accuracy with birds in flight. In need to try both set-ups and try to figure out if there actually is a definitive edge for the former…. And the 400 DO II offers a measure of insurance should fate claim my 600 II.

THE Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens with the optional Canon Tripod Mount Ring D for IS 100mm f/2.8L Macro Lens can be a plus on a still morning at the East Pond where Salt Marsh Fleabane is usually in bloom at this time of year. It can be useful at times out on the beach for photographing dead chicks or feathers (though the 100-400 II with its amazing close focus does a good job of filling that role. There was plenty of room in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 for this lens (along with the 16-35mm that will be with me on my two Alaska trips).

Camera Bodies

EOS-1D X. I will use my rugged pro body primarily with the 600 II, going with the 7D II on the big lens only when I need the extra reach. The more powerful 1D X battery makes it better for flight and for driving the AF system when either TC is added.

5D Mark III). Depending on the situation, I will use either the 5D III or the 7D II on the 100-400 II.

EOS-7D Mark II. In addition to part time pairing with the 100-400 II I will go to the 7D II/600II combo (with or without either TC) whenever I need the extra reach.


I will, as usual, be making this trip with three Canon 1.4X III TCs and two 2X III TCs, Why so many TCs? With my style of bid photography–tight, clean, and graphic–I cannot afford to be without both TCs in the event of an accident or malfunction. Most common in the latter category would be that the locking pin sticks occasionally. When that happens, there is a risk of having your camera body hit the ground….

Questions Welcome

If you have a question about any of my gear choices please feel free to leave a comment. Do you disagree with any of my choices? What would you be brining to Nickerson Beach? And why?

Do Not Forget List!

Whenever I choose to leave one of my Singh-Ray filters at home on a big trip I always come to regret it. Quickly. So I recently added the following items to my “Do Not Forget Items to Bring on all Trips” packing list:

Singh-Ray 77mm Warming Circular Polarizer
Singh-Ray 77mm Mor-Slo 5-stop Glass ND filter
Singh-Ray 77mm Mor-Slo 3-stop Resin ND filter
Singh-Ray 5-stop glass 52mm filter to fit the Canon drop-in Filter Holder

I absolutely love the Singh-Ray 3-stop Resin and 5-stop Glass Neutral Density Filters. I use the 77mm versions of these filters on my 24-105, my 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS, and my new and beloved 100-400mm IS II lens so that I can create blurs on sunny days without having to stop down to f/too-many dust spots…. With a 5-stop glass ND in place I can easily get down to shutter speeds of 1/2 second and slower on clear, bright sunny days.

BIRDS AS ART worked with Singh-Ray to produce both a 3-stop Resin Neutral Density filter ($124) and a 5-stop Glass ND filter ($275) to fit the filter drawers of Canon Super-telephoto lenses. If you will be heading to Bosque this season, you will want at least one of the 52mm ND filters in your Xtrahand vest. To order one of the 52mm Mor-Slo filters you will need to call Singh-Ray at1-800-486-5501 (toll free) or 1-863-993-4100 (eastern time zone). Tell them that you want either the 52mm 3-stop Resin Mor-Slo ND or the 52mm 5-stop Glass ND (or both), give them the code artie10, and then arrange to send them your filter holder. Singh-Ray needs to confirm a perfect fit for each order and in addition, they will install and clean the filter. That’s why you need an extra filter holder or two:)

Remember that you will not get your 10% discount without mentioning the artie10 code. And I would not receive my affiliate commission. Thanks as always for remembering to use our discount/affiliate code with your Singh-Ray phone orders.

Singh-Ray Filters

Singh-Ray filters have been used by the world’s top photographers for many decades. As always, I will have my 77mm Singh-Ray Warming Polarizer in my vest in case of rainbows. And I now travel (as above) with various Singh-Ray ND filters so that I can create pleasing blurs even with clear skies and bright sun. See here for a great example.

No other filter manufacturer comes close to matching the quality of Singh-Ray’s optical glass that is comparable to that used by NASA. And they continue to pioneer the most innovative products on the market like their ColorCombo polarizer, Vari-ND variable and Mor-Slo 15-stop neutral density filters. When you use their filters, you’ll create better, more dramatic images and, unlike other filters, with absolutely no sacrifice in image quality. All Singh-Ray filters are handcrafted in the USA.

Best News: 10% Discount/Code at checkout: artie10

To shop for a Singh-Ray’s most popular solid ND filter, the 10-Stop Mor-Slo Glass Filter liter (for example), click on the logo link above, click on “Neutral and color Solid Neutral Density Filters (glass), then click on “Mor-Slo™ 5, 10, 15 and 20-Stop Solid Neutral Density Filters (glass),” choose the size and model, add to cart, and then checkout. At checkout, type artie10 into the “Have a coupon? Click here to enter your code” box, and a healthy 10% discount will be applied to your total. In addition to enjoying the world’s best filter at 10% off you will be supporting my efforts here on the blog.

52mm Filter Holder Insanity

It would be complete insanity to have to screw out the glass filter and then screw in a 52mm ND filter each time that you need it. The only option is to purchase a spare filter holder or two, screw the filter in, and keep that setup intact and ready to use. Singh-Ray includes a really neat soft leather filter holder with each purchase. I store all of the filters that I travel with in one of the small upper zippered pockets of my Xtrahand vest. I have two extra filter holders and will be bringing both the 3-Stop 52mm Resin ND and the 5-Stop 52mm Glass ND to Bosque.

Think Tank Rolling Bags

I will be using the larger of my two Think Tank rolling bags, the Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag. I will use the slightly smaller of the two, the Airport International™ LE Classic for my Southern Ocean trip. Except for the Singh-Ray polarizer, I everything above fit easily into my Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag on Thursday afternoon. It tipped the scales at 44 1/4 pounds; the legal limit for US flights is 40 pounds. Nearly all countries in the world give you slack as far as the 40 pounds goes on the way back to the US. As far as the extra 4 1/4 pounds, I have only been hassled for weight once in more than three decades of flying around the world…. I hope that I do not give myself a kine-ahora.

Think Tank Urban Disguise Laptop Shoulder Bag

Both denise and I use and love this amazing bag as it has tons of room and enables us to bring tons of extra stuff.

Please click on my Think Tank affiliate link here to earn a free gift when you purchase a Think Tank Rolling Bag.

Delkin Flash Cards

As always, I will have a 64gb Delkin e-Film Pro Flash Card in each camera body so that I never have to change cards in the field thus reducing the risk of losing a card…. Please note the new lower prices here. I do have a few extra 32 and 64gb cards in a Delkin CF Memory Card Tote, mostly to protect against operator errors….


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15 comments to Nickerson Beach Gear Bag with comments…

  • avatar Dan

    Hi Artie,

    In what situations would you require a 3 or 5-stop ND in your super telephoto lenses? Purely when doing panning work and wanting to keep the aperture wider open to avoid detraction?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Dan,

      I am pretty sure that you meant “distraction” rather than detraction: Definition of DETRACTION: a lessening of reputation or esteem especially by envious, malicious, or petty criticism.

      In any case, I use the Singh-Ray 3-stop resin or 5-stop glass Neutral Density filters (both the 52mm drop-in Nds and the 77mm circular NDs) for two main reasons:

      1-to achieve really slow shutter speeds in situations where doing so would be impossible even at the lowest available ISO. You simply cannot get down to 1/2 second on a clear sunny day without using an ND filter.

      2-To achieve really slow shutter speeds in situations where doing so would result in tiny apertures such as f/22, f/32, f/45, and f/64 (the latter two show up when you are using TCs with telephoto lenses). When using really small apertures like those mentioned above (and even somewhat wider apertures like f/16 and even f/11) you will wind up having to spend lots of time cleaning dust spots from your images because even microscopic dust shows up when you are using small apertures. With wide open apertures like f/4, f/5.6, and sometimes f/8 dust spots are minimized; only substantially sized dust bunnies will show up.

      Many or even most potentially distracting background features will not be a problem when you are doing pan blurs at slow shutter speeds such as 1/8 sec., 1/4 sec., 1/2 sec., and even slower.

      Aside from pan blurs ND filters are commonly used to achieve the slow shutters speeds needed when photographing moving water such as with waterfalls or breaking surf. At times creative photographers use telephoto lenses to photograph moving water….


      Thanks for your question. I will be adapting the text above for tomorrow’s blog post. artie

      • avatar Dan

        Thanks for the detailed reply Artie! My original question was meant to say “diffraction” ,alluding to the lessened image quality at very small apertures. Simply saving time cleaning dust spots… I had not thought of it! Brilliant.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          YAW. Lots more in tomorrow’s blog post that you inspired. You cost me ten bucks in a bet as I was sure that you meant “distractions.”

          Diffraction is never a problem with telephoto lens…..


  • avatar Manuel J

    Artie, I called Singh Ray about the 5-stop Glass ND filter ($275) to fit the filter drawers of Canon Super-telephoto lenses and they are not aware of such a filter. Is there a produce number I can ask for? Thanks!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      My bad. You can simply order the 5-Stop More-Slo ND filter online using the artie10 code. I never realized that their stock filter fit the Canon 52mm filter holders perfectly. Thanks for using our code. artie

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Hi Manual, It turns out that I got bad info. You do need to call, tell them that you want the 52mm 5-stop Glass ND filter, give them the code artie10, and then arrange to send in your filter holder. They need to confirm a perfect fit for each order and they will install and clean the filter. That’s why you need to extra filter holder 🙂

        Again, thanks for using our discount/affiliate code.


  • avatar Dave Adler

    Best wishes for your Mom and her quality of life.
    I noted with interest your comment about leaving the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens home. Would you please comment on its use with the 2X TC vs the new 100-400 II?

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I wish you and your mother all the best. My mother always you to tell me that growing old was not for sissies, and she dealt with her ailments with a sense of humor. You have been lucky to have had and enjoyed her for as long as you have.

    I’ll tell you not what I would bring, but what I will bring to the Nickerson IPT, which I’m very much looking forward to. Bodies: Canon 7D Mark II and 6D plus a Canon S110 in my pocket. Lenses: all Canon: 100-400 II, 70-200f/2.8L IS II, 28-70 f/2.8L. TC: 1.4X III. Maybe I’ll bring the 2X TC but I’ve never got an image worth keeping with it. Gitzo tripod and gimball head. Extra batteries and chargers!! Calf-length rubber boots. Rain gear. Since I’ll be in my own car, I’ll be inclined to include rather than exclude stuff.

    Are we still planning to meet in the hotel tomorrow at 8 pm?

    • avatar Scott B

      Hi David,

      Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow night. I plan on being at the hotel by early afternoon and settled in for the 8pm debrief. I don’t recall seeing a hotel-specific location, so I am going to assume the lobby at first. Look for perhaps the youngest IPT participant.

      I have a 7DMk II and gave my Rebel T4i to my mother-in-law, as she is an avid birder and photographer. It was much nicer than her Rebel XT. Maybe over the next few years I will equip myself with a full frame camera body, but until then I’m taking the one-body risk. Thankfully B&H is close by in case of disaster!

      I am travelling by car as well, so space for gear isn’t an issue. Can’t offer too much outside of your list, but I will bring my Speedlite 600EX-RT in case someone is interested.

      I’m surprised to hear that the 2X TC never seemed to work out for you. Why is that; weight, reduction in aperture, focus speed, or something else?

      To Dave’s question above, before I got the 100-400 II, I thought about adding a 2X TC to my 70-200 II. I understand the 200 + 2X gives you more zoom than the 400 end of the 100-400 for reasons I remember Artie and others explaining, but can’t recall.

      On a regular day with good light, I hand-hold the 7Dmk II, 100-400II with 1.4x TC, and have had images that I enjoy at f/8. I have to say though, when I take the TC off, auto-focus is blazing fast even at single point.

      Among other things, I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone uses the tripod in their image capturing. My wife and I tend to go birding together, so it’s more of an on-the-move scenario and the tripod tends to get left behind.

      See you soon!

      • avatar David Policansky

        Hi, Scott B. I’m driving from Nantucket so don’t know how long before 8 I can arrive, but feel free to call me at 202-213-8930 and maybe we can get a bite together if I make it by 6.30 pm or so, which might be optimistic. The image quality always has been poor for me with the 2X TC and any lens I own, although I did quite well with a borrowed 600 f/4 II and 2X TC III on a tripod with my camera (then a 7D). I shot at f/13. I also used Artie’s 300 f/2.8L II–what a brilliant lens that is!–and a 2X TC handheld on my 7D with good results. The 100-400 is really about 383 mm at infinity, less as you focus closer. At minimum focus distance it’s very much less than 400 mm, indeed less than 300 mm. I don’t know how the 70-200 f/2.8 + 2X TC fares by comparison.. Even the 400 f/5.6L shows some “focus breathing,” as it’s called.

        • avatar Scott Borowy

          David, you are brave to put your phone number out there! I will be leaving work from Providence around 10am so I can be setup at the hotel for a work call around 3pm. I’d certainly enjoy grabbing something to eat if you are able to make it in the early evening. Drop me a line at and we can sort out call availability details. I can also pass along my phone number. Safe travels and I look forward to speaking with you.

          • avatar David Policansky

            Thanks, Scott. How long do you think it will take you from PVD? I appreciate your comment about ph #, but if I can’t share it among this group, then who can I share it with? Life’s too short…. 🙂

  • avatar Cris Hamilton

    I am sorry to hear about your Mom’s failing health, Artie. Hoping you can spend some good, quality time with her and the rest of your family on this trip.

  • avatar Scott B


    I’m eager to hear the scouting report for JBWR and Nickerson tomorrow night. I hope the recent storms passing through don’t scatter the birds too much. I look forward to working with you and getting first-hand experience. Books only go so far for me.