Three Great Days at the Snow Monkey Park–went by so quickly that it’s all a blur… And Used Gear Price Reductions « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Three Great Days at the Snow Monkey Park--went by so quickly that it's all a blur... And Used Gear Price Reductions

What’s Up?

Me, early at 3:35am Japan time on Saturday which is 1:35pm on Friday afternoon on the east coast. I had a nap on Friday afternoon and slept a good 6 1/2 hours last night. Today is a packing and travel day as we take our chartered bus back to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and then fly to Hokkaido to continue our adventure with the Red-crowned Cranes, the Whooper Swans, and–with the some good weather and ice conditions luck–the Stellar’s and White-tailed Sea Eagles. I will start packing when I finish my work on this blog post.

One of Carl Zanoni’s 1D X bodies sold yesterday. See the new Used Photo Gear price reductions below. And Doug Bolt’s price-reduced 100-400 II sold on Friday morning for $599.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 103 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated.


This image was created at the Snow Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan with the the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 264mm and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the snow: 1/15 sec. at f/8.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding).

Snow Monkey running with young

Three Great Shooting Sessions

Seven lucky clients all enjoyed our time with the Snow Monkeys. And all have enjoyed our traditional Japanese meals. Rather than hang out by the monkey onsen, I spent a good part of Friday morning down by the river waiting for running and jumping monkeys. I taught Donna Bourdon the technique and she was thrilled to have created several really good ones. I can’t wait to see them.

In today’s featured image, I used the classic running animal blur speed: 1/15 sec. As here, if you are able to acquire focus, move the lens right along at the same speed as the running subject, and keep the animal properly framed, you can create some pleasing images with lovely pan-blurred backgrounds. Note that keeping the animal nicely framed is the hardest part for me; I had several spectacular blurs that were mis-framed. Note also that nearly all successful pleasing blurs need to be focused accurately. And that of the successful blurs that are not accurately focused, nearly all of those were intentionally de-focused… Screwing up the focus by accident and winding up with a great blur is quite a rare occurrence.

Critique This Image

Please leave a comment and let folks know what you like about and what you don’t like about today’s featured image. Though I like this image a lot there are a few things that bug me. Use the skills that you acquired in the hugely popular “Growing as a Photographer: Learning to Do a Formal Image Critique” blog post here.

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Learn the secrets of creating contest-winning images in our “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs.”

A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

In our A Guide to Pleasing Blurs, by Denise Ippolito and yours truly, we discuss just about every technique ever used to create pleasingly blurred image. Heck, between the two of us we created many of them! Ninety-nine point nine percent of pleasing blurs are not happy accidents. You can learn pretty much everything that there is to know about creating them in this instructive, well written, easy to follow guide.

A Comment from Kathleen

I ordered this e-Book when it first came out; it maybe the best $33 that I have ever spent on photography!

My own style is crisp and sharply-focused and I’ve been thinking of adding a more artistic effect to some images. This PDF gives me way more ideas than I could possibly have come up with on my own. The images are great and so are the detailed instructions. It’s well worth buying if you’re looking to add something different to your repertoire.

My favorites? Artie’s ‘Wildebeest Jumping’ which looks like a prehistoric cave painting and Denise’s stunning ‘White Fox’.


Consider joining me in Japan in February, 2017, for the world’s best Japan in Winter workshop. Click on the card to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Japan In Winter IPT. February 9-24, 2017: $13,999/double occupancy.

All lodging including the Tokyo hotel on 9 FEB, all breakfasts & dinners, ground transport and transfers including bus to the monkey park hotel, and all entrance fees and in-country flights are included. Not included: international flights, all lunches–most are on the run, and alcoholic beverages.

Please e-mail for couple and IPT repeat customer discount information.

This trip is one day longer than the great 2014 trip to allow for more flexibility, more time with the cranes, and most importantly, more time for landscape photography. Hokkaido is gorgeous. You will enjoy tons of pre-trip planning and gear advice, in-the-field instruction and guidance, at-the-lodge Photoshop and image review sessions in addition to short introductory slide programs for each of the amazing locations. Skilled photographer Paul McKenzie handles the logistics and we enjoy the services of Japan’s best wildlife photography guide whom I affectionately call “Hokkaido Bear.” His network of local contacts and his knowledge of the weather, the area, and the birds enables him to have us in the best location every day.


Amazing subjects. Beautiful settings. Nonstop action and unlimited opportunities. Join me.

The Logistics

Arrive Tokyo: 9 FEB 2017 the latest. 8 FEB is safer and gives you a day to get acclimated to the time change. Your hotel room for the night of the 9th is covered.

Bus Travel to Monkey Park Hotel: 10 FEB: A 1/2 DAY of monkey photography is likely depending on our travel time… This traditional hotel is first class all the way. Out stay includes three ten course Japanese dinners these sumptuous meals will astound you and delight your taste buds. There are many traditional hot baths (onsens) on site in this 150 year old hotel.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 11.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 12.

13 FEB: Full travel day to Hokkaido/arrive at our lodge in the late afternoon. The lodge is wonderful. All the rooms at the lodge have beds. Bring your warm pajamas. A local onsen (hot springs bath and tubs) is available for $5 each day before dinner–when you are cold, it is the best thing since sliced bread. The home-cooked Japanese styles meals at the lodge are to die for. What’s the best news? Only a small stand of woods separates us from the very best crane sanctuary. During one big snowstorm we were the only photo group to be able to get to Tsurui Ito; we had the whole place to ourselves in perfect conditions for crane photography!

FEB 14-23: Red-crowned Crane, raptors in flight, Whooper Swans, and scenic photography. Ural Owl possible. One 2-night trip to Rausu for Steller’s and White Tailed Sea Eagles on the tourists boats is 100% dependent weather, road, and sea ice conditions. Only our trip offers complete flexibility in this area. It has saved us on more than once occasion. An afternoon of duck photography in the harbor at Rausu is a strong possibility. The cost of 3 eagle-boat trips is included. If the group would like to do more than three boat trips and we all agree, there will be an additional charge for the extra trip or trips. Do understand that few if any tours offer at least one afternoon boat trip….

Lodging notes: bring your long johns for sleeping in the lodge. In Rausu and at the Snow Monkey Park, the hotel the rooms are Japanese-style. You sleep on comfortable mats on the floor. Wi-fi is available every day of the trip.

FEB 24. Fly back to Tokyo for transfer to your airport if you are flying home that night, or, to your hotel if you are overnighting. If you need to overnight, the cost of that room is on you.


Life is short. Hop on the merry-go-round.

To Sign Up

To save your spot, please send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit check made out to “Birds as Art” to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. I do hope that you can join me for this trip of a lifetime. Do e-mail with any questions or give me a buzz at 863-692-0906.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent Galapagos cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Selling Your Used Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.

Price Reductions

Canon EOS 7D Camera Body

Price reduced $50

Robert Doster is offering a used Canon EOS 7D body in excellent condition for $419 (was $469). The camera shows little wear and both LCDs have been protected by screen protectors since purchase and are thus pristine. The camera has a shutter count of 13,902 actuations. The sale includes a Really Right Stuff B7D-L B L-plate, the original product box, manuals (English and Spanish), CDs, the wide neck strap, Eyecup Eg, body cap, LP-E6 battery, LC-E6 battery charger, AV and USB cables, and insured ground shipping via FedEx. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Robert by e-mail or by phone at 505-270-7361 (Pacific time).

This 7D would make a great starter body especially for someone who lives in a sunny region. And you cannot beat the price. artie

Canon EOS 1D-X Professional dSLR

Yet Another Lowest-ever BAA Price!
Price Reduced $100 on February 12, 2016.

Multiple IPT veteran Carl Zanoni is offering a used EOS 1D-X Professional dSLR in like-new condition for $2949 (was $3049. The sale includes an extra LP-E4N battery, the battery charger, the front cap, the original box, and insured shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Carl via e-mail. or by phone at 860-306-9651 Eastern time zone.

Two 1D X bodies served me well as my workhorse dSLRs since their introduction in March 2012. I always appreciated their ruggedness, the great AF system, and the powerful battery that drove AF quickly even with the 2X III TC in place. artie

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM Lens

Yet Another Lowest-ever BAA Price!
Price Reduced $79 on February 12, 2016.

Multiple IPT veteran Carl Zanoni is also offering a used Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens in near-mint condition (with one tiny chip on the finish) for the BAA record low price of $750 (was $829). The sale includes the lens hood, the lens Cap E-67U, the lens Dust Cap E (Rear), the LP1424 lens case, the Canon Tripod Mount Ring C, the original packaging, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Carl via e-mail. or by phone at 860-306-9651 Eastern time zone.

I used this lightweight intermediate telephoto lens in Norway for birds and for B-roll stuff. It is superbly sharp and extremely versatile. It would be a great buy either for a travel photographer or a beginning to intermediate bird photographer. artie

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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 BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. 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 we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. I just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

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

2 comments to Three Great Days at the Snow Monkey Park–went by so quickly that it’s all a blur… And Used Gear Price Reductions

  • avatar Gerald Kelberg

    Hi Artie, pleased to see you are having fun. I like this image – it tells a story straight off and makes me smile. Mother monkey is getting youngster out of there in a hurry! The pan works and I like the lines created by panning. I also like the way the diagonals created by the mother’s legs interact at the youngster. Maybe it would be nice to have the face sharper, but it doesn’t really matter to me as the action is strong. Keep on having fun!

  • avatar Donna Bourdon

    Arthur- this is a gorgeous blur. The way you set up for the golden light and waited for the action is inspiring to all of us. I never saw the golden light until you pointed it out. You made magic out of a very flat light and tourist filled day!