Maybe It’s Genetic… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Maybe It's Genetic...

What’s Up?

I am finishing up this blog post in the car on the way to the Kennedy Space Center with older daughter Jennifer and her two kids, Sam and Maya, and younger daughter Alissa-visiting from Long Island with her youngest, Idris.

Bill Moore’s near-mint 600 II sold to KW McCulloch for the full asking price of $9499 before it was even listed.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 123 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. 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.

Everybody’s Doing It…

Everybody’s buying and selling used gear on the BAA Used Gear Page. Sales recently have been through the roof. The sale of three of the twelve items that I posted to the Used Gear Page this morning are pending after only four hours.

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 charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They recently folded. And eBay fees are now in the 13% range. 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 now on the the left side of the second yellow-orange menu bar at the top of each blog post.

Brand New Listings

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II Lens

New Record Low BAA Price

Bryan Holliday is offering a used Canon 600mm f4L IS II lens in near-mint condition for the record low BAA price of $9,498. The sale includes the Really Right Stuff replacement foot LCF-53, both original Canon feet, a Forest Green LensCoat, the tough nylon front lens cover, the rear cap, the lens trunk with keys, the lens strap, the manual, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Local pickup in Phoenix, AZ is an option. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Bryan via e-mail or by phone at 623-326-3920 (Mountain time).

The 600 II is the state of the art super-telephoto for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports. If I can get it to a location, it is my go-to weapon. It is fast and sharp and deadly either alone or with either TC. artie

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS Lens with Internal 1.4 Extender

KW McCulloch is offering a used Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in excellent plus condition for the record low BAA price of $8994. The sale includes the lens trunk, the original leather front lens cover, the rear lens cap, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears or other arrangements are made.

Please contact KW by e-mail or by phone at 361/727-2652 (Central time).

This is the world’s best lens for a trip to Africa. It kills also in the Galapagos and in South Georgia, the Falklands, and Antarctica. And I use mine a lot at Bosque and other dusty places where the built-in TC helps to keep your sensor clean. The lens sells new at B&H right now for $10,999. You can save a slew of dollars by grabbing KW’s lens now. artie

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS Lens

Another New Record Low BAA Price
Price Reduced $300 on 3-4-16!

KW McCulloch is also offering a used Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS lens in very good plus condition for the record low BAA price of $4499 (was $4799). Cosmetically the lens shows that it has been well used; it it is functionally perfect. The lens was cleaned and checked by Canon in 2015. The sale includes a LensCoat, the lens trunk, the original leather front lens cover, two soft front lens covers, the rear lens cap, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears or other arrangements are made.

Please contact KW by e-mail or by phone at 361/727-2652 (Central time).

The old six was my go-to super-telephoto lens for well more than a decade, heck, probably for two decades if you include the monstrously heavy original version. Today I use and depend on the newer, lighter version, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens. Note, the new six sells for a hefty $11,499. The old six is super sharp, works great with both TCs, and offers near-maximum reach along with three focal lengths: 600, 840, and 1200… artie


This image was created at Indian Lake Estates, FL by my 7-year old grandson Idris with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (at 70mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/4. AWB converted by Grandpa Arthur at 8000K.

65-point Automatic Selection/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The system activated the center AF point. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Sandhill Cranes dancing at sunset

It MUST be Genetic…

On the afternoon of Saturday May 4, 2016 I headed down to the lake by my home to photograph cranes with my grandson Idris. Idris is seven years old. He is autistic, and grandfatherly pride aside, he is at the brilliant end of the scale. Before Aspergers was eliminated from the terminology of autism, Idris would have fit the classic pattern: brilliant but easily frustrated when things do not go as planned. I set up the 70-200 f/2.8L IS lens with a 7D on it and, in the safety of my office, showed Idris how to hold the rig: left hand half way out on the lens barrel on the zoom ring with your palm to the sky, the last three fingers and the thumb of the right hand on the grip, and the right index finger on the shutter button.

At first he had a bit of difficulty simply holding the lens to his eye but got the hang of it fairly quickly. I figured the 65-point Automatic Selection/Shutter Button AF might be easiest for him so I set that up. I taught him to press the shutter button half way to acquire focus. At times he got it right and at times not. Likewise he sometimes got the hang of zooming in and out and sometimes not.
We tried vertical but he could not handle that quite yet.

Once we were in the field he liked to try to figure out what zoom setting he should be at before raising the camera.

I was hoping that he might make one nice image of a crane feeding with the bird sharp and fairly large in the frame. He came close but that did not happen. He often wound up zooming out much too much so that there were houses in the distant background included in his frame. As there was a halfway decent sunset shaping up I sort of ignored him to concentrate on making a nice head portrait or two of a calling crane with a nice orange sky background. When we were ready to head back to my house, Idris showed me what looked like a few nice silhouettes on the rear LCD of the 7D II but alas, when we got back to the house and downloaded the photos, those were not sharp.

I continued going through his images when I came across a sharp series of four images of silhouetted dancing cranes. Today’s featured image is the best of the lot. What amazed me was that when I had tried to get him create the type of image that I though he should make, the results were pretty bad. But when left to his own devices, the results were quite spectacular, especially when you consider that simply holding the rig to his eye was a challenge.

The next lesson will be learning to use the in-viewfinder level. Or not. Perhaps I should just leave him free to play and explore. In any case, I am quite proud of him. I should have mentioned that he was tremendously excited by the process. He showed me lots of what were to him, really good images…


Idris and Grandpa Arthur photographing Sandhill Cranes at Indian Lake Estates. Cell phone image by Alissa Morris.

As you can see by this image, younger daughter Alissa has always had a good eye for composition.

Idris and Grandpa Arthur

Less than an hour after first picking up the 70-200/7D II combo, Idris was showing pretty darned good form. And within 20 minutes of when this image was taken, he created his first masterpiece.

Idris learned a lot, and so did I. I hope that we both have many more opportunities in the future to do the same.

If anyone wishes to leave a message for Idris I will make sure that he sees it.


The tile of today’s blog post, “Maybe it’s genetic,” reminded me of a great song from A Chorus Line; I saw it four times, three on Broadway and once in Fort Lauderdale. It is one of my favorite songs ever. You can hear a version sung by Natalie Cortes from the final performance of the show by clicking here and then clicking on the fourth YouTube video logo. The words are below. (“It must be genetic” at the 1:41 mark.) The ending of the song is quite just..

I’m so excited because I’m gonna go
to the High School of Performing Arts!
I mean, I was dying to be a serious actress.
Anyway, it’s the first day acting class-
and we’re in the auditorium and the teacher,
Mr. Karp… Oh, Mr. Karp…
Anyway, he puts us up on the stage with
our legs around each other,
one in back of the other and he says:
“Okay… we’re going to do improvisations.
Now, you’re on a bobsled. It’s snowing out.
And it’s cold…Okay…GO!”

Ev’ry day for a week we would try to
Feel the motion, feel the motion
Down the hill.

Ev’ry day for a week we would try to
Hear the wind rush, hear the wind rush,
Feel the chill.

And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
To see what I had inside.
Yes, I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
And I tried, I tried.

And everybody’s goin’ “Whooooosh, whooooosh …
I feel the snow… I feel the cold… I feel the air.”
And Mr. Karp turns to me and he says,
“Okay, Morales. What did you feel?”

And I said…”Nothing,
I’m feeling nothing,”
And he says “Nothing
Could get a girl transferred.”

They all felt something,
But I felt nothing
Except the feeling
That this bullsh*t was absurd!

But I said to myself, “Hey, it’s only the first week.
Maybe it’s genetic.
They don’t have bobsleds in San Juan!”

Second week, more advanced, and we had to
Be a table, be a sportscar…
Ice-cream cone.

Mister Karp, he would say,”Very good,
except Morales. Try, Morales,
All alone.”

And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
To see how an ice cream felt.
Yes, I dug right down to the bottom of my soul
And I tried to melt.

The kids yelled, “Nothing!”
They called me “Nothing”
And Karp allowed it,
Which really makes me burn.

The were so helpful.
They called me “Hopeless”,
Until I really didn’t know
Where else to turn.

And Karp kept saying,
“Morales, I think you should transfer to Girl’s High,
You’ll never be an actress, Never!” Jesus Christ!

Went to church, praying, “Santa Maria,
Send me guidance, send me guidance,”
On my knees.

Went to church, praying, “Santa Maria,
Help me feel it, help me feel it.
Pretty please!”

And a voice from down at the bottom of my soul
Came up to the top of my head.
And the voice from down at the bottom of my soul,
Here is what it said:

“This man is nothing!
This course is nothing!
If you want something,
Go find another class.

And when you find one
You’ll be an actress.”
And I assure you that’s what
Fin’lly came to pass.

Six months later I heard that Karp had died.
And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul…
And cried.
‘Cause I felt… nothing.

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24 comments to Maybe It’s Genetic…

  • avatar Hank Fowler

    Idris will remember these outings with grandpa fondly and will reflect on them many times in the future. I love to see generations bonding over the love of photography.

    Hank F

  • avatar Mark Zimmerman

    Great photo, Idris! Great to see you teaching your grandpa some new tricks!

  • avatar Loren Charif

    Idris –

    Congratulations on making that wonderful image! You have obviously inherited your Grandpa’s skill and vision. I hope you have a great time in Florida and take many more fantastic photos. I’m going to show your photo to my 5 year old granddaughter; she loves birds and nature in general.


  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Idris,
    There is no doubt you have the best grandpa in the whole world. He’s a national treasure and he’s yours.
    Well done on making a fine image of the dancing cranes.
    We look forward to seeing some more of your work.
    Best wishes from New Zealand.
    David Peake.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Idris, Way To Go!!

  • avatar Gary Axten

    I’m just amazed how close those cranes are.

  • avatar Glen Fox

    Enjoy your grandson and your times together. That camera may just be the tool that will open a window for Idris .. a tool to express his creativity and genius. What a thrill that would be for you all. The two of you on a special journey together .. a retirement project!



  • avatar Joanne Wuori

    Hi Idris!!
    I got my first camera when I was 7 too. I still have it. It is a Kodak Brownie and I loved it. I hope you like photography as much as your Grandpa Arthur and his many, many friends. Keep up the good work!

  • avatar Patty Corapi

    Idris, you did a wonderful job and created a beautiful photograph. Hopefully, the first of many if you enjoy it. Your grandpa must be very proud. Now, tell him gently, it’s your vision not his. Big smile. But listen to his ideas as he can give you like he has the rest of us great knowledge. Then take that knowledge and make it your own. You are very lucky to have a grandpa like him.

    Artie – thanks so much for sharing a very special moment in your life. I know how much delight you take in all of your grandchildren and family. And remember to instill the knowledge and then push him out of the nest and let him fly.

  • avatar Vicki

    Hi Idris! You are lucky to have a great Grandpa who loves you so much and wants to share his time and talents with you! Have fun with him and your camera!

  • avatar Tom Lamb

    Hi Idris,
    Your photo is great. Keep it up and I hope we get to see more of your good work. I heard your grandpa speak at the Camera Club of Brevard and I know how proud he is of you and your cousins.

  • avatar Ed Pring

    God bless you Grandpa…

  • Hi Idris,
    When I first saw the photo of the dancing cranes, I mistakenly thought your grandpa had taken the photo and had posted it as an excellent image sample for a used lens that was listed for sale. When I finished reading your grandpas blog post, I realized YOU had taken that photo! Wow, I am really impressed with the composition and how sharp the image is. Great job. You are, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me and many folks around the world.

    Have fun out there!

    Your new friend,

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    If the photos are good to the photographer, then they are good photos. Monet was highly criticized as a terrible failure as a painter in his time. Thank goodness he ignored the experts!

  • avatar Peter Noyes

    Idris, You took a very nice picture of a Sandhill Crane. Just think f the fun you had getting out to see such pretty birds in the wild. Congratulations, Idris, and continue to have fun.

  • avatar Kim Barley

    Iris,I a so impressed what you are doing with the camera and the beautiful birds. You have a great grandfather! Way to go and God Bless you and your grandfather!

  • avatar Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure

    Way to go Idris!

  • avatar John Patton

    Hi Idris,
    Nice photo, very creative. Keep up the good work. As a grandfather of a 7 year old I know how proud your grandpa is.

  • Hi Idris,
    You got the image of the day with your crane silhouette. It is very nice and shows off your creativity. Keep up the good work and have and enjoy your visit.

  • avatar Stu

    Hello, Idris!

    I like your photo very much.

    I hope you will enjoy photography very much and that I will get to see more of your photos.

    With my very best wishes,
    Stu in Michigan

  • avatar Ar

    Hi Idris,
    Your photo is awesome! You have a creative mind so keep on photographing what YOU like. Happiness is holding a camera to your eye and capturing your vision.
    Keep on truckin’….

  • avatar Jeffrey Friedhoffer

    What a pretty picture, you did great, and your grandpa is so proud of you.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Lovely picture Idris! I live all the way down in Australia and I read Grandpa’s Blog every day. He is kind and sends it to bird photographers all over the world. Say “thanks” to Grandpa for me.