A First… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A First...

What’s Up?

On Thursday, after two great puffin boat sessions, we ended the day with another great dinner at Insieme in Seahouses.

Time has really flown by. It is after 6pm here in the UK on the afternoon of Friday, July 1, Day 4 of the 2016 Puffins and Gannets IPT. We had a rough morning on the gannet boat with a pretty stiff wind, wind against sun conditions, and dramatically changing light. We prayed for the clouds to move in but they did so only sporadically; by the time you adjusted your settings for cloudy conditions the sun was back out again. Nonetheless, everyone was awed by the hundreds of gannets that dove within meters of our boat. Denise and I instructed the group on the fine points of creating pleasing backlit images with the light coming through the bird’s primaries. For the last 15 minutes, we had just enough cloud cover to allow for everyone to make a few spectacular images of ready-to-dive and diving Northern Gannets.

If you are interested in joining Peter Kes and me for the puffins and gannets in 2017 please scroll down.

Nickerson Beach Terns/Skimmers/Oystercatchers Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): July 18-22, 2016. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1899. Limit 10/Openings 6.

Meet and greet at 3pm on the afternoon of Monday, July 18.

Please e-mail for repeat customer or couples discount info, or for info on a 3-day option.

With only four folks signed up, learning situations will abound. The primary subject species on this IPT will be the nesting Common Terns and Black Skimmers. The trip is timed so that we will get to photograph tiny tern chicks as well as fledglings. There will be lots of flight photography including adults flying with baitfish. Creating great images of the chicks being fed will be a huge challenge. In addition to the terns we will get to photograph lots of Black Skimmers courting, setting up their nesting territories, and in flight (both singles and large pre-dawn flocks blasting off). Midair battles are guaranteed on sunny afternoons. And with luck, we might even see a few tiny skimmer chicks toward the end of the trip. We will also get to photograph the life cycle of American Oystercatcher. This will likely include nests with eggs and tiny chicks, young being fed, and possibly a few fledglings.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, makes-no-sense, 237 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really 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. Please remember 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 appreciate your business.


This image was created on the afternoon of Day 3 of the 2016 Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 463mm), and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop as framed: 1/320 sec. at f/9. AWB.

I selected the AF point that was two rows down and three to the right of the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was on the chick’s forehead. Click on the image to see a larger version. Micro-adjustment: +4.

Razorbill chick peeking out from under adult’s scapulars

A First…

I’d never seen a Razorbill chick until Thusday afternoon. What fun. I was with old friend and multiple IPT veteran Mark Hardymon. Most of the rest of the group had been disappointed with the flight photography opportunities after the wind shifted and moved on to another location. Mark, and another IPT old-timer Mike Goldhamer of San Diego, decided to hang out a bit longer at the windblown point and see if we could turn up anything interesting. We did. In addition to the Razorbill chick we had some great fluffy black, white, and silver Black-legged Kittiwake chicks at point blank range.

I sat to get a bit lower, but more importantly, for added stability and to avoid being buffeted by the wind. The key here was to zoom in enough so that the chick was fairly prominent and to zoom out enough so that I did not clip the primary feathers. I had just finished saying to Mark, “Momma needs to raise her head a bit so that the tip of the bill is not hidden behind the cliff edge. A moment later she raised her head and held that pose for a minute; ask and ye shall receive.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

This trip has sold out far in advance every year so do not tarry. I hope that you can join me.

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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 we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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9 comments to A First…

  • avatar Tom Applegate

    Arthur, nice shot….. The detail in these high megapixel cameras really stand out. I can see a slight difference, even on a monitor at 72 p/i.
    My humble opinion is to try cropping in a little in a 8X10 format to get rid of as much white rock on the left and top as possible? Let me know if you think it helps.
    Wish I was there with you guys. Want so bad to visit England.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Tom,

      This one was made with my low mega pixel camera 🙂 Your cropping suggestion would make the image much too tight for me with the birds stuffed into the frame.

      No need to wish. Sign up for my 2017 Puffins and Gannets IPT.


  • Nice photo Artie. It was good to meet You, Denise and the group on Thursday. The English guy in your group was telling me how much he had learnt from the IPT, I look forward to seeing more of your images from the trip in the near future.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ditto Nick. Lots more coming. I have not even scratched the surface yet. I hope that you were not surprised by what Bill Hedges had to say 🙂


  • avatar Kerry Morris

    It took a minute for my eye to register everything in this photo.
    If you hadn’t said there was a chick, I’m not sure I would have noticed.
    It’s amazingly clear – can even see the pupil on both birds.
    What a nice shot. Love it!
    Would it have been possible to capture the whole adult bird by moving more to the right, but with same closeness to the chick?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks g-K. And yes, the chick is pretty well camouflaged against the parent bird.

      Once you zoomed out to include the whole bird with the chick, the other bird at the nest crept into the frame. And beyond that, a kittiwake nest became a problem. I did make some nice ones of the two birds with the chick with the chick’s head poking out.

      Now, I have a question for you: what happens to the impact and visibility of the chick once you go wider?

      Lastly, I did a bit of Eye Doctor work on both the adult and the chick.