Striving for Different: 1000 Points of Light « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Striving for Different: 1000 Points of Light

What’s Up?

I did lots of work on the Used Gear page on Monday and continued work on future blog posts. And I answered lots of e-mails. I am exploring the possibility of a trip to Europe to photograph Capercaillie, Black Grouse, and one of my most wanted species, Ruff. All displaying, the latter in its spectacularly varied breeding plumage. Limited to four photographers plus me. Only three spots left. If you are interested, please shoot me an e-mail.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 293 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… 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. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new 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 add-on day Bass Rock (Scotland) landing with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X DSLR.. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/8000 sec. at f/4.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was right on the top of the bird’s head. The optimized image was a small crop from the left and from above. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Northern Gannet landing: 1000 Points of Light

Different is What to Strive For

As I mentioned in the Bass Rock Heresy blog post here, I headed down the hill earlier than the rest of the gang to look for different. At first, that turned out to be the Herring Gull chicks. Just so you know, when I posted the image in that blog post I was OK with the dark tones in the upper right corner. Now? Not so much. I need to go back and eliminate it with a flopped Quick Mask of the opposite corner.

IAC, when I was finished with the baby Herring Gulls I continued on down the steps toward the landing to see what I could see. I created a a few backlit adult gannet head portraits but nothing too exciting. By this time the sun was going in and out with wind against sun conditions when it was out; this made traditional flight photograph difficult. I did, however, notice lots of gannets landing on the southeast corner of The Bass. With the sun in my face. But when a light cloud in front of the sun suffused the light, the ocean became soft, backlit, shade of blue with 1000s of tiny points of light reflecting off its surface. It was much less contrasty than your usual blasting highlights situation, what I often call 11am silhouette conditions. So I went to work.

The AF system of the 1DX II was–as I had expected–having a really tough time acquiring focus and I missed on some really good chances; this was due to the high contrast, the relatively strong backlight, and all those the points of light. In a normal blasting highlights situations acquiring focus on a bird in flight would have been hopeless. By pre-focusing manually on the birds on the end of the cliffs I was able to manage a few sharp images. This one was my favorite by far.

I saw a situation that was very different, knew what I wanted, and by exhibiting my usual dogged determination, achieved a fine and very different result. Nobody in the group had ever seen anything similar. Nor had I.

Note: I used series of small Quick Masks to coverseveral gannet heads along the lower right frame-edge. I very much liked the one that I left, a sort of greeting committee of one.

What’s The Secret?

No big secret: combine your creative vision with a good imagination. And follow that up with skillful execution… Same as always.


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.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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 New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

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.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


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

19 comments to Striving for Different: 1000 Points of Light

  • avatar MBG

    I just have to jump on the bandwagon – that is a unique and really wonderful capture!

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    I love it. It’s bright and lively…I love the orbs of light and having it as the entire background is magical! 🙂

  • avatar Brendan

    I love this picture. The background light is magical – it really captures a moment of the sun hitting the water just so. I love the pose of the gannet. Its almost as if its hovering in a fairy-tale setting.

    I don’t love the head at the bottom. It grounds the picture too much for me. It brings me back to reality. In many pictures (most?) that sense of context and place really add to the shot, but for this one, I think the more abstract sense of magic captured by the “points of light” doesn’t mesh well with the reality/context added by the lower gannet head.

    Still, its an amazing picture. I love it.

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Great. Just not keen on the oof gannet head below. Beautiful creativity, I like this a lot.

  • Great imae as usual. I like the 1000 points of light, but have mixed feelings about the head that you left in. I find it distracting, but it adds context.

  • Artie, for me, this one ranks right up there with the best of your best. There were many factors that all had to come together and you nailed it. I can’t imagine you had much time with the clouds moving… great stuff!

  • WoW, Love it!! it is a beautiful backlit portrait of the bird, but instead of a plain sky canvas background, the sparkles add something that makes you feel WoW! It transforms a plain portrait into interesting artwork. I’m not saying I don’t like the plain portraits, because those are beautiful themselves, but this is like an additional bonus.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    I like this shot. It’s out of the ordinary.
    The points of light, the blurred head of the welcoming committee of 1, the translucence of the wings give this image a bit of an ethereal, otherworldly type of feel.
    Very nice shot!
    Curious: were there any blinkies?

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    Sorry………. Not for me, too distracting. Great shot of the Gannet though!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      What is too distracting?


      • avatar Maggi Fuller

        The ‘points of light’ in the background. It’s all I see, not the great shot of the bird landing, which to me is lost… Sorry!

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          No need to be sorry. Everyone–including some top creative professionals–who have seen it loves it. And I adore it. but then you have to ask yourself, “what the heck does he know?”


          ps: I will post it to BPN and see how the boys and girls like it.

  • avatar Dave Kettles

    I like different. A lot. That is one glorious shot.