Amazing Red Light District Whimbrel … Photographing in the Surf Along a Rocky Coast, and the Big Wave! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Amazing Red Light District Whimbrel ... Photographing in the Surf Along a Rocky Coast, and the Big Wave!

What’s Up?

The 2017 San Diego IPT ended in fine fashion. On a cloudy morning we had lots of good pelican flight chances and then headed to the low cliffs. There we found Black Turnstone, Willet, Least Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, and lots of Sanderlings. With cloudy very bright skies and an east wind we finished up with an exciting gulls in flight session. Whole wheat bread was on the menu.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of 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: 430!

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, 430 days in a row with a new educational blog post. 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 of course appreciate your business.

Photographing in the Surf Along a Rocky Coast

Photographing in the surf along a rocky coast is often a tricky proposition. You can get smacked from behind and surprised by a bigger than usual wave. Even more dangerous is stepping into one of the holes made on the ocean side of decent-sized boulders. With breaking waves and turbulent surf, both the rocks and the holes are often unseen. To prevent stepping in an invisible whole, simply hold your position and wait for the water to clear before moving to a new position. At all times, use your tripod as a three-legged walking stick when changing your position and use it as a brace when your back is to the waves. Though not dangerous, an additional difficulty is that when you have a nice shot lined up and you put your tripod down, it often takes five or ten seconds for your tripod to settle down into the sand as the waves advance and recede.

As you saw in yesterday’s blog post and will see below, the photos can be great. But be sure to be careful out there; nobody wants to go down in saltwater with $10,000+ worth of photo gear …

The Big Wave!

Despite my cautions, several folks in the group opted to wear boots or Neos rather than surf booties. Pretty much all of us were in the surf photographing the tame Whimbrels atop various rocks being careful to avoid the deep holes between us and the rock piles. Then wham! A big wave hit me from behind. Though I grabbed my tripod for support, I came very close to going down. The folks who opted not to wear surf booties took gallons of water into their boots. It was a close call for most of us but everyone survived without any damage.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mountedCanon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my favorite bird photography camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -1 1/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

One AF point to the right of and three rows up from the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point just caught the lower right part of the bird’s eye. Click on the image to see a larger version.

FocusTune/LensAlign Micro Adjustment: +2

Whimbrel on rock in last light

Amazing Red Light District Whimbrel

Most of the afternoon was cloudy but it had long been clear on the horizon. I theorized that it was too clear below the clouds for a great sunset and as things turned out, I was right. But when the sun dropped below the cloud layer the light turned amazingly red. I did not have to move much to get into perfect position with a shaded black rock as my background. I was as thrilled when I saw the image on my MacBook Pro with Retina Display as I was when I saw it on the back of my camera.

Once the sun dropped below the horizon we made the trek back to the vehicles, headed to the motel, and grabbed a quick shower. Then it was my pleasure to treat the group to dinner at Casa Machado Restaurant in Kearny Mesa. Great food and a good time was had by all. And I really enjoyed the two margaritas that I had. I felt nothing from the first one but after the second I could barely stand. No worries, Patrick Sparkman was driving. I did wind up sleeping very well.


Tame birds and wildlife. Incredible diversity. You only live once…

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. August 8-22, 2017 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit: 13 photographers plus the leader: yours truly. Openings: 4.

Same great trip; no price increase!
This trip needs nine to run; in the unlikely event that it does not, all payments to BAA will be refunded in full.

My two-week Galapagos Photo-Cruises are without equal. The world’s best guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), and two great leaders with ten Galapagos cruises under their belts. Pre-trip and pre-landing location-specific gear advice. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea!

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island (including Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay), Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross, and Gardner Bay)—each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour for nesting Blue-footed Boobies in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus tons more. And there will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny mid-days for those like me who wish to partake.

It is extremely likely that we will visit the incredible Darwin Bay and the equally incredible Hood Island, world home of Waved Albatross twice on our voyage. The National Park Service takes its sweet time in approving such schedule changes.

We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast skies, we will often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip most snorkeled with a mega-pod of dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me. Note: some of the walks are a bit difficult but can be made by anyone if half way decent shape. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400. I sometimes bring a longer lens ashore depending on the landing. In 2017 I will be bring the Canon 400mm IS DO II lens. In the past I have brought either the 300mm f/2.8L IS II or the 200-400mm f/4 L IS with Internal Extender.


Do consider joining me for this once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago. There simply is no finer Galapagos photography trip. Learn why above.

An Amazing Value…

Do know that there are one week Galapagos trips for $8500! Thus, our trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations?

The Logistics

August 6, 2017: We arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat in case of a travel delay.

August 7, 2017: There will be an introductory Galapagos Photography session and a hands on exposure session at our hotel.

August 8, 2017: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2015 trip some people made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

August 22, 2017: We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of August 23 unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the 22nd).

$12,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/16. The final payment of $3449 per person will be due on 2/1/17. A $200 discount will be applied to each of the balances for couples or friends who register at the same time.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent 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.

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and a $600/person cash tip for the crew and the guide—this works out to roughly $40/day to be shared by the 7 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

Please e-mail for the tentative itinerary or with questions. Please cut and paste “Galapagos 2017 Tentative Itinerary Please” into the Subject line.

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 please remember that I am 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, 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 :).

1 comment to Amazing Red Light District Whimbrel … Photographing in the Surf Along a Rocky Coast, and the Big Wave!

  • avatar Guido Bee

    When I lived in Hawaii I was always told there were 2 things you did not do: turn your back to the ocean, and turn your back to a volcano. Sometimes it can be difficult in Hawaii to do one and not the other, but the general idea is good, also in San Diego, though not so much the volcano part.
    Thanks for all the good info and free education. I appreciate it; helps me working on the exposures. Recently I have received some new gear that is different from the older stuff I have become used to. You’d think after all these decades that the learning curves would be less steep, however, ….
    All the best