If I’ve Said It Once, I’ve Said — or Written It — 1,000 Times: When the Light is Bright … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

If I've Said It Once, I've Said -- or Written It -- 1,000 Times: When the Light is Bright ...


On Saturday I did lots of re-hab work on my right hip and my right shoulder along with a swim, a walk, and my core exercises.
I was glad to learn on Saturday afternoon that Wayne Roth sold his Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G EDII VR lens in like-new condition for $3,500.00 in Late January, 2017, two weeks after it was listed. The Used Gear Page remains hot with lots of great stuff listed and lots of sales.

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: 443

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, 443 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the hand held the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens (at 176.7mm) and the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera body) outfitted with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip. ISO 800. Pattern metering at about zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

Shutter Button Continuous Autofocus. Additional AF information is unavailable.

Patrick Sparkman at The Crevice

If I’ve Said It Once, I’ve Said — or Written It — 1,000 Times: When the Light is Bright …

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times: when the light is bright, think tight and work right on sun angle. Otherwise your images will be dominated by harsh, ugly, shadows. In the image above, Patrick is out on one of the three shelves that form the two crevices that make up the area that I recently named “The Crevice.” I just might rename it more properly as “The Crevices.” As he made his way out to the end despite my warning, my heart was in my throat. Note the wet, black rocks: have you ever tried to walk on oiled, melting ice? It is not possible for most folks, including and especially me, to stand on rocks like that much less walk on them. In any case, he made it safely out and back. Patrick claims that the his success on the black, treacherous slippery stuff was due to the great traction on his Hoka One Speed Goats (aka running shoes).

What drove him to take the risk? It was mid-morning on a blue sky day; he wanted to work tight and get right on sun angle … Consider the skill it took to get close to the resting flock of shorebirds with the big lens in hand without flushing them. Note Patrick’s skillful use of the knee-pod: left forearm resting on his bent left knee and left hand well out on the lens barrel.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA by Patrick Sparkman with the hand held (yes, hand held!) Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

Three AF points up and two to the right of the center AF point/AI Servo/Surround/Shutter Button AF right on the bird’s eye. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +1.

Image #2: Sanderling, adult in basic or winter plumage
Image courtesy of and copyright 2017 Patrick Sparkman

The Payoff

The payoff? A sharp, perfectly exposed, lovely portrait of a winter plumage adult Sanderling (Calidris alba –white sandpiper) set against a background of Pacific blue. The only shadow in sight is along the underparts of the bird, that caused by the sun being relatively high in the sky.

Make a List …

Study everything above and leave a comment with a list of things that Patrick and I do differently. I think that regular readers who are paying attention might come up with five or six.


Images and card copyright Arthur Morris/BEARS AS ART 🙂

2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPTs: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings 3.

Join me in spectacular Katmai National Park, AK for six days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears. Mid-July is prime time for making images of small, football-sized cubs. The cubs, and these dates, are so popular that I had to reserve them three years in advance to secure them. There are lots of bears each year in June, but the mothers only rarely risk bringing their tiny cubs out in the open in fear of predation by rival bears. In addition to making portraits of both adults and cubs, we hope to photograph frolicking and squabbling youngsters and tender nursing scenes. At this time of year, the bears are either grazing in luxuriant grass or clamming. There will also be some two- and three-year old cubs to add to the fun. And we will get to photograph it all.

We will live on our tour operator’s luxurious new boat. At 78 feet long its 24 foot beam makes it quite spacious as well. And the food is great. We will likely spend most of our time at famed Geographic Harbor as that is where the bears are generally concentrated in summer. On the odd chance that we do need to relocate to another location we can do so quickly and easily without having to venture into any potentially rough seas. We land via a 25 foot skiff that has lots of room for as much gear as we can carry.

Aside from the bears we should get to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin and should get nice stuff on Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Harbor Seal, and Steller’s Sea Lion as well. A variety of tundra-nesting shorebirds including Western Sandpiper and both yellowlegs are also possible. Halibut fishing (license required/not included) is optional.

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 17 to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of July 18. Again, with air travel in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter) subject to possible delays, being on Kodiak on July 16 is a much better plan.

Barring any delays, we will get to photograph bears on our first afternoon and then again every day for the next five days after that, all weather permitting of course. On our last morning on the boat, July 24, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will have the opportunity to do so. The group will return to Kodiak via float plane from late morning through midday. Most folks will then fly to Anchorage and to continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

What’s included? 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. National Park and guide fees. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional nature photographer; I will constantly let you know what I am thinking, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and informal Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). Your lodging and meals on Kodiak. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat and then back to Kodiak as above. The cost of a round trip last year was $550. The suggested crew tip of $200.

Have you ever walked with the bears?

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 5 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….), it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A (now) $4,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “BIRDS AS ART” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork linked to here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. That leaves a balance of $2699 that will be due on February 15, 2017. I hope that you can join me for what will be a wondrously exciting trip.

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 :).

5 comments to If I’ve Said It Once, I’ve Said — or Written It — 1,000 Times: When the Light is Bright …

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Great photo Patrick!
    In image #1, it looks like he’s using the Canon rig?

    I agree with Warren’s listing of differences and have another to add.
    You would have the ‘La Jolla’ lens/rig on your shoulder as well.
    You might also be wearing your pocket vest with additional items inside.

  • avatar Warren H

    A few differences, in no particular order:

    1-He is using the 600 mm, which I do not believe you have used in a while.
    True though I had not realized it 🙂

    Hand holding a large lens, where you would prefer a tripod for that lens.
    For sure.

    He is shooting ISO 200, you typically use 400.
    For sure.

    He is shooting at a slower shutter speed at 1/400. You would typically only use that speed for very still subjects or if the light was limiting, and then not hand holding.

    Slower than what ??? I am fine on a tripod down to 1/60 sec.

    Based on the description and the 200 ISO, the light was not limiting.

    Sunny with blue skies.

    He DOES share your choice for camera bodies and hats!

    For sure, but my sun hat is irreplaceable!

    Have a great weekend!

    Thanks and ditto, artie

  • avatar Victoria Sokolowski

    Just wondering about the gear around Patrick’s waist. Could you update us on that. I don’t see it noted in the blog.

  • Beautiful image. Love the seamless blue background. And no sand on the bill…A few differences I can see. Do not believe you use the lens hood unless shooting into the sun and you prefer the lens tripod support up. Belt camera/lens holder different. Not so sure about the hat angle….

    Good one on the tripod support on top for me when hand holding.