Photographing Nature in a Natural Setting in Solitude … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Photographing Nature in a Natural Setting in Solitude ...

What’s Up?

Patrick Sparkman and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by photographing all morning at La Jolla. The main pelican cliffs are presently closed. We had a great time working with the nesting Brandt’s Cormorants for several hours. Before we left, we checked out our favorite double-crested spot and found a gorgeous adult in full breeding plumage. We spent the afternoon with Dr. Cliff Oliver playing ukulele and watching music videos. Photos and video links soon. It is Friday dinner time and I need to nap 🙂

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: 2!

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, 2 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.


These images were created at the Monkey Park at Jigokudani, Japan with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 100 and 263mm respectively) with my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800: 1/400 and 1/320 sec. respectively) at f/11 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Photographers around the main Snow Monkey onsen at the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Photographing Nature in a Natural Setting in Solitude …

Or not. Comments are welcome. Feel free to share your opinion or to share facts about the Monkey Park as you understand them. Would you enjoy photographing at this location? Why or why not? I will chime in after the y’all have had a chance to chime in.

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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.


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26 comments to Photographing Nature in a Natural Setting in Solitude …

  • avatar KatiTomlinson

    I don’t believe in baiting anything…There is no way that this spectacle of humans hovering around/over the monkey’s can’t impact the species in damaging ways we are not aware of…as well as those we are. I can’t believe that the photography professionals will partake in this without trying to make the situation less stressful to the species. Beautiful images aside, how would you like to be in that fishbowl with hordes of monkey’s surrounding you all day?

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. You find a lemon, you make lemonade. With lots of people, getting photos of the monkeys becomes more challenging but taking interesting photos of people gets easier. As long as the people are peaceful and polite I’d be happy to have the opportunity to photograph there.

  • I would personally hate it, I think Photography is very much for loners, and I hate crowds. I think the people who organised this event need to restrict the numbers. There is a saying I have used all my life and I quote ” Solitude should never be confused with loneliness ”

    Best wishes



    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Well, I love photography and I don’t mind crowds so not sure that your statement is 100% true 🙂


  • Great images of exceptional type. Thank you for sharing.

    Guru, one thing is bugging us, the Canon User Enthusiasts. Nikon satisfied the needs of enthusiast wildlife photographers with one great combo. Nikon D500 + AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm + 1.4x Extender. This produces a reach of 1,050mm at the long end retaining AF at f/8.

    Should we keep watching them with regret or Canon is going to offer any matching combo for us?

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Best regards.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Quazi, Canon has had the 100-400 II and the 7D II for several years now. Other than that, watching with regret is a choice. And in case you have not noticed, I have been doing OK for a while with my Canon gear 🙂

      Respectively with love, artie

  • avatar Tony Botelho

    I agree with Jon, timing is everything. I bet at first light you would not have a crowd like that, but I could be wrong. Photographing my favorite places in the Southwest I’m usually alone, or there may be one or two other photographers there. If I was to come back hours later the place would be crowded. I have also found when the weather is ideal for some dramatic photography I’m there alone. I always laugh when someone tells me “I was there but my photos don’t look like that”. I ask what time were you there and its always between 10 and 4, or something like that. Don’t they know “that the early bird gets the worm”.

  • I will just enjoy the pictures and pass on the experience ! Many of my favorite sites over the last 40 yrs have been overrun and I pass over them now and look for more tranquil experiences. The good news I guess is more people are enjoying wildlife and nature I guess ! I just hope we do not destroy what we love !

  • avatar Steve Rentmeesters

    In the sentence just below the photos you have a typo “Monkey Part” should be “Monkey Park”.
    Thanks for posting these images of the other primates at the Monkey Park.

  • avatar Jim Crane

    Hi, looks like when the fish are in. You can’t be shy. There is a name for this. Looks like fun. I wish one day I could see the snow monkeys. Jim

  • avatar Dave K

    I always enjoy seeing the bigger picture. Part of the reason I enjoy nature and wildlife photography is getting away from he crowds. Personally I would not go there after seeing this image.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    After seeing that mass of humanity, I’m even more astonished with the images you’ve been able to make.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    NAH! Leaves me cold and now makes me think much less of all the beautiful images I have seen of these animals. I don’t like circuses either – and this is certainly one!

  • avatar Karl Fiegenschuh

    Back to the monkey park: this is the way things are anymore. At Bosque, on the bridge overlooking the Virgin River in Zion National Park at sunset, at Tunnel View in Yosemite, etc. Try getting close to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, or finding a clear view of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, or getting a red/orange-parka-free photo from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia or even walking down the sidewalk in Bar Harbor…. All the great viewpoints of the world are overrun with tourists with their cell phones and selfie sticks. It was no different at the monkey park. The only good news is that the tourists tended to stay in the park for 20 minutes then move on. The number of serious photographers is up from prior years, but still is not as bad as the time I went four years ago when a photo tour arrived first thing in the morning, set up tripods and light stands along the edge of the monkey pool and left them there all day, hogging the majority of the pool for themselves. At least on the days I was there, people tended to move around a lot.

  • avatar Karl Fiegenschuh

    Main Pelican Cliffs at La Jolla permanently closed? When did this happen? Is there any hope they will be reopened?

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Monkeys or no monkeys, I couldn’t handle that. Hats off to those who can. Now, a shot with the monkey holding the camera, that would be a winner; the human zoo.


  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Kinda like photographing lions in the Ngorongoro Crater. Sometimes to get the best viewing, in the best places, at the allowed times, you have to put up with the crowd. Get your close-ups here, then move on to a more remote, more difficult, but also more rewarding location. Welcome back.

  • After seeing your snow monkey pictures, I know there is a work-around. As Jon said:timing, persistence, and experience. Bet the monkeys wish they had cameras…

  • avatar Jon

    Hi Artie, I would think it is a matter of timing. My guess is that there are increasing numbers of people present at the more sociable hours of the day. Get there at the “right” time springs to mind.
    I must confess though if I had gone and been confronted with such a spectacle I would have been very disappointed indeed. Not my idea of natural history photography at it’s best I am afraid.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      In part. But it can be pretty crowded most days between 10am and 2:30 or so …