Owls and Farms … Was It Worth It? Why 1000mm in the Palouse? On Being Prepared and Getting Set Up Quickly. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Owls and Farms ... Was It Worth It? Why 1000mm in the Palouse? On Being Prepared and Getting Set Up Quickly.


Nothing exciting on Wednesday. I worked on blog posts, got lots of advance work done for the UK and Galapagos trips, worked a bit on the current workflow eGuide, and enjoyed a nice swim. And ate well. If you are considering this year’s Bear Boat Cubs IPT, my last Bear Boat IPT, you will need to contact me today at the latest. By phone at 863-692-2806 is fine. Scroll down for details.

Mongoose M3.6 Heads in Stock

For the first time in months, we have Mongoose M3.6 heads in stock. We got our hands on six the other day; three were already accounted for and we sold another one yesterday. Call Jim at 863-692-0906 to order yours.

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 9 days in a row with a new educational blog post 🙂


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

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.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor 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.

New Used Gear Listing

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens for Canon EF

Erik Hagstrom is offering a used Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemprary lens for Canon EF in excellent plus condition for only $699. The sale includes the front and rear lens caps, the lens hood, a black LensCoat (currently a $90 value), the lens case, all the original accessories – [two straps, a rubber ring & manual], the original lens box and USA warranty cards, and insured ground shipping by major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Erik by e-mail.

Lots of folks on recent IPTs have been using the relatively new Sigma 150-600 lenses with excellent results. artie

This image was created on Day 5 of the 2017 Palouse IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/320 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Cloudy WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

A single AF point four to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The single AF point was on the right eye of the lower bird.

Image #1: Great Horned Owl fledged twins

Owls and Farms …

It is not uncommon to see Great Horned Owls when visiting the Palouse. Though I have seen many over the years, some in really cool settings, these young owls were the only ones tame enough for me to get at least a decent image or two.

Why 1000mm in the Palouse?

I took both the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender and the 500 II to the Palouse. (Actually, the 2-4 was sent via UPS Ground.) The 2-4 was my most valuable landscape lens but I went to the 500II/2X III TC only rarely. The 500 II however, was in the back of our SUV in case I needed it …

On Being Prepared and Getting Set Up Quickly

We had been photographing a more than century hold prairie home and made a short wiggle to a really neat series of red barns. As we got right up on the first barn, I screamed to Fern who was driving, “Oh my God. There is a great horned owl perched right on the barn.” If only I had had my 200-400 on my lap … In any case, we saw the owl flying toward a tree well ahead of us so we drove on a bit. What I saw excited me. I got out of the car quickly, grabbed my tripod, grabbed my 500 II, grabbed the 2X III TC, and grabbed my 5D IV. Once I got everything mounted on the tripod I turned the camera on and instinctively set ISO 1600 as I knew that the soil nearby was not firm. I moved slowly and set the rig up. I dialed the shutter speed to show zero EC on the analogue scale, and selected an appropriate AF point as noted in the image captions. It was all over in less than a minute. During that time I created only about 8 images. My two faves are posted in today’s blog post.

This image was also created on Day 5 of the 2017 Palouse IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/320 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. WB was mistakenly set at K5000 and was corrected in post.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

A single AF point four to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Shutter button AF was active at the moment. The single AF point was on the right eye of the lower bird.

Image #2: Great Horned Owl fledged young

Image Questions

Which of today’s two featured images was created first? There is no need to guess or try to figure it out. There are definitive clues in the image captions.

Which of today’s two featured images is your favorite? Please let us know why you made your choice. Additional comments on either or both images are welcome.

What do you think of the hemlock setting?

Was It Worth It?

Was it worth it for me to have taken two big lenses, the 2-4 and the 500 II? By all means yes. The 2-4 was my most valuable lens on the trip and the 500 II with its potential 1000mm of reach was there when I needed it. Photographing the owls with a long lens was a blast, but only because I had a big lens with me and only because I was able to get set up quickly and create a very few sharp images.


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 $2,000 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 here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

You can pay your $2,000 deposit via credit card when you sign up and then put a check in the mail for your balance. 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.


Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.


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 :).

23 comments to Owls and Farms … Was It Worth It? Why 1000mm in the Palouse? On Being Prepared and Getting Set Up Quickly.

  • The head angle of the left hand owl puts image 1 down for me I really like the composition and direct eye contact of the owl in image 2 so image 2 is my favourite. I also like the wide approach to image 2 it really shows the tree and puts the owl in context. Image 2 was created first because the white balance was mistakenly set to K5000 and by the time that you took image 1 you had corrected it to cloudy.

    • Oh ooops. I did not realise that the question had already been cracked by Mr Gates.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Hey Jake, No worry. I am fine with the head angle of the second bird. That said it would have been nice if that one had also been staring at me 🙂

        with love, artie

  • avatar James Saxon

    I love both images but the first one with both owls is my favorite. Love the color in the hemlock tree setting as it makes the owls “pop”. I would do a small crop from the right side to eliminate some type white reflection that caught my eye. Thanks for sharing. Its a great image and something most folks, including me, would never look for or see while in the Palouse.

  • avatar David Neilson

    It’s not a pine.

  • avatar Ron Gates

    Image #2 was shot first because you discovered that the wrong WB was set and corrected it for Image #1. I like #2 best even though common theory says odd numbers are better than even for subjects. I also like the enviornmental shot. A question: could you have framed this as a loose vertical that was roughly half of the frame to eliminate some of the woody pine limbs in the center of the image. You could also have cropped a little from the bottom and left to keep the single owl lower and a little off center to the left? All in all, I like both images.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are too smart; good job! I could have done lots of things differently but I like the rule of thirds horizontals 🙂 I am sure that I would like your suggested crops as well.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Doug

    Awesome! Might try cropping a bit from the right side of the images.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Beautiful shots. Love the pine tree setting.

  • Image #2 was made first.
    I like image #2 the best. The small in the frame owl looks nice tucked back in the pine tree.
    Really like the pine tree setting here reminds more of some environmental portraits i have seen of other birds.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      How did you know?

      Thanks for your kind comments. I like the ENV portraits too but I would not have mind having had them at close range 🙂

      with love, artie

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Elinor and Anita.

    with love, artie

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Love the two young owls! I bet you were the only one who brought your 500 to the Palouse!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are correct sir! I loved the baby tricolored image that you sent from our Gatorland In-the-Field session.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Both equally beautiful in MHO. Really like the pine tree setting.

  • avatar Marina

    Super owl images!!!