Travel Miracles. And Carpet-neck Scissors Preening Tips … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Travel Miracles. And Carpet-neck Scissors Preening Tips ...

Travel Miracles

For starters, for the first time in decades on a photo trip, I got down to only a single checked bag: 49.75 pounds. Why? There is a weight limit on the float plane from Kodiak to Katmai and I finally decided to comply. It was difficult, but I wound up not having to leave anything important behind. I make most trips with two 50 pound bags …

Second, I switched from my larger Think Tank Roll-aboard (the AIRPORT SECURITY™ V3.0) to the smaller one (the AIRPORT INTERNATIONAL™ V3.0). This on its own saved 1 1/2 pounds. Photographically I cut way down as well. I am taking the following: the 500 II, the 100-400 II, two sets of TCs, my 24-105, the 8-15 fisheye, and two 5D Mark IV bodies. Stuffed in between the gear were two extra sets of front and rear caps, four extra batteries, and my Delkin flash card tote with a single spare 128gb card. Total weight: 34 1/4 pounds, about ten pounds lighter than average. Note that the lens hoods for the 500 II and the 1-4II go in the checked bag along with the Induro GIT 304L and the Mongoose M3.6. That 1D X II is one heavy body …

To order a Think Tank bag, receive a free gift, and support the work that I do here on the blog, please click here.

I got lots of work done on the LensAlign/FocusTune Micro-adjusting Tutorial e-Guide on my flight from Orlando to Seattle and then again on my flight to Anchorage.

More Exposure and Manual Mode Learning …

If you wish to continue your education with regards to these two topics be sure to re-visit yesterday’s blog post here and read and study my replies to the many comments. Seriously.

Canon EOS 5Ds Digital Camera Body

Price Reduced $300 on July 16, 2017.

Robert Blanke is also offering a Canon EOS 5Ds body in like-new condition for $2249.00 (was $2549.00). The sale includes the original packaging, manuals, software, and cables, the SLR body, the body cap, the charger, and the LP-E6N battery that came in the box. Also included is insured ground shipping via UPS. Your items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Please contact Robert via e-mail or by phone at (813) 417-8967 (Eastern time).

The huge, amazingly detailed image files from the 5Ds are ideal for serious portrait, corporate, landscape, and Urbex photographers; it does its best work in a studio environment. artie

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 29 days in a row with a new educational blog post 🙂 There may be few or no new blog posts for a week while I am in Alaska as we move the BAA Blog to a new server.


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, 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.

This image was created on the 2016 San Diego IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 340mm) with the EOS-1D X now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -2.

65-point Automatic Selection/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The system selected an array of five AF points a bit less than half-way down the bird’s bill, on pretty much on the same plane as the bird’s eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial.

Today I would have used Upper Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter button AF to ensure that the selected AF points were somewhere on the bird’s face. In fact, I do not keep 65-point AF active on any of my camera bodies because Large Zone AF is far superior. And with moving subjects, I now use shutter button AF 100% of the time.

Pacific race Brown Pelican scissors preening

Pelican Scissors Preening Perfection

The single most important factor having to do with the success of pelican scissors preening images is the orientation of the plane of the bird’s bill to the back of the camera. In today’s featured image that orientation is perfect with the plane of the bird’s bill 100% parallel to the imaging sensor. The second thing you are looking for is for the bill to be fully open. That’s another bingo for today’s featured image.

Carpet-Necked Pelicans

From gulls to shorebirds to pelicans and with many other bird families I have always enjoyed studying the various plumages. I find the color and patterns fascinating, and most of the time, these colors and patterns help you to age the bird and to better understand the plumage sequences. I created the phrase carpet necks several years ago as it perfectly describes the look of the back of the head and neck of adult pelicans that are molting from winter plumage (white hind neck) to breeding plumage (dark chocolate brown hind neck). The back of the heads and necks of these birds alway looked to me like a good piece of tightly woven slightly shaggy carpet.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT: Monday, JAN 15 thru and including the morning session on Friday, JAN 19, 2018: 4 1/2 days: $2099.

Limit: 10: Openings: 4

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Sunday, Jan 14, 2018.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//2016. 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. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

The San Diego Site Guide

If you cannot make or afford the IPT the San Diego Site Guide truly is the next best thing to being there with me. It is all very simple, you will learn where to be when depending on the wind and sky conditions.

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 :).

5 comments to Travel Miracles. And Carpet-neck Scissors Preening Tips …

  • Hello Art,
    I continue to enjoy and learn from your posts on a daily basis. Thank you for these as I know it takes time each day to put them together.
    On a different topic, My dad and I also love the Jack Reacher novels and read them all as they come out! Its cool to get lost in the story and put yourself in the shoes of a seemingly invincible character!
    Rick Alvarnaz

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Best of luck in Alaska. I am envious. Could not fit it in this year….
    Nice image today. I lived in SD two different times and never thought to go look for pelicans. Was not so much into birds back then.
    Now that I’m in NW WA, I find out about them. Go figure.
    I have seen pelicans in Great Falls MT and in the Yellowstone area. I had not expected that. I think they were white pelicans and I never got close enough to make an image.
    All the best, and thanks for your helpful comments.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Guy. And yes, White Pelicans are regular in Yellowstone.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Good catch David. +1/3 stop.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Spectacular image. What did you mean by “=1/3 stop”? “-1/3 stop”?