First-ever Used 5D IV/100-400 II for sale. My Vitreous Detachment Story. An Amazing North Seymour Final Landing. More on 100-400 II Versatility. And Free but Hugely Important Nature Photography (and Photo-Philosophy) Lessons. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

First-ever Used 5D IV/100-400 II for sale. My Vitreous Detachment Story. An Amazing North Seymour Final Landing. More on 100-400 II Versatility. And Free but Hugely Important Nature Photography (and Photo-Philosophy) Lessons.

What’s Up?

I visited the eye doctor early on Thursday morning. See more on that below. In the afternoon I went back to town to see my chiropractor. Late in the day I exercised a bit and enjoyed an easy 1/2 mile swim. I hope to get started on my 2016 Federal Income Tax return today. And to catch up on more e-mails.

I was glad to learn that IPT veteran Richard Bohnet sold his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens (the “old” 1-4) in excellent condition for an even $500 in mid-August. Used Gear action has heated up since my return …

Vitreous Detachment (or Separation)

From the National Eye Institute/Vitreous Detachment

Most of the eye’s interior is filled with vitreous. There are millions of fine fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks, and these fine fibers pull on the retinal surface. Usually the fibers break, allowing the vitreous to separate and shrink from the retina. This is a vitreous detachment, a common condition that usually affects people over age 50, and is very common after age 80. People who are nearsighted are also at increased risk. Those who have a vitreous detachment in one eye are likely to have one in the other, although it may not happen until years later.

From Wikipedia

The vitreous (Latin for “glassy”) humor is a gel which fills the eye behind the lens. Between it and the retina is the vitreous membrane. With age the vitreous humor changes, shrinking and developing pockets of liquefaction, similar to the way a gelatin dessert shrinks and detaches from the edge of a pan. At some stage the vitreous membrane may peel away from the retina. This is usually a sudden event, but it may also occur slowly over months.

My Vitreous Detachment Story

Early on in the Galapagos trip I noticed a zillion tiny specks when looking at the sky. The first day it did not grab my attention. On the second day I had a really big floater; it had a black head and a long tail. It kept swimming across my field of view and from left to right and then re-appearing, sometimes smaller and sometimes larger. I spoke with Dr. Anita North who was on the trip. She said that it might be a detached retina or it might be a retinal tear. But my peripheral vision was fine as was my visual acuity. So she thought that it was likely something more benign.

The tiny zillion amoebas continued and with Anita’s help (she suggested shutting one eye at a time) I brilliantly deduced that the problem with my left eye. Duh! On the third day I tried my dear friend Alan Levine on the Samba’s satellite phone but failed. Alan is a top-notch (retired) opthalmic surgeon. On the fourth day I reached him. After I shared the whole story with him and told him that I had not seen any lightning flashes, he felt that it was likely not a detached retina or a retinal tear but that it was likely something called vitreous separation (or detachment). With that condition, the vitreous membrane pulls away from the retina. He said that if things got worse that I needed to get to get off the ship asap, fly to Guayaquil, and see a retinal specialist there before flying home. But that if things stayed the same or if they improved that I would be fine to fly home. Things got better every day.

I called Jim and asked that he make me an appointment with Dr. Roy Z. Braunstein for the day after I got home. Dr. B is a fine opthalmic surgeon in Lake Wales (who practiced in New York City for most of his career). When I stood outside his office yesterday and looked at the sky there were no more tiny dots. After a lengthy examination that included my regular diabetic eye testing, I was glad to learn that I had no retinal detachment, no retinal tears, no glaucoma, and that the both eyes were in perfect shape with excellent blood vessels and flow and both macula completely normal. You have the eyes of a non-diabetic, said Dr Braunstein, who suggested follow-up testing in one month. I will be making that appointment today.

To learn more about Vitreous Detachments click here.

ps: As a result of attending the School for the Work last March I did not freak out when my vision problems surfaced. I was weirdly calm. When I got my clean bill of eye health I was glad as though I am right-handed I am left-eyed at the viewfinder 🙂 Which is your dominant hand? Which eye do you use?

The Streak

Today marks thirty-two days in a row with a new educational blog post. This blog post took about four hours to create. The plan right now with all of my upcoming free time is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.


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.

Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.


I recently updated the IPT page. If you doubt that I am really slowing down do click here to see the meager IPT schedule. Right now there are only two US-based IPTs on the schedule. Best news is I now have two folks registered for the Fort DeSoto IPT so that will run. Do consider joining us if you would like to learn from the best.

Photographers Wanted

If you would like to learn to be a better bird photographer, consider joining me on either the Fort DeSoto IPT in late September or the San Diego IPT in January, 2018. With two folks signed up, DeSoto will offer practically private instruction. And you can tack on the In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for free. Scroll down for details. Click here for complete IPT info and the current but abbreviated schedule.

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.

Last morning North Seymour composite

All images made with the hand held EF 100-400mm II and the 5D Mark IV

some with the 1.4X III TC added.

Last Morning North Seymour Composite Details

From upper left clockwise to center:

Image #1: Barnacles. Created at 8:51am on the morning of 22 AUG when all of the images in the composite were made. Focal length: 200mm. This was the last image that I made on the IPT as we waited to board a panga (zodiac) for the short ride back to the Samba.

Image #2: Blue-footed Booby female head portrait. Created at 7:22am. Focal length: 560mm. Note the large pupil as compared to the tiny pinpoint pupil of the male as seen in the center image immediately below.

Image #3: Blue-footed Booby, head portrait of large chick. Created at 7:41am. Focal length:358mm.

Image #4: Blue-footed Booby single foot. Created at 7:50am. Focal length:490mm.

Image #5: Morning sunrise (photo illustration–two birds added, two small birds eliminate). Base image created at 6:10am from the landing. Focal length:100mm.

Image #6: Frigatebird take-off silhouette. Created at 6:23am. Focal length:330mm.

Image #7: Male frigatebird in flight with pouch inflated. Created at 6:25am. Focal length:238mm.

Image #8: Blue-footed Booby, large chick flapping. Created at 8:07am. Focal length:420mm.

Image #9: Blue-footed Booby male head portrait. Created at 7:23am. Focal length: 560mm. Note the tiny pupil as compared to the large pupil of the female as seen in Image #2 directly above.

All of the images above were created on our second abbreviated (6am-9am) landing at North Seymour Island. My trips are the only ones on the planet to land twice at North Seymour, twice at Hood Island (Espanola) for the Waved Albatrosses, and twice at Darwin Bay (Genovesa)for the nesting Red-footed and Nazca Boobies, the nesting frigatebirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls, the Sharp-beaked Ground Finches, and tons more. If you are seriously interesting in learning about my late-July 2019 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a lifetime, please get in touch via e-mail. I already have many interested folks. For good reason 🙂

ps: many of the images above will be featured in upcoming blog posts that will include lots more on the situations as well as expanded learning opportunities.

More on 100-400 II Versatility

I made our last morning landing (and several others as well) with only the 100-400 II/5D IV combo as my “big lens” always being sure to have my 1.4X III/ii TC in my fanny pack. With focal lengths ranging from 100mm to 560mm it helped my create tight head portraits (images 2, 3, 8, and 9), quasi-macro shots (images 1 and 4), flight and action photographs (images 6 and 7), and even a nice scenic (image #5). The lens is incredibly sharp, the 4-stop IS is phenomenal (and helps a ton when hand holding), it focuses to under one meter, it is relatively lightweight and thus can be easily hand held by most folks, and as seen here again today, the combination of its performance, its focal length range of from 100mm to 560mm (the latter with the 1.4X III TC), and its versatility are simply unmatched.

If you were inspired to purchase your own 100-400 II after reading this blog post, please be sure to use this link.

Most Apropos New Used Gear Listings …

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Ivan Kuraev is offering a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens in excellent plus to near near-mint condition for $1699. The lens has been used professionally, but has been cared for exceptionally well. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it including the front and rear lens caps and the zippered case. Insured ground shipping via major courier is also included.

Please contact Ivan via e-mail or by phone at (781) 475-8061 (Eastern time).

Loving this lens so much — see today’s blog post to learn why — I am not surprised that this is the first-ever used 1-4II to come up for sale … If you have been lusting after this, lens it will be best to grab this one quickly and save a cool $350. artie

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Ivan Kuraev is also offering a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in excellent plus to near near-mint condition for $2499. The body has been used professionally, but has been cared for exceptionally well. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it including the front lens cap and the strap. Insured ground shipping via major courier is also included.

Please contact Ivan via e-mail or by phone at (781) 475-8061 (Eastern time).

What can I say. The 5D IV is my favorite ever digital dSLR. I own and use three of them while my 1DX II sits on the shelf in my garage. If you have been dreaming of a 5D IV, grab Ivan’s camera body right now and save a cool $800. artie

Free but Hugely Important Nature Photography (and Photo-Philosophy) Lessons

At dinner with most of the group on the night before most of us would be flying home, participant and good friend Anita North said to me, “You were really on your game on this trip. Look how many great images you made.” I replied, “I was not on my game any more than usual. And please understand that I do not consider myself talented at all when it comes to nature photography. Success is simply a matter of studying and experimenting, seeing what works for you, paying attention to small detail, and then grinding it out.” First you learn to spot the good situations and then you follow up by executing what you have learned. And you do that by following the simple directions.

For two weeks on the Galapagos IPT I emphasized the following points repeatedly:

1: To create tight head portraits it is generally best to hand hold an intermediate telephoto lens, add the 1.4X TC, get low, and choose an off-center upper AF point.

The birds are silly tame so getting low makes a close approach easy. Adding a TC enables you to keep a respectful distance. And getting low helps to create those pleasing, out-of-focus BIRDS AS ART backgrounds. Choosing an off-center upper AF point allows you to create a pleasing image design. If you insist on staying with the center AF point you will have too much dead space above and behind the bird’s head and will be wasting lots of pixels that could be put to better use on the bird’s head! (See images 2, 3, 8, and 9).

2: In pre-dawn or in very low light you can use Tv (Shutter Priority) Mode with great effectiveness. Simply choose a shutter speed that you are confident will yield sharp images for you and then enter the correct exposure compensation. I keep ISO Safety Shift set on all of my cameras so in the low light I set the ISO to 400 –in low light situations the camera will raise the ISO as needed to fit your specifications (as it did dramatically with Image # 7). You can get the same results by setting Auto ISO.

Image #5: 1/500 sec., -1/3 stop EC, ISO 400. Image #6: 1/500 sec., +2 stops EC, the camera raised the ISO to 500. Image #7: 1/1000 sec., +2 2/3 stops EC, the camera raised the ISO to 2500.

3: When working at point blank range near the minimum focusing distance of the lens, be sure to stop down for a bit of extra depth-of-field.

Remember that wide open is f/8 with an f/5.6 lens and a 1.4X TC. Image #1, no TC: f/11. Image #2, with TC: f/11. Image #3, with TC: f/11. Image #4, with TC, f/16. Image #8, with TC: f/10. Image #9, with TC: f/11.

4: When working with an evenly toned scene and subject, working in Av (aperture priority) Mode allows you to select the aperture and EC that you need and then fire away at will.

Image #1: f/11 with +1 EC.

#5: When the sun is strong enough to create shadows it is generally best to point your shadow directly at the subject.

As with images 2, 3, 8, and 9.

There you have it. Recipes for improving your nature photography. Study and experiment. Look at as many great images as you can. See what works for you. Pay attention to small detail. And then grind it out.” Learn to spot the good situations and then follow that up up by executing what you have learned and practiced. You can learn to do all of those things by following the simple directions. And by attending as many IPTs as possible …

It thrills me when my students pay attention and begin making great images on a consistent basis. I will be sharing some of those great images with you here in the coming weeks.

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.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The Fort DeSoto 2017 Fall IPT/September 22 (afternoon session) through the full day on September 25, 2017. 3 1/2 FULL DAYs: $1649. Limit 8.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join us on the ITF/MWS on the morning of Tuesday, September 26 as my guest. See below for details on that.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Though I have not decided on a hotel yet — I will as soon as there is one sign-up — do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with ten folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, gear advice, and instructions for meeting on the afternoon of Friday, September 22.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rich with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session (ITF/MWS): $99.

Join me on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive afternoon workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tour. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal non-refundable registration fee. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place at least two weeks before the event.


BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make the IPT? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

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.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

10 comments to First-ever Used 5D IV/100-400 II for sale. My Vitreous Detachment Story. An Amazing North Seymour Final Landing. More on 100-400 II Versatility. And Free but Hugely Important Nature Photography (and Photo-Philosophy) Lessons.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Thanks again. I can’t tell you how much your instruction in person and through your writings has improved my photography.

  • This post is really a stand-out, chuck-full of good lessons! So glad to read that your eye troubles were temporary and that lessons of The Work calmed any panic that might have set in. Thank you–for tirelessly sharing your life’s work in imagery, thoughts, philosophy and technique. I frequently think of your lessons out in the field and used a recent power outage to review ABP I. I always find good stuff to review there!

  • Fabulous trip, Artie. It truly was a dream come true for me to rub shoulders with someone I considered to be a legend. Great learning experience.
    I’m glad your eye is better. It is so inspiring to learn from you that you are already enthusiastic about your next trip in 2019!!!
    Regarding your question about eye/hand, I am right handed, and put my left eye to the viewfinder. However, I have taught myself to keep both eyes open during the making of images. This goes back to the days when, as a medical student, we were taught to keep both eyes open when viewing anatomy and pathology specimens through a microscope.

  • avatar Bill Hill

    Right hand, left eye. My right eye is stronger but I am struggling trying to use it. Old habits.

    Take care

  • avatar frank sheets

    Good morning. Got safely home last nite at about 10:30. Staying over for the extra day in Guayaquil allowed for some much needed rest before the long flight home. But will say we had we had trouble navigating in that we both were still rocking from being on the boat for two weeks. What a wonderful life time experience and must say that from a photographers perspective, experiencing the Galapagos as we did, other venues would have been disappointing and frustrating by comparison.

    Very pleased to hear about your docs conclusion there is nothing too serious re your eye issue. You had us concerned. Guess its something we can all look forward to as we move on to the inevitable, getting older.

    All and all, thanks so much for creating such a wonderful experience for us.


    PS: I am printing out todays post as a reminder of proper camera setups for pre-dawn low light situations.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Welcome back. My eye doctors called what you had a “post-vitreous detachment” or PVD. I have had it in both eyes and both tinme involved small retinal tears that were repaired with lasers. I think just about everyone our age has had PVDS and as you say, most are completely benign, without even the specks you saw. Glad you’re OK.

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    Welcome back! Great series of images, Artie.

    I particularly like the single foot of the Blue-footed Booby as it is a different viewpoint of a bird, especially one with interesting feet. A displaced Brown Booby, showing up off Cape Cod, MA, was my first rare bird sighting before I cared about rare sightings…or birds for that matter. What a difference a few years makes!

    Regarding the eyes, glad your vision is healthy. I’m traditionally right-handed and use my left eye to view. I feel that my eye does become fatigued and vision disoriented after a long day of shooting. What I have been passively practicing is keeping both eyes open when looking through the viewfinder, with the left focused on the camera and the right aware of my surroundings. No scientific data/benefit to report, but my eyes do feel more relaxed after when they are both involved.

  • Right hand and Right eye and my yearly eye check revealed no diabetic changes

  • Right hand, left eye. I am glad to hear that your vision issue cleared up.