Serendipitous Sea Lion Perfection Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Serendipitous Sea Lion Perfection Part I


Aside from the one-hour delay, my flight to Islip went smoothly. Younger daughter Alissa picked me up right on the button. I never cease to marvel at how Lissy deals with the daily challenges of raising two autistic sons (and those feelings are of course punched up whenever I visit). I see Dr. Dan Holland this afternoon. Dan, of True Sports Care in Nesconset, is my Long Island chiropractor; the guy is great.

The Streak

Today makes sixty-six days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about an hour to prepare (including the time spent on the image optimization). With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com came through for me once again with both my DeSoto IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all 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.

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.

This image was created on the 2017 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 255mm), and my favorite sea lion photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: zero.

One AF point down and three to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the center of the pinniped’s neck.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger, borderline spectacular version.

Galapagos Sea Lion playing

Serendipitous Sea Lion Perfection Part I

Even more so than with birds, I find photographing sea lions a big challenge. Getting the right exposure on very dark, very wet creatures can be a challenge. Soft light — cloudy bright in this case — is ideal. As with today’s featured image, a zoom lens is a huge help with framing. And as always, picking the right AF point is both challenging and, when you get it right, rewarding. The last piece to the puzzle is capturing the right moment. With today’s image the animal was playing, rolling in the surf as the gentle waves came in and receded. Once I had the framing right, I created a series of nine images. The pose in this frame, _P3A5051, was beyond perfect. The beautiful curve of the body, and the positions or the head, the tail, and the flippers could not have been better. Did I see this perfect serendipitous arrangement as I held down the shutter button? Of course not. But by having the right exposure, by selecting the right AF point, and by varying the focal length and the framing, I was ready to cash my ticket when the magic moment occurred. Heck, even the diagonal line of the breaking wave above the sea lion was perfectly placed (as a framing element).

“Good luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity.” This quote, often attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, is especially applicable to all facets of nature photography.

If In Doubt …

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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.

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4 comments to Serendipitous Sea Lion Perfection Part I

  • avatar Jim Amato

    Arthur, This wonderful image artistic and technical image earns the Seal of Approval!

  • avatar frank sheets

    Lovely image!. Right now, as I have mentioned previously, an image of a young sea lion on that beach is my favorite of the trip and will probably be the first image I print. Who knows, could be the same animal.

  • avatar Jake

    Hi Artie, stunning image and great quote. Everything about this image is perfect, even the colours of the Sea Lion are interesting. Have a great time in Long Island.