My Excuses. And Announcing the 2022 San Diego Mini IPT « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My Excuses. And Announcing the 2022 San Diego Mini IPT

What’s Up?

My flights to San Diego were happily non-eventful. As often happens, I got a ton of work done on consolidating the 26 SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Notes e-mails. I had already completed a SONY Alpha a1 Setup and Info Getting Started Guide and an Artie’s Settings & CAMSETA2.DAT Buttons and Dials Guide e-mail. On the plane en route to Pheonix, I worked for more than four hours on the a1 CAMSETA2 INFO file. That is a compilation of the 26 e-mails that had been sent to the group members. I have a bit more work to do and when that is done, I will need to send only three e-mails to the new folks in the group (rather than the previous 28). Much of the stuff in the 26 e-mails dealt with the no-longer-relevant Viewfinder Blackout issues that were solved many months ago with the release of the V.1.10 Firmware update.

Today is Saturday 15 January 2022. I am headed to La Jolla early to scout for the first San Diego IPT. Amazingly, the early morning forecast is for cloudy with occasional light rain. For more than the past 50 years, the sun always shines when I am in San Diego. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 66 consecutive days with a new one.

Please remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA on 29 January 2019. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter (at 560mm), and the beyond remarkable Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera body, now replaced by The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera body. ISO 1600: 1/1000 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:59:32am on a cloudy morning.

Expand Flexible Spot AF-C worked perfectly.

Image #1: Pacific-race Brown Pelican, sub-adult head throw

Seeking Head Throws!

On every San Diego IPT, we strive to teach folks to anticipate the dramatic head throws and to make some good images of this cool behavior. Consider joining me on the Mini IPT above or inquiring via e-mail if you would like to explore the possibility of an In-the-Field session or two the previous week (18-20 January).

With Image #1, note the isolation of the subject, the vertical framing without clipping anything, the subject-to-film-plane orientation (perfectly square), the distant background, and that the image captured the peak of the action. Making a great head throw image is both very challenging and very rewarding.

Image #1A: RawDigger screen capture for the Pacific-race Brown Pelican, sub-adult head throw image

My Excuses

So just why is this image one full stop under-exposed?

  • #1: I was brand new to Sony at the time and Patrick (mostly) and I (somewhat) had not figured out how to set and utilize the Zebra technology.
  • #2: I had not yet begun exploring RawDigger

RawDigger — not for the faint of heart …

Nothing has ever helped me learn to create perfect exposures to the degree that RawDigger has. I think that many folks are reluctant to learn that most of their images are underexposed by one or more full stops and that highlight warnings in Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, and your in-camera histogram are completely bogus as they are based on the embedded JPEGs. Only your raw files tell the truth all the time. Heck, I resisted RawDigger for several years … Once you get over that feeling, RawDigger can become your very best exposure friend no matter what system you are using. On the recent IPTs and In-the-Field sessions, we have demonstrated that fact. Convincingly.

The RawDigger (pink) Adapted Histogram

In the RawDigger e-Guide, you will learn exactly how to set up the Adapted “pink” RawDigger Histogram and how to use it to quickly and easily evaluate the exposure or raw file brightness of images from all digital cameras currently in use. RawDigger was especially helpful to me when I struggled with R5 exposures and when I learned my new camera body, the Sony Alpha a1.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) Mini IPT. Monday 24 January thru the morning session on Wednesday 26 January 2022. Three mornings and two afternoons: $1649.00. Deposit: $499.00. Limit: 6 photographers

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 (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. (Or two seconds with SONY zebras…) And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure is one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

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. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

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 as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! 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 will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five three hour morning photo sessions, four one and one-half afternoon photo sessions, four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy day occasions, we may — at my discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

A $499 deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Best would be to call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due immediately.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

3 comments to My Excuses. And Announcing the 2022 San Diego Mini IPT

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Dear Art: You may have blocked this from your memory, but in January 2008, when Stokes and I took a San Diego phototour with you (and Ellen) it rained for three days straight! Fortunately, we came a day early and met you, quite accidentally, at the cliffs. We had a great morning and you said, “This is as good as it gets.” The next day — and for two days afterward — it rained.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I remember that well. We were in the Pizza Oven place and the water was running a foot deep down the street! The average total rainfall in January for San Diego is just over one inch. We had more than two inches in three hours!

      with love, artie

  • Image #1 of Brown Pelican was cute and FUNNY!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>