BAA IPTs « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
February 8th, 2017


BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo Tours (IPTs)

Click here for BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) General Information.

Click here for BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) Deposit and Cancellation Policies.

Click here for BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) Registration and Release Forms.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

  • The 2022 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPTs (sold out).
  • The 2022 San Diego IPT: 4 1/2 days: 17 through 21 January 2022
  • The 2022 Stick Marsh/Roseate Spoonbill IPTs: #1: 9-13 March 2022. #2: 14-18 March 2022.
  • The 2022 Jacksonville, FL IPTs: Dates to be announced

What They are Saying …

Unsolicited via e-mail from Pete Myers

I just spent 4 days in the field in a graduate course in bird photography taught by Artie Morris at Fort DeSoto. After almost 50 years of experience pointing cameras at birds from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego, New Zealand and beyond, I thought I was good enough. But what I learned from Artie in just four days has taken me to a whole new level. As he aptly puts it, “birds as art,” not simply bird photography. One of those 4 days was the most satisfying I’d ever experienced, anywhere. The IPT left me euphoric about what I’d learned, and frighteningly committed to recreating my portfolio with the techniques and insights he taught me.

Via e-mail from multiple IPT participant David Hollander

Primarily, what distinguished the San Diego IPT other photographic classes that I have attended was the “granularity” and specificity of the information you shared. By that I mean the level of specific, technical information that was covered. This was helped by the fact that you often gave an explanation as to why you made your choices. For example, when we first arrived at the location, you told people to shoot at 1600, F 5.6, and various shutter speeds. As the light got better, you progressively moved to lower ISOs, and gave us rules of thumb on what ISO to use in different lighting conditions.

You further explained in one of the review sessions that with modern cameras and good software, the noise isn’t really a problem and that you could get rid of the noise from a 1600 ISO a lot easier than fixing a blurred image. Similarly, you gave precise instruction on what aperture to use in various circumstances. In general, before your class, my “default” mode was to shoot in aperture priority, usually at about F 9 or 8.1. The reason wasn’t that I was trying to capture background, but instead to increase my chances of getting the bird’s head in focus if I got the focus point in the wrong place. I will revisit that approach now.
session, you showed a picture that had the bird’s eye in focus, but the tip of the beak was slightly off. When I asked you whether you would have used a higher F stop in that case, you went to a website showing the impact on the depth of field at the given distance of moving up a stop, which was less than an inch. That demonstrated why increasing the F stop would not have worked in that case. From a teaching perspective, hearing the same information in multiple channels makes it more likely for people to absorb
it and remember it, so the technical explanations help the main message sink in. The instruction on use of the back button focus was also very helpful. I had read about that on your blog before, but I had not taken the time to actually try it, and now I have a new tool in my kit. Overall, I found the advice and instruction to be “actionable”. It was all there for those who were listening.

The comparison of slightly different images of the same bird was also very helpful. It showed what you were looking for head angles and placements. However, I should note that differences in many of the pictures that were acute to you were pretty subtle to me, and all of the pictures were ones that most photographers would have been proud to have taken, even the ones that you were rejecting.

Unsolicited via e-mail from multiple IPT veteran Donna Bourdon

Thank you, Artie, for another amazing trip! The setting and the access to such spectacular wildlife was more than we could have hoped for. And you, yourself are remarkable. I am always touched by your selflessness in sharing your professional talent and knowledge. Not many working pros would be willing to share their intellectual property as you do. And the group experience was such fun. It was good to make new friends and enjoy food, fun, and fellowship! I hope to meet up with everyone again soon for another “over the top” adventure. with love, Donna

Unsolicited via e-mail from IPT veteran Eugen Dolan

Arthur, Thank you very much for your overwhelming infectious enthusiasm that helped get me up on some mornings. Also, your ability to express yourself- and explain in great detail why you like or may not like an image – was very helpful in allowing me to better analyze my images. Eugen

Via e-mail from Dianne Heggie

I had SUCH a great time today! It’s always inspiring to spend time learning from you. Your generosity in sharing knowledge and insights is really exceptional. I shouldn’t let another 8 years pass before joining you for another workshop!

Via e-mail from Jim Miller

I can’t stop thinking about how much fun the DeSoto Fall IPT was, and how much I learned. There were so many things that suddenly made perfect sense after I had been confused for so long. Thank you very much for the wonderful trip, and for being a great teacher. As I worked through the raw files last week, I realized what a fantastic lens the 600 IS is. Thanks for the rental! Maybe someday I will be able to afford one. Some images for critique are attached.

By the way, the plant we were looking at along the sidewalk in Gulfport is Blue Porterweed. It is worth a few minutes on the internet to read about it: native of Florida and the Caribbean, used for medicine in The Bahamas, etc. We have it in a large pot in the front yard and it takes a lot of water, but it blooms Spring through Fall. Thank you again, Artie. It was really wonderful to be with you and learn from you.

Via e-mail from Lee Sommie

I want to thank you for making the Fall 2017 Ft. DeSoto IPT such a fun and educational experience for me. I truly did not want the adventure to end. I now look through the viewfinder with an artist’s mindset. And the real bonus was making new friends with fellow students. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife photography. I had a great time with you and look forward to more adventures on future IPTs.

Followed by this one

BTW. I downloaded Photo Mechanic and started using it in my workflow. Since I like using Lightroom for my adjustments, I found a way to incorporate Photo Mechanic and Lightroom together. Lightroom was driving me crazy with how slow it is to import and preview photos. I was impressed with how fast you could preview photos and start editing your photos on the DeSoto Fall IPT. Life is too short to wait for applications to import and preview photos and Photo Mechanic solves that problem. 😉

Thanks again for everything Artie. Your knowledge keeps on giving well after the IPT!

Via e-mail from Muhammad Arif

I had a great time at Fort De Soto. Thank you for all the instruction, for your help and pointers; my photography has already improved tremendously and I’ve never made such good bird photos before. I wish I could’ve joined you on Monday and Tuesday morning as well but work got in the way. It was also nice to meet everyone on the IPT; sorry that I missed you, Ray. Thanks again for everything and I hope to join you at a future IPT sometime again.

Via e-mail from Morris Herstein

I never thought that I could make in-flight photos of birds successfully. That goal was accomplished during the recent workshop at Stick Marsh only because I listened to your advice and instructions. For the first time I realized how important sun angle was, teachings that you had been communicated for a long time. The result of two days shooting produced the most satisfying images of Roseate Spoonbills I ever could have imagined.

Stay well and safe. Thank you. Morris

Via e-mail from Joe Usewicz

Wow. So many photos to go through. Stick Marsh was a great learning experience. Positioning. Wind impact. Landing zones. Working on backgrounds. I clipped too many incredible reflections. Great fun. Just amazing opportunities.

Warmest Regards, Joe

Click on the composite image to enjoy the incredible quality of the hi-res JPEG. Coming soon: An instructional video: Your JPEGs Do Not Have to Suck.

Clockwise from upper left back around to the center: spoonbill with mangrove background; spoonbill head and shoulders portrait; spoonbill braking to land; spoonbill dramatic landing pose; adult Black-crowned Night-Heron; spoonbill with nesting material; Great Egret returning to nest; incoming spoonbill; and Limpkin landing.

Stick Marsh IPT: #1: WED 9 March thru the morning of SUN 13 March 2022: $2,499.00. (Limit 6 photographers)

Stick Marsh IPT #2: MON 14 March thru the morning of FRI 18 March 2022: $2499.00 (Limit 6 photographers)

Do both IPTs back to back and enjoy a $300 discount: protect your travel and time investments against bad weather by signing up for both IPTs for $4698.00.

Stick Marsh, where the living is easy. Photograph incoming Roseate Spoonbills in flight at point blank range with intermediate telephoto zoom lenses. This year I will be trying the new Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, often with the 1.4X TC. Longer lenses either on a tripod or hand held are best for the green background stuff. There will be endless flight photography opportunities with a variety of species; in addition to the spoonbills, we should have some excellent chances on Limpkin, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Double-created Cormorant, Anhinga, Black and Turkey Vultures, and more. Folks with 500 and 600mm f/4 lenses will have lots of opportunities to hone their skills working on a tripod or hand holding.

There will be five morning photo sessions averaging four hours. We start in the pre-dawn. The first four morning sessions will be followed by a working brunch. The cost of brunch is included. There will be two after-brunch photo-sessions on sunny days (averaging about an hour) to try for bathing spoonbills, usually centered around 1:30pm. There will be one after-brunch photo critique session (probably on DAY 3). And there will be one Image Processing session after brunch.

We will be based in or near Vero Beach. The deposit is $799.00. Call Jim at the office any weekday at 863-692-0906 to pay by credit card. Balances must be paid by check.

What You Will Learn on a Stick Marsh IPT

  • 1- You will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button..
  • 2- You will learn to work in Manual exposure mode even if you are scared of it.
  • 3- You will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography.
  • 4- You will learn the pro secrets that will help you to become a better flight photographer.
  • 5- You will learn to zoom out in advance (because the birds are so close!) 🙂
  • 6- You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them.
  • 7- You will learn to spot the good and the great situations.
  • 8- You will learn to understand and predict bird behavior.
  • 9- You will learn to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
  • 10- You will learn to choose the best perspective.
  • 11- You will learn to see and control your backgrounds.
  • 12- You will learn to see and understand the light.
  • 12- You will learn to see and create pleasing blurs in pre-dawn situations.
  • 12- You will learn to be ready for the most likely event at all times.

And the best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever you are and whenever you photograph.

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!) IPT. Monday 17 January thru the morning session on Friday 21 January 2022. Four full and one-half day: $2999.00. Deposit: $899.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 7

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.

An $899 deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due right after you sign up.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


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.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

2022 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPTs

IPT #1: SUN 20 FEB 2022 through the full day on FRI 25 FEB 2022. 2021. Six full days: $6600.00. Limit 5 photographers/Sold Out

IPT #2: SAT 26 FEB 2022 through the full day on WED 2 MAR 2022. Five full days: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers/Sold Out

Save $1101 by doing both trips for 10,999.00. This trip features non-stop flight photography as well as many opportunities to create point-blank portraits of one of North America’s most sought-after avian subjects: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).

Also featured are a professional leader, often referred to as the world’s most knowledgeable bird photography trip leader who is conversant in Canon, Nikon, and SONY. You will learn practical and creative solutions to everyday photographic problems. You will learn to see the shot, to create dynamic image designs, to best utilize your camera’s AF system, and how to analyze the wind, the sky conditions, and the direction and quality of the light. This is one of the very few trips Homer trips available where you will not be simply put on the birds and told to have fun. You will actually learn to be a better photographer.

The best and most creative boat captain.

A sturdy, spacious, sea worthy, open-deck craft.

The only Bald Eagle workshop with an incredibly helpful first mate.

Only five photographers (not the usual six), plus the leader.

Small group Photoshop, Image Review, and Image critiquing sessions.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

What’s Included

One four hour or two two-hour boat trips every day (weather permitting), all boat fees and boat-related expenses (excluding tips), ground transportation to and from the dock and back to the hotel each day, in-the-field instruction and guidance, pre-trip gear advice, small group post-processing and image review sessions, and a thank you dinner for all well-behaved participants.

What’s Not Included

Your airfare to and from Homer, AK (via Anchorage), the cost of your room at Land’s End Resort, all personal items, all meals and beverages, and tips for the boat captain and/or the first mate.

Please Note

On great days, the group may wish to photograph for more than four hours. If the total time on the boat exceeds 20 hours for the first trip, or 24 hours for the second trip, the group will share the additional expense at a rate of $225/hour.

Some folks may wish to rent their own vehicle to take advantage of local photographic opportunities around Homer.

Deposit Information

A $3000 non-refundable deposit/trip is required. You may pay your deposit with credit card or by personal check made out to BIRDS AS ART and sent via US mail only to Arthur Morris. PO Box 7245. Your balance, due 60 days before the date of departure, is payable only by check as above.

In Closing

I have been going to Homer off and on for close to two decades. Every trip has been nothing short of fantastic. Many folks go in mid-March. The earlier you go, the better the chances for snow. The only way to assure that you are on the best of the two trips is to sign up for both. If you have any questions or are good to go for one or for both trips, please get in touch via e-mail or give me a call on my cell phone at 863-221-2372.

Comments are closed.