Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
November 15th, 2019

South Plaza Island. And the SONY a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body Makes the Impossible Possible ...

What’s Up?

Thursday morning dawned cold and grey — at 9:00am the sky looked like snow (depsite the fact that it was 58 degrees). The pool is down five degrees in just a few days but swimming still feels balmy as compared to the air temps. It is looking like mostly cloudy here this morning, Friday November 15 so it is likely that I still will not have a chance to play with my a9 II.

I fly to Bosque in one week and have begun thinking about packing. There is still time for you to join the small IPT group.

If you have long-dreamed of visiting the Galapagos, please scroll down.

IPT Updates

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 3. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 5)

Click here for complete IPT info and details.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the EOS-1DX, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

The Used Gear page has been hot for the past two months with the continuing price drops on Canon and Nikon gear. There are still lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page. In addition to the recent sales below, there are many pending sales.

Recent Sales

BAA friend and multiple IPT veteran Paul Reinstein sold his Canon EOS-1D X Mark II body with a shutter count of 40,759 in near-mint condition for $3,599.00 in mid-November 2019.
I sold my SONY a9 in near-mint condition for $2,597.00 on November 11, 2019.
Jerry Barrack sold his Canon Extender EF 1.4X III teleconverter in near-mint condition and his Canon Extender EF 2X III teleconverter also in near-mint condition, both for a very low $224.00 in early Novemeber.
Jerry Barrack also sold a Wimberley WH-101 Gimbal Head w/QR C-30 clamp (the original) and a heavy-duty Gitzo 410 tripod for the silly low price of $399.00.
Peter Noyes sold his Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera body in like-new condition with a shutter count of less than 1,000 for $1998.00 the first day it was listed in early November.
Top Used Gear page seller Anthony Ardito sold his gripped Nikon D850 in like-new condition for only $2,399.00, his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens in like-new condition for only $3,396.95, his Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens in like-new condition for $1,796.95, and his Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF lens in like-new condition for only $1,196.95, all during October 2019.
I sold my lightly used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens in Excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $9796.95 in late October, 2019.
John Nelson sold his Canon 500mm f/4 IS USM lens (the “old five”) in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $2749.00 in mid-October 2019.
Multiple IPT participant Larry Master sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for a BAA record-low $5,989.00 and his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in like-new condition for $2099.00.
BAA friend and multiple IPT veteran Paul Reinstein sold a Canon Extender EF 2X III teleconverter in excellent condition for only $229.00 the first day it was listed in mid-October.
Top BAA Used Gear page seller Jim Keener sold his Canon mount Zeiss Distagon T 15mm f/2.8 ZE lens in like-new condition for the crazy low price of $799.00 (was $949.00) in early October 2019.
Allen Dale sold a Canon 300mm f2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for $3399.00 in early October,2019.
IPT veteran and dear friend Patrick Sparkman sold his SONY FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens in like-new condition for $10,698.00.
Sheldon Goldstein sold his Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens in like-new condition for $750.00 in September 2019.
BIRDS AS ART friend Don Carter sold his a7r III in near-mint condition for $2099.00 in early October.
I sold my SONY a7r III in excellent plus condition for $1974.00 in early October.
I sold my gripped Nikon D850 in excellent condition for $2,186.96 and my Nikon 500PF lens for $3,246.95, both in early October 2019.
Multiple IPT participant Larry Master sold a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for the BAA record-low price of $899.00 the first day it was listed in mid-October 2019.

Sony Alpha a9 (ILCE 9) Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

Ken Siegel is offering a Sony A9 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body in mint condition for $2698.00. Photos are available upon request. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it, a SONY A9 Modular Plate (L-bracket — a $200 value), and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only.
Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ken via e-mail e-mail or by phone at 1-(864) 680-5921 (Eastern time zone).

Simply put, the SONY a9 has the best AF system of any camera that I have ever used. And Patrick Sparkman agrees 100%. SONY is getting hotter every day. The a9 sells for $3,498.00 and the new a9 II sells for $4498.00. Either way, you can do the math as far as how much you will be saving. artie

Sony Alpha a7r III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

Ken Siegel is also offering a Sony a7r III in mint condition for only $2049.00. Photos are available upon request. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it, a SONY A7r III Modular Plate (L-bracket — a $200 value), and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only.
Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ken via e-mail e-mail or by phone at 1-(864) 680-5921 (Eastern time zone).

You’ve seen my great Galapagos images … I made tons of great stuff with the 7r III and the SONY 100-400 with and without the 1.4X TC. Simply put, the a7r iii is a great camera body. It is selling new right now at B&H for $2498.0 and the new a7r iv is going for $3,498.00! You can save a very cool $500.00 by grabbing Ken’s a7r III right now. artie

Please contact Ken via e-mail e-mail or by phone at 1-(864) 680-5921 (Eastern time zone).

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Ken Siegel is also offering a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in near-mint condition for $3299.00. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it, a RRS replacement low-foot, the original Canon foot, a Realtree Max4LensCoat (without the adhesive sections), the lens trunk, the original tough front lens cover, the lens strap, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Photos are available upon request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ken via e-mail e-mail or by phone at 1-(864) 680-5921 (Eastern time zone).

The 300mm f/2.8 autofocus lenses have long been the first choice of the world’s best hawks-in-flight photographers with and without a 1.4X TC. When teamed up with either the 1.4X or 2X TC, it makes a great hand holdable walk-around lens. For folks with a 7D Mark II, the 300 II would make a great workhorse lens for bird photogrpahy. Grabbing Ken’s lens will save you an incredible $2,100.00 as new ones are going for $6099.00 from B&H. I owned and used several versions of the 300 f/2.8 lens for many years until finally replacing my 300 f/2.8 II with the 400 DO II several years ago. That said, the 300 f/2.8 II represents a great value as the 400 DO II sells new for $6,899.00. artie

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens

BAA Record-low Price!
Price reduced $50.00 11-15-19

Regular Used Gear page seller John Bowden is offering a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lnes in excellent-plus condition for a BIRDS AS ART record-low $548.00 (was $598.00). The sale includes the rear lens cap, the front lens cap, the lens pouch, the lens shade (hood), the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US-addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John Bowden via e-mail e-mail or by phone at 1-919-358-5717 EST.

The 24-105mm focal length is my all-time favorite for B-roll stuff: bird-scapes, quasi-macros, photographers and people, scenics, and just about everything else on the planet. Whenever I would decide to leave it in the car I would not get far before I was wishing that I had taken it along for the ride. artie

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase over $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Galapagos-Shearwater-a-dorsal-view-in-flight-adult

This image was created on August 3, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 400mm) and the beyond remarkable AF KIng, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera. ISO 1000: 1/3200 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. The exposure was determined using the Zebra feature with ISO on the rar wheel. AWB at 2:15pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Image #1: Galapagos Shearwater, dorsal view of adult in flight

The Tall Cliffs at South Plaza

Since 2005, I have made about 15 photographic trips to the Galapagos Archipelago. On every trip, I have made an afternoon landing at South Plaza. It’s a great stop loaded with handsome Land Iguanas, lots of Sally Lightfoot Crabs, and large numbers of handsome adult and young Swallow-tailed Gulls. There is some great flight phortography from the high cliffs. The most desirable subjects there have always been the Red-billed Tropicbirds. But there are lots of frigatebirds and the afore-mentioned Swallow-tailed Gulls flying by, along with an ocassional Nazca Booby. The trick for flight photography at this location is to study the patterns of the birds in flight so that you can anticipate the good chances. Always remember that the tropicbirds will be most active earlier in the afternoon rather than later.

Yikes, I almost forgot to mention that there are always hundreds if not thousands of Galapagos Shearwaters in flight …

Galapagos-Shearwater-a-dorsal-view-in-flight-juvenile

This image was created on August 3, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 400mm) and the beyond remarkable AF KIng, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera. ISO 1250: 1/3200 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. The exposure was determined using the Zebra feature with ISO on the rar wheel. AWB at 2:21pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Image #2: Galapagos Shearwater, dorsal view of juvenile in flight

The SONY a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body Does the Impossible …

Though there are zillions of Galapagos Shearwaters flying right up to the top of the cliff edge, they had always been impossible to photograph. Nobody in my 15 years had ever been able to create a decent sharp image. Why? These little shearwaters are fast flyers, they turn and dart and rise and fall in an instant. Getting them anywhere in the frame is a hug challenge. Acuiring and holding focus with an ocean background had proven impossible over the years first with my Canon gear. I had my Nikon 500 PF/D850 with me on the 2019 trip but opted to go with the a9/100-400 because of faster initial focusing acquisition and surer AF.

On my 2019 trip, armed with my SONY a9, I felt for the first time that I had a chance. I studied the bird’s flight patterns very carefully and was able to anticipate when they would circle and fly up toward the top of the cliff. At times, they actually land near the top of the cliff where they make their nests but only on rare ocassion do you get even a glimpse of them on a rock.

I worked very hard for more than an hour and was pleased to come up with today’s two featured images. It is important, however, to remember that I am not a very good flight photographer, often succeeding more as a result of relentless determination than skill. But last August I had the advantage of the SONY a9 …

1_GALAP-2019-composite

Galapagos 2019 Highlights

Bucket List Decision Time …

In the same vein, I am betting that most folks reading this have either dreamed about photographing in the Galapagos or have been there already. I had such an amazing time on the last Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT last July/August, that I decided to see if I could round up some folks for a trip as follows: September 29-October 13, 2020 on the boat. The travel dates would be September 27 to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 October 14. Do note that late SEPT/early OCT is part of the cloudy season in the archipelago, just what you want for great photography. And as always, only my trips visit the three best landings twice each.

Depsite an increase in the cost of the charter, the price of this trip will remain the same: $14,449.00 all inclusive to and from Guayaquil. You will need to bring $700 in US cash for the crew and guide tip, and you will be responsible for your meals in Guayaquil. Everything else — including two hotel nights in Guayaquil — is included. If you would like to commit at this time plesqe contact me via immediately e-mail or call my cell at 863-221-2372 (Eastern time Zone).

Here’s the Rub!

I will need at least eight commitments/deposits by December 8, 2019 in order to confirm the charter while not risking losing my home. I have two folks already committed. If you are considering this trip, please remember, you only live once …

The 2020 GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience

September 29-October 13, 2020. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,499. Limit: 12 or 13 photographers plus the leader. I need ten committments by December 8, 2019. This trip needs ten clients to run. No deposit checks will be cashed until early Decemeber. All deposits and payments will be returned if the trip does not run.

This trip is THE best Galapagos Photo-Cruise in the world. By far. No one else offers a trip that visits the top three world-class landings twice each. What does this trip offer? The world’s best Galapagos guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), a great crew, and me, with ten Galapagos Photo-cruises under my belt. Pre-trip gear suggestions and advice and twice-daily, pre-landing, location-specific briefings. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea! Do know that there are one-week Galapagos trips (six full and two half- days on the boat “from $9995”! (If you think I am exaggerating, click here.) Thus, this trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations? And why not visit the three very best spots twice each?

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island — including Darwin Bay (almost surely twice!) and Prince Phillips Steps, Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross (almost surely twice!), and Gardner Bay — each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises and Darwin’s Finches, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour (almost surely twice) for nesting Blue-footed Boobies and both frigatebird species in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas and seabirds, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus lots more.

There will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny middays for those like me who wish to partake. (The park service does not approve our second visits to the same great locations until right before the trip; we have never been turned down. We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast skies, we will often spend 5+ hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip most snorkeled with many thousands dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me.

Note that some of the walks are on the difficult side. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400mm lens. In the past, I have taken a longer lens ashore on most landings as they better fit my style. In 2017 I took the then brand-new Canon 400mm DO lens and the Canon 500mm f/4 L IS II lens (with both teleconverters). In 2019 I took my Nikon 500 PF and my SONY 100-400 GM lens. I only rarely used my Nikon rig …

The Logistics

September 27 to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 October 14.

SUN SEPT 27, 2020: Arrive in Guayaquil a day early to ensure that you do not miss the boat.

MON SEPT 28, 2020: Introductory session at the Iguana Park.

TUES SEPT 29, 2020. We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2019 trip some folks made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

TUES OCT 14, 2020. We disembark the Samba in mid-morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; some will overnight there. Others will continue homeward on a red-eye flight.

$14,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and two or three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. Please e-mail before mailing your deposit check. The second payment of $5,000 will be due on March 1, 2020. The final payment of $4,499 per person will be due on June 1, 2020.

Again, this trip needs ten participants to run so please do not book your flights until you learn that we are good to go: I will commit to the trip once I have eight deposits. Purchasing travel insurance within two weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On the last trip, two couples were forced to cancel less than ten days prior to departure. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same. One couple used a discount outfit; they are still tryng to get remimbursed …

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and an $700/person cash tip for the crew and the guide to be shared by our guide and the 7 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

The Itinerary

Sunday, September 27, 2020: Fly to Guayaquil arriving a day early to ensure that you do not miss the boat.

Monday, September 28, 2020: Introductory session at the Iguana Park.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2019 trip some folks made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

On the Boat

Day 1: Tuesday, September 29: PM North Seymour

Day 2: Wednesday, Septmber 30: Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, PM Prince Phillips´ Steps

Day 3: Thursday, October 1: Marchena: AM Playa Negra, PM Navigation to Isabela

Day 4: Friday, October 2: Isabela: AM Punta Albemarle, PM Punta Vicente Roca

Day 5: Saturday, October 3: AM Fernandina: Punta Espinoza, PM Isabela: Bahía Urbina

Day 6: Sunday, October 4: Isabela: AM Elizabeth Bay, PM Punta Moreno

Day 7: Monday, October 5: Floreana: AM Post Office Bay, PM Punta Cormorant

Day 8: Tuesday, October 6: Santa Cruz: AM Highlands and Lunch, PM free time in the city with internet access.

Day 9: Wednesday, October 7: Española: AM Gardner Bay, PM Punta Suárez

Day 10: Thursday, October 8: Española: AM Punta Suarez, PM Navigation to San Cristóbal

Day 11: Friday, October 9: San Cristóbal. AM Isa Lobos (only until 9 am), PM Punta Pitt

Day 12: Saturday, October 10: AM Santa Fe, PM South Plaza

Day 13: Sunday, October 11: Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, Navigation to Santiago

Day 14: Monday, October 12: AM James Bay, PM Rábida

Day 15: Tuesday, October 13: North Seymour from 6 to 9am. Everyone must make this landing. We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; some wil will overnight there. Others will catch a redeye and fly home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020: The folks who stayed in Guayaquil will fly home most likely very early in the day.

The itinerary above is subject to National Park apporoval.

I hope that you can join me on what will surely be a rich and rewarding photographic experience.


If In Doubt …

If you are 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. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.



Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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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Typos

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

November 13th, 2019

A Small Platoon of Helmeted Soldiers: Handsome or Ugly?

What’s Up?

It is getting chilly down here … On Tuesday morning the sun rose through a light layer of fog and the light was gorgeous for more than an hour, sort of golden and crystalline. But I was sitting on my couch having committed to setting up my brand new SONY a9 II … I was good to go this morning, Wednesday November 13, 2019 but when I peeked out the back door at 7:00am it was dark and cloudy and drizzling. But the sun came out by 9:15am.

In an effort to reduce the dawn effect increases in my blood sugar from the time I wake up until I eat at 10:30, I have begun swimming twice, 22 lengths at about 9:30am, and then another 44 lengths at about 3:00pm. So far I am shocked that my body is doing so well without insulin, surely in part due to the keto diet and the intermittent fasting. The pool was down four degrees in two days and the wind was rustling through that oak trees as I swam this morning.

The blog and BPN were down for a bit last night and this morning but all is well last night. I was thrilled to learn that DeSoto IPT veteran Muhammad Arif will be joining us on the Bosque IPT. First timer Bill Scheider (who will also be with me at Bosque next week) called this morning with a Bosque report. A friend told him that there are zillions of cranes and geese at the refuge. We still have room for you.

The Used Gear Page has been mega-hot for the past few weeks. Scroll down for details.

To learn about the great photographic opportunities available at Indian Lake Esates and other great central Florida hotspots, scroll down to learn about The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide.

Huge Thanks

Huge thanks and lots of love to all those who commented on the last blog post that honored my Dad, the late Private First-class Robert Edward Morris. There were so many warm, loving, heartlfelt, sincere, and elegant comments left that I was stunned, often left with goose bumps and tears of happiness sreaming down my cheeks. If you missed the post or the comments you can check both out here.

I forgot to mention that my Dad had a dry-wit that went hand in hand with his understated, often sardonic or cynical sense of humor. As I inherited some of that I often wonder if folks see that side of me as sarcastic …

IPT Updates

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 3. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 5)

Click here for complete IPT info and details.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the EOS-1DX, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

The Used Gear page has been hot for the past two months with the continuing price drops on Canon and Nikon gear. There are still lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page. In addition to the recent sales below there are many pending sales.

Recent Sales

I sold my SONY a9 in near-mint condition for $2,597.00 on November 11, 2019.
Jerry Barrack sold his Canon Extender EF 1.4X III teleconverter in near-mint condition and his Canon Extender EF 2X III teleconverter also in near-mint condition, both for a very low $224.00 in early Novemeber.
Jerry Barrack also sold a Wimberley WH-101 Gimbal Head w/QR C-30 clamp (the original) and a heavy-duty Gitzo 410 tripod for the silly low price of $399.00.
Peter Noyes sold his Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera body in like-new condition with a shutter count of less than 1,000 for $1998.00 the first day it was listed in early November.
Top Used Gear page seller Anthony Ardito sold his gripped Nikon D850 in like-new condition for only $2,399.00, his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens in like-new condition for only $3,396.95, his Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens in like-new condition for $1,796.95, and his Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF lens in like-new condition for only $1,196.95, all during October 2019.
I sold my lightly used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens in Excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $9796.95 in late October, 2019.
John Nelson sold his Canon 500mm f/4 IS USM lens (the “old five”) in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $2749.00 in mid-October 2019.
Multiple IPT participant Larry Master sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for a BAA record-low $5,989.00 and his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in like-new condition for $2099.00.
BAA friend and multiple IPT veteran Paul Reinstein sold a Canon Extender EF 2X III teleconverter in excellent condition for only $229.00 the first day it was listed in mid-October.
Top BAA Used Gear page seller Jim Keener sold his Canon mount Zeiss Distagon T 15mm f/2.8 ZE lens in like-new condition for the crazy low price of $799.00 (was $949.00) in early October 2019.
Allen Dale sold a Canon 300mm f2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for $3399.00 in early October,2019.
IPT veteran and dear friend Patrick Sparkman sold his SONY FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens in like-new condition for $10,698.00.
Sheldon Goldstein sold his Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens in like-new condition for $750.00 in September 2019.
BIRDS AS ART friend Don Carter sold his a7r III in near-mint condition for $2099.00 in early October.
I sold my SONY a7r III in excellent plus condition for $1974.00 in early October.
I sold my gripped Nikon D850 in excellent condition for $2,186.96 and my Nikon 500PF lens for $3,246.95, both in early October 2019.
Multiple IPT participant Larry Master sold a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for the BAA record-low price of $899.00 the first day it was listed in mid-October 2019.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II Lens

BAA record-low Price!

David Ramirez is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II lens in Excellent Plus condition for the BAA Record-low Price of $5699.00. It would be near-mint but for the wear on the knob of the lens hood. Otherwise there are no blemishes. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the original tough front lens cover, the lens strap, the manual the original product box, a 4th Generation Design CRX-5 lens plate (that’s what I used) a Realtree Advantage Max4 HD LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Photos are available upon request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact David via e-mail or by phone at 1-541-892-3726 Pacific Time.

The 500mm f/4 super-telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Canon’s Series II version is light, fast, super-sharp, and, in competent hands, produces amazing images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. The 500 II is relatively small, easily hand-holdable for some folks, and is much easier to travel with, focuses closer than, and costs a lot less than the 600 II. The lighter 600 III costs an astounding $12,999.00. Lastly, and you might find this amazing, the magnification for the 500 II is the same as it is for the 600 II: .15X. How is that possible? Magnification is calculated at the minimum focusing distance of the lens — 12.14 feet (3.7 meters) for the 500 II and 14.77 feet (4.5 meters) for the 600 II. Simply put, the 500 II focuses more than two feet closer than the 600 II. The seller for the last one that sold here had five calls the first day; the first four folks quibbled on price. The fifth one jumped right on it … Please do not tarry if you are seriously interested in David’s lens as it too should sell quite quickly. Or not. As the 500 II goes for $8999.00 new, you will be getting a great copy and saving a very nice $3,300.00. I loved my 500 II. artie

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Brand-new-in-the box/Incredible Low Price!

Anthony Saka is offering a brand-new-in-the-box Canon EOS-1D X Mark II body for an incredibly low price of $3,699.00. The camera is still in the unopened box along with everything that comes with a new camera. Why? Because is is brand-new! The sale includes insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony via e-mail or by phone at at 1-516 902-6997) (Eastern time zone).

The EOS-1DX Mark II is Canon’s flagship professional camera body. I made many fine images with mine. It is rugged and fast and features Canon’s best AF system. The 1DX II sells new for $5499.00 so you can save a very cool $1800.00 by grabbing Anthony’s new-in-the-box camera body. artie

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase over $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

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This image was created on October 27, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates, FL with my i-Phone 8+.

Image #1: Black Vultures boat ramp, Indian Lake Estates, FL

The ILE Boat Ramp Hot-Spot

Some mornings there might be 20-40 vultures (mostly Black) in the area of the boat ramp at ILE (with lots more at other locations). I learned recently that on some mornings they can be silly tame. By walking slowly with my tripod held in front of me just off the ground I am ofter able to get within 15 feet of them. That is just right for creating head portraits at 1200mm. While I can generally get just as close working from my SUV, I enjoy the freedom of being out of my vehicle and standing in this situation offers a lot more options as far as perspective is concerned.

Your Opinion?

After taking a good look at today’s featured images, do you think that Black Vulture faces are handsome or ugly or something else? All as always are invited to leave a comment.

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This image was created on October 4, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Standing at full height, I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 1000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/400 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode was about a stop under-exposed due to operator error. AWB at 8:52am on a sunny morning.

Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. I selected an AF point to cover the bird’s eye. With large in the frame subjects like this, Animal Eye Tracking works very well even though it is not supposed to work on birds. But heck, an eye is an eye.

Image #2: Black Vulture head portrait, green background

The Green Background

Being out of the Sequioa for this one allowed me to adjust the height of the tripod so that while working a vulture on a dock piling I was able to line things up to assure an all-green background — the distant grass on the far side of the canal. Despite the under-exposure there was no evidence of noise during or after the RAW conversion in Capture One. For the most part, I simply go with the Capture One SONY default settings for noise reduction.

Sony 600 GM Sharpness at 1200mm (and more …)

Sharpness with my favorite new combination, the SONY 600 GM, the 2X TC, and the a7r IV continues to impress to the point of incredulity. AF performance at f/8 is superb and the availability of virtually full frame AF points allows for amazing compositional freedom. Lastly, it is neat to watch the little red square hold focus on the eye if you inadvertently move the lens a bit. The little red square shows that Animal Eye AF is working.

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This image was created on October 27, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 1000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/400 sec. at f/13 in Manual mode was perfect. AWB also at 8:52am on a sunny morning.

Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. I selected an AF point to cover the bird’s eye. With large in the frame subjects like this, Animal Eye Tracking works very well even though it is not supposed to work on birds. But heck, an eye is an eye.

Image #3: Black Vulture head portrait, light blue background

On Top of the Shelter

I am pretty sure that this image was created from my car. The bird was sitting on top of the small shelter to the left, thus the light sky background.

Editing Similars

With the SONY stuff produces virtually all sharp images at 1200mm, it is important to edit ruthlessly so that you do not wind up with a full computer on a week. I have been constantly re-editing and culling folders that contain the 61MB a7r IV files.

I currently have 204 keepers in my SEPT-OCT-NOV Fall 2019 ILE folder. That down from more than 1000 after the first edits of teh day folders. The last time I visited I had about 75 Black Vulture head portraits. I got those down to 27 and I chose the best five of those for today’s blog post. I still have some more work to do … As you view today’s featured images, take note of the head angles and the head positions, and the very small changes in posture and attitude that effect the image designs, especially the negative space in each image. Doing so will help you become a better photographer as you learn what to look for.

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This image was also created on October 27, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from my vehicle, I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/250 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode was perfect. AWB also at 9:05am on a sunny morning.

Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. I selected an AF point to cover the bird’s eye. With large in the frame subjects like this, Animal Eye Tracking works very well even though it is not supposed to work on birds. But heck, an eye is an eye.

Image #4: Black Vulture head portrait, blue background

Sitting on Top of the Bench

On rare occasion, a vulture or two (or three) will sit on the top railing of the bench seat in the little shelter. This allows me to get close enough to shoot down for a canal-blue background. As there are usually many vultures to choose from, I always opt for the most handsome one — a bird not covered in whitewash, one with a fairly clean face. On the morning that I made this image there were three birds on top of the bench. As I approached driving vrey slowly I scared two of them away. Only the really handsome bird stayed put 🙂

Best Background?

Which of today’s five featured images has the most pleasing backgound? Please leave a comment and let us know why you made your choice.

Black-Vulture-head-portrait-_DSC0517-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL-1

This image was created on November 8, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 500. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/320 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode was a slight under-exposure. AWB also at 9:46am on a sunny morning.

Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. I selected an AF point to cover the bird’s eye. With large in the frame subjects like this, Animal Eye Tracking works very well even though it is not supposed to work on birds. But heck, an eye is an eye.

Image #5: Black Vulture head portrait, blue background

From the SUV, Pointing Up at the Sky

This bird clean and handsome bird was sitting and posing on the tallest post, the one just to the left of the garbage can. While several birds flew away, this one steadfastly refused to go anywhere and sat facing right into the northeast wind; situations like that with the wind 90 degrees to the sun (that now rises in the southeast) are excellent for bird photogrpahy as they afford excellent side-views.

Stongest Image?

Which of today’s five featured images do you feel is the strongest image? Please leave a comment and let us know why you made your choice.

Black-Vulture-vertical-head-portrait-_DSC0530-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL-1

This image (of the same bird as in Image #5) was also created on November 8, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 304/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 500. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/250 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode was perfect. AWB also at 9:48am on a sunny morning.

Flexible Spot (S) Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. I selected an AF point to cover the bird’s eye. With large in the frame subjects like this, Animal Eye Tracking works very well even though it is not supposed to work on birds. But heck, an eye is an eye.

Image #6: Black Vulture head portrait, vertical with blue background

Vertical Head Portrait!

This bird (the same bird as in Image #5) was sitting so nicely for so long that I created some vertical head and neck portraits. I was quite please with the results attained simply by trying something different.

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The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

You can purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

126 pages, 87 photographs by Joe Przybyla and Arthur Morris.
The PDF for this e-Guide is an electronic download sent via e-mail.

Purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

I had thought about doing a guide to some of the great but little-known photo hotspots around central Florida for about a decade, but those plans never came to fruition. I met Joe online in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net about two years ago. Joe’s photography has improved tremendously over the past few years; he credits the BAA blog, my books and PDFs, and his participation on BPN. The one thing that I learned right from the get-go about Joe is that he is a hard and tenacious worker, always striving to improve his skills and to grow his knowledge base. As he knew of more than a few good spots in central Florida, I broached the idea of us doing a photographic site guide that covered many of the little-known photographic hotspots from Brandon to Lakeland to Joe Overstreet Road to Indian Lake Estates (my Florida home for the past 20 years or so). After more than many, many dozens of hours of effort, The BIRDS AS ART Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide is now a reality. Thanks to Joe’s wife Dottie for her review of our writing. We all learned once again that writing is a process, a back and forth process. All thanks to the white pelicans of Lakeland. Here are the locations that are detailed in this e-Guide:

  • Indian Lake Estates: Sandhills Cranes with chicks and colts, lots of vultures, and Ospreys up the kazoo!
  • Gatorland, Kissimmee: Learn to make great images of wading birds in a cluttered rookery.
  • The Brandon Rookery: Great for nesting Wood Storks, Great Egrets, and more.
  • Circle Bar B Reserve, Lakeland: Here you will find a great variety of avian subjects in a great variety of habitats.
  • Lake Morton, Lakeland: There are lots of silly tame birds here including and especially American White Pelican during the colder months.
  • Lake Mirror, Lakeland: Tame Anhingas, Limpkins, and a zillion White Ibises at times.
  • West Lake Parker, Lakeland: Here you will have a chance for two difficult birds, Snail Kite, and Purple Gallinule.
  • Joe Overstreet Road, Kenansville: Crested Caracara, meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrike, and much more on the fenceposts and barbed wire.

Each location includes a map, a detailed description of the best spots, best season, light and time of day instructions, the expected species, and an educational and inspirational gallery that is designed to open your eyes as to the possibilities.

You can purchase a copy here in the BAA Online Store.


If In Doubt …

If you are 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. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.



Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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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Typos

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

November 11th, 2019

Honoring My Dad, Private First-Class Robert Edward Morris. And the rest ...

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My Dad at basic training in a rare photo of hin with two arms

Honoring My Dad, Private First-Class Robert Edward Morris

I’ve told parts of this story here before, but what the hay, it’s Veteran’s Day. My Dad had had both my kindergarten and first grade teachers — sister Mrs. Wood and Miss Wilson, when he was in PS 207. He went on to letter in three sports at Madison High School in Brooklyn –baseball, football, and basketball. And I believe that he played some ice hockey too. My Mom was an orphan and they married young. My Dad was working as a delivery boy at a luggage store in Manhattan, Roebling Luggage when he was drafted. He said, “They gave us a rifle, trained us for two weeks, and sent us off to kill Japs.” He was injured early on in the Aleutians and earned his first Purple Heart. They patched him up and sent him back.

Soon after he went to war, my Mom, Hazel Morris, lost her baby at age ten days to infantile diarrhea. I did not get to read my Dad’s love letters to my Mom (written from overseas) until after his death. All of his beautifully written love notes were signed “Your ever-loving hubby, Bob.” So changed was he by the war, I felt as if they were from a man I never knew.

Late in the war he took part in the invasion of Okinawa. He was headed out to pick up US soldiers from his unit who had been killed by friendly fire the day before. Friendly fire deaths were quite common in WWII. He was in the truck with his back against the cab when a guy walked up and said to him, “Hey, Morris, do you have my canteen?” It was one of those you-get-it no-I’ll get–it moments and the guy wound up in the seat my Dad had been in and my Dad wound up in the last seat on the left in the back of the truck.

An American Corsair, believed to have been captured and piloted by Japanese, swooped in and fired. My Dad was hit thirteen times with 70mm machine gun fire. Everyone but my Dad and the guy next to him was hit in the head and killed instantly. My Dad rolled out of the truck onto the ground fearing an explosion. His best friend, a medic, had been in a second truck. He approached my Dad and removed his heavy jacket. My Dad’s right arm came off with the coat. His friend started crying and ran away. (Lot of folks might question that, but I can understand it …)

Another soldier approached my Dad said to him, “Take my f _ _ _ _-ing shoelace out and make a tourniquet. He did.

As it turned out, my Dad had been hit in the left arm too; his elbow joint was destroyed. (Purple Heart #2.) Many of the folks in charge wanted to amputate that arm, but a young Filipino surgeon fought to save it. And he did. Three weeks later my Dad was flown to San Francisco; he met an injured comrade from his unit. The man said, “Morris, what are you doing here? You’re supposed to be dead.” He explained to my Dad that he was supposed to have been sent home on a hospital ship but that the doctors had all agreed, “This guy is gonna die anyway so it’s dumb to waste a spot on the ship on him.” It would not be the last time that my Dad was written off for dead …

Now get this: the ship my Dad would have been on was the USS Comfort (AH-6). On April 23, the ship was struck in the Coral Sea by a Japanese suicide plane that crashed through three decks and exploded in the surgery ward that was filled with medical personnel and severely wounded patients. Twenty-eight were killed (including six nurses) and 48 were wounded, with considerable damage to the ship. The story that I had heard from my Dad did not mesh exactly with the dates and numbers (89 dead) in the history books, but it looks as if Bob Morris might have dodged another bullet.

My Dad spent 19 months in the hospital near Washington DC in 1945 and 46. The performed surgery on his left arm without anesthesia to try to re-connected damaged nerves. BTW, you’ve heard of “The World According to Garp”? As in that novel, I was conceived in the hospital.

My Dad returned to work at Roebling Luggage despite his handicap and by the time he retired in 1969, he was the store manager. The store was located at 121 Liberty Street; they built the World Trade Center right on top of it. Just before he retired, he was honored as Man of the Year by the (now long-defunct) Greater New York Retail Luggage Dealer’s Association.

In 1964, my Dad almost died during gall bladder surgery. In 1969, my folks left Brooklyn for San Diego. I should have mentioned that my Dad began smoking during the war in an effort to stay warm as they were often under-dressed in the northern Pacific. He was a 4-pack a day Lucky Strike man. Sometime in the 1970-s, he developed an unexplained hoarseness. A young VA doctor discovered his throat cancer. He had a new type of laryngectomy. It was a struggle for him to cover his trach tube with his left thumb but by doing so, he was able to count to 30 in a loud but froggy voice as he woke from his surgery.

Don’t quote me on the years but he had a major heart attach sometime in the 80-s I believe. That was followed by a bout of lung cancer; he underwent surgery and they removed 2/3 of his left lung. He came out stronger than ever. You might say that my Dad was one of the very few to beat the Smoker’s Daily Double: throat cancer and lung cancer.

In the late 1990s he came down with a horrific case of pneumonia. On that Monday evening they told my Mom, “Hazel, go in and kiss Bobby goodbye. His white blood cell count is so high that he cannot survive the night. Wrong again. That Wednesday they said to my Mom, “Hazel, please go in and kiss Bobby goodbye. As per his living will we are taking him off life support. He will not survive the night. Two weeks later he as home, busting my mother’s balls (as usual). A second bout of pneumonia finally felled him in 2001.

A few years before he died, I asked my Dad, considering that all you can Mom ever did was bicker and fight, why did you stay together? In his froggy voice he answered, “I want to tell you, I laid in that bed for 19 months and saw dozens of beautiful young brides come to the door of that room, take one look at their husbands with no arms and no legs, and turn around. And never come back again.” My Mom was there for that conversation. It was my Dad’s way of saying, “Thanks, Hazel. I love you.” He could never say that out loud to anyone.

My Dad sweated all the time. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve me kissing him on the face or neck to taste the salt. And I can remember him coming down early on a Sunday morning to cook me French toast, not burned please! I can see him holding the frying pan gently with his left hand over a low flame for minutes on end to get it just the way I liked it … He took the Brighton Beach line to work for more than 20 years. He used to say that it ran on time only at room temperature. In winter we worried that he might slip and fall on the snow and ice on the way to the bus or the train. With no left elbow to speak of — the bones were free floating — that would have been disastrous.

I gloried at the (too-little?) time we spent together. I thrilled each year in December when he would take me to work to help out in the store. I’d go for two or three weekends running and the boss, a Ruby Keeler — I think — would give me a hundred-dollar bill for helping out. Two young Black men, Wilber and Nat, worked as stockman and I grew to adore them; both had boxed in the Golden Gloves. On Saturday afternoons they would send out for ham and cheese on rye sandwiches from a local deli. No mayo! Along with an ice-cold Coke, those were some of the best meals I ever ate.

When my parents went to San Diego, my Dad of course visited the VA (Veteran’s Administration) and the DAV (Disabled American Veterans). One of the first things that he learned was that he had, for twenty-plus years — while raising three children in Brooklyn — been entitled to commissary privileges. Wow, that would have made a difference of tens of thousands of dollars in the lives of my parents …Who knew?

I remember handing my Dad a copy of The Art of Bird Photography a few years before his death. While looking through the book, he covered his trach tube and croaked, “I guess you did OK for yourself.” From Bob Morris that was a supreme compliment.

I can remember saying to him at some point, “Dad. You were blasted by machine gun fire from a plane, had throat cancer, a heart attack, lung cancer, and a vicious pneumonia. We always think that you are gonna die. How come you never do? ” His reply, “I’m too mean to die.”

In about 1995 or so I sent him “the letter.” I wrote in part, “Dad, I want to thank you for being a mean son of a bitch and never saying one nice thing about me. I’ve spent my life trying to be the best bowler, the best golfer, the best elementary school teacher, and the best bird photographer I could be. All in an effort to make you proud of me and get folks to say the nice things that you never said. My late baby sister Arna read him the letter. She told me that he cried tears of happiness.

I did not learn until after my Father’s death that he had been awarded a Bronze Star. That medal is awarded for heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone. I read that letter with amazement. My Dad, along with a friend from Brooklyn, climbed a hill with just their rifles and took out a Japanese machine gun nest. Bob Morris worked full time for 20 years after his injury despite being 100% disabled. He took great care of his family. He was a brave man and a good man. And a great father.

And the Rest

Thanks to my Dad and the tens and tens of thousands of young American men and women who have served their country or died serving their country. All that so that we could enjoy the freedom that we know today. God bless them all and their families as well.

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My Dad with his Christmas present

Uneeda Biscuits

My Dad loved these salty, dry crackers made by Nabisco and was dismayed when he got to San Diego and learned that they were not available. So every year that I visited at holiday time, I would bring a carton of his favortie biscuits. He was happy.

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My Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

At times I think that the only times that my parents were not bickering was when they were smiling for the camera or sleeping. My Mom died 2 1/2 years ago at age 94. She had spent most of her life taking care of others, including and especially my Dad.