Why? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


This image of an adult Great Black-Backed Gull with a dead juvenile skimmer was created with the hand held Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, 1.4X III TC, and the unfortunately discontinued Canon EOS-1D Mark. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus and recompose. (I was seated with the rig braced on my left knee.) Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to enjoy a larger, more spectacular version.

Denise and I stayed very late on Friday evening after all of the group had headed home. I found a Great Black-backed Gull dining on a baby skimmer well after sundown. Being a bit tired after three full grueling days I had headed out with only the 300 f/2.8L IS II.

Why Join a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour?

Why join a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)? They are expensive. They do not include transportation or lodging. So why are most sold out long in advance? I’ve heard that artie does not care if you learn and that he will push you out of the way to get his shot. What gives? Denise Ipplolito and I recently co-led my Nickserson Beach/Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We had a full house of 10 including four repeat clients. After the IPT we received the e-mails below.

If you’ve ever spent a single dime on improving your skills as a nature photographer I urge you to read every e-mail presented here.

From Canon-gal Dierde Sheer-Gross:

To Artie and Denise, and to all of my new fellow bird photography adventurers, Many Thanks! The IPT was the GREATEST!!!! I so loved our time together. I learned a “ton,” so many new things about photography (equipment; technique; composition; anticipation and positioning; remembering to “tell the story;” the importance of the background; I could go on. And I learned a “stack” about birds and their behaviors; and the post production tips and techniques were terrific: Photoshop, Nik & beyond; and I even learned some about life–that Artie really is a sweetie. Many, many, many thanks. I am looking forward to the next ones and to seeing you both at the NYC Seminar. With affection and a passion for the birds, Deirdre
ps: I hope that you don’t mind but I going to post this on your web sites.
pps. The was quite a punch seeing that shot of the Black Backed Gull.The realities of survival: whew.

Note: See the opening image above.

From Canon-using Scotsman Malcom MacKenzie:

Artie It was great to spend some time with you both. It was a terrific workshop and I was surprised at how sloppy I had become in my approach to bird photography: Thanks for getting me back on track! Artie, you work so hard at making sure that we all have a great learning experience that I wonder if you forget yourself in the equation. Please take care of your health; you mean a great deal to a lot of people out there in the world. Regareds, Malcolm

Note: I let Malcolm know that his more than kind words brought tears of happiness to my eyes.

More from Malcolm:

Denise, I just wanted to thank you again for all the hard work that you put in on the Nickerson IPT. From your great opening presentation on Tuesday evening–I love your creative approach, to the farewells on Friday at sunset, you were fantastic. As I mentioned to Artie, I had become somewhat sloppy I had become in my approach to bird photography… You and Artie got me tuned up (translated: kicked my butt) and I feel much better about my readiness for my trip to Africa on Friday. I am looking forward to joining you on some more workshops in the near future. I am wishing you well as you ramp up your career; I am sure that it will be a successful one. Malcolm

From Nikon-user Tim Thompson:

Art/Denise, The Nickerson IPT was fabulous!! What a super group led by two very dedicated and informative professionals. Artie, I loved the way you and Denise led the IPT and made adjustments as needed. Positive, creative energy from the get-go and it flowed with us until the end. We had super IPT participants/teammates who really love photography. As I sit here writing to you, I am having withdrawal symptoms for Nickerson and JBWR!!! Three for three on the Merrick Bagel Shop outings and two for two on restaurant selections. Loved the IPT format and have zero complaints. Enclosed please find five of my favorites from the trip. I did slight cropping (very minor and when/where needed) and in some cases exposure adjustments (when/where needed). I welcome your comments. Wishing you continued good health and keep on doing the amazing …..inspirational things you guys do! Tim

Note from artie: on our two Nickerson mornings we homesteaded for brunch at a great bagel store in Merrick with lots of room. And did the same thing in Broad Channel after our East Pond morning. We actually did some high level instruction in both spots while enjoying lox and cream cheese and chicken salad and lots more. Brunches and lunches are always on me. The group was so wonderful that I treated everyone to dinner not once but twice. At two great places: Center Thai Bistro in Rockville, Centre and Prime Catch Seafood Grill and Bar also in Rockville Centre. Both were superb.

From Canon shooter Pierre Giard, a professional photographer who drove from Canada to join this IPT:

As was said previously by my colleagues, this was a fantastic IPT and I really loved every minute of it. One of the many reasons I attended the IPT was to get inspirations for my future workshops and this was definitively achieved and more. I feel it will be difficult to be surrounded by a better group of talented and dedicated photographers in the future. Thanks again Denise and Artie: you are great leaders and both of you are models to follow for my own business. Kind regards to all. Pierre

From Nikon shooter Eric Loken:

Art and Denise, Thanks for a great session. Great instruction, great group of photographers and a great venue. We couldn’t have asked for more. I even got a few nice images. I will send some along shortly for your review. Thanks again, Eric

This sweet image of a juvenile Least Sandpiper was created on the IPT by participant Kitty Kono with the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR II AF lens and the Nikon D3X. Image courtesy of and copyright Kitty Kono (with thanks). I chose this image to represent the many fine images that were sent to Denise and I for critiquing after the IPT. In addition, Kitty had presented this image for critiquing during an afternoon group review session in the motel.

From Nikon user Kitty Kono:

Dear Art and Denise, Again, I cannot thank you both enough for four exceptionally wonderful days. I loved every minute and learned so much. Here are five of my favorite photographs for review. Hope you all had a restful weekend. And I so hope to join you in another adventure sometime in the near future. Take good care and I will be connecting with you through your websites. My best, Kitty

From Canon user Gaurav Mittal who again traveled from India to join his 2nd IPT this year:

Hello Guru Artie, It was nice to see you again and to meet Denise. It was a pleasure to meet everyone in the group. I hope that no one caught a cold from me as I have now come down with a bad cold and fever and had to take a lot of breaks on my way back to DC. As always it was a great learning experience and will email you some images soon. Love and regards, Gaurav

Note: Gaurav got sick in the Pribilofs the week before and it has been taking him a long time to recover. Get better soon!

From Nikon guy Mike Goodman:

Artie, Denise & group, Let me add my voice to the thanks for a great workshop, amazing photo ops & a most delightful & dedicated group of serious photographers. I learned lots & am appreciative of the energy & genuine caring that Art & Denise brought to the IPT. It was a fabulous & intense 3 days. I will be emailing my images in a week or so as I am currently on a business trip to lovely Brookings, South Dakota… Mike

Note: as to the “intense,” we were in our vehicles every day between 4:30 and 5:00am to take advantages of pre-dawn opportunities to create pleasing blurs. And we were on the beach every day till about 8pm. And, we did a program each afternoon at the motel after our naps…. Yes, IPTs are intense photographic experiences.

From Malcolm’s friend Stanley Goldberg:

Dear Artie and Denise, You guys could not have done more for myself and my fellow participants at the recent Nickerson IPT. Your energy level and enthusiasm along with your knowledge of the birds and photography made this experience extraordinarily enjoyable and educational. Regards, Stanley

From Canon newbie Susan Malspeis:

Denise, Thanks for the great workshop and all the help. I have never been on a workshop where someone checked in with me and set me on the right course as often as you did at Nickerson. It was amazing and your efforts were super-appreciated. Sue

Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT: July 23-25, 2013: $1099. Introductory slide program: Monday, July 22, 2013. Limit 12. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito.

I am proud to announce the brand new July 2013 Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT. Join Denise and me on Long Island, NY next summer to photograph Common Tern chicks, baby American Oystercatchers, and just-hatched Black Skimmer chicks along with the adults. The opportunities will include chances to photograph a variety of breeding behaviors including courtship feeding, display flight and combat, and copulations. Car-pooling is recommended; if we opt to return to the beach before 5pm there is a $30/vehicle parking fee that is not included so it is best to share that expense. Parking in the morning is free.

I expect that many who have photographed with us at Nickerson before at different seasons will wish to join us for this very special Nickeron IPT. Both Denise and I will be speaking at the 2013 NECCC event the weekend before this IPT.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Click here for complete IPT information including the current schedule and links to general IPT info, deposit and cancellation policies. and the required registration and release forms.

I created this image of another hungry Great Black-backed Gull on the last afternoon before I headed from my Mom’s back to the home office with the the Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens and the Canon EOS-1DX.
ISO 800: Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Which Do You Like Best?

Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the three images here you like best. And why.

Shopper’s Guide

Thanks a stack to all who have used our B&H affiliate links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gizo GT3532 LS CF Tripod. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. I’ll be commenting on this new model soon. In short, I like it.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

Delkin 700X CompactFlash Pro UDMA Enabled Cards

All of the images above were catpured on Delkin’s new 64gb 700X CompactFlash Pro UDMA Enabled Card. Learn more about these great cards by clicking here and learn why the more expensive 1000X cards are overkill for still photographers.

14 comments to Why?

  • I spent a day with Artie and Denise a few weeks ago at Nickerson and I couldn’t have been happier with the day. I respect that Artie has strong opinions (seriously, how many photographers don’t?) but they are his and he doesn’t force them on you. He is very interactive and very generous with information – definitely not a selfish leader who in interested in only getting his shots. Seriously, I stalked him during the morning and picked up a couple good tips (completely changed the way I will do blurs from now on) – you could ask him as many questions as you wanted he never minded and he respected if you wanted to do your own thing. Artie and Denise make a good team.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Sallie Jo. Since you missed the opening program you never heard this: “There is a 500 questions per day per person limit.” In all my years, only one person, an eye doctor from Atlanta, went over the limit. And that always by 11am…. Ah, I remember his name: Robert Spector. Are you there Bob???

  • avatar Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

    Loved reading everyone’s comments from our Nickerson IPT…
    Brought me right back to the reality of the great time that we all had together.

    Many thanks to you and Denise… You are both a trip!

  • avatar Andrea Boyle

    I love the first shot of the crying Gull (“Why”). Such an emotional picture… And the inclusion of the open mussel shell on the right adds to the silent screams of the gull. I hope I have an opportunity to take a workshop from you or Denise one of these days. Please come to Oregon!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Denise will be in Oregon this spring. Check out her web site and shoot her an e-mail.

    • Andrea, I am doing a workshop on the 19-20th this month in Portland and another workshop in Oregon next September. I hope to meet you then!

    • avatar Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

      Andrea, I had missed that potent connection of the mussel shell and the silent screams of the gull… very poetically put. Thx

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks again. The gull was actually telling another gull “Stay away from my dinner.” And I love that open mussel shell too.

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    I had a blast on the Homer Bald Eagle IPT in 2011 – with the exception of one rather “unhappy camper” everyone was great and we had fun every day. I didn’t stop smiling until I boarded the flight home.

    Learned more than I thought I would and my first experience with Artie made me a happy camper for life. I got many (unsolicited) opinions from people before I went, but those people had obviously never been on an IPT with Artie.

    I can’t wait for the Bosque 2012 and Galapagos 2013 IPTs!

  • avatar taylor maxwell

    I prefer the first of the great black-backed gull eating the sandpiper. For me the second is too much “gore”. The second is a keeper but I would not hang on the proverbial wall. 🙂

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      If I hung all the images that I like on the proverbial wall I would need a house 100,000 times larger than the biggest house in the world. But I do like lots of images that I would not hang on the walls even if I had that house…..