Almost Home! Galapagos Photo-Cruise/Day 1, afternoon: Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Almost Home! Galapagos Photo-Cruise/Day 1, afternoon: Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz

Almost Home

I am working on this post while online in my Sequoia that is headed up the Florida Turnpike towards Indian Lake Estates. Captain Marian Schneider of Grande Tours in Boca Grnade, FL is at the wheel, her friend Marilyn is in the rear passenger seat. Marian and Marilyn were on the recently concluded Galapagos Photo-Cruise that turned out to be the best-ever photographically. My co-leader Denise Ippolito flies to Newark this afternoon. We all awoke at 2am this morning in Quito, Ecuador to catch the 6:25am AA flight to Miami. I should be home by about 5pm. I fly to Long Island for the sold out Nikcerson Beach IPT on Sunday.

This Greater Flamingo was photographed at Dragon Hill with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual Mode.

Central sensor Surround AI Servo/Rear Focus on the bird’s eye and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. With the sun out, the eyes and faces of this species, as they are with scaup, almost always appear unsharp. I will share the image processing with you in the next blog post.

The Food

From the moment that I met the group, the questions were: “How’s the food on the boat? What are we gonna eat?” We were met by our naturalist guide Juan at the Baltra airport after our flight from Quito. An hour later we boarded the Samba after all of our luggage and photography gear had been transported to the boat by the crew. The 73 foot motor sailing yacht Samba would be our home for the next 15 days.

And then, lunch!

Simply put, everyone was amazed by the amount, quality, and taste of the food: pan fried and baked snapper, broiled wahoo, scrumptious Ecuadorian menestra–South American dry red beans in thick, amazing sauce, unexpectedly savory white rice, fresh steamed broccoli and cauliflower, a great salad, and a vanilla cake with raspberry drizzle for dessert.

There were no more food questions.

This Greater Flamingo was also photographed at Dragon Hill with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/400 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual Mode.

Two active sensors to the right and above the Central sensor 61-point AI Servo/Rear Focus on the bird’s neck active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
We all found that the eyes and faces of the flamingos photographed when it clouded over briefly were much sharper then with images created when the sun was out. That said, with sharpest focus on the bird’s neck the face of this bird was a bit forward of the plane of sharpest focus and thus needed a bit of special attention during the image optimization process: Eye Doctor work, and NIK 50-50 and a contrast mask on the bird’s face and bill.

The First Landing

After a briefing by Juan, we all headed to our cabins to unpack and organize. As the skies were clear and blue, I moved the landing back to 4pm so that we could hopefully enjoy the sweet late afternoon light e readied our photo gear, loaded the pangas (zodiacs), and made our first landing—a dry one onto lava rock—at Dragon Hill on the island of Santa Cruz, also known as Indefatigable. Still unsure or my decision to purchase and bring the new Canon 200-400 with the built-in TC, I went with the 600 II, the 70-200II, and two sets of TCs. Everything worked out well.

The target species for our first landing was Greater Flamingo; we lucked out in spades. As we arrived there were two flamingos in a small brackish lagoon. As the light got sweeter they were joined by a third. We photographed them sleeping, striding, and feeding–their odd-shaped bills swishing rapidly back and forth through shallow waters of the muddy lagoon.

This Marine Iguana image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/125 sec. at f/4 .5 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (Surround)/AI Servo Rear Focus on the iguana’s eye and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Back-up Subjects

In addition to the flamingos we photographed Marine Iguana, Black-necked Stilt, and White-cheeked Pintail. There are lots of beautiful Land Iguanas at Dragon Hill but photography at the lagoon was so good that we opted to forego the hike and enjoy the opportunities at hand. We will have good chances with the beautiful yellow reptiles at Urbina Bay and on South Plaza Island later on in the trip.

I first photographed the Marine Iguana above sitting on wet, red mud and then in the still waters of the lagoon. Both made for somewhat unusual settings as they generally prefer rocky coasts. They do lay their eggs in coarse sand. We will be seeing and photographing lots of Marine Iguanas of varying sizes and colorations on our photo-cruise.

This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens (hand held at 85mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X). ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/4 in Av mode.

One below the central sensor/AI Servo/Surround/Rear Focus on a cloud active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

The End

We were blessed with a lovely sunset. I made this image from the panga on the way back to the Samba. And oh, yes, dinner was great too.

Photographic Society of Chattanooga Seminar

Scroll down here for details on the Saturday seminar that Denise Ippolito and yours truly are doing in Chattanooga on October 12, 2013 and the follow-up Old Car City In-the-Field Workshop. Blog folks who sign up for both are invited to join us at a secret Urbex location in Atlanta on Friday morning October 11. Feel free to e-mail me for details after you are registered for both.

From Greg Clarkson via e-mail

Thanks so much for the awesome and inspiring weekend seminar that you and Denise put on in Brandon! It was greatly appreciated. Greg

Snow Goose composite, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM. Click on the image for a larger version.

Bosque del Apache 2013 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 26-DEC 2, 2013. 7-FULL DAYS: $3399. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 6:30 pm on 11/25. Limit: 12.

Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks including point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. This will make 19 consecutive Novembers at Bosque for me. Nobody knows the place better than I do. Join us to learn to think like a pro, to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather, especially the sky conditions, the light, and the wind direction. Every time we make a move we will let you know why. When you head home applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable. Includes all lunches and the Thanksgiving Buffet at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque. I hope that you can join me for what will be an unparalleled learning experience.

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Images copyright 2012: Denise Ippoltio & Arthur Morris. Card design by Denise Ippolito. Click on the image to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

Holland 2014 7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. April 17-April 24, 2014 :$4995 Limit: 12 photographers/Openings 9

This trip needs 8 registrants to run so please do not purchase your plane tickets until you hear from us; right now we need 5 more folks.

Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” BPN Photo Gear Moderator, former Nikon shooter, and technical expert Peter Kes, and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light and one of the planet’s premier photographic educators for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2014. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 17, 2014. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Peter who is originally from Holland, will be our local guide/interpreter/driver. Most days we will return to the hotel for lunch, image sharing and a break. On Day 8, April 24, we will enjoy both morning and afternoon photography sessions.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse. In addition we will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and the Anne Frank House in the afternoon; there will be plenty of time for street photography as well. And some great food. On another day we will have a wonderful early dinner at Kinderdijk and then head out with our gear to photograph the windmills and possibly some birds for those who bring their longs lenses. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Edam where we will do some street photography and enjoy a superb dinner. All lodging, ground transportation, entry fees, and meals (from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 8) are included.

For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two or possibly three. The big attraction should be gorgeous Purple Herons in flight at a breeding marsh. We would be photographing them from the roadside. And we might be able to find a few Great-crested Grebes at a location near Keukenhof.

Click here for complete details and some previously unpublished images. And/or click here and see item one for lots more tulip photos and complete trip details.

Images courtesy of and copyright 2012: Bill Mueller. Card design by Denise Ippolito.

Old Car City Creative Photography In-the-Field HDR Workshop: Sunday, October 13, 2013/ 9am till 1pm.

White, Georgia: $250 plus a $15 entrance fee donation (cash only on the day of the event) that will go to charity. Limit: 16 photographers.

On October 13, 2013, Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART and Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure will be conducting an In-the-Field HDR Workshop at Old Car City in White, Georgia. Old Car City is about an hour north of Atlanta, GA and an hour south of Chattanooga, TN where they will, as noted above, be doing a full day seminar for the Photographic Society of Chattanooga on Saturday, October 12th. Click here for complete details.


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7 comments to Almost Home! Galapagos Photo-Cruise/Day 1, afternoon: Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz

  • Welcome back Art! Can’t wait for my first IPT in years!


  • Hi Art-You are not following your word several yrs. ago “I will be slowing down and not be doing much travel especially international”-Glad to see you are actually speeding up after the Barrow trip ! Keep on keeping on !

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks both. Made it home at 5pm to a pile of work. And thanks for the flamingo info SJ. I will run it by Juan.

  • Artie – FYI – the Greater Flamingos are found in Africa and Europe, the sub-species found in the Galapagos are known as the American or Caribbean Flamingos. The good news is you will find the Greater Flamingos when you go to Africa next month hopefully
    The six sub-species:
    Greater Flamingo – Africa, Europe, SW ASia
    Lesser Flamingo – Africa and India
    American – Caribbean, Mexico, Galapagos
    Chilean – South America
    James or Puna – Andes in Peru, Argentina, Bolivia & Chile
    Andean – Andes in Peru, Argentina, Bolivia & Chile