Tobu Tori Answers « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Tobu Tori Answers

And The Streak Continues…

We had a great day today with the Red-crowned Cranes and the raptors. Our days are so jam-packed with photography that I have not even looked at a single image from today. And it is time for bed: almost 8:30pm. We are all excited as the forecast is for 10 inches of snow tonight!

This post marks 78 straight days with a new educational blog post, a record by far that should be extended for at least another day or so, or not. Or more…. It appears that our lodge has great internet. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask that use our B&H and Amazon affiliate links for all of your B&H and Amazon purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store. We sell only what I use and depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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Today’s blog post took 1 1/2 hours to prepare. It’s late, and I gotta get up soon. Again!


This Red-crowned Crane Flight flight image was created on the Japan in Winter IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/3200 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. Color temperature: AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF on the bird’s neck just behind the head was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Red-crowned Crane

Tobu Tori Answers

At times on the blog folks ask such insightful questions that the original lesson may pale by comparison to the answers. Such was the case with yesterday’s blog post. As the lessons were so important and relevant to flight photography I did not want to risk folks missing the material.

Quazi Ahmed Hussain

February 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Some stunning images. Thanks for posting. Could you please explain ‘at f/6.3 in Manual mode was an underexposure?

Thanks in advance. Quazi

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

February 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

It was an underexposure because I noticed–after the fact, that the histogram was much too far to the left. It was a difficult situation and the action was fast paced. Different settings were required for the various species as they were all of different tonalities…. With their bright whites sunlit the cranes and the Steller’s Sea-Eagles required the least light, the white-tailed needed a bit more light as the white tail is not as bright at the whites on the two previous birds, and the black-eared needed a third stop more light.

I began by over-estimating the amount of light and compounded my errors from there until I finally got it right for the flying crane.

As always, learn everything that you need to know about exposure for nature photography in the two-book bundle: ABP and ABP II.


This Black-eared Kite flight image was also created on the Japan in Winter IPT with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (hand held with the internal extender in place at 506mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode was more than 1/2 stop too dark. AWB.

Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s right wing as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Black-eared Kite

Chris Houston

February 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Really nice photos. I can’t choose between the three raptor shots for my favorite. Since I’ve been trying recently to improve my flight photography I’m even more impressed than usual. It’s not nearly as easy as you make it look to get the light and positioning and composition and sharp focus right!

Either that or maybe you’re a bird whisperer and when they see you the birds all just fly right at you to give you perfect shots. 🙂

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

February 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Actually it is just a matter of understanding the direction of the wind, the light, and bird behavior. As I think I mentioned above, we had pretty much the worst possible flight conditions: fairly bright sun with the wind pretty much in our face though a bit from north. I instructed the group to watch for birds turning and circling to get in on the action and for birds flying the wrong way for whatever reason. After that it is just a matter or pressing the shutter button when the bird is in the zone: coming towards you (and the light)or at least not flying away and filling a suitable amount of the frame. Strength–which I do not have much of, and hand-eye coordination are also major factors but they are trumped by understanding the situation and knowing bird behavior and understanding how the direction of the wind and the direction of the light affect the photography of tobu tori….

Best way to learn all of this stuff: join us on an IPT that features lots of flight photography like this one:

Bosque del Apache 2014 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). NOV 29-DEC 3, 2014. Totaling 4 FULL-DAYS: $1449. Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/29.

Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with two of the world’s premier photographic educators at one of their very favorite photography locations on the planet. Top-notch in-the-field and Photoshop instruction. This will make 21 consecutive Novembers at Bosque for artie. This will be denise’s 6th workshop at the refuge. Nobody knows the place better than artie does. 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 being able to apply what you’ve learned on your home turf will prove to be invaluable.

Learn more by scrolling down here.


I used techniques from APTATS II to move the birds in each of the images above into a more pleasing position in the frame. The crane image took about 20 seconds, the kite image about 90 seconds as I needed to move the bird with four separate operations and four Layer Masks.

Mention this blog post and Jim will be glad to apply a $10 discount on your APTATS II purchase with phone orders only. Throw in APTATS I to hone your Photoshop image clean-up skills and Jim will be glad to enter a $15 discount for the pair, again, on phone orders only.

The DPP RAW Conversion Guide

To learn why I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to convert every image that I work on, click here.

Your Favorite?

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the two images above you feel is stronger. And be sure to let us know why.


Images copyright 2012: Denise Ippolito & 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/Openings: 5

Act soon: this trip is a go and is filling quickly.

Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus 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. 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 7) are included. For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two.

Click here for additional info or to register.


Join me for the 2014 Tanzania Summer Safari!

2014 Tanzania Summer Safari, 14-day African Adventure/leave the US on August 9. Fly home on August 24: $12,999.

Co-leaders Todd Gustafson & Arthur Morris. The limit is 12. Three photographers/van; you get your own row of seats. Our trip is a bit more expensive than the average safari for good reason. It is the best. We have the best driver guides with a total of decades of experience. They have been trained over the years by Todd and by me to drive with photography in mind. We have the best and most knowledgeable leaders. We stay in the best lodges and camps. We hope that you will join us for what will be Todd’s 35th African safari, and my 8th.

If you are seriously interested please e-mail me; I will be glad to send you the illustrated PDF with the complete itinerary and deposit info.

What else makes this expedition unique?

•Pre-trip consultation and camera equipment advice
•Award-winning photographers as your guides
•A seamless itinerary visiting the right locations at the best time of year
•Hands-on photography instruction in the field
•Specially designed three roof-hatch photo safari vehicles
•Proprietary materials for preparation, including free copy of “A Photographer’s Guide to Photographing in East Africa.”
•Post-safari image critiques

All-inclusive (double-occupancy) except for your flights to and from Kilamajaro Airport, bar drinks, soda & water (except at the Intimate Tented Camp where everything is free for our entire stay), tips for drivers and camp staff, personal items, and trip insurance.


Breathe deeply, bite the bullet, and live life to its fullest; we all get only one ride on the merry-go-round… Join me on this great trip.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Southern Ocean…

If you would like to explore the possibility of joining me on the Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris Antarctica/The Extended Expedition Voyage< trip: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands: December 13, 2014 to January 10, 2015, click here for additional information and then shoot me an e-mail.

The DPP RAW Conversion Guide

To learn why I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to convert every image that I work on, click here.

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IPT Info

Many of our great trips are filling up. See especially info on the South Florida, Holland, and Nickerson Beach IPTs. Two great leaders on most trips ensure that you will receive individual attention, have all of your questions answered, and learn a ton including how to think like a pro, see the situation, and get the right exposure every time. In addition you will have fun, and make lots of great images. Click here for IPT details and general information.

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