Do the Eyes Have It? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Do the Eyes Have It?

The Streak Continues

Things are winding down here in Japan. Five of us again spent the early morning at the at the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan and then grabbed a cab to Kitano Tenman-gū, a Shinto shrine in Kamigyō-ku, Kyoto, Surprisingly, the plum blossom trees, though not yet in full bloom, were sporting lots of flowers. Paul McKenzie who was with us this morning flies back to Hong Kong tonight from Osaka. And Zorica and Srdjan head home tomorrow. Denise and I head to Tokyo on Monday and catch our flights back to the states on Tuesday (here in Japan). And Alan and Pat head home the following day.

I am finishing up this post at 6:00pm Japan time on Saturday, March 1 (OMG, it’s March already!), 2014. That is 4:00am on the same day in Florida and in New York. If you missed the Jumping Monkeys” blog post the other day, be sure to click here to see the many thoughtful comments on the state of nature photography today.

This post marks 92 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…. 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.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

We would of course appreciate you using our B&H and Amazon affiliate links for all of your B&H and Amazon major gear, video, electronic, household, and personal purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.

Thanks a Huge Stack!

Thanks a stack to all who visit the blog regularly. February was a record month for the BAA B&H affiliate program. And dozens of folks are getting in the habit of using Amazon for both the minor household and entertainment purchases as well as for major purchases. Their kindness is greatly appreciated and it is great to see that the streak is paying dividends. Love you all. artie


This image was created 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 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 stops in soft light: 1/320 sec. at f/13 in Manual mode. Color Temperature: 6,000K.

Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo/Rear Focus on the base of the orange feathers and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be absolutely sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: No Eyes

The General Premise

The general premise in bird and wildlife photography is that a good look at the eye or the eyes of the subject is pretty much a necessity. This premise always guides me. I have written “When we view an image, we always start by making eye contact.” And I have always advised: “Focus on the eye; get the eye sharp and the heck with the rest.”


This image was created 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 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 stops in soft light: 1/100 sec. at f/25 in Manual mode. Color Temperature: 6,000K.

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

Image #2: One and One-half Eyes

Your Call

With the aforementioned general premise in mind, which–after being sure to view both images at the larger size–do you think is the stronger image? Be sure to let us know the reasons for your choice.


If you’d like to learn from the two folks who created the images in the composite above do consider one of the trips below. Denise Ippolito’s images: Japanese leaf painting, skimmer in flight, curved Keukenhof paths with tulips, copulating terns, & pink dahlia. Artie’s images: Snow Geese snowstorm blur, crane landing silhouettes, Leopard with prey in tree, King Penguin, & vertical tulip.

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours (IPTs)/Two great leaders: Arthur Morris & Denise Ippolito.

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART for the latest images, info, & education
Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure get yourself out of the box!

Denise’s e-books: Bloomin’ Ideas, A Guide to Filters & Effects, The Softer Side of Macro, & more. Free Monthly Creative MiniMag:

Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT, Long Island, NY: 3-Full Days/July 22-24, 2014: $1199.

Black Skimmers, Common Terns with chicks, American Oystercatcher & Piping Plover families; breeding behaviors including courtship feeding, display flight and combat, and copulations. Gulls and shorebirds.

UK Puffins IPT. Early July, 2014.

Details TBA. Please e-mail to be placed on the interested list.

Tanzania Serengeti Summer Safari: Leave US: August 9—return: August 24, 2014: $12,999.

Co-leaders: Arthur Morris & Todd Gustafson. Wildebeest/The Great Migration, cats, elephant, giraffe, zebra, birds & more. Please e-mail for brochure.

Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT, Canby, OR, September 8-12, 2014: 5 FULL DAYS: $1699.

Leader: Denise Ippolito. 40 acres with 350+dazzling varieties of dahlias in a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes. Sharpen your technical skills and boost your creative juices. Daily assignments, image sharing, and Photoshop sessions.

Bosque del Apache 2014 A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART “Creative Photography Instructional Photo-Tour.” (IPT). NOV 24-25, 2014. 2-FULL DAYS: $729.

Leaders: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/23. This IPT is perfect for folks who want to learn to think outside the box, to create new and different images. Learn to unleash your creative juices at the wondrous Bosque del Apache, NWR in San Antonio, NM.

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.

Antarctica/The Extended Expedition Voyage: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands: December 13, 2014 to January 10, 2015.

Please e-mail for details.

BAA offers a wide range of books, e-Guides, and educational materials and photographic accessories at the lowest prices around—25+ years of experience, and the best advice you can get. We will not sell you junk. Access the BAA Store here or call us at 1-863-692-0906.

Questions? Please e-mail us at or

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!


Everyone buys something from Amazon, be it a big lens or deodorant. Support the blog by starting your search by clicking on the logo-link below. No purchase is too small to be appreciated; they all add up. Why make it a habit? Because I make it a habit of bringing you new images and information on an almost daily basis.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. 🙂

IPT Info

Many of our great trips are filling up. See especially info on the Holland, Nickerson Beach, and Bosque 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.

8 comments to Do the Eyes Have It?

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Late to the party, but even after reading all the comments I like image #2 better. I think I understand the preferences for image number 1–it is beautifully abstract and it reminds me of a meringue–the eyes just have it for me. Both are absolutely gorgeous, though.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    First off, thanks all for commenting.

    I am going with the majority here. I feel strongly that #1 with its simplicity is the far stronger image. In addition, the lines and flow are much stronger in #1 than in #2. I am planning on entering #2 in several major contests. Thanks to all for commenting. artie

    ps: I posted this one on Bird Photographer’s.Net in the hugely popular Avian Forum here:

    BPN is a great place to have your images critiqued gently and honestly and is a great way to learn. artie

  • My pick is #1. Love the soft, abstract feeling to it! I feel I could almost touch the birds feathers. Great composition! When viewed with #2 it tells the whole story, but still sticking with #1.

  • Ron Gates

    I like #2 best. I agree with several other posters that I stared at #1 and tried to figure out what it was and I like the abstract look but for me the eyes drew me into the picture in #2. If there hadn’t been a #2, I would still be wondering what I was looking at. If the goal is to keep the viewer guessing then #1 does that but the eyes in #2 create a look that says “I’m a vulnerable young chick that’s safe on the back of my mother”. For me, that creates a more emotional picture.

  • Jeff Levine

    The second picture for is much more powerful and engaging.

  • Les Greenberg

    My choice #1. Love the abstract and I tried to figure out what it was I was viewing. Much stronger and more interesting photograph.

  • Henry

    I too will go with #1 abstract is what it’s all about.

  • My pick is #1 simply because of the interest factor?
    If it wasn’t for #2 I’d be staring and staring at #1
    wondering what the heck it is, which is probably one
    of the points.