It’s a Strange, Strange Business Indeed « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

It's a Strange, Strange Business Indeed


This post marks 102 straight days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H and Amazon links why quit now? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do 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.

Note: we almost never have Mongoose M3.6 heads in stock. We sell them as fast as we get them. The best way to ensure getting one of these great heads for your intermediate or super-telephoto lens is to call Jim and place your order. You are then ensured of getting one from our next shipment. We will not of course bill your credit card until the item ships or drop-ships.

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.

This blog post took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare. Enjoy.


This Great Egret head portrait was created at Gatorland, Kissimmee, FL with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens, and the EOS-1D Mark IV now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering as framed: 1/320 sec. at f/9 in soft light in Manual mode.

Central Sensor/Rear Focus AI Servo-Expand as framed 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.

Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop

Saturday March 15, 2014. 7:15am till 10:15am & 3:30pm till dusk. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included. Limit 6/Openings: 4. A very small group is likely: $399.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

For the past few years the Great Egrets have been nesting earlier and earlier. Head portraits of this species in full breeding plumage are very likely. Nest building and flight likely. In the field you will learn to spot good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.

At lunch we will review my images, take a look at five of your best images from the morning session (for those who opt to bring their laptops), and process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Call me all day on Sunday at 863-692-0906. If I am in the pool or napping, please shoot me an e-mail with a call back time and number. Weekdays you will get Jim or Jen. Ask for me if you have any questions.


Artie and Denise & the 2012 Nickerson Beach IPT Crew. Image courtesy of and copyright 2012: Helen Bohmart Pine.

From left to right: Kitty Kono, yours truly, denise, Macolm MacKenzie (I think), Dierdre Sheer Gross (pointing), Michael Goodman, Stanley Goldberg, unknown photographer, & Tim Thompson. My favorite part: Helen made me look tall and thin!

BAA’s Economic Survival

In 2001, BAA sold the rights to images for more than $220,000 with VIREO (Visual Resources in Ornithology) as our only stock sales outlet. In other words, we sold lots of images ourselves. In tax year 2011, with images with Corbis and Visuals Unlimited, the total for image sales dropped to under $20,000. No matter how you slice it that represent a decline of more than 90%. Today, it is difficult to sell an image. With the handwriting on the wall I knew that we would need to adapt to survive. We have. We grew the mail order business via the BAA Online Store, we realized that creating income by selling information in digital form (PDFs)and MP4 Video Tutorials) would help save me from becoming a WalMart greeter, and we came to depend on the workshop business in the form of BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours to remain more than solvent.

More recently our B&H and Amazon Affiliate link have done well and provided significant income as more and more folks have been using them in appreciation for my somewhat insane efforts here on the blog. As always, my #1 goal is to help folks become better photographers.


Nickerson Beach 2013 IPT images and card design copyright 2013: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. From upper left to right clockwise: skimmer blur, Sanderling flock with ocean and Long Beach, LI, NY in the background, backlit skimmer landing, Common Tern chick eating baby Bluefish, displaying American Oystercatcher, Common Tern brooding chick, young oystercatcher eating sand crab, newborn tern chick, adult Common Tern in flight.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

It’s a Strange, Strange Business Indeed

Of late, the tour business has been hard to figure out. Here is a current example. In 2012 denise and I sold out our Nickerson Beach Workshop–see the opening image above. In 2013 it was a sell-out plus one over the limit. We were joined by John Van de Graaff, Doug West, Allan and Pat Lillich, Mike Goldhamer, Harry Hersh, Geri George, Lawrence Tawa, Paul Pinto Jr and his Dad, Brent Bridges, John Haedo, Tim Thompson, and Mark Hardymon. Though the season was late and as nature would have it, Black Skimmers were in short supply, we all had a great time with the Common Terns (especially the small chicks) and the American Oystercatcher families. Everyone went home smarter, more skilled, and very happy.

It is interesting to note that of the 13 folks, there were only 2 newcomers, the talented Paul Pinto Jr. and Larry Tawa from the West Coast. Larry signed up for Bosque last year but had to cancel at the last minute. We began advertising our 2014 Nickerson trip about 6 months ago. One old friend has been threatening to sign up but so far we have no registrants. As I said, things have been strange.

Two years ago I scheduled a San Diego IPT. When nobody signed up, I scrapped it. This year I planned a short-notice trip there and sold it out within one week. Go figure.

International Trips

International trips are just as strange. We sold out Holland with 12 last year, this year we have 7. Interested folks should sign up soon as we need to release the extra hotel rooms. Peter Kes will be joining us for the weekend. I sold out the recent Japan trip by invitation only in one day and am in the process of doing same with my 2016 Japan in Winter IPT. Galapagos 2015 is filling nicely. On the other hand, after doing a Camargue horses trip last year, dozens of folks e-mailed denise expressing interest. We put together a great trip but after several months with nobody signing up we were forced to cancel. Within a week of taking the trip down we received more than a dozen e-mails from folks ready and anxious to leave a deposit. Last year the Tanzania summer safari that I co-led with Todd Gustafson went with a group of 14. We are going again this year, right now with one client. I expect the UK puffins and gannets trip to sell out within days, but in reality, who knows?

As I’ve said, Go figure.


Nickerson Beach Summer 2013 images and card design copyright 2013: Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure. From upper left to right clockwise: Black Skimmers battling, Piping Plover goose-stepping, Common Terns copulating, Black Skimmer chick, skimmer aerial battle, adult oystercatcher sleeping on beach, juvenile oystercatcher striding, juvenile oystercatcher with prey item, backlit skimmer chick being fed at dawn.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Denise’s Card

As I mentioned above, the skimmers were both low in numbers and late nesting last July. Typically there would be lots of nests and more than a few small chicks on those dates. All of Neesie’s images above were made within 2 weeks of the IPT and the skimmer chicks in particular give a much more typical picture of activity in mid-July.

Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT: 3-Full Days/July 15-17, 2014: $1199. Introductory meet and greet: 8pm, Monday, July 14, 2014. Co-leaders Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito

Join us on Long Island, NY next summer to photograph Black Skimmers, Common Terns with chicks, American Oystercatcher families, and possibly some just-hatched Black Skimmer chicks. 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.

A $499 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.”) Though we prefer a check, 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


Join Denise Ippolito and me for four great days of photography and learning at one of our soul places. Please click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

The Business of Bosque Workshops

Perhaps a dozen years ago I ran four 3-DAY Bosque IPTs with a limit of 16 photographers. They always sold out well in advance. As the years went by I cut down on the number of Bosque Workshops, made them longer, and reduced the group size. Until last year the plan was working fabulously well with my traditional Thanksgiving dates. Last year I had only a single photographer along for the whole ride with several more signing up for the short version after the holiday. In contrast, the 4-day Bosque 2014 IPT already has 8 folks signed up. Go figure….

As noted here previously, pretty much anyone with a camera is now qualified to lead a photography tour. While some appreciate great leaders with decades of experience, others are not. From where I sit, it is all about value. For now, I am doing just fine. Who knows what the future will bring? I surely don’t but I suspect that I will continue to do just fine. And so will denise.

Click here for the Instructional Photo-Tour schedule and complete IPT details.

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21 comments to It’s a Strange, Strange Business Indeed

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Very interesting info!!

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Don’t you think that you are marketing to a very small number of people and that the overall shape of the world economy might be having an impact? Only a small percentage of folks can afford these kinds of excursions. I am not criticizing your pricing or the value of your services but when you add up the travel, lodging, food, equipment and time off work it simply becomes prohibitive for most folks. I think this may be especially true of the longer international trips. Traveling the world for photography on this level is just not within the financial abilities of most people.That would be my main guess as to why your volume is down. Your short, less expensive trips are a good idea.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Joel. I agree 100%. We have recently been offering lower priced US-based trips and will continue to do so, especially on a Short Notice basis. artie

      ps: hope to see you on one 🙂

  • Artie, I guess change is pretty much the only constant. I did commercial photography for years but found that with the advent of digital, the game changed so much it needed a new scoreboard. Our family farm was a successful dairy operation for decades until market forces and personal changes turned us to beef ranching, then into crop production. Now I’m working with conservation groups to turn it into essentially a sustainable wildlife refuge. Not really sure what that is, but I know it’s the path we’re on…it surely doesn’t pay like the cattle business did (in a good year, at least) but it has it’s own rewards.
    I hope you continue to adapt and inspire.
    I will happily use your site for my B&H orders.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Best of luck with the endeavor. And thanks for your kind words. artie

    • avatar David Policansky

      Hi, John. I know of ranches in New Mexico that were sold as green developments, intended to preserve ranching and ecological values and provide opportunities for people to live in beautiful places. Those sales apparently did very well for the former ranch owners. But yes, everything changes, especially in businesses that are resource-based. And pity the poor camera-makers, who are getting eaten alive by cell-phones, which are well and widely connected on the internet, easy to use, and getting better every day in terms of image quality. I do have confidence in Artie’s ability to adapt as well. 🙂

  • avatar Allan Warner

    I could be wrong, but I think the chick being fed at dawn in the Nickerson Beach collage is a black skimmer, not an oystercatcher.

    Blog continues to be highly instructive. Keep, it up!

  • Good morning Guru. Hope everything is fine following a great tour of Japan.

    My Nikon user enthusiast photographer friend is examining possibilities to buy a Nikkor 500mm f/4 super telephoto lens. However, he’s not so sure re how to go about it but prefers to get it from the US.

    May I request your advices on this?

    Thanks in advance.

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      That is a great choice for those on the Dark Side :).

      He can get in touch with me via e-mail if he would like me to send him the B&H Landed Cost Calculator; that will let him know the exact cost of the lens and all related charges including customs, VAT and other local taxes, and shipping.

      Here is our B&H affiliate link for the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR lens (Black).

      Thanks a stack for thinking of BAA. artie

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        ps: I actually made rhe same mistake twice. Fixed that one too 🙂 artie

  • avatar Graham Hedrick

    I wish I could join you at Gatorland this Saturday

  • avatar Graham Hedrick

    Art. The next time I purchase a gizmo from BH photo, it be be via your web site.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Much appreciated. The more folks and the more gizmos, the better 🙂 artie

  • Hi Artie, we don’t schedule our trips, we set them up when a group comes to us. We don’t focus on photography, I don’t solicit photographers, and we’ve only had one father/son team who were serious amateurs. That being said, I really hope that serious photographers find you and go with you. It would be a shame that someone would miss out on what you and Todd (and Denise) have to offer in Tanzania. I’m not trying to stroke you, I just know how important instructors and guides are for a trip. I hope your followers know that they can take a cheaper trip than yours, but not a better one!


  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Interesting indeed. I assume you know about Andreas Gursky’s famous photograph sale (more than $4 million at auction for one rather spare but huge image of the Rhine, I think Sotheby’s, a couple years ago). I haven’t figured that one out. I am one of your grateful fans and I have used your links.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi Raleigh, It is great to hear from you. Thanks for your kind and supportive words. If you see an IPT that you would like to attend, do e-mail me and ask about our octogenarian discounts! Don’t forget that anyone who buys anything from Amazon can help us out by using the tall, skinny Amazon link on the right side of the blog or the one in the posts themselves.

    I am send much love plus a bit of extra strength and energy your way. artie

    ps: here’s to 82!

  • My best to you and Denise
    You have just written of “the best of times and the worst of times.”

    I have learned so much via your books, articles and blog and from the multi-talented Denise (the two of you make a great team.) I dream of taking one of your trips, but even as a vigorous, happy and healthy 81 year old, who fell in love with photography in the 50s, the budget will not stretch that far. I am certain in these uncertain and strange times you have legions of fans, who may not help pay the bills, but are grateful to you and your team and who join me in wishing you many happy and prosperous times ahead.