The Promised Flapper; Well Worth the Wait? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Promised Flapper; Well Worth the Wait?

The Streak Continues

As you read this, I will likely be photographing Ospreys on Lake Blue Cypress with Jim Neiger and our Friday group of 3. This post marks 133 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 you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I use, have used, 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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This blog post took only about 1 1/2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


This flapping Wood Duck drake image was created at 3:38pm in late afternoon sunlight on January 17, 2014 on the San Diego Short Notice 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 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop as framed: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. Color temperature: AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF 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.

The Promised Flapper; Well Worth the Wait?

More than 3 months ago I mentioned that friend and multiple IPT veteran Mike Goldhamer (who is joining us on the UK Puffin IPT) ran into me in LaJolla and taught me a trick to get the Wood Ducks to flap. I have been so busy that I have not had a chance to optimize any of my favorites. I will be sharing Mike’s trick in the next update to the San Diego Site Guide; the update will be a short one. I promise to have it finished no later than October of this year. Reminders are welcome. πŸ™‚

Let us know what you think of the image.

For the Eagle-Eyed Photoshop Police

In yesterday’s blog post, several eagle-eyed Photoshop policemen pointed out problems with my optimized image. They did of course, have the advantage of seeing the original. It is always easier to spot processing imperfections when you know exactly where to look. Today they have a second chance. I will tell you that I did some substantial Photoshop work in two areas of this image.

Do you see anything funky? Do let us know exactly where I went to work and I will tip my hat to you if you are correct.

San Diego IPT: early February, 2015

If you would like to be placed on the interested list, please shoot me an e-mail.


I hope that you can join us on this great trip. The vertical puffin image was created by David Tipling. The rest–almost all from the UK, are mine :).

UK Puffins and Gannets IPT July 2-9, 2014. 5 full days of puffins and two half-days of gannet boat photography: $4,999 USD. Limit 10 + the 2 leaders.

Desperately seeking: 1 female roommate & 1 male roommate.

With 5 folks registered, this trip is a go.

Fly to Edinburgh (say “ED-in-BRUH”), Scotland on a red eye flight on July 1st arriving on the early morning of July 2 or certainly before 10am. UK folks who plan on driving please contact me via e-mail immediately.

There are direct flights to Edinburgh from both Philadelphia and Toronto. If you learn of any others please advise via e-mail so that I may share with all the interested folks. Fly home mid-morning on July 9. UK locals and our many European friends are of course welcome.

With 5 deposits in hand, this trip is a go; you can buy your flights now :).

What’s included:

5 full DAYS on the best UK puffin boat; trips to 2 different islands–all dependent on decent weather, i.e, no major storms. Seabirds including scads of Atlantic Puffin both in flight and perched, Razorbill, Great Cormorant, Shag, and others likely. The trip is timed to maximize the opportunities for photographing the puffins bringing fish back to the nests. All boat fares and landing fees are included. The boat leaves at 9:30am. We have two hours on the first island. We are then picked up and head to the 2nd island for a 2+ hour session. The weather is typically cloudy bright.

One late-afternoon (2 July) and one early morning (probably 8 July) trip on a gannet photography boat where the birds are fed and dive very close to the boat. Both are dependent on good weather but we do have some flexibility. Boat fares and the cost of the fish are covered. Each will consist of a one hour outbound ride, two hours of diving Northern Gannet photography (with 6 boxes of fish) and the one hour return trip.

The tentative, weather-dependent itinerary:

July 2: airport pick-up no later than 10am UK time. Lunch on your dime. Drive to hotel. Afternoon gannet boat trip/time TBD.
July 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7: Full Day Puffin Boat trips as noted above.
July 8: early morning Gannet Boat trip. Afternoon: Small group Image review and Photoshop sessions. Pack for the trip home.
July 9: early morning departure for Edinburgh Airport (EDI).

The itinerary is subject to change to ensure the best possible photographic opportunities.

A super-telephoto lens is not required on this trip. The 300mm f/2.8s are ideal. I will be bringing one along with my 200-400mm with Internal Extender, my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, and a shorter zoom lenses. Plus three 1.4X and two 2X TCs, a Gitzo 3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod, and my Mongoose M3.6. I may go tripod-less on the puffin trips at times…. Or not…. All photography on the gannet boat will be hand held. It is likely that the 70-200s will be ideal for the gannets.

7 nights lodging in an older but excellent hotel just a few minutes from the puffin boat dock with about a 70 minute ride to the gannet boat. Double occupancy will be the rule though we might be able to offer a single supplement at an exorbitant price. See the hotel info here.

All breakfasts and dinner (at the hotel) from dinner on July 2 through dinner on July 8. And breakfast on our get-away day unless we need to leave earlier than they serve to make our flights home…

Airport pick-up until 10am on July 2–this should not be a problem as there are lots of red-eye flights from the US to Edinburgh.

All ground transportation. Airport return on the early morning of July 9. We may be getting up very early on July 9th.

Two great leaders; Denise Ippolito and yours truly will provide personalized and small group in-the-field instruction. As usual, the closer you stay to us and the more questions that you ask the more you will learn. We will of course point out the best situations. You will learn to see these great situations for yourself, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, to work in Manual mode, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. You will learn the basics of photographing birds in flight and how the relationship between light direction and wind direction impacts the photography of both birds in flight and perched puffins. And tons more.

We will be conducting informal, small group image review and Photoshop sessions after dinner. All are invited to bring their laptops. Image critiques of your five best images will be done after the trip upon request.

Early morning castle photography right near the hotel is an option for the early risers. In the event of inclement weather or stormy seas there is the possibility of bird photography along the coast. Early evening bird photography along the coast is also optional.

Not included: all lunches–for the most part we will need to pack lunches for the puffin trips, or you may opt to skip lunch. Your round trip airfare from home to Scotland. Booze, wine, and any other beverages other than coffee and tea at breakfast.

A non-refundable deposit of $2,000 USD is required to hold your spot so please check on flights and your schedule before committing. The balance will be due on 15 May so you may wish to pay the whole thing at once. Overseas folks may e-mail for wire transfer info. Our $15 wire transfer fee will be added to your balance.

Trip insurance is highly recommended as your deposit (less a $200 cancellation fee) will not be refunded unless the trip fills completely. I, and my family, use Travel Insurance Services.

After letting us know via e-mail that you will be coming, please send your deposit check made out to “Arthur Morris” to us as follows:

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
PO Box 7245 (US mail) or 4041 Granada Drive (if by courier).
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

My friend David Tipling, with multiple BBC honored images and the author of dozens of photo illustrated books, helped with the planning and arrangements for this trip.

If you have any questions, please contact me via e-mail.

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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. πŸ™‚

16 comments to The Promised Flapper; Well Worth the Wait?

  • Chris Houston

    Artie, is the update to the San Diego site guide free for those of us who have purchased it? I’d very much be interested in that!

    While the removed stick was very easy to see on the previous post, there’s nothing nearly so obvious this time around, like usual.

  • Wow what a splendid image ! Thanks for posting Guru.

  • Marvin Falk

    Superbly lit. Most striking.

  • Craig Wesson

    Why try and find fault with it?
    That is an awesome image, just love what is.
    Thanks for sharing Artie.

  • One question, Wasn’t the white on the duck’s neck burned out on +2/3?

    The proof is in the pudding. The background was light-toned and the light was soft. The RGB values for the neck ranged from about 235-244 so they were and are not over-exposed. artie

  • Bill Dix

    Gorgeous. I dream of getting a Wood Duck image like this. Feels like a bit of CW rotation may be needed. Something funky in the gold area just above the blue, about mid-breast level at the far right, and perhaps that entire horizontal line from mid-breast to the right. Also maybe something near tip of outstretched wing at far left.

    Nope, nope, and nope :). artie

  • I see a slight blur on the inside of the wing, right in the middle on the primary coverts (if primary coverts is the correct identification for the feathers I’m referring to). I assume there as a odd droplet or piece of dirt on the wing that was removed? That’s my guess. πŸ™‚

    The inside of the right wing has a bit of motion blur just as it did in the original. artie

  • I’m guessing the duck was not alone and you removed someone from to the left of the outstretched wing. On the righthand side it looks like some work was done about mid-breast (maybe there was a stick floating or some bubbles) and also in the upper right corner.

    Nope, nope, and nope :). artie

    • I should confess that this isn’t exactly obvious; I inverted the image and tweaked the curves to bring it out.

      • Have you decided not to break the magician’s cardinal rule on this one? πŸ™‚

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          I will reveal this in a post. Keep reminding me. In case I forget, nothing at all was–despite many opinions to the contrary–done to the background. I did remove some ugly specular highlights from the dark mahogany feathers on the side of the upper breast.