Three Love Stories… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Three Love Stories...

IPT and I-T-F Updates

There are only 4 slots left on the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT and on the NOV 29-DEC Bosque IPT. The Fort DeSoto Short Notice, Nickerson Beach, and the Bosque Creative IPTs all have lots of room though the latter is filling nicely as Muriel McLellan and her daughter-n-law signed up yesterday. Scroll down for updated info & details on the St. Augustine In-the-Field days and the Fort DeSoto IPT. Click here for info on the others and for complete IPT details.

The MiniMag

The May 2014 issue of Denise Ippolito’s Creative Mini-Mag is online now and can be accessed here.

Used Canon and Nikon Gear for Sale

There are some great buys available on a variety of super-telephotos lenses as well as a few camera bodies. Scroll down for details. Kitty Kono’s Nikon 500 sold yesterday. Her 400 f/2.8 is still there for the taking at a great price.

The Streak Continues: 156

Carl Shaw and Betsy and I had enjoyed a sunny Sunday morning at Gatorland yesterday. I left early to pick up Denise at MCO and we made out way up to St. Augustine. With two leaders and just one client it is not too late to join us for some practically private instruction on an In-the-Field day on Tuesday or Wednesday. e-mail or better yet, call my cell as below if you are interested in 1 or 2 days of instruction. We visited the Alligator Farm yesterday afternoon in bright sun and as at Gatorland, most folks, including many with $15,000 or more of great gear clearly indicated by their actions that they have no clue as to how to create a good image in difficult lighting conditions.

This post marks 156 consecutive days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? April was a record month! 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 used, tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know the tools that 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.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, 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 post took 1 1/2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


This image was created at Gatorland on a drizzly May 3, 2014 with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head,the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the internal TC engaged at 473mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/400 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AWB.

Four sensors to the left and 1 row down from the central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF on the birds eye and re-compose very slightly. Practicing so that you are able to change AF sensors almost instantly is an important skill to work on. Learn everything there is to know about the 1D X and 5D III AF systems including how to manage the various AF Area Selection Modes, when to use which one, and several ways to move the AF sensor around in the 1D X AF Guide and the 5D Mark III User’s Guide. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version. .

Fill flash with Better Beamer at -2 stops in ETTL with the diffuser screen in place. Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT with the Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack for faster re-charging times. Mongoose Integrated Flash Arm with the Canon OC-E3 Off Camera Shoe Cord 3.


Love Story #1

I first met Carl Shaw on a Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge IPT at least two decades ago. He joined me at Gatorland on Saturday past for what turned out to be a private In-the-Field Workshop. But that is another story.

Right off the bat, Carl and I were like old buddies. He is one very happy camper. Carl was very happily married to Carol for however many decades. Carol was stricken with inflammatory breast cancer in 1999 and battled it until October 2012.

Betsy is the Occupational Therapist who treated Carol for lymphedema on and off for about 3 years until Carol’s death. Lymphedema, also known as lymphatic obstruction, is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system. It is usually caused by breast cancer surgery and bacterial or fungal infection. In Carol’s case, the former.

Near the end Carol insisted that Carl accompany her to her therapy appointments. And kept insisting. The loving husband obliged. He realized after Carol’s death that what she had been doing was setting him up with Betsy. Carl and Betsy fell in love and 2 years later they are a very happy couple. I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely and beautiful Betsy, a beginning nature photographer, on the Sunday morning that followed our I-T-F session.

For me the hero of the story is Carol, so secure in her relationship with Carl and their love for each other that she wanted to make sure that Carl wound up with a wonderful woman….

Love Story #2

I love cloudy days for nature photography. And that goes double when working at rookeries where contrast rules the roost. (Please pardon the pun.) If those days include a bit of drizzle, so much the better.

Love Story #3

Once again, I have come to love using fill flash on cloudy days at the gator rookeries. And recently I remembered an old trick that I developed years ago when I used flash regularly: lowering the diffusion screen on my Canon Speedlight with the Better Beamer in place tempers the flash when working at relatively close range and prevents the images from looking over-flashed. Exactly as it did in today’s image. When using fill flash, you want the ambient exposure–usually set manually–to be correct as if you were not using flash. With the flash reduced to somewhere between -1 and -3 stops–depending on the tonality of the subject, you are aiming for a natural look and a bright, sharp, well-lit eye. All exactly as you see here.

Flash Simplified

If you are clueless when it comes to flash you are advised to study the “Flash Simplified” section in The Art of Bird Photography II. ABP II: 916 pages on CD only with 900+ great images each with one of our legendary BAA educational captions. Just like the ones you see here on the blog. Topics covered include flash gear and set-up, Better Beamer basics, telephoto fill flash, flash as main light, and the use of Manual flash. The use of High Speed Synch for flash flight photography is detailed in various image captions.

The Image Optimization

The image optimization process here–done at Ruby Tuesday’s as part of the working lunch that Carl and I shared, was fairly straightforward. After converting the image in DPP, I brought it into CS-6 and moved the tiny Queen Anne’s Lace blossom to the right with a Quick Mask and fine tuned that layer with a Regular Layer mask. That greatly improved the compositional balance. As the lower part of the flower had been obscured by a twig, I re-constructed it using the Clone Stamp Tool at 80% opacity. Then I added the miniscule stem, also with the Clone Stamp Tool.

Basic image clean-up followed during which I eliminated the original flower and the smatterings of whitewash. I used my usual cadre of clean-up tools: the Clone Stamp Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and the amazing Patch Tool. I think that I even used Content Aware Fill in a spot or two. I ran my NIK 50-50 saved pre-set on a Layer, and painted it in where needed at varying opacities using a Black or Hide-All Mask. In the animated GIF above note especially the effect on the foreground twigs and sticks of the nest. I created the Animated GIF in CS-6 after figuring it out on my own last week :).

Image Question

Would you have removed anything else?

Digital Basics

Everything above is explained clearly in my Digital Basics File. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Have you no clue as to how I optimized the image above? The Photoshop techniques mentioned above plus tons more is detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, my killer image clean-up techniques, Digital Eye Doctor, creating time-saving actions, and lots more.

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.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only.

Used Nikon Super-Telephoto Lenses for Sale

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART friend Kitto Kono sold her Nikon 500 yesterday to a Blog subscriber!

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR AF Lens

The first is a used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR AF lens for $5999.00. This lens sells new from B&H for $8999.00. The price includes UPS insured Ground shipping to the continental US. The lens comes with just about everything that came with the original purchase including the lens trunk, monopod collar, front lens cover, rear lens cap, slip on HK 33 Lens Hood, Slip-in Filter Holder, 52mm screw-in NC Filter, and LN – 1 Strap. The lens is in excellent condition with some minor blemishes and scratches on the exterior body and lens hood. Photos upon request. Potential buyers can contact Kitty via e-mail or by phone: 610-995-2339. Your check must clear before the lens is shipped.

The 400 f/2.8 is superb for large mammals, for birds at close range, and for work at bird feeders. Priced at $3,000 less than new this one should sell quickly.

Used Canon Gear for Sale

Denise Ippolito’s 100-400 and her 100 macro sold in one day.

Used Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens for Sale

Multiple IPT veteran Bill Wingfield is offering a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $1425. The glass is clean and the lens is in perfect working condition. The sale includes the lens hood, the fabric case, and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped after your check clears.

For more than a decade I used the 100-400 to create hundreds of sharp, sale-able image. It is a very versatile lens.

You can reach Bill via e-mail or by phone at 843-729-6670.

Used Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS Lens for Sale

Multiple IPT veteran, the too-kind Jim Bicket, is offering a Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $8750. The lens is like new except for some wear on the bottom of the lens hood near the forward edge when the hood is reversed. The sales includes the LensCoat that has protected the lens since day 1, the leather hood, the original hard case and key, and insured shipping via UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

This great lens, my favorite for 3 years, sells new at B&H for $13,999.00. A month ago B&H was offering one in mint condition for a ridiculous $10,249.90; it sold overnight. Go figure. Jim’s lens will save you a ton of dough and you will have a great lens with lots of reach.

Interested folks can contact Jim via e-mail or try him at 501-915-9336.

Used Canon 400mm f/4L IS DO Lens for Sale

Friend and BAA webmaster Peter Kes is offering is offering a Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens in excellent condition for $4699. The sale includes the lens trunk, the leather lens hood, a Forest Green LensCoat, and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped after your check clears. I owned and used a 400 DO for years; at 4.28 pounds it is a great lens for folks wishing to gain extra reach without having to carry around excessively heavy gear…. I used it often with both TCs and made sharp images. It currently retails new for $6,469 at B&H.

This sale will be made through BAA. Please call Jim at 863-221-2372 (weekdays) or shoot me an if you have any questions.

Used EOS-5D Mark II for Sale/Price Reduced $100!

Doug Bolt’s 400 DO sold early last week. Doug is offering a used EOS-5D Mark II in very good to excellent condition for $1099! There is a shallow scratch on the body and a faint smudge on the top LCD. The sale includes a RRS L-plate, an off-brand vertical grip, and the original box and all the stuff that came in it. The seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one is a great body for flowers and landscapes. Mine saved me on a Southern Oceans cruise when I trashed two EOS-1D Mark IV bodies in a rainstorm; it was a great back-up camera body. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Please contact Doug for a link to photos of the camera and for additional info via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

Used Canon EOS-7D for Sale

Doug Bolt loves his 5D Mark III so much that he is also offering a used EOS-7D camera body for $799. The sale includes a RRS camera body plate. The seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one is a great starter body. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Please contact Doug for additional info via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

Used Canon EOS-7D for Sale

Janet Horton is offering a used Canon EOS-7D in excellent condition for $725. The sale includes a RRS model B7D-L L plate, all items that were in the original box (including instruction manual) and the cost of insured shipping to US addresses only. Your check must clear before the item ships.

Please contact Janet via e-mail or try her at by phone at home: at 425-313-3060


All of the images created at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and copyright Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

From top left clockwise to center: Snowy Egret pair in breeding plumage, breeding plumage Cattle Egret with fill flash, large Great Egret chicks in the nest, killer breeding plumage Snowy Egret displaying, flash-as-main light Great Egret chick happy to see mom, Little Blue Heron chicks, Cattle Egret breeding plumage head portrait, flash flight Wood Stork with nesting material, Great Egret landing at the nest, large Snowy Egret chicks.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice In-the-Field Workshops: Early entry/late stay. May 6 and/or 7, 2014.

Call my cell at 863-221-2372 for Late Registration Discount or Single Day info. Please leave a message if I do not pick up.

Breeding herons, egrets, and Wood Storks. Eggs and chicks in the nest. Some fledged young possible. Breeding behaviors including displaying and copulation. Flight and flash flight. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Tricolored Heron, Wood Stork. Early May rocks at the Farm as the weather is usually gorgeous and there should be lots of both small and large chicks in the nest. And you avoid the possibly oppressive heat of June and July.

Includes in-the-field instruction, early entry, late stay, $5/person late-stay gratuity, informal, small group Photoshop and image review sessions. Three lunches.

Not included: your lodging, your St. Augustine Alligator Farm photographer’s pass ($79.95 for the year); we will be more than glad to pre-order your pass for you. Please let us know when you register.

What you will learn:

How to see the good situations.
How to best avoid the clutter of a rookery by choosing the very best perspective.
How to properly evaluate the histogram and come up with the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure
How to see and understand the light.
How to to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
Why you must work in Manual mode 95% of the time when photographing at a rookery and how to do it.
How to evaluate and process your images.
Via intensive instruction how to use fill flash flash as main light, and Manual flash.
Flash flight techniques including the necessary use of high speed sync.
And tons more.

Please call Jim or Jen at 863-692-0906 to hold your spot with your non-refundable $299 credit card deposit and then put your check in the mail along with your signed registration form; you can find the form here.

Suitable airports: Jacksonville (JAX), Daytona Beach (DAB), Orlando MCO).

We look forward to seeing you in the nation’s oldest city for three days of fun and learning.


Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Short Notice Fort DeSoto IPT/In-the-Field Workshops: May 9, 10, & 11, 2014

IPT–3 FULL DAYs: $1099. In-the-Field Workshops: $399/day

Call the office, e-mail, or my cell at 863-221-2372 for Late Registration Discount or Single Day info. Please leave a message if I do not answer.

Fort DeSoto in spring is so good that I needed to create two cards in order to give folks an idea of what is possible. Even then I have barely scratched the surface. If you are coming from out of town you will surely want to do all 3 days, the entire IPT. Local folks may wish to join me for one or more full days.

There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns courting and copulating. American Oystercatcher plus lots of sandpipers and plovers, some in breeding plumage. Red Knot in breeding plumage likely. Lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Roseate Spoonbill and WOod Stork between possible and likely…. Lots of flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican.

You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the 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. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

At lunch we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one. If you opt to bring your laptop, we will take a look at five of your best images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This is the IPT hotel: Comfort Inn St. Petersburg, FL. 2260 54th Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33714. tel: 1-727-362-0075. The best airport is Tampa (TPA).

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.


Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make it in mid-May? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers

If the shorebirds in the ID quiz gave you pause, get yourself a copy of my Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers. Includes ID tips, shorebird biology, migration, and tons more. All in my simple-to-read easy-to-read style.

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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. 🙂

6 comments to Three Love Stories…

  • Hi Artie, Are you sure that’s a Queen Anne’s Lace flower, which is also called “Wild Carrot”. That looks more like a Spring Beauty (wildflower) to me.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      not positive at all… There is lots of Queen Anne’s Lace growing at Gatorland. I think that what we are seeing is one of the tiny flowers that make up the head of a QAL “FLOWER.” ARTIE

      • David Policansky

        What a love story (the first one). My wife’s mother died of that disease. The flower is almost definitely not QAL, which is, as Dennis says, wild carrot, Daucus carota, introduced from Europe, and whose flowers, as far as I know, always appears in compound form.

        I guess I wouldn’t have mover the flower at all, I’d have (re)moved the two twigs in front of the bird. I guess that’s why you win prestigious photography awards and I don’t. 🙂

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          I understand that. Would it not be possible for the compound flower to become damaged and for one of the tiny flowers to wind up in a bird’s nest? artie

          • David Policansky

            The Laura Ashley of nest builders. Artie, sure, it is possible, but it seems so unlikely to me. But I guess if there’s QAL everywhere around and not other little white flowers, then it’s more likely.

            My thoughts exactly…

  • Just wanted to say how cute it was how you moved
    that little white flower to the bottom right.