On Learning to Be More Creative « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

On Learning to Be More Creative

Action and Behavior Voting Continues Today

Voting Continues today in the beyond amazing Action and Behavior category of the BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition. Click here to vote. The polls will close early on Tuesday morning. It looks as if there will be a big mismatch in this category between the judge’s ballots and the public vote….

The Streak Continues: 191

It is 3:15am in Pullman, WA as we get ready to head out early again to the spectacular Steptoe Butte. Have you been noticing that we keep getting up earlier and earlier?

This post marks 191 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? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, I 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 have used and tested, and know that you 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.

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This post took more than 4 hours to prepare. Enjoy!


This 9-frame Multiple Exposure zoom-out image was created on the 2014 Holland Tulip IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (zooming out a bit for each exposure) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 40. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/32 in Av mode. Focused on the center and zoomed out a bit for each subsequent frame.

Flower Bed Twirl Blur
Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf

Mike Gotthelf

Experienced photographer Mike Gotthelf and his wife Barbara joined Denise Ippolito and I in Holland last April. Mike is a physician from Massachusetts. We all had way, way too much fun. During our image sharing session Denise and I were stunned with the quality of Mike’s images and with his newly developed creative eye. We taught him the basics of pleasing blurs, in-camera multis and HDRs, subject isolation, and how to see the situation. He took his new tools and, as you can see here, flew with them.


This image was created on the 2014 Holland Tulip IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III (at 335mm), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Tulip Against Grape Hyacinth Background
Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf

On Learning to Be More Creative

A Guest Blog Post by Friend and Multiple IPT Veteran Mike Gotthelf

A few words about creativity….

When I saw Artie’s and Denise’s images from Keukenhof in Holland a year ago I knew something special was happening there. There was life to the images. All flowers, but all very different from each other, and all beautiful. I decided then and there “I want some of that.” What I was seeing was raw creativity.


This straight pan-blur was created on the 2014 Holland Tulip IPT at Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, Holland with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop as framed: 1/4 sec. at f/20 in Tv mode. AWB.

Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF on the slightly angled line of carmine tulips and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Tulip Field Pan-Blur

Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf

Creative Sharing

Though I knew I would have a great time, and would learn from two wonderful photographers, I had no idea about what was I was about to experience. This trip was not only a flowers workshop, a general photography workshop, but it was also a chance for us to reach inside ourselves, and outside ourselves to individually and collectively mix our creative juices. “How did you do that”——“Oh Those are zoom blur images in HDR” “Oh that gives me an idea” and so it went all week. We fed off each other while nourishing our creative souls. There was something about the setting that allowed unlimited sharing and experimentation. For me this became a creativity school. I told Artie that what we learned here will surely carry over into all of our photography. We learned how to see outside ourselves and inside ourselves as well, and how (as Nancy Rotenberg used to say) to make those images that wouldn’t be made if you, the creative photographer, weren’t there.


This 9-frame in camera Multiple Exposure image was created on the 2014 Holland Tulip IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (at 200mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 50. Evaluative metering at zero: 1 sec. at f/32 in Av mode. Focused on the tulip in the center and rotated the lens a bit in the same direction for each exposure.

Flower Bed Twirl Blur/mixed tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths
Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf

Coloring Outside the Lines

We broke all the rules, and colored WAY outside the lines. That is what makes art!


This original for this tulip painting was created on the 2014 Holland Tulip IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (at 105mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop:1/60 sec. at f/4.5.

Tulip painting with Topaz Simplify 4/Underpainting III preset.
Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf

Recipe for Creative Flower Images


1 part creative blurs (recipe to follow)
1 part HDR with art vivid mode
1 part multiple exposures
1 part macro composition
1 part long lens flower portrait with colorful floral backgrounds
4 parts finding the right flower
4 parts seeing the situation
5 parts working the composition

Season to taste.


This pan-blurred image was created on the 2014 Holland Tulip IPT with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III (at 335mm), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/4 sec. at f/18 in Av mode.

Tulip Field Flame Blur
Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf


Mix the ingredients above and season liberally with equal parts imagination and the sharing of creative ideas. If the first batch gets doesn’t work out, make another! Work under the supervision of master photographic instructors who will advise you if an ingredient is missing or if the proportions or amounts need to be adjusted.


This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 24mm, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III . ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop +/- two stops around the base exposure of 1/15 sec. at f/22 in Av mode.

Tulip bed painting with Topaz Simplify 4/Impressions Color Preset
Image courtesy of and copyright 2014: Mike Gotthelf

Many Thanks!

Thanks a huge stack Mike for sharing your thoughts and images with us. We will see you on the San Diego IPT early next year.

Like Mike’s Work?

If you like Mike’s work, you can see more of it in the gallery here.

Wanna Be Like Mike?

Can’t make an IPT? Get yourself a copy of A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by Denise Ippolito and yours truly and a copy of Denise’s A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects

Your Favorite

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of Mike’s images is your favorite. And be sure to let us know why.


Denise and artie hope that you can join them next spring in Holland and learn to improve both the technical and creative aspects of your flower (and street) photography.

7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)

Keukenhof—Delft—Amsterdam–Flower Fields—Kinderdijk
April 9 -April 16, 2015: $4995. Limit: 12 photographers

This trip needs 6 registrants to run so please do not purchase your plane tickets until you hear from us that the trip is a go.

Join Denise Ippolito, the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus, for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2015. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 9, 2015. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Our last day, Day 8, April 16 will be a full day of photography.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse and points north. We will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits to the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and/or the Rijk’s Museum. Street photography and sightseeing will be other options. We will spend a half day at Kinderdijk where we will be photographing the windmills and doing some creative photography. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Delft where we will do some street photography and shopping. There is an optional church tower tour/climb. We will also enjoy a superb fine dining experience in a traditional restaurant.

Other than the arrival date: April 9, Day 1, and the date of our last day of photography on April 16, Day 8, there is no set itinerary. We will check the weather and play everything by ear to maximize the photographic opportunities. We will try to do Amsterdam, Delft, and especially Kinderdijik, on cloudy days.

There are several huge pluses to this trip. First off, denise is an amazingly skilled and caring instructor. Both her creativity and her willingness to share and to help beginning and intermediate photographers are unmatched. And though artie has learned a ton about flower photography from denise, their styles and techniques do vary considerably. You will have a chance to be counseled by and to learn from both of them. While denise will hunt you down to help you, artie’s teaching style is more “the closer you stay to me, the more you will learn.” Both leaders consistently inspire the participants. And each other. The sky, of course, is the limit.

You will learn to create tight abstracts, how best to use depth-of-field (or the lack thereof) to improve your flower photography, how to get the right exposure and make sharp images every time, how to see the best shot, and how to choose the best perspective for a given situation. And you will of course learn to create a variety of pleasingly blurred flower images. If you bring a long lens, you will learn to use it effectively for flower photography. Denise’s two favorite flower lenses are the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Mine are the Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro , the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens ,and the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, all almost always on a tripod. Often with extension tubes and/or either the 1.4X or the 2X (with the 300 II) teleconverters. Denise hand holds a great deal of the time. For flower field blurs denise uses the same lenses mentioned above along with her new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III lens. Artie’s favorite is that same 70-200 often with a 1.4X TC but he uses both the new Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and the 300 II as well. Both of us use and love the Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIfor all of our flower photography. The in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features are a blast.

One of the great advantages of our trip is that we will be staying in a single, strategically located hotel that is quite excellent. Do note that all ground transfers to and from Schipol Airport will be via the free hotel shuttle bus.

What’s included: Eight hotel nights. All ground transportation except for airport transfers as noted above. In-the-field instruction and small group image review and Photoshop sessions. All meals from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 8. There is good food at the hotel and we will be dining there on occasion; whenever you order off the menu be it at the hotel or at another restaurant only the cost of your main course is included. On these occasions the cost of soups, appetizers, salads, sodas and other beverages, alcoholic drinks and wine, bottled water, and desserts are not included. Snacks, personal items, phone calls, etc. are also not included. The cost of bus or train transportation to and from Amsterdam (about $20 US), museum entry, and tower and church entry fees (optional) are likewise not included.

Beware of seemingly longer, slightly less expensive tours that include travel days and days sitting in the hotel doing nothing as part of the tour. In addition, other similar trips have you changing hotels often and needlessly. One final note on other similar trips: the instructors on this trip actually instruct. On other similar trips the instructors, though usually imminently qualified, serve for the most part as van drivers and van door openers.

A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person is required to hold your spot. The second payment of $2,000 due by October 30, 2014. The balance is due on January 15, 2015. Payments in full are of course welcome at any time. All payments including the deposit must be by check made out to “Arthur Morris.” As life has a way of throwing an occasional curve ball our way, you are urged to purchase travel insurance within 15 days of our cashing your check. Artie uses and recommends Travel Insurance Services. All payments are non-refundable unless the trip fills to capacity. In that case, all payments but your deposit will be refunded. If the trip does not run every penny will of course be refunded. Again, please do not purchase your air tickets until you hear from us that the trip is a go. We are very confident that it will.

All checks should be made out to “Arthur Morris” and sent to: Arthur Morris, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Call Jim or Jen in the BAA office with any additional registration questions: 863-692-0906.

For couples or friends signing up at the same time for the tulip trip, a $200/duo discount will be applied to the final payment.

When you send your deposit check, please print, sign, and include the paperwork here.

If you have any questions on the trip please contact artie by e-mail or denise by e-mail.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advise, usually sells in no time flat as did Dennis Cassidy’s 500 II recently on the blog. Larry Master’s 400 DO and his 800 f/5.6 sold within a week. From Larry via e-mail: Thanks for helping me sell the lenses so quickly!

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART friend Kitto Kono sold her Nikon 500 to a Blog subscriber in less than a week. Janet Horton’s 7D sold this week after a $100 price reduction. Denise Ippolito’s 100-400 and her 100 macro sold in one day. Peter Kes sold his 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and his 400 DO through BAA in ten days. In the past two months we have sold a Canon 800, a Canon 500 II, 3 400 DO lenses, a Nikon 500mm, and lots more. If you are interested in using our services, please e-mail.

Used Photography Gear Page

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that there is a link to the Used Photography Gear page on the yellow tool bar at the top of each blog page. Folks looking to buy (or to sell) can click on that tab or here. I will on occasion continue to list new gear and great buys in blog posts and in Bulletins and may on rare occasion share all the listings with you on the blog. I will strive to keep the listings current. Great news for Kitty Kono and her Nikon 400mm f/2.8: it sold recently! That made her 2 for 2 on selling her older Nikon super-telephotos with BAA.

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7 comments to On Learning to Be More Creative

  • These are really wonderful. The apprentice chef may even have outdone the master chefs!

  • avatar Mike Gotthelf

    Thanks Ted and Catherine for the kind words.

    Denise, as you know this was my first trip with you, but I hope not my last. You are a great teacher, I love the detailed softness to your images.

    Carol we were lucky to have the atmosphere of such a talented group of photographers (like You) on our trip.

    Artie another really great trip! Alot of fun. I’ve told you before that I have learned more from you and on your workshops than with any other photographer. This is a great trip for those of you who want to leave their comfort zone and learn something entirely new.

  • avatar Carol Carson

    Mike- your post processing is inspirational. I saw while on the trip some of your great images, but your work after the shoot made the images even better!

  • Mike, Great stuff! Thank you for the kind words but most importantly thank you for sharing your creativity!

  • avatar Catherine Costolo

    My favorites are the tulip against the hyacinths and the flower bed twirl. Lovely work.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    My favorites
    Flower Bed Twirl Blur
    Flower Bed Twirl Blur/Mixed