Mutt and Jeff Baitfish « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Mutt and Jeff Baitfish

The Streak Continues: 260

This blog was published just after 8:15am from my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to prepare; it makes 260 consecutive days with a new enjoyable and educational blog post. As always, I would appreciate your using the BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases, using our Amazon logo-link for all of your household purchases, and visiting the BAA Online Store for your tripod, tripod head, LensCoat, miscellaneous, accessories, and eGuide purchases as well.

The 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

There are just 3 slots left on the 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT; if you are seriously interested in joining us on this truly wonderful trip it would be best not to tarry…. Scroll down here for complete details. artie and denise

This Just In

This just in from Greg Gulbransen: Lots of skimmers feeding chicks out front in the open at Nikcerson. Lots of photo ops. Next week will be perfect. For info on my 2-DAY trip click here and scroll down to near the bottom. artie

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This image was created on or first morning on the puffin boat on last summers UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s face well below the eye as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure as it should always be when hand holding. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Mutt and Jeff Baitfish

Atlantic Puffins are notorious for returning to the nest with mouthfuls of baitfish, at times as many as 30 or more, and most always perfectly arranged head-to-tail and head-to-tail and so on…. One of their favorite prey items is a slim fish from the family Ammodytidae, the sand lances, commonly know as sand eels. Many seabirds depend on huge supplies of different fish from this family for their breeding success. When I visited Great Gull Island this year I learned that the sand eels were in short supply and as a result, clutch sizes (the # of eggs/nest) and chick weights were down and chick mortality was higher than usual. Judging by the great increase in the number of adults carrying sand eels, large schools arrived in the regions the day before I left.

In today’s image the slim fish is a sand eel. What makes this photo so unusual is that there is a second much larger fish in the puffin’s bill. If anyone has a clue as to the identification of the larger baitfish, please let us know by leaving a comment.

Exposure Comments

I opted at add 1/3 stop of light here despite the full sun at 10:34am, the blue water background, and the super bright belly of the larger of the two baitfish. The brightest highlights on the belly were just below the fleshy orange-yellow rosette just behind the bill. They were toasted. To save them by adjusting the Brightness and the Highlight sliders in DPP would have significantly blocked up the BLACKs. So I converted the image so as to reveal detail in the darkest tones and then used a warped Quick Mask of a section of properly exposed fish scales to cover the detail-less highlights and fine-tuned that by adding a Regular Layer Mask. The sun on those bright silver scales was akin to working with specular highlights where it is impossible to avoid significant over-exposure without making the image much too dark overall.


Images and card design copyright 2014: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

Puffins, Gannets, Murres, Razorbills, Terns–especially Arctic, Gulls, Shags, Chicks, and Castles!

As you know, our recent trip to the UK for puffins and gannets and more was a huge success. We are going back in 2015. Though the trip is being announced here formally for the first time, we already have 2 very Happy Campers signed up. If you have any questions or if you would like us to hold a spot for you pending the arrival of your deposit check (see below), please let me know via e-mail asap.

We will likely be running a similar trip to Ireland the week before; if you might consider that either separately or in addition to the UK trip announced below, please wait a bit on getting your flights.


Images and card design copyright 2014: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

June 29 through July 5, 2015: $5499: Limit 10 photographers/Openings 3. This trip is a go! Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris.

Here are the plans for next year: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on 28 June arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday 29 June (or simply meet us then either at the Edinburgh Airport (EDI) or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe. Stay 7 nights in two gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are 5 days of planned puffin/seabird trips—weather permitting, and 1 full day of gannet photography with 2 sessions on the boat. (More info below.)


Images and card design copyright 2014: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Rest of the Fine Details

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day and a farewell fine dining thank you dinner. The cost of your National Heritage Trust is also included; that covers the twice a day landing fees.

Plan to fly home on the early morning of Monday 6 July or to continue your stay or travels.

We are planning this as double-occupancy only but we should be able to arrange for singles by renting a 3rd cottage. We would need to know well in advance, i.e., soon, and it would be pricey and would need to be paid with your non-refundable deposit of $2,000. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with two roomy single beds and a private bathroom. There are two king rooms available for couples. The upscale country-side cottages are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for image sharing and Photoshop lessons.

The single supplement is $1475. As we will be renting a third cottage the $1475 is due with your deposit and is also non-refundable.

If you are good to go please send your $2,000 deposit check now to save a spot. We do expect this workshop to sell out very quickly as we have already sold 2 slots even though the trip has not yet been formally announced till right now. Not to mention that everyone loves puffins. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855.

We do hope that you can join us.


Images and card design copyright 2014: Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.


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12 comments to Mutt and Jeff Baitfish

  • Your puffin image is absolutely stunning. The color,clarity and detail are out of this world.

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I agree, that is an absolutely brilliant shot of a puffin. Congratulations. Yes, the bigger fish is a member of the herring family. Just which one, well, I don’t know, but from the spots I’d guess it’s a juvenile twaite shad.

  • Bill Richardson

    That is the best puffin shot I have ever seen.

  • Donnette Largay

    Art, Thanks for your posts. I enjoy reading and learning from them. You use the Canon EF 300 f2.8 IS II with an extender. I have used the 400 DO no extender. Why do you like the 300 2.8 over the 400 DO? Pros and cons for both please. My biggest issue is weight. I am not the strongest person, especially after carrying gear around all day including tripod. I rent the larger lenses. I have the Canon 5D Mark III, 70-200mm F4. Used to have the 2.8, but sold because heavy. I realize choice is based on what and where I am photographing , but it is physically impossible to carry around a larger lens. Between the two, how do I base my decision?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Donnette. YAW. I have answered your questions extensively and in great detail here on the blog over the past year. Not sure if I ever did a direct comparison but I am not sure that I have not. If you do a search for either or both in the little white box on the top right of each blog page you will find a ton of valuable info. Did you see the fairly recent article on the 400DO?

      Here is the short answer: the 300 f/2.8 L IS II is faster, sharper, heaver, and more expensive than the 400 DO. It is much better with the 2X III TC than the 400 DO. That said, the lighter weight of the 400 DO and the fact that it is fully capable of creating wonderful images in the right hands makes it the perfect lens for many. The difference in weight is .91 pounds. That might not seem like a lot but when either carrying it for a full day or hand holding for flight it is a significant difference. If strength, endurance, and cost are no problem then the 300 f/2.8L IS II is clearly the champ.

      If you do feel that the 300 II is best for you please use our B&H affiliate logo-link: Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

  • Ruth Schueler

    To me the larger fish looks like a herring.