Your Thoughts on a Traffic Stop Tale & Cold and Windy and Death on the Beach « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Your Thoughts on a Traffic Stop Tale & Cold and Windy and Death on the Beach

The Streak Continues: 337

On Saturday, Greg Gulbransen and I enjoyed a challenging morning with strong winds and followed that up with a great afternoon. Being from Long Island Greg was astounded by the utter tameness of the birds. We have a Sunday morning session. I hope to be headed home not later than 10:00am so that I can make it to ILE without missing any NFL action. This blog post took me about 2 hours to prepare. It was published from St. Pete Beach at 3:56am.

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Traffic Stop

On Saturday morning I met my now good friend Greg Gulbransen in the hotel lobby at 6:15am as we had previously arranged. I drove south on the main drag of St. Pete Beach and got into the left-most of the two left hand turn lanes at the light just before the Don Cesar Hotel. Just after I made my left turn the sirens and flashing lights of a sherriff’s cruiser caught my attention so I pulled to the right and stopped, figuring that the officer wanted someone in front of me. But in fact is was me who was being pulled over. I was amazed. “What did I do Greg?” I asked. He had as little a clue as I did.

“Good morning ma’am, and yes, I have my license and registration,” I said. Then I added, “I have no clue what I did wrong.” She responded, “When you turned left, I was turning left right next to you. You swerved to the right and into my lane and almost hit me. Had I not been such a good Nascar driver you would have gotten me.” Not having seen her and not wanting to argue, I said, “I am sorry. That would not have been good.” She said, “I agree, especially since I am going off duty….”

After two minutes she returned to my vehicle and said, Please be careful and do be on your way now.” “Thank you officer, I said, “Have a great day.

“Wow,” I said to Greg, “She was nice and it’s great that I did not get a ticket.” “She probably just wanted to make sure that you were not drunk, “Greg said. “Yup,” I answered, “that makes sense.”

I never caught her name but as she was quite attractive with short, dark hair, I began referring to her as “Officer Fox.” Smiling and happy as could be. As Greg had been in the passenger seat I asked him if he had seen her car next to us. Or if he had seen any vehicle in the lane to our right at any time. “Nope.” Neither had I….

Seven point nine miles later I showed my annual pass to the young lady in the entrance booth at DeSoto and asked her some questions about park hours in view of the fact that Sunday would be the day that the clocks get moved back. In addition, we chatted a bit.

In my rearview mirror I noted that another car had pulled in behind me so I said goodbye to the booth attendant just as I noticed that it was what I thought was another police car.

Not wanting to get a speeding ticket I pulled ahead slowly to the stop sign by the big flagpole. We were in the right lane headed for North Beach. The patrol car pulled up along side us and I glanced to my left.

It was Officer Fox. She turned left towards the East Beach where she would surely not encounter another soul….

What is your take on the situation? How would you have felt?


This image was created by Greg with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens and the Nikon D4S DSLR camera body. ISO 1000: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2014 Greg Gulbransen.

Cold and Windy and Death on the Beach

Though the temperature was not bad we were both quite well as there was a stiff wind from the NW, about 25 mph with much higher gusts. As cold as we were from standing in the water, things got worse after we sat on the wet mud. With potential wind against sun conditions we lucked out for almost two hours with a big cloud in the east. When the sun came out we were dead in the water so I suggested that we take a walk and look for a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

So we did.

We did not find any night-herons but I did find a dead shorebird on the beach. I was puzzled as I studied the bird in hand. I was trying to make it into a Lesser Yellowlegs but the bill was not quite right. After a few minutes I gave up and posed the bird on some clean damp sand. I am not sure why, but the last thing that I grabbed from the car was my 100m f/2.8L IS macro. It came in handy for photographing the bird.

When I saw the image on my Mac laptop it hit me: Stilt Sandpiper. The bill shape with the thick base to the bill was a dead giveaway. I am not sure why the ID was so difficult with the bird in hand. Perhaps it is because Stilt Sandpiper is not seen often in Florida….

Greg’s Image

Please take a moment and let us know the strong points of Greg’s fantastic image above. Clue: there are many. List as many as you can.

Do you have any suggestions for improvement? (I have one small one.)


This image was created at 9:12am on the cloudy part of the partly cloudy morning of November 1, 2014 at Fort DeSoto park. I used the hand held Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens and a beta version of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II . ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/400 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. AWB.

One sensor to the right and one row up from the central sensor/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. (I rotated the image as bit using the crop tool and filled in the added canvas using John Haedo Content Aware Fill as detailed in Digital Basics.) Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Photographing Birds in Death

I enjoy the challenge of trying to create artistic images of dead birds, images that convey a sense of fragility. As I did here, it is often a good plan to angle the bird in the frame. I did that with the original capture but did not get it exactly right so I rotated it a bit as noted above so that the longest primary pointed exactly to the lower left corner of the frame. I like the studio shot look of this image.

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Morro Bay offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects in a variety of attractive settings.

2015 Morro Bay 5-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): MAR 14 thru MAR 18, 2015: $1999 (Limit: 8.)

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Join me in one of the most beautiful and scenic places on the planet to photograph a large variety of birds of the sea and shore. As above, the star of the show will be Long-billed Curlew. There will be lots of Marbled Godwits and Willets as well as lots of the smaller shorebird species. Black Oystercatcher is likely and we should get to photograph large flocks of Western Sandpipers in flight over the bay. With any luck we should enjoy some great sunrise and sunset photography. There are lots of gulls including Western, California, and Mew. There is one good location where we should get to photograph Western, Clarke’s, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and Common Loon. We may get to photograph some passerines including Anna’s Hummingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow. And we have a chance for several species of raptors. Yikes, I almost forgot California Poppy. And California Ground Squirrel. Sea Otters are also possible.

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The Leader’s Favorites

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Bosque del Apache 2014 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). NOV 29 (afternoon photo session)-DEC 3 (morning session), 2014. Totaling 4 FULL-DAYS: $1449. Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Saturday 11/29. Limit 16/Openings: 2

Be sure to check out the Festival of the Cranes-related programs by scrolling down here.


Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris for two great days of photography, fun, and learning at one of our favorite soul places. We will surely be taking you out of the box on this workshop. Please click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

Bosque del Apache 2014 A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART “Creative Photography Instructional Photo-Tour.” (IPT). NOV 24-25, 2014. 2-FULL DAYS: $729. Leaders: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/23.

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Card and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

The Palouse A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) #2/Eastern Washington State. June 5-9, 2015/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12 photographers/Openings 2.


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The 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

June 29 through July 5, 2015: $5499: Limit 10 photographers/Openings 2. Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris.


Do consider joining me for a once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago in July, 2015.

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. July 14-28, 2015 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit 14 including the leader:/Openings: 5.

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25 comments to Your Thoughts on a Traffic Stop Tale & Cold and Windy and Death on the Beach

  • avatar Walt Thomas - Tucson

    Sarah… sorry to hear of your bad encounter in Tucson, I live 30 minutes away and it’s makes me feel a little embarrassed, but truth is these type of crimes go on in many places. I shoot there often and now will be more vigilant. Again sorry for your problem and hope you get things turned around without anymore grief.
    Walt Thomas, Tucson

  • avatar Sarah Mayhew

    Artie, you were luckier than me today. I was at Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Tucson,AZ to do some bird photography. I had been there no more than 15 minutes and went back to the car to get something. A guy was yelling obscenities and raving. I was afraid to go back to my car until I figured out his car had been broken into. Turns out so was mine. They got a camera body and lens, binoculars and my purse with everything, credit cards, cash and even my passport as I was going to go to Mexico with a friend. They had smashed out our back windows and gotten into the trunk through the back seat. I felt really bad for the other guy as he was a Phd student and had his thesis on his computer. I never heard a thing and wasn’t far from the car. Have to drive back to CA without a drivers license. Not a fun day. Glad you didn’t get a ticket and all turned out well! 🙂 Don’t think I have ever seen a Stilt Sandpiper.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Big time not a good day. As it turns out, you still have not seen a stilt sand. See the ID correction below by old friend Blair Nikula. artie

  • Artie, You’ve probably seen these photos of dead birds from Lake Natron by Nick Brandt. Worth a look:


  • Not being there I think it might be what Doug said…she wanted to know more about the 7DII but was afraid to ask.

  • avatar Walt Thomas - Tucson

    Without any personal reason, I think I have a phobia about police stops, so I would wonder too. Short side of the story…she’s just doin’ what she sees as her job..I wouldn’t want it.

    On the other hand, sounds like she might be “new” and perhaps a little over zealous. Artie if you had peripheral vision problems I think we would have heard about it by now! So, just how close did you come to “running into her”.. , of course we’ve all been passed by some speedster and we say to ourselves…where in the #’>~1 did that guy come from! Most time in double lane turns you’ve got a be pretty conscious of who if any one is in the other lane turning with you, specially those cars with the funny color and weird things on the roof. And if her shift was really ending??, why would she be following you after observing a world famous photographer.
    Probably wanted to watch you in action! I conclude overzealous. 🙂

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your comments Walt. I am thinking now that the near-accident could have been invented so that she could stop a guy with a long pony tail. The fact that she let me go in two minutes after checking my license and registration lends credence to that theory.

      As I said, neither Greg nor I saw a cop’s car while we were turning. Not to mention that she was well behind me, at least 50 yards, when she turned on the flashers and the siren…. artie

  • avatar Blair Nikula

    The dead shorebird is a Red Knot. Stilt Sandpipers have yellowish legs that extend well beyond the tail, have no wing stripe, and have a longer, more decurved bill.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Blair. To me it is amazing that birds that are so easy to identify in life are so difficult to to ID in the hand. The bird looked so long and slim in death that I did not even consider the short-necked, chunky Red Know. And I knew that the legs were way too short of Lesser Yellowlegs….

      How and what are you doing?

      later and love, artie

  • She probably wanted to ask you about the noise of the 7D Mark II.


  • avatar Jerry Murray

    Not sure if that is a high crime or high drug area, but she might have wanted to make sure you were not up to anything wrong that early in the morning, then she followed to see where you were going and make sure you got there safely….

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good points. St. Pete Beach all the way to DeSoto is pretty ritzy but I am guessing that there are drugs and crime everywhere today. We did arrive safely no thanks to her :)…. I wonder how she would have felt if we ran a light or stopped to do a drug deal.

  • Good morning Art! I see that Adorama is shipping the 7dmkii. Any word when B&H will do so?

  • Wondering how did the bird die!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Not from a falcon. This species migrates great distances each year so natural causes and starvation due to loss of habitat and thus food sources do take a heavy toll.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Perhaps she was wondering what 2 guys were doing in a car so early on a Sunday morning?

    While I’m sure many are fine people doing a difficult job, having had bad past experiences with the police I sadly no longer trust them.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      She did ask us where we were going. “To Fort DeSoto to photograph birds.” That probably got her attention. She did stay far back as she followed us as I did not see her until I lingered at the DeSoto entrance booth. artie