Patrick’s Pudding… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Patrick's Pudding...

What’s Up?

I spent my last photo morning in San Diego where I spent most of my mornings, on the cliffs at La Jolla. The quality of the photographic opportunities on this trip has been amazingly good and my hard work has paid off handsomely. With thick fog I spent most of my time photographing Brandt’s Cormorant nesting behaviors. I ran down four 5DS R batteries. Patrick concentrated on flight photography, another area in which he is extremely skilled.

I kiss Robin and Patrick Sparkman goodbye tonight as I fly to Orlando on the Southwest 8AM nonstop to Orlando. They are hosting a Good-bye Artie Party” tonight. πŸ™‚ It is hard to express how wonderfully they have treated and put up with me for so long. I arrived in San Diego on March 11. Patrick calls my visit, “March Madness/artie Style!”

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 150 days in a row with a new educational blog post. Assuming that I will be making the trip to Namibia on April 11, this streak will come to an end soon. As always–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created at Coronado, CA by Patrick Sparkman with the hand held Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800: 1/2000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The center AF point was just on the front of the bird’s chest right at the waterline. This was a decent crop from the front and below. Check out the tight crop below to see the incredible fine feather 5DS R detail.

Drake Surf Scoter swimming. Image courtesy of and copyright 2016 Patrick Sparkman.

The Proof is in the Pudding…

Below is a recent e-mail conversation that I had with Al Ahner. The office relayed his original e-mail to me. It began, “Hi Arnie.”

AM: Hi Abe, This is artie. πŸ™‚

AA: I had dropped a comment about hand-holding this camera body. Your images are indeed sharp but I had heard from a friend that he had dismal results with his.

AM: Dismal photographers get dismal results.

AA: We had an event here in St. Louis called “Shutterfest”. Two full days of vendors, classes, workshops, etc. The Canon team was here and to a person they said: “This is a tripod only camera body.”

AM: You should have sent them to my blog πŸ™‚

AA: Not your word against theirs, but just FYI.

AM: I understand. The proof as they say, is in the pudding. See Patrick’s pudding above and below. Some Canon employees routinely give wrong or misleading answers to simple questions both in person and on the help lines…

Yes Patrick is amazingly skilled. And yes, you need to hold this lens still. And yes, you need to focus each image accurately. And yes, having it properly Lens Aligned can be a great help. I will do a blog post soon based on this e-mail using one of Patrick Sparkman’s 600II/2XIII/5DSR hand held images of a relatively distant sea duck. You can show it to all the naysayers and to the folks at Canon the next time that you cross paths.

LMK if I may use your name in the blog post. No sweat either way.

AA: Hope all is well and you continue to recover from your surgery.

AM: I am, thanks, and thanks for your good wishes.

later and love, artie

The Follow-up

Al was a good sport; he wrote back saying that it would be OK to use his name. Thank you kind sir.


This is a 100% crop of today’s featured image.

100% Crop

This 100% crop of today’s featured image is a testament both to Patrick’s photographic skills and the amazing resolution of the 5DS R. I am hoping that this post will quiet the experts, internet and otherwise, who proclaim out of ignorance that you must use a tripod with a 5DS R… I realize, however, that that is not likely.


From upper left clockwise to center: Black Skimmer head portrait, American Oystercatcher dining on surf clam flesh, Common Tern at sunset, Common Tern adult swallowing flatfish, Black Skimmer in flight, newborn Common Tern chick, American Oystercatcher with chick, fresh juvenile Common Tern (with fill flash), and Common Terns copulating.

Nickerson Beach Terns/Skimmers/Oystercatchers Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): July 18-22, 2016. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1899

Meet and greet at 3pm on the afternoon of Monday, July 18. Limit 10.

The primary subject species of this IPT will be the nesting Common Terns. The trip is timed so that we will get to photograph tiny chicks as well as fledglings. There will be lots of flight photography including adults flying with baitfish. Creating great images of the chicks being fed is a huge challenge. In addition to the terns we will get to photograph lots of Black Skimmers courting, setting up their nesting territories, and in flight (both singles and large pre-dawn flocks blasting off). Midair battles are guaranteed on sunny afternoons. And with luck, we might even see a few tiny chicks toward the end of the trip. We will also get to photograph the life cycle of American Oystercatcher. This will likely include nests with eggs and tiny chicks, young being fed, and possibly a few fledglings.

Nesting Piping Plover is also possibly. There will be lots of gulls to photograph; most years I am able to find a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls of varying ages in addition to the Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed Gulls. You will learn to identify and age the various gull species. There will likely be some Willets feeding along the surf and with luck we might get to photograph a handsome juvenile or two. In addition to the locally breeding shorebirds, we will likely get to see some southbound migrant arctic-and sub-arctic breeding shorebird species such as Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, and maybe even Red Knot.


From upper left clockwise to center: Black Skimmers with tiny chick, Common Tern landing with baitfish for young, fledged Common Tern chick in dunes, American Oystercatchers/display flight, adult Common Tern with pipefish for chick, Common Tern fledgling in soft light, American Oystercatcher on nest with eggs, American Oystercatcher 3-egg clutch, battling Black Skimmers.

The IPT Logistics

The tour will begin with a meet and greet on the afternoon of Monday, July 18, 2016. That will be followed by our first shooting session at the beach. From Tuesday through and including all of Friday we will have two photography sessions daily. Our morning sessions will start very early so that we are on the beach well before sunrise. We usually photograph for about four hours. Then we will enjoy a group brunch. We will always have a midday break that will include a nap for me. That followed by our daily afternoon classroom sessions that will include image review, workflow and Photoshop, and a review/critique of five of your trip images. Folks are always invited to bring their laptops to brunch for image sharing. I always have mine with me but heck, I am a big show-off. Afternoon in-the-field sessions generally run from 5pm through sunset.

Breakfasts are grab what you can. Four brunches are included. Dinners (if at all) will be on your own as we will often get back to the hotel at about 9pm. There is a fridge in every room and a supermarket within walking distance of the hotel so nobody should starve. You will learn a ton during the nine shooting sessions, the four in-classroom sessions, and even at lunch. Early morning and late afternoon parking is free. If we want to head back to the beach early we will need to arrange tight carpools and share the $30/vehicle parking fee. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $450 for the whole IPT.

Save a space by calling Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 and arranging to leave your deposit of $599–credit cards are accepted for deposits only. Your balance will be due on April 18, 2016. I hope that you can join me for what will be an exciting and educational IPT.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right πŸ™‚

16 comments to Patrick’s Pudding…

  • avatar Kyle

    Great captures and blog here! I initially noticed your “Tern and Flatfish” shot.

    Wow so was the bird really able to gulp down that (it looked much wider than its mouth!) whole thing okay really?? Does the fish out up a good fight, if eaten, does the unlucky prey get swallowed wriggling all the way as well?!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Kyle, You have lots of catching up to do. Be sure to subscribe.

      The fish in that photo was long dead as the tern struggled with swallowing it for about 30 minutes. artie

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    Excellent Capture, even more so being handheld. Would love to have the 5DS R…. & 600mm

  • avatar Allen Ahner

    These images have quieted me down! LOL

  • avatar Den Bagwell

    Awesome images Patrick! Not only do these images squash the tripod only myth, but they also demonstrate that you can take high quality images with a TC. Very nice!

    Artie – what do you mean by “having it properly LensAligned”?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many serious photographers take advantage of the focus calibration capabilities of their high end digital cameras by using Michael Tape’s Lens Align system and then using a great program called Focus Tune so that you can quickly and easily learn how to get the very more out of your gear.

      You can learn more here.

      I have several tutorials somewhere on the blog–do a search please. The best news is that Patrick Sparkman and I will be presenting a new tutorial: LensAligning Simplified in the hopefully not to distant future.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Hi Artie, The detail in this photo is incredible. You can see the bird’s foot underwater. I see what appears to be THREE reflections of his head in the water as well. I also really like the way the water is rolling up the birds breast (in both images), adding to the movement in the image. The detail in the cropped image is simply amazing

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey girl Kerry,

      I agree. I told you that he was good. Getting on the plane in five πŸ™‚


      • avatar Kerry Morris

        Hi a!
        I never doubted you for a second. πŸ˜‰ BTW remember he was also hand holding while standing on the block wall overlooking the cliff as well! Great balance and nerves of steel!

  • avatar Wayne Lea

    Hi Artie. I follow your blog daily. I shoot a Nikon D800e which is a 36mp camera (previously the highest mp body). I think it is absurd that people think you cannot hand hold a 5DS R and that it is not an amazing body for ANY TYPE of photography. I shoot nature, birds (in flight also), landscape, and anything I want and handholding is what I do many times. The picture quality from these 2 bodies is amazing and the ability to have more cropping capability is a tremendous bonus.

  • avatar Bill Coatney

    Mr Arthur

    Having recently moved out of St Louis after 30 plus years of residence, I had never heard of Shutterfest– Googled it and see that it seems to be oriented towards studio/portrait/wedding style photography.

    One of my fellow Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area (Google these sometime) photographer friends has shown me many of his 5DR/S images from a trip to Alaska.

    All hand held—all sharp as a pin and not one taken on a tripod.

    His images have me seriously considering buying a 5DR/S after the old house sells rather than a 1DXII.

    best wishes

    • avatar Allen Ahner

      Hi Bill. I had never heard of Shutterfest either until a friend asked me last year if I was going. It’s held at Union Station in downtown St. Louis and yes, it caters to wedding, portrait and studio photography. All was not lost for this landscape artist as I always see an event as an opportunity to learn something new. 2,000 attendees could be wrong but I doubted it. This event sells out and people from all over the country come in to St. Louis to attend and they are EXCITED about coming! Models are available at no cost. The’re interested in building their portfolio; the photographers are interested in building theirs. Check them out on FB. That being said there were a few 5dsR bodies in the building and all I spoke with are quite pleased.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Hi Al,

        Any who is shooting weddings for money and uses Canon is nuts if they are not using a 5DS R. Thanks for your questions and getting this going.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Mr. Bill, Smart man. When the house sells, please remember to use my B&H link for your 5DS R.