A Real Rarity: Thrice Honored. And How to Become a Better Nature Photographer … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Real Rarity: Thrice Honored. And How to Become a Better Nature Photographer ...

What’s Up?

If everything went as planned, I flew to San Diego on Wednesday afternoon. After a day of working perfectly, our Word Press hosting problems re-surfaced on Tuesday afternoon … If you are unable to access the blog, please try again in an hour or so as the problems have been inexplicably intermittent. Huge thanks to Peter Kes for keeping the streak going …

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 419!

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 419 days in a row with a new educational blog post. 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. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Black-browed Albatross courtship, the Rookery, Saunders Island, the Falklands

Thrice Honored

More than 20,000 images were entered in the 2016 Nature’s Best Photography/2016 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition by photographers from 51 countries. Approximately 300 photos made it into the semi-final round of judging. From those, 120 were selected as winning and highly honored images. I was humbled and thrilled when I learned that two of my images and the single video that I submitted were all highly honored. The albatross image above was Highly Honored in the Birds category. Congrats to Denise Ippolito; her Northern Rockhopper (Moseley’s Penguin) image took first place in Birds and earned a spot on the cover of the 2016 contest issue of Nature’s Best magazine.

How to Become a Better Nature Photographer …

Remember that one of the very best ways to learn to become a better nature photographer is to spend time looking at as many great images as possible. You can do just that by clicking here and then clicking on the first large logo-link (the one for the Windland Awards 2016 Gallery) to see all the winning and honored images. Hint: there are some spectacular images there. Feel free to leave a comment and mention your favorites (along with the category).

My spectacular favorites include but are not limited to Jushua Holko’s snoozing Polar Bear on ice and John Conforth’s wide angle walrus, both in Polar Passion, Ofer Levy’s Black Swans in Birds, Connor Stefanison’s baby Musk Ox trio in Wildlife, Cristobal Serrano’s Headlight Click Beetle/leaf patterns, Hassan Baglar’s butterflies, Juhani Kosonen’s ice feathers (and several others) in Small World, Gregory Sherman’s Humpback Whale (winner) Manon Moulis’s sea turtle hatchling, Nicholas Samaras’s eyes in the sand, and so many more in the Oceans category, and Bruce Omori’s molten lava image in Landscapes.

Blue-eyed Shag with feather, Jougla Point, Antarctica

Polar Passion

The shag image above was Highly Honored in the Polar Passion category.

Waved Albatross Courtship Video

Click on the play button above to view my Waved Albatross courtship video. The video was Highly Honored in the Video category. Huge thanks and kudos to my brother in spirit Patrick Sparkman for the great work he did editing the videos and shaping them into a highly honored entry.

If you’d like to see this dance in person, consider the August 2017 Galapagos Photo-Cruise. My trip is the only one on the planet that visits Hood and Tower Islands twice each on a two-week trip … Both locations rank right up the with any of the best photo locations in the world.


Tame birds and wildlife. Incredible diversity. You only live once…

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. August 8-22, 2017 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit: 13 photographers plus the leader: yours truly. Openings: 4.

Same great trip; no price increase!
This trip needs nine to run; in the unlikely event that it does not, all payments to BAA will be refunded in full.

My two-week Galapagos Photo-Cruises are without equal. The world’s best guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), and two great leaders with ten Galapagos cruises under their belts. Pre-trip and pre-landing location-specific gear advice. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea!

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island (including Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay), Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross, and Gardner Bay)—each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour for nesting Blue-footed Boobies in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus tons more. And there will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny mid-days for those like me who wish to partake.

It is extremely likely that we will visit the incredible Darwin Bay and the equally incredible Hood Island, world home of Waved Albatross twice on our voyage. The National Park Service takes its sweet time in approving such schedule changes.

We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast skies, we will often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip most snorkeled with a mega-pod of dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me. Note: some of the walks are a bit difficult but can be made by anyone if half way decent shape. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400. I sometimes bring a longer lens ashore depending on the landing. In 2017 I will be bring the Canon 400mm IS DO II lens. In the past I have brought either the 300mm f/2.8L IS II or the 200-400mm f/4 L IS with Internal Extender.


Do consider joining me for this once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago. There simply is no finer Galapagos photography trip. Learn why above.

An Amazing Value…

Do know that there are one week Galapagos trips for $8500! Thus, our trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations?

The Logistics

August 6, 2017: We arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat in case of a travel delay.

August 7, 2017: There will be an introductory Galapagos Photography session and a hands on exposure session at our hotel.

August 8, 2017: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2015 trip some people made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

August 22, 2017: We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of July 23 unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the 22nd).

$12,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/16. The final payment of $3449 per person will be due on 2/1/17. A $200 discount will be applied to each of the balances for couples or friends who register at the same time.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and a $600/person cash tip for the crew and the guide—this works out to roughly $40/day to be shared by the 7 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

Please e-mail for the tentative itinerary or with questions. Please cut and paste “Galapagos 2017 Tentative Itinerary Please” into the Subject line.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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, and for everything else in the new store, 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 those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


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

20 comments to A Real Rarity: Thrice Honored. And How to Become a Better Nature Photographer …

  • Fantastic, congratulations! I’m sure it never gets old.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Does not get old. Each honor is treasured. The judging is so, so subjective. The two honored stills were not my favorites of the 40 that I entered …


  • avatar Warren Robb

    Congratulations Artie, both images are simply stunning and immediately memorable; the video too.

  • Congrats on the high honors! The detail in your Blue-eyed Shag shot is remarkable. What lens? (sorry if i missed the exif/info)

  • avatar Cheri

    Congratulations! Beautiul images and amazing Video!

  • avatar Thomas Skulander

    Congratulations Artie, thank you always for sharing your experiences, patience and skill. Likewise congratulations to Denise. These accolades are I’m sure only part of the rewards your both receive from pursuing you love and passion for what you do.

  • Great job by both of you! There are some really amazing images in that collection. I too like the ones you mentioned, plus the sleeping puffin, the Muskoxen family portrait, and the Torres Del Paine shot that totally blows away anything that I got there.

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Great video. As another who does not do video, I use the reason that I have not managed to master stills in 50 years, so I guess I should not think about splitting my efforts with something altogether new and different. Congratulations to both you and Denise. Well deserved.

  • avatar Catherine Costolo

    Congratulations, Artie! Thanks for the link too. I loved looking at all the photos.

  • Congratulations Artie and Dennis.

    All the images are outstanding. I am getting html5: Video file not found on the video in the blog. Could be intermittent issue. I will check again.

    Thank you for sharing them.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Congratulations, Artie! And Denise, if you’re reading!

  • avatar Glen Fox

    Artie, please share what camera, lens etc you were using to capture that great video. All our DSLRs are video-capable, but few of us press the video button, mostly because its a mystery to us. Behavioural sequences like the one you captured can’t really be captured by stills. I know there is a lot of work required to produce a clip like yours, but it all starts with capturing the footage. How many times have many of us said “I wish I had captured that in video”?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Glen, That one was with the 7d Mark II and the 100-400 … I really need to have someone who know what they are doing–not me BTW :), do a basic how to use video with the newer Canon camera bodies …

      Maybe Patrick Sparkman …


  • Congratulations! BTW The albatross on the right looks familiar…may have met him in training many years ago…

  • avatar Stu


  • avatar Gary Axten

    Great video and well deserved award. Congratulations also to Denise.

  • avatar Vicki

    Congratulations Art!! Well deserved.

  • avatar Kim Sherwood

    Congratulations Artie! Your creativity, attention to detail and technical skills clearly resulted in an amazing accomplishment. Thanks for inspiring me to keep honing my eye and photographic abilities and for sharing so much here every day!