Concentration on the Task at Hand Rewarded; Blog Lessons Reinforced! And a Like-new 600 II at the Lowest-ever BAA Price! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Concentration on the Task at Hand Rewarded; Blog Lessons Reinforced! And a Like-new 600 II at the Lowest-ever BAA Price!

What’s Up?

I started working on this post on Sunday afternoon, just getting ready for a nap. The two folks on the Gatorland mini-IPT had a ball and learned a ton. This was Jake Levin’s fifth IPT. He came down from Montreal. He was joined by first-timer Krishna Prasad Kotti from Salt Lake City, Utah. My plan was to head home after the Sunday morning session but we had so much fun, and Saturday afternoon was so good, that I decided to get in one last session by joining them for Sunday afternoon despite the fact that I have a ton of work to do and despite the fact that I fly to LAX on Tuesday morning to attend the School for the Work (of Byron Katie) for 7 days in Ojai, CA. Heck, you only live once …

I had dinner two nights at El Tapatio Restaurant. For me, it was the best, tastiest Mexican food I have eaten, and on Friday night I had the biggest and bestest house margarita ever. 🙁 Well, maybe the ones at The Brigantine Restaurants in San Diego are just a bit better … All of the staff was great. Jose, the waiter on my first visit, was so helpful and sweet that I asked for him again on my second visit.

El Tapatio Restaurant: 1804 W Vine St, Kissimmee, FL 34741, United States.

El Tapatio was right across the street from my hotel, the Super 8 Kissimmee. Here, under the title “I Would Never Stay In This Hotel Even If It Was The Last Room in Orlando!” is the review I posted on Trip Advisor:

I came in a night early on March 3rd after having a reservation for the night of 4 March. had arranged my March 3 reservation in advance. It took me 40 minutes to check in despite the fact that only one of the two clerks at the desk was busy helping another customer. At first they could not find my reservation but they finally did and confirmed that I would be able to stay in the same room for both nights.

I finally got my two room keys, drove to my room, took my big bag and my laptop bag out of my SUV, and tried to get into my room. The first key did not work. The 2nd key did not work either. I called the hotel on my cell and asked that they bring me two keys that worked. They said, “We cannot. We are too busy. There are many people in the lobby.” I put the stuff back into the car, drove one minute to the office, and found the two clerks standing there doing nothing. There was nobody in the lobby.

When I finally got into the room I found it OK once I got used to the cheap hotel room odor.

I was napping on the afternoon of the 4th when the room phone rang. “Mr. Morris, we have you checking out today; please get out of the room.” I explained that my second night was a paid reservation. “Oh, OK.” I could not get back to napping.

Just after midnight there was a loud knock on my door. I had been sleeping peacefully for more than 3 hours. “Open the door and tell me your name. This room is supposed to be empty.” All in an angry voice. I refused to open the door but finally told him my name. It took me well more than an hour to get back to sleep. Never consider staying in this hotel.

Room Tip: Don’t ever book a room here.

ps: I forgot to mention that 3 of the lamps in my room did not work. Man, you gotta love it.

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: 479!

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, 479 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Selling Your Used 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 advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.

Recent Successful Used Gear Sales

With two big lenses sold yesterday, activity continues to be burning hot!

  • Mike Pace sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS lens in very good condition for $4699 CAD to a Canadian only days after it was listed in early March.
  • Kenton Gomez sold his Canon EF 500mm f4L IS II lens in excellent plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $7349 in early March, 2017.
  • Multiple IPT veteran Jake Levin sold his Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS lens in very good-plus condition for the very sporting price of $2199 USD to a Canadian buyer less than a week after it was listed.
  • Owen Peller sold his Canon EF 400m f/4 IS DO telephoto lens — the “old 400 DO,– in like-new condition for $2,299 in early MAR, 2017.
  • Brian Patteson sold his Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM super telephoto lens in near-mint condition for $4099 in early February.
  • IPT veteran Dick Evans sold his NIKKOR AF-S 70-200 f2.8G ED VRII Lens in like-new condition to a local camera store and kindly sent me a check for the 2 1/2% of the original listed price.
  • Steve Traudt is sold a Canon 500mm f4L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens in excellent condition for $3550 in mid-February, 2017.
  • James P. Nelson sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM zoom lens in excellent condition for $899 i early February 2017.
  • Dow Morris sold his Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS USM lens in like-new condition for $579 a few days after it was listed in early February 2017.
  • James P. Nelson sold his Canon EF 100-400 zoom 1:4.5 – 5.6 L IS telephoto lens in excellent plus condition for a very low $549 in early February.
  • Robert Blanke sold his Canon EOS 7D Mark II body in like-new condition for $949.00 in early February 2017 just two days after it was listed
  • Robert Blanke sold his Canon EOS-1D X body with the Canon GPS receiver in like-new condition for $2499.00 within hours of it being listed.
  • James P. Nelson sold his Canon EF 500 f/4L IS USM Super telephoto lens with lots of extras in like-new condition for $4,499 in mid-January 2017.
  • Gene Scarborough sold a Canon accessory package for $250 in late January.
  • Robert Blanke sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III body in like-new condition with only 4258 shutter actuations for $1449.00 in late-January before it was even listed!.
  • Wayne Roth sold his Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G EDII VR lens in like-new condition for $3,500.00 in late January, 2017, two weeks after it was listed.

WMD: Weapon of Mass Destruction

Canon 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Colin Haase is offering a Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for a the BAA record-low price of $9,497. The sale includes the original box, the front lens cover, the lens strap, the rear lens cover, the lens trunk, the manual, the virgin warranty card, a RRS LCF53 lens foot, and insured ground shipping by major courier to US addresses only.

Please contact Colin via e-mail or by phone at 1-630-269-2242 (Central time).

As y’all know, the 600 II has been my go-to long lens since its introduction several years ago. It is relatively lightweight and super-sharp. I used it almost every day in Japan and I used it every day at Gatorland. It goes great with the 1.4X III TC and with a bit of practice and good sharpness techniques, you should be able to make sharp images with the 2X III TC down to 1/60 sec. In short, it is every wildlife photographer’s dream super-telephoto lens. As a new one goes for $11,499 you can save a boatload of money by grabbing Colin’s lens right now. artie

Canon Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Mike Kaplan is offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II in near-mint condition for $999.The sale includes the rear lens cap, the never-used lens strap, the manuals, one Canon battery, the charger, the CD, the cables, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Also included is a Kirk BL-7D2 L Bracket. Your items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone 941-408-4247 in the Eastern time zone.

Both Patrick Sparkman and I used and loved the 7D Mark II until about two years ago when we both committed to using full frame Canon bodies. We both made some truly great images with it. Two of my three 2016 Nature’s Best honored entries were created with the 7D II, one still, and one video. artie

Canon Canon EOS 6D Mark

Mike Kaplan is offering a Canon EOS 6D in excellent condition for $899. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens strap, the user manuals, one Canon battery, the charger, CD, the cables, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Also included is a Kirk BL-6D L Bracket. Your items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone 941-408-4247 in the Eastern time zone.

I own and use the the “full frame” 20.2 MP Canon 6D DSLR. I love the camera for its fine image quality and outstanding low-light performance, which make it terrific for landscapes and portraits. While it was not designed to be and isn’t my first choice as a wildlife camera, its good image quality makes it fine for bird and mammal portraits. And if you can be satisfied with using mainly the center AF point, the autofocus is decently fast and accurate, so especially for large birds like cranes, it is more than adequate for birds in flight. Multiple IPT veteran and blog regular, David Policansky

This image was created on Gatorland mini-IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

Three AF points to the right and one row up from the center AF point/AI Servo Surround/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell just below the bird’s eye are originally framed.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -5.

Great Egret/black water

Blog Lesson #1 Reinforced

AKA, you snooze, you lose …

In the Bird Photography Tip #1 … blog post here, I wrote:

When you are photographing a bird that is posing for you, be patient. Lots of folks have an “I’ve got this picture already so let’s get on to another subject” attitude. By waiting, you will often be rewarded with an open bill, a wing flap or stretch, or by the bird shaking out its feathers. Or with something unexpected and even better. Most any behavior will an image more interesting than one of the bird just sitting there. Be sure, however to create lots of “just portraits” as in the long run, one or two will stand head and shoulders above the rest in a series of similar images due to a variety of factors that might include minute changes in head angle, eye position and/or focus, attitude, light, and many other possible factors.

The three of us were working quite close together when I created this image, talking about exposure with the almost black background and talking about head angle. As fate would have it I was able to maintain concentration throughout and when the bird yawned, I was right on it. Both students missed it. I was so excited that I actually called out “Blog post image!” after creating three frames. That shows you where my priorities are …

I used the situation to reinforce the importance of working in Manual mode with Prasad who had earlier asked, “Why not Av mode?”

Hard as it might be for some to believe, I ain’t perfect and I ain’t infallible. Twice yesterday afternoon I missed the same back shot of a bathing Great Egret and twice this morning I missed a point blank Wood Stork yawning. The latter by being too tight while working in vertical format rather than by having been inattentive.

DPP 4 Lesson Reinforced

I recently wrote about moving the Shadow slider <em>to the left to darken the blacks in a properly exposed Red-crowned Crane image created in Japan in soft light. I am not sure that is has been published yet. If it has, please post the link by leaving a comment below. With today’s image, one that we processed at lunch on Saturday during our image review/Photoshop session, I came up with the idea of moving the Shadow slider to the left to darken the background during the RAW conversion in DPP 4. It worked perfectly. If you try this in ACR, please let us know if it worked well or not.


Images and card copyright Arthur Morris/BEARS AS ART 🙂

2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPTs: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings 3.

Join me in spectacular Katmai National Park, AK for six days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears. Mid-July is prime time for making images of small, football-sized cubs. The cubs, and these dates, are so popular that I had to reserve them three years in advance to secure them. There are lots of bears each year in June, but the mothers only rarely risk bringing their tiny cubs out in the open in fear of predation by rival bears. In addition to making portraits of both adults and cubs, we hope to photograph frolicking and squabbling youngsters and tender nursing scenes. At this time of year, the bears are either grazing in luxuriant grass or clamming. There will also be some two- and three-year old cubs to add to the fun. And we will get to photograph it all.

We will live on our tour operator’s luxurious new boat. At 78 feet long its 24 foot beam makes it quite spacious as well. And the food is great. We will likely spend most of our time at famed Geographic Harbor as that is where the bears are generally concentrated in summer. On the odd chance that we do need to relocate to another location we can do so quickly and easily without having to venture into any potentially rough seas. We land via a 25 foot skiff that has lots of room for as much gear as we can carry.

Aside from the bears we should get to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin and should get nice stuff on Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Harbor Seal, and Steller’s Sea Lion as well. A variety of tundra-nesting shorebirds including Western Sandpiper and both yellowlegs are also possible. Halibut fishing (license required/not included) is optional.

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 17 to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of July 18. Again, with air travel in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter) subject to possible delays, being on Kodiak on July 16 is a much better plan.

Barring any delays, we will get to photograph bears on our first afternoon and then again every day for the next five days after that, all weather permitting of course. On our last morning on the boat, July 24, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will have the opportunity to do so. The group will return to Kodiak via float plane from late morning through midday. Most folks will then fly to Anchorage and to continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

What’s included? 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. National Park and guide fees. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional nature photographer; I will constantly let you know what I am thinking, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and informal Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). Your lodging and meals on Kodiak. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat and then back to Kodiak as above. The cost of a round trip last year was $550. The suggested crew tip of $200.

Have you ever walked with the bears?

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 5 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….), it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “BIRDS AS ART” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

Your deposit is due when you sign up. That leaves a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on September 15, 2016. The final payment of $2000 is due on February 15, 2017. I hope that you can join me for what will be a wondrously exciting trip.

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 :).

9 comments to Concentration on the Task at Hand Rewarded; Blog Lessons Reinforced! And a Like-new 600 II at the Lowest-ever BAA Price!

  • avatar Kevin Hice

    Thanks Artie ,I will start shooting in manual more. I think for me it is a comfort mode not always easy to change . Thanks again

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: wonderful image and tips. I am not always good about using manual mode when I should, but I am good when the birds are white!

    On the hotel, i’ve found I avoid a lot of grief by booking directly with the hotel instead of any booking web site, and the price is almost always at least as favorable booking directly with the hotel. Of course, doing rhat wouldn’t have helped with the decoror the lamps. 🙂

  • Hi Artie,

    I completely agree with you on Working in Manual Mode. As a Beginner, I generally start with TV mode in Pre dawn and then go to Dawn.

    I think I understand the benefits of working on Manual Mode a bit better now. Rest is all practice.

    Amazing learning at Gatorland Mini IPT.

  • avatar David Peake

    After learning to shoot manual mode by practicing what I learned here on the blog I have never looked back. Kevins’ comment that he doesn’t want to miss any quick action highlights the issue. Working in AV mode I was mostly unaware of what the light was doing, relying on the camera to quickly adjust to the changing situation. Some times, as you teach, it is still better to use AV mode. However once you learn the basics of exposure theory , it is imperative that one stays constantly aware of the changing light and indeed it is much easier to quickly adjust the exposure in camera when in manual mode. Once the exposure is dialed in when working in manual mode, if the light and subject are the same, them I can shoot against any background with impunity.
    I still make a lot of mistakes , but now I get many more keepers.

  • avatar Bob Allen

    Hi Artie. While I do know all this very well, it is welcome to hear it repeated. You might prepare a short mini-guide with photos, called something like “Exposure 2017”. It’s nice to have it all in one place, perhaps updated with newer examples annually.

    I mostly teach newbies, you mostly teach advanced photographers. Maybe we can write it together :7)

  • avatar Kevin Hice

    Nice Pic Artie. I don’t understand the reason for working in Manual over Av. I am reluctant to work in manual mode because of the chance of some quick action happening on the subject or switching to another quickly. I may miss another shot.Are you saying you wouldn’t been able to make the same shot in Av why?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Kevin, Kevin, Kevin 🙂

      We been here 100 times. Please do a search in the little white box top right for “Working in Manual Mode.”

      You can always get the right exposure in any mode. But when the light is relatively constant (and even when it is not), working in Manual mode is easier, and once you understand it, there is nothing to be afraid of. It was about 8:30am. We had been photographing Great Egrets in the bright sun on a clear morning. The right exposure for the past 15 minutes had been 1/2000 sec. at f/9 for ISO 400. Most were against green backgrounds and depending on the amount of white in the frame, this worked out to between zero to +2/3 stops of EC.

      When I discovered this bird in a creek I simply set the same exposure for the bright whites in full sun right on sun angle. When working in Manual mode the tonality of the BKGR does not affect the exposure as you have set it in stone. What it does effect is the mount of + or – EC showing on the analogue scale. As it turned out, this came out to about -1 stop EC for today’s featured image as framed.

      To repeat: the right exposure for a bright white subject in full sun does not change when the light is constant. The background does not matter. Why have to experiment by choosing to work in Av mode where different backgrounds require different amounts of EC? Doing so is more difficult and a total waste of time.

      Working in Manual mode you know the right exposure so learn to set it manually and forget about the BKGR.

      If this does not make sense to you, sign up for an IPT asap 🙂

      later and love, artie

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        ps: You wrote:

        I am reluctant to work in manual mode because of the chance of some quick action happening on the subject or switching to another quickly.

        Working in Manual mode you are fine no matter the action. If you are in Av mode you are screwed if the amount of white in the frame changes which it will do often and you are screwed if the tonality of the background changes. In those situations you are not screwed if you are in Manual mode. Why? The correct exposure remains the correct exposure.

        If you switch to a different subject with a different tonality you will need to adjust the exposure (almost always by changing the shutter speed). Av offers no advantage there as you would need to change your compensation for subjects of different tonalities.

        You will find the upcoming blog post on the fine point of exposure for birds in flight to be quite interesting and informative.