Amazing Eclipse Stitched Pano. Autism in the Family. And the Love of a Mother … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Amazing Eclipse Stitched Pano. Autism in the Family. And the Love of a Mother ...


I got a bit more work done on my 2016 taxes on Wednesday and Jennifer will be here again today to help 🙂 Jen has been working part time as a lactation counselor at a local hospital for the past year. She absolutely loves it. I swam just before my very late lunch and got in some core exercises and stretching as well. I took me several hours to come up with three fourth row center orchestra seats for Beautiful, the Carol King Broadway musical. On Saturday, October 7, younger daughter Alissa, her husband Ajiniyaz, and I will be attending. We are all very excited. Instead of Jersey Boys, this time we will be seeing Brooklyn Girl!

I was glad to learn of the completed sales of all of Richard Bohnet’s stuff: he sold his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens (the “old” 1-4) in excellent condition for an even $500 in mid-August and then his Canon EOS 5D MK III (with an L-bracket) in near-mint condition for $1449 and his Canon EOS 7D in excellent condition for $279 in late August.

Moments after this blog post was published I learned that Ray Stranagan sold his Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens in excellent condition for $3999, just three days after it was listed!

Important Blog Subscription News

Many folks have been e-mailing recently stating that they have not been receiving blog notices via e-mail after having received them for years. They are actually still subscribed. But, since we went to a new server, we have been having problems with certain e-mail providers, most notably with Our understanding is that they, and several others including,, (and possibly others) have black-listed us for no reason whatsoever. 🙂 We have been aware of and have been working on this issue but there is a chance that the situation may never be fixed. Actually, the exact same problem has persisted for several years on BirdPhotographer’s.Net. My solution there was to open a free gmail account and get in the habit of checking it every day. I still do just that so that I can get my BPN notices and respond to the various threads that I am following.

At present, there are two viable solutions:

1- You can open a free gmail account and subscribe at that address. You will get your BAA blog notifications there without a problem.

2- You can save the blog address as a favorite and get in the habit of visiting every day. I should be posting every day for at least the next year … And beyond that as well. Barring any serious health or internet problems.

I am glad that folks miss getting their BIRDS AS ART Blog notices. If you have stopped getting yours and use a different e-mail provider than the four listed above, please click here to shoot me an e-mail. Please be sure to let us know your e-mail provider.

The Streak

Today marks forty-four days in a row with a new educational blog post. This one took almost four hours to prepare. What’s wrong with me? With all of my upcoming free time, the plan right now is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.

Everybody’s Doing It…

Everybody’s buying and selling used gear on the BAA Used Gear Page. Sales recently have been through the roof. 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 charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They recently folded. And eBay fees are now in the 13% range. 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 at the top of each blog post.


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.


I recently updated the IPT page. If you doubt that I am really slowing down, click here to see the meager IPT schedule. Right now there are only two US-based IPTs on the schedule. Best news is I now have two folks registered for the Fort DeSoto IPT so that will run. Do consider joining us if you would like to learn from the best.

Photographers Wanted

If you would like to learn to become a much better bird photographer, consider joining me on either the Fort DeSoto IPT in late September or the San Diego IPT in January, 2018. With four folks signed up, DeSoto will offer practically private instruction. And you can tack on the In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for free. Scroll down for details. Click here for complete IPT info and the current but abbreviated schedule.

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.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and many folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor 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.

This stitched pano of the recent solar eclipse was created at Belleville, Illinois at the very edge of the totality path by BPN member Mike Quigley. He used a tripod mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the 1.4X II TC (now replaced by the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. With a Seymour Solar Filter on the front of the lens. ISO 100: 1/200 sec. at f/8.

Solar Eclipse stitched panorama. Image courtesy of and copyright 2017: Mike Quigley

Be 100% sure to click on the image to enlarge it so that you can see the spectacular larger version.

Thanks to BPN‘s Mike Quigley for allowing me to share his spectacular composite of the recent solar eclipse here on the blog. I had been looking for a good image from that day and found this in of all places, the Eager to Learn Forum; you can see that post here. Thanks again Mike; great work!

Eager to Learn, skillfully moderated by skilled photographer Tim Foltz, was originally designed to help beginners. A quick look at the posted images will show that many of the folks posting there do not need much help! If any. Once again BPN has proven to be an amazing resource.

My younger daughter Alissa with younger son Idris at the solar eclipse minor league baseball game. i-Phone selfie by Alissa Morris

Autism in the Family

I am proud to be the grandpa of four wonderful kids (two of them autistic). It is hard to call Jennifer’s oldest, Sam, a kid anymore; last week Jen accompanied him up to Boston where he will be in the film program at Emerson college. About 1/3 of Sam’s tuition is being covered by a merit-based scholarship. Jennifer’s daughter is Maya, in addition to being a skilled dancer, she is somewhat of a fashionista; whatever Maya wears the rest of the girls in her school wind up wearing in short order. And yes, Sam and Maya begat my personal e-mail address:

Many (except for regular readers of this blog) might be shocked to learn that my younger daughter Alissa’s two boys are on the autism spectrum (also known as autism spectrum disorder –ASD). Estimates are that like one in eleven or one in nine or even one in five autistic children today have an autistic sibling. To a large degree, autistic youngsters have problems with social communication and social interaction skills, and usually exhibit restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. In short, Ilyas is far more challenged than his younger brother, Idris. As a parent, however, Alissa finds dealing with the gifted Idris far more challenging than dealing with Ilyas.

Ilyas, will be 12 in December. Idris is nine. When Idris was three, he began reading the signs in Costco. 100% on his own. By four he was playing piano with two hands and writing his own piano music. By five he was doing junior high school math in his head. And he has always been a geography savant, able to tell you every road, street, and highway (as well as the directions of travel) to any place he has ever been. Idris has been mainstreamed since 1st grade, but still receives services: a one-on-one teaching assistant, speech therapy, and social skills counseling. Ilyas attends a small private school for children with autism. There are six teachers, one for each of the six students in his class. Alissa and husband Ajiniyaz, who met when Alissa served in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan for 30 months after graduating Geneseo (SUNY), moved to Long Island about eight years ago to take advantage of the great services offered there.

Idris has long loved studying the night skies. He wants to be an astro-photographer 🙂 And about two years ago, he took an interest in baseball. On my many visits to Long Island for the past two years, I made it to Lissy’s house most every day to play catch with Idris and to teach him some of the basic skills. We both loved our almost daily sessions and his throwing and catching improved immensely.

Here’s Idris on baseball: I love so many things about baseball. I love the crazy plays, the fact that it’s played outside (mostly–I wish covered stadiums didn’t exist!), and especially I love the statistics. I love reading statistics from today’s game and also from throughout baseball history. I prefer to use underappreciated statistics like OBP (on base percentage) and slugging, and sabermetrics like batting runs and fielding independent pitching, over the old fashioned statistics like saves, wins, batting average, or RBIs. My favorite team is the New York Mets.

(Note: sabermetrics — the empirical analysis of baseball, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity.)

And here is Idris on astronomy: I’ve been interested in astronomy for the past 3 years. I like learning about different types of stars, my favorite type being young bright blue stars. I also like reading about the Big Bang and thinking about what conditions were present at the creation of the universe.

Idris at the NASA table. i-Phone photo by Alissa Morris

The Love of a Mother …

That both Jennifer and Alissa have always been great mothers is a given. I am sure, however, the Jennifer would agree that with the two autistic boys, Alissa has faced great challenges. I’ve been saying for many years that Alissa should get a Nobel Prize for Motherhood. Every week. Hey, I should have mentioned that two and a half years ago Lissy too got her dream part time job. She provides resources and support for parents of children with special needs.

The day before the eclipse, Lissy and Idris flew from Islip, NY to Portland, Oregon and then drove south and a bit west to Salem. Early on the morning of Eclipse Day, August 21, 2017, they headed for the minor league baseball game between the Salem-Kaiser Volcanoes and the Hillsboro Hops. The game began at 9:51am. Less than a half hour later, the game was delayed nearly an hour as everyone used their NASA eclipse sunglasses to view the total solar eclipse. During the four hour traffic jam back to Portland, Idris said (not unexpectedly), “This was the greatest day of my life!

Idris with his eclipse sun glasses. i-Phone photo by Alissa Morris

The game even made it into Sports Illustrated. See “Moments In the Sun” in the Leading Off section of the 8/28/17 issue. To experience the first ever solar eclipse baseball game, and the eclipse itself, click here, here, and here, or here.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The Fort DeSoto 2017 Fall IPT/September 22 (afternoon session) through the full day on September 25, 2017. 3 1/2 FULL DAYs: $1649. Limit 8/openings 4.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join us on the ITF/MWS on the morning of Tuesday, September 26 as my guest. See below for details on that.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Register soon so that you can be assured of a room at the IPT hotel.

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with ten folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, gear advice, and instructions for meeting on the afternoon of Friday, September 22.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rich with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session (ITF/MWS): $99.

Join me on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive afternoon workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tour. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal non-refundable registration fee. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place at least two weeks before the event.


BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make the IPT? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

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.

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

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Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.


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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 :).

14 comments to Amazing Eclipse Stitched Pano. Autism in the Family. And the Love of a Mother …

  • avatar Jim Amato

    Arthur, Your Grand Children will learn patience and flexibility. Maturity, support, structure and guided practice will be essential. And above all Patience, Patience, Patience.

    Success and progress, sometimes, are measured with using grains of sand as the scale line.

    Recall often…..the Above all line above.

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Great stories, Artie, about your daughters and their kids: all of them.
    There needs to be special recognition for them (kids, parents and families) and those who work to make the world a place for them to feel like they belong, which they most certainly do.
    All the best to all your family.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Jim and Andrew, Many thanks for your kind words. Andrew, from my family to yours, we wish the best to Ava. Those high-functioning kids on the spectrum have a mind of their own. The smarter they are the more they want everything to be perfect, and when things don’t go there way, things can — as I am sure that you know — quickly go to pieces. 🙂

    with love, artie

  • avatar Jim Amato


    You are blessed with a fantastic Daughter and Grand Children. The kids have wonderful interests and are receiving positive growth oriented support. They have a strong and bright future. Jim Amato

  • Great stuff Arthur! Enjoyed reading of Alissa’s two autistic boys. As you know my 10 year old daughter Ava is on the high end of the spectrum and can be quite challenging to deal with at times. We have her involved in many of the support services that are available to us.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Kevin, Ted, and David, many thanks. As usual, I fell that I am quite blessed 🙂

    with love, artie

  • avatar Kevin Hice

    Hello Artie , Great story and a wonderful mother’s love. So inspirational as usual your families stories. So much appreciated the ones of your mom and dad also. Have a great day. Made me appreciate mine.

  • avatar Brian Dillon

    Regarding receiving alerts… taking your suggestion about a free gmail account, you can do that and then set up a filter which will forward messages onto your regular email account.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Great story, inspirational!

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie; wonderful story. You have a fine family.

  • avatar Walt Thomas - Tucson

    Praise to Jennifer and Alissa (and their children), for the way she and many others march up to the batter’s box and do what they do so well, and to you also for the obvious support you give.
    Walt Thomas, Tucson