How a Very Happy Camper Improved His Nature Photography Dramatically in Just One Year « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

How a Very Happy Camper Improved His Nature Photography Dramatically in Just One Year


Early on Wednesday I put the finishing touches on my 2016 taxes and sent them off to my accountant. I got so much work done in the morning that I took an earlier than usual swim. I was feeling so good and the pool was so sparkling and clean and it was so gorgeous and sunny out that I set out to swim a mile, 88 lengths. But when I got to 88 I said what the hey and would up swimming a very slow 100 lengths, 1.14 miles in all. Midday tomorrow I will drive over to Fort DeSoto for an afternoon scouting session follow by another one on Friday morning. I meet my group of five at 2pm on Friday.

Frontier Communications News

If you utilize their services, you would do well to try to find a new provider. Like right now. I’ve had no phone (two lines down) and no DSL service on my Frontier business account since Irma visited on the night of September 10, 2017. First I was told that they would not send a repair technician until September 25. After repeated calls from me ,they said on Tuesday that they would send someone by Wednesday September 20. They lied. At 3:30pm on Wednesday I got a call saying that my phone and internet service were part of a “common problem” and that they were working on it. So I called their customer (dis-) service line and was told that they would not send someone until the common problem was fixed. “We are waiting for a cable and do not know when it will come.” H”ow come it took them five days to figure out that there was a common (major) problem? Silence. “I have phone wires on the ground. They need to send someone to fix those now, as promised.” “We cannot send someone to your home until we fix the common problem.” “Why not?” “I don’t know.” Good bye!

Great IPT News

An amazing seven folks have already committed to the new, expanded UK Puffins and Gannets 2018 IPT with the Bempton Cliffs pre-trip. And all have signed up for the pre-trip. There are just three slots left so if you are interested in joining us please do not tarry. You can learn more about this great trip here.

The Streak

Today marks fifty-eight days in a row with a new educational blog post — Irma be damned! This one took about one hour to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), 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.

Latest Used Gear Kudos

via e-mail from Robert Blanke

Hey Artie. Thank you again–the 5D s sale makes four cameras sold at fair prices and commissions, with the first three going in one day! Cheers Robert


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for last year’s 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.

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.

This image was created on our afternoon landing at Prince Philip’s Steps, Tower Island (Genovesa). I used the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 280mm) with my favorite Happy Camper photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/60 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +1.

Upper Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The AF system activated two AF points that fell on Lauren’s right hand.

Loren Waxman with his 600 II on the way back to the Prince Phillips Steps landing site.

A Happy Camper

Above is a grab shot that I made of Loren as we headed back to the Prince Philip’s Steps landing on Tower Island, Genovesa. Even though we had only distant views of our main target, Short-eared Owl, you will notice that Loren has a big smile on his face. That is not unusual as Loren always has a big smile on his face.

I was thrilled the other day to receive a lovely card from Loren by mail with this handwritten note:


I just want to take a moment and thank you. You have taken so much time with me and I can see my photos improving with each trip. If I don’t get a chance to say it, you have given me a priceless gift that will go with me the rest of my life. I want you to know how much I appreciate it. I will think of you and all the lessons with each click! I am looking forward to more good times out there in birdland.

Your roomie, Loren

(Note: Loren was the greatest-ever roommate for me on the Galapagos; not only did he take the upper bunk but the man could sleep through a tornado. Easily for ten hours!)

This image was created on an afternoon landing at Inner Farnes on the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 271mm) and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, the world’s greatest value in a digital SLR. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/5 in Manual mode. AWB.

Atlantic Puffin on rock

Loren Waxman

I first met Loren Waxman in the parking lot of the San Diego IPT hotel. When he first spotted me, everything in my car was spread out on the ground as I searched for my missing rental car keys … (I am sure that I shared that story on the blog but could not find it after a 30-minute search. If you can find that blog post please leave a link in the comments section.) In any case, Loren was amazingly helpful throughout that whole sordid affair. He learned so much on that IPT that he quickly signed up for the 2017 Galapagos trip. He could not, however, resist the temptation and joined us at almost the last minute for the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. He is signed up for my next Falklands trip and has — along with another participant — committed to returning to the Galapagos on my late-July 2019 trip. As I have been saying, my Galapagos trip is simply the best.

Loren has been involved in construction and real estate development for twenty years. He is and has been the president of Waxman & Associates, Inc. in Portland, OR since 1993. His experience includes construction, management and development of single family, multi-family, commercial and mixed use projects. His firm specializes in environmental cleanup, historic structures, public-private partnerships, and regulatory navigation. You can check out some of his firm’s coolest major projects here.

This image was created on our morning gannet boat trip on the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 100mm) with Loren’s favorite gannet photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops off the sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB.

Northern Gannet braking to dive

Loren’s Photographic Evolution

Loren showed up in San Diego intent determined to improve as a photographer. His initial concerns were with sharpness. As you can see in the image that opens this blog post we got him set up with an Induro Tripod, a CRX-5 Low Foot, and a Mongoose M3.6. And then I taught him how to use it. He was a quick study. From the get-go, he realized that to become a good photographer he would need to improve his post-processing skills. He has worked very hard in that area. Whether at lunch or dinner or just hanging out in the cottage in the UK Loren was next to me, asking questions. Always. By the time we got to the UK I started to work on his too-right image designs. He loves what Denise Ippolito calls “man-crops,” crops that leave the bird almost completely filling the frame. “No Loren, you need to give the bird more room in the frame.” He is getting there. For this image he needed to add canvas to make me happy 🙂

Loren shared the gannet image above with me on the Galapagos trip on a long navigation. “Gimme the RAW file” I said, “I can do better than that.” Loren will be thrilled to learn that the JPEG above was created from his optimized version; it was way better than my optimized version!

This image was created at the Iguana Park in Guayaquil with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) and Loren’s favorite iguana photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB.

Young Green Iguana

My Thoughts On Loren’s Improvement

As noted above, Loren is determined to improved and has worked very hard. He stays close to me in the field and asks a ton of questions. Unlike many who join IPTs, he is quick to share his images with me. On many trips when I say to the group, “Pick five of your best images from yesterday for sharing and critiquing,” less than half of the group participates. Loren is always first on line (unless Anita North edges him out).

In a phone conversation with Lauren last night, he said, “I post a ton to social media. I get zillions of great shot! comments. But I never learn anything. When you look at my images I always learn something.” I replied, “Loren, we’ve talked about this before. You need to join BirdPhotographer’s.Net and start posting. Getting your images critiqued by knowledgeable mods and members is the best way to continue to improve. A BPN membership is the best $40 you will ever spend on photography. And whenever you post an image, be sure to comment on five other images. There is tremendous learning involved there too.” “I’ll do it!” he said.

Folks participating on quality photographic tours need to realize that the more questions that they ask the more involved the leader or leaders will become.

This image was created somewhere in the Galapagos with the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and Loren’s favorite crab photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +at zero: 1/160 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. AWB.

Sally Lightfoot Crab

Image courtesy of and copyright 2017: Loren Waxman

Tight Works Too and Comments on Loren’s Image Sharpness Skills

In Loren’s Sally Lightfoot image above, we see that working very tight can also be very effective. Notice also that while working full frame at 1200mm with a relatively slow shutter speed, 1/160 second, Loren is now capable of creating super sharp images when working with long effective focal lengths on a tripod. In addition, if you check out the shooting data for the other images (like the one of the Green Iguana above), he has learned to make sharp images while hand holding at relatively slow shutter speeds as well.

“Loren is rich and can afford to go on multiple IPTs. I can’t do that.”

Do understand that by attending a single IPT, sticking close to me, and asking a ton of questions that you too can dramatically improve your skills. Note also that the $99 Fort DeSoto In-the-field Meet-up Session has only one person registered … Please scroll down for details on that; it is not too late for you to sign up. Please do so by sending me an e-mail and/or calling me on my cell at 863-221-2372.

And please do not forget that Loren has only been on two IPTs … So far 🙂

How’s He Doing?

Please leave a comment and let Loren know how you think he is doing. Which of his images above is your favorite? Be sure to let us know why you made your choice.

Oh, by the way, Loren began photographing birds less than one year ago …


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.

Please register by sending me an e-mail and/or by calling me on my cell at 863-221-2372.

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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.

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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 :).

6 comments to How a Very Happy Camper Improved His Nature Photography Dramatically in Just One Year

  • avatar paul reinstein

    It amazes me that Loren has come from iphone photography to the chosen one, in one year. Incredible. Loren, you’ve hit the big time; the feature story on the blog. You were a talent in waiting. Go Loren! …and I love the eye’s on the crab: sharp.

  • avatar Tony Z

    I love that gannet shot – really like the framing.
    I enjoyed meeting Loren on the Puffin IPT – super nice guy, already a great photographer in my humble opinion, and great at sharing tips and techniques that he’s learned.

    Tony (the tornado) Z

  • avatar Catherine Costolo

    Terrific images, Loren. I really love the Sally Lightfoot crab because of its unique perspective and it makes me chuckle.

  • avatar frank sheets

    Hi Artie. Great post this am about Loren. “Student” shots are always fun to see. I think his shot of the Gannet coming in is my favorite. Good light, nice angle on the bird with extended feet and I like the framing going on with the background and the clouds. But I have to agree with Loren, “best blog post of all time!” Go Loren!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nice Images and Beautiful Colors. Thank you for sharing them Artie.

  • avatar Loren Waxman

    Congrats! I think that could be your best blog post of all time!!’
    Your Roomie