Fishing Was Good. Both SONY and Nikon were catching … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Fishing Was Good. Both SONY and Nikon were catching ...

What’s Up?

On Saturday past, I woke early and decided to go on the local Audubon group walk at Turkey Creek Preserve. I brought my 100-400 thinking that there might be some nice flowers. There were. My two favorites were Day Flower and Silver-leafed Aster, but it was too windy for photos. We saw a very few birds; most notable were several Pine Warblers and a fly-by juvenile Little Blue Heron, a bit out of habitat in the longleaf pine habitat.

Turkey Creek Preserve is named after the pristine blackwater stream that forms its spine; The preserve is made up of hardwood swamps, hammocks, scrubby flatwoods, pine flatwoods, and sandhill and longleaf pine/wiregrass habitat. It’s a land that must be burned in order to survive. It is a Nature Conservancy property.

I fly to Bosque in one week and have begun thinking about packing. There is still time for you to join the small IPT group. Hey, I learned on Saturday that IPT veteran Ed Dow will be joining the group at Bosque. If you have long-dreamed of visiting the Galapagos, please scroll down all the way.

Today, Sunday November 17, 2019 featured yet another grey morning. It’s funny, while I love cloudy when photographing at the beach I almost never head down to the lake in the morning unless it is clear and sunny …

IPT Updates

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 2. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 5)

Click here for complete IPT info and details.


BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase over $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on July 26, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 288mm) with the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:19am on cloudy morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to enjoy a larger, sharper version.

Image #1: Galapagos Sealion with tuna, Punta Albemarle, Isabela

Panga (Zodiac) Cruising

Photo-cruises in a panga (zodiac) can be quite productive. You can get to photography a great many of the subjects that are available on landings plus many more that are not. Those include Galapagos Penguins, sealions hunting large fish, whales and dolphins, and nesting Brown Noddies among others. In the mangroves we usually get to photograph sea turtles, a variety of rays, and at times, nesting pelicans with large chicks. Needless to say, you will be handholding when photographing from a zodiac. Cooperation is the word of the day; the drivers will always turn the boat around to give everyone good chances, especially for folks like me who cannot kneel. (When my side is closest to the action I either need to move to one end of the boat or the other or literally sit out the action on the bottom of the panga.) When I needed to bring two lenses on a panga ride, I would simply wrap the extra lens in a towel and place it on the floor as it is pretty much always calm on these outings.

This image was also created on July 26, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT with the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (this time at at 400mm) with the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1600. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/800 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:29am on then cloudy-bright morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to enjoy a larger, sharper version.

Image #2: Galapagos Sealion with sashimi, Punta Albemarle, Isabela

Fishing Was Good

If your heart is not pounding as you watch sealions herding and attacking 40-60 pound tuna in shallow water, you might want to turn to skydiving to experience a rush; most nature photogrpahers will be left breathless. I’d say that I’ve had the privelege of witnessing this behavior every other year on average. 2019 was the best ever. On our Punta Albemarle zodiac ride we enjoyed tremendous action for almost an hour. Probably the most amazing thing that we witnessed was a very large tuna escaping an attack and swimming rapidly away off the port stern of the panga with its dorsal fin completely ripped off and trailing behind it in a swirl of bubbles. The image below was made as we returned to the Samba after a mangrove cruise at Elizabeth Bay (where I saw and photographed my life Blue Whale in 2015).

This image was created on July 28, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. Here I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens and my suped-up Nikon D850 ISO 1000. Matrix metering plus about 1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode was perfect. Natural AUTO1 at 7:43am on a cloudy morning.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #3: Galapagos Sealion with camotillo (bass), Elizabeth Bay, Isabela

Nikon was Catching Too …

As regular readers know, the SONY 100-400 II was my workhorse lens on the last Galapagos IPT. I did, however, have my Nikon 500 PF along and used it with great success when I needed extra reach both on land and in the zodiacs. Whichever lens I chose for a given outing, I would always have the 1.4X TC in my fanny pouch. It was tough at times choosing between the close focus of the SONY 1-4 and the additional reach of the 500 PF. My 15 years of archipelago experience made those choices a bit easier. And on my Galpagos trip I share what I know with the group during pre-outing briefings.

Galapagos 2019 Highlights

Bucket List Decision Time …

In the same vein, I am betting that most folks reading this have either dreamed about photographing in the Galapagos or have been there already. I had such an amazing time on the last Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT last July/August, that I decided to see if I could round up some folks for a trip as follows: September 29-October 13, 2020 on the boat. The travel dates would be September 27 to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 October 14. Do note that late SEPT/early OCT is part of the cloudy season in the archipelago, just what you want for great photography. And as always, only my trips visit the three best landings twice each.

Depsite an increase in the cost of the charter, the price of this trip will remain the same: $14,449.00 all inclusive to and from Guayaquil. You will need to bring $700 in US cash for the crew and guide tip, and you will be responsible for your meals in Guayaquil. Everything else — including two hotel nights in Guayaquil — is included. If you would like to commit at this time plesqe contact me via immediately e-mail or call my cell at 863-221-2372 (Eastern time Zone).

Here’s the Rub!

I will need at least eight commitments/deposits by December 8, 2019 in order to confirm the charter while not risking losing my home. I have two folks already committed. If you are considering this trip, please remember, you only live once …

The 2020 GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience

September 29-October 13, 2020. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,499. Limit: 12 or 13 photographers plus the leader. I need ten committments by December 8, 2019. This trip needs ten clients to run. No deposit checks will be cashed until early Decemeber. All deposits and payments will be returned if the trip does not run.

This trip is THE best Galapagos Photo-Cruise in the world. By far. No one else offers a trip that visits the top three world-class landings twice each. What does this trip offer? The world’s best Galapagos guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), a great crew, and me, with ten Galapagos Photo-cruises under my belt. Pre-trip gear suggestions and advice and twice-daily, pre-landing, location-specific briefings. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea! Do know that there are one-week Galapagos trips (six full and two half- days on the boat “from $9995”! (If you think I am exaggerating, click here.) Thus, this trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations? And why not visit the three very best spots twice each?

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island — including Darwin Bay (almost surely twice!) and Prince Phillips Steps, Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross (almost surely twice!), 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 and Darwin’s Finches, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour (almost surely twice) for nesting Blue-footed Boobies and both frigatebird species in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas and seabirds, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus lots more.

There will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny middays for those like me who wish to partake. (The park service does not approve our second visits to the same great locations until right before the trip; we have never been turned down. 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+ 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 many thousands dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me.

Note that some of the walks are on the difficult side. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400mm lens. In the past, I have taken a longer lens ashore on most landings as they better fit my style. In 2017 I took the then brand-new Canon 400mm DO lens and the Canon 500mm f/4 L IS II lens (with both teleconverters). In 2019 I took my Nikon 500 PF and my SONY 100-400 GM lens. I only rarely used my Nikon rig …

The Logistics

September 27 to Guayaquil and fly home on 14 October 14.

SUN SEPT 27, 2020: Arrive in Guayaquil a day early to ensure that you do not miss the boat.

MON SEPT 28, 2020: Introductory session at the Iguana Park.

TUES SEPT 29, 2020. We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2019 trip some folks made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

TUES OCT 14, 2020. We disembark the Samba in mid-morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; some will overnight there. Others will continue homeward on a red-eye flight.

$14,499 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 two or 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. Please e-mail before mailing your deposit check. The second payment of $5,000 will be due on March 1, 2020. The final payment of $4,499 per person will be due on June 1, 2020.

Again, this trip needs ten participants to run so please do not book your flights until you learn that we are good to go: I will commit to the trip once I have eight deposits. Purchasing travel insurance within two weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On the last trip, two couples were forced to cancel less than ten days prior to departure. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same. One couple used a discount outfit; they are still tryng to get remimbursed …

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 an $700/person cash tip for the crew and the guide to be shared by our guide and 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.

The Itinerary

Sunday, September 27, 2020: Fly to Guayaquil arriving a day early to ensure that you do not miss the boat.

Monday, September 28, 2020: Introductory session at the Iguana Park.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2019 trip some folks made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

On the Boat

Day 1: Tuesday, September 29: PM North Seymour

Day 2: Wednesday, Septmber 30: Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, PM Prince Phillips´ Steps

Day 3: Thursday, October 1: Marchena: AM Playa Negra, PM Navigation to Isabela

Day 4: Friday, October 2: Isabela: AM Punta Albemarle, PM Punta Vicente Roca

Day 5: Saturday, October 3: AM Fernandina: Punta Espinoza, PM Isabela: Bahía Urbina

Day 6: Sunday, October 4: Isabela: AM Elizabeth Bay, PM Punta Moreno

Day 7: Monday, October 5: Floreana: AM Post Office Bay, PM Punta Cormorant

Day 8: Tuesday, October 6: Santa Cruz: AM Highlands and Lunch, PM free time in the city with internet access.

Day 9: Wednesday, October 7: Española: AM Gardner Bay, PM Punta Suárez

Day 10: Thursday, October 8: Española: AM Punta Suarez, PM Navigation to San Cristóbal

Day 11: Friday, October 9: San Cristóbal. AM Isa Lobos (only until 9 am), PM Punta Pitt

Day 12: Saturday, October 10: AM Santa Fe, PM South Plaza

Day 13: Sunday, October 11: Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, Navigation to Santiago

Day 14: Monday, October 12: AM James Bay, PM Rábida

Day 15: Tuesday, October 13: North Seymour from 6 to 9am. Everyone must make this landing. We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; some wil will overnight there. Others will catch a redeye and fly home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020: The folks who stayed in Guayaquil will fly home most likely very early in the day.

The itinerary above is subject to National Park apporoval.

I hope that you can join me on what will surely be a rich and rewarding photographic experience.

If In Doubt …

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5 comments to Fishing Was Good. Both SONY and Nikon were catching …

  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Perhaps as we get older and shakier…?

  • As always, stunning images Guru. Repeat, it’s the Photographer who creates great images – not the imaging systems.

    However, to me the colors look little different than natural! Kindly scold and correct me if I’m wrong.

    Best regards.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The colors look fine and natural to me. Do understand that color is difficult to judge objectively; there is no accounting for personal tastes and variations in monitors and lighting conditions when viewing also affect our perceptions of color.

      Sorry, I am not into scolding.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Hi Artie, Over the last 6 months I have been paying particular attention to your shutter speeds. I realize I can improve my photography with faster shutter speeds. Sometimes students make things way too complicated. Thanks,


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It’s funny. On average I went with somewhat higher shutter speeds first with Nikon and then with SONY as compared to what I used with Canon … Not sure why.

      with love, artie

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