Blasting Highlights Oldie but Goodie « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Blasting Highlights Oldie but Goodie

What’s Up?

Today is Friday 22 July. Clemens Van der Werf is coming by around midday to pick up his trailered flats boat. Then, we are headed up to Deland, FL to do three mornings of Swallow-tailed Kites. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about an hour to prepare (including the time spent on the re-optimizing today’s featured image) and makes one hundred twenty-four days in a row with a new one.

I am taking the Auto Train on 31 July and will spend all of August on Long Island. I head south on 31 August and should be back home on 1 September barring anything unforeseen. I will be offering In-the-Field sessions at both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or text me at 863-221-2372.

Whether you are a local or would like to fly in for several days of instruction — a sort of private– or small group, at worst, IPT, LMK via e-mail so that we can work on a schedule that could possibly include both Nickerson and Jamaica Bay.

With nine deposit checks in hand, and with good friend Ed Dow grabbing a single cabin, there are only three openings left on the 2023 Galapagos Photo-cruise of a Lifetime. The trip is now a go. If you have any interest in joining us, it would be best to get in touch via e-mail ASAP.

Speaking of IPTs, I am still looking for someone to do all three Homer Bald Eagle trips and driving the round trip from Anchorage to Homer and back with me. Toward that end, I am offering a ridiculously high discount of $4500.00, $1500 off each trip. The offer may not last long because there are only two slots left on the second IPT. If you are interested, or would like additional details, please contact me via e-mail

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

The First DeSoto IPT

If you are interested in the first DeSoto IPT, 3 1/2 Days, Tuesday 27 September through the morning session on Friday 30 September 2022, know that I have reserved a three-bedroom AirBnB in Gulfport. Share it for four nights with many multiple IPT veteran Monte Brown and me and save a ton on lodging: $83.69/night/person for a whole home. AirBnB photos available upon request. Scroll down for details. If interested, shoot me an e-mail.


Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

This image was created on 9 July 2011 on a Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a lifetime. I used the Mongoose 3.6 Action Head/tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens and my favorite Canon digital body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dSLR. The exposure was determined by histogram/blinkies review. ISO 50. 1/8000 sec. at f/5.6. (wide-open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:18:47 am on a sunny/partly overcast morning.

Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Marine Iguana and Sally Lightfoot Crab

Blasting Highlights Oldie but Goodie

As I said recently, I have been working on creating mega-bright highlights silhouettes for well more than three decades. One of my very favorites was a film image! Anyhoo, when I decided on the iguana/crab photo for today’s post, I had Jim find the raw file on the office Drobo so that I could re-do it. Not surprisingly, my Photoshop skills have improved by leaps and bounds over the last 10 years, 12 days.

Note the low ISO and the highest (at the time) possible shutter speed.

A Lesson

I always advise that folks keep their eyes moving even when the have a good situation right in front of them. I was working on the image design and on getting the exposure right for the iguana shot. By habit, my eyes are always on the move. Thus, having spotted the crab crawling toward the aquatic reptile, I was ready when it entered the frame and fired off several images. I was surprised at how quickly the crab moved through the frame. This was my favorite.

Mega-Bright Highlights Tutorial

Order your PDF for $19.00 here in the BAA Online Store

Mega-Bright Highlights Tutorial

While you can learn a lot by studying the EFIX in the blasting highlights images that I am posting, there is lots more to know when shooting into mega-bright highlights and trying to create dramatic silhouettes. In situations, you are practically blinded when looking at the subject. Topics covered include how to focus accurately, image design, and getting this extremely difficult exposure right.

The Mega-Bright Highlights Tutorial will teach you to create unique and spectacular images. If you have been on a 3-day or longer BAA IPT in the last four calendar years, that is after January 2019, or if you have placed a deposit for an upcoming IPT, you qualify for a free tutorial. Shoot me an e-mail by clicking here and please let me know which IPT you attended or will be attending.

Others may purchase the PDF for $19 by either by sending a PayPal to (please include the words Mega-Bright Highlights Tutorial in your PayPal e-mail), or by clicking here to purchase from the BAA Online Store.

The Galapagos 2023 Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT

As a child, you dreamed of getting to the Galapagos. As a nature photographer, you’ve dreamed of getting to the Galapagos. If you’ve been, you’ve dreamed of going back — with your mirrorless gear. International travel is now a reality. And you’ve come to realize that life is short. And that a dream deferred is a dream denied.

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

If you want to make your dream to come true, read everything below carefully, and then get in touch.

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: Nazca Booby staring, Sally Lightfoot Crab legs, Blue-footed Booby braking to land, dried mud patterns/Floreana, face of Galapagos Sea-Lion, Sally Lightfoot Crab, Great Frigatebird — large chick, Land Iguana, Magnificent Frigatebird, male in flight with pouch distended.

The Galapagos 2023 Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Archipelago Photographic Experience

August 29 – September 12, 2023, on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $15,999.00 double occupancy. Single cabin: $28,999.00. Strict Limit: 12 photographers (plus the leader)/Openings: 3

This trip is a go.

If you are considering this trip, be sure to check out the Galapagos Gallery here. Please shoot me an e-mail if you are interested or if you have any questions.

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: Galapagos Sea-Lions squabbling; Blue-footed Booby foot; Blue-footed Booby in flight; seabird chick; Sally Lightfoot Crab; Swallow-tailed Gull in flight; Great Frigatebird head portrait; Galápagos penguin — juvenile; Nazca Booby resting.

The Best

This trip is THE best Galapagos Photo-Cruise in the world. By far. No one offers a trip that visits the top three world-class landings twice each (pending National Park Service approval as below). 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 thirteen 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”! 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? Additionally, there are two-week trips for less money where the itineraries include several waste-of-time “tourist landings” that offer little in the way of wildlife and nature photography.

Important notes: approval of the itinerary that allows for our extra visits is customarily approved right by the Galápagos National Park Service just before departure. We have never been turned down before. If by some chance the itinerary change is not approved, each participant will receive a $200 rebate.

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 locations are world-class wildlife photography destinations that rank right up there with the best of Antarctica, South Georgia, the Falklands, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises and Darwin’s Finches, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour (twice!) for nesting Blue-footed Boobies and both frigatebird species in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas and seabirds (including Red-billed Tropicbird), Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay (for Land Iguanas). Each is spectacular in its own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus lots more.

There will be opportunities to snorkel on sunny middays for those who (like me) who wish to partake. 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 we snorkeled with thousands of dolphins.

Note that some of the walks are on the difficult side. Great images are possible on all landings with a hand-held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80-or 100-400mm lens, a 100-500, or a 200-600 lens. In the past, I have taken a longer lens ashore on most landings as they better fit my style. In 2019 I did the whole trip with my Nikon 500PF and my SONY 100-400. In 2023, it is likely that I will do the whole trip with The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 II (with both TCs) and the 200-600. I just might bring the 400mmm f/2.8 along …

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: Green Iguana – Guayaquil; Waved Albatross clicking display; Galapagos Tortoise eating passionfruit: Red-billed Tropicbird: male frigatebird with pouch distended; cave wall blur; face of Galapagos Sea-Lion with red sand background — Rabida: White-cheeked Pintail; Nazca Boobies calling.

The Logistics & Tentative Itinerary

Please note: All itineraries, routings, and visitor sites on the Galápagos Islands are subject to change by the Galápagos National Park Service to minimize traffic and impact.

SUN August 27, 2023: Arrive in Guayaquil a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat.

MON August 28, 2023: Introductory sessions.

TUES August 29, 2023: We fly to the archipelago (Baltra) and board the Samba. Heck, on some trips, folks make great images from the dock in Baltra while our luggage is being loaded!

TUES September 12, 2023: We disembark the Samba in mid-morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of Wednesday, September 13, 2023, unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the TUES September 12.).

$15,999 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to and from the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top-notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, your non-refundable (except as previously noted) deposit of $7,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $5,000 is not due until 1/15/2023. The final payment of $3,999 per person will be due on 5/15/2023. All payments must be made by checks made out to BIRDS AS ART and mailed to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Deposits are double for single supplements.

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully.

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 $800/person cash tip to be shared by the crew and the guide. These folks will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service on the boat is so wonderful that many folks opt to tip extra.

Please note: the current fuel surcharge of $300/person is included in the cost of the trip. If there is a significant increase in the price of diesel fuel in the next 14 months, the cost will be shared on a per/person basis (payable by check after you get home).

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: barrel cactus — infrared; Galapagos Storm Petrel — dorsal view; juvenile frigatebird banking; Short-eared Owl withe Wedge-rumped (Galapagos) Petrel; Nazca Booby displaying; immature frigate bird landing; booby sunset silhouette; Marine Iguana; White-cheeked Pintail displaying drake.

The Itinerary

The Logistics

SUN August 27, 2023: Arrive in Guayaquil a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat.

MON August 28, 2023: Introductory sessions.

TUES August 29, 2023: We fly to the archipelago (Baltra) and board the Samba.

On the Boat

Day 1: Tuesday, August 29 — PM North Seymour

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

Day 3: Thursday, August 31 — Marchena: AM Playa Negra, PM Navigation to Isabela

Day 4: Friday, September 1 — Isabela: AM Punta Albemarle, PM Punta Vicente Roca

Day 5: Saturday, September 2 — AM Fernandina: Punta Espinoza, PM Isabela: Bahía Urbina

Day 6: Sunday, September 3 — Isabela: AM Elizabeth Bay, PM Punta Moreno

Day 7: Monday, September 4 — Floreana: AM Post Office Bay, PM Punta Cormorant

Day 8: Tuesday, September 5 — Santa Cruz: AM Highlands and Lunch, PM free time in the city with some usually poor internet access.

Day 9: Wednesday, September 6 — Española: AM Gardner Bay, PM Punta Suárez

Day 10: Thursday, September 7 — Española: AM Punta Suarez, PM Navigation to San Cristóbal

Day 11: Friday, September 8 — San Cristóbal. AM Isa Lobos (until 9 am), PM Punta Pitt

Day 12: Saturday, September 9 — AM Santa Fe, PM South Plaza

Day 13: Sunday, September 10 — Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, Navigation to Santiago

Day 14: Monday, September 11 — AM: James Bay, PM Rábida

Day 15: Tuesday, September 12 — North Seymour from 6 to 9am. We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023: Fly home.

I do hope that you can join us on what will surely be a rich and rewarding photographic workshop.

6 comments to Blasting Highlights Oldie but Goodie

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    Just a thought to be safe & alert in your upcoming travels. The increase in senseless crime & violence is almost incomprehensible in the America I’ve grown up in. Respecting your elders
    & treating others the way you would want to be treated is being challenged hard by covetousness and the evil pride of getting over on someone, be it hell or high water. Stay healthy and have a pleasurable trip!

    One of your friends from a far.

    Take Care, keep ☺….

  • Artie, I goodie for sure. Wasn’t sure about the lower right corner at first look at the smaller JPEG, thinking it a very odd snag, but as soon as I read crab, it all made sense; with the eye stalks, I should have seen it right away–a twofer. Art Wolfe has shown some black-and-white conversions like this, images where the real emphasis is shape, so I’m curious if there was some color to start with? If so, it might be fun, if crazy, to do a version with some color restored just to the crab.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Cliff. There is always yellow/gold in the blasting highlights images. You can opt to bring it up or lose it completely.

      with love, artie

  • avatar William Wingfield Jr

    I think you meant to say “Swallow-tailed Kites” rather than “White-tailed.”

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