B&H Event Space II & the Skinny on the Down Low « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

B&H Event Space II & the Skinny on the Down Low

Photographing Pelicans in Southern California with Arthur Morris

A B&H Event Space Program

Photographing Pelicans in Southern California with Arthur Morris

On Tuesday Nov 22, 2022, I will be presenting another B&H Event Space program from 5:00pm – 6:00pm ET.

Arthur Morris, one of the world’s premier photographic educators, has been photographing the spectacular Brown Pelicans in San Diego, CA for more than three decades. The Pacific-race pelicans in La Jolla are much more colorful than their eastern relatives; they sport fire-engine red, olive-green bill pouches in winter. In addition to his favorite pelican images, Artie will share images of many of the other species that frequent Southern California each winter.

During this live-streamed presentation. Artie will share his thoughts on the best gear, on designing pleasing images, on capturing all types of pelican behaviors, on seeing and using the light, and on getting the right exposure in varying lighting conditions. He will share photos ranging from tight head portraits to small-in-the-frame bird-scapes. There will be lots of great flight photography tips as well.

Using Canon, Nikon, and Sony gear, photographing birds has been Artie’s passion for the past forty years.

Register for this free, online-only presentation here.

What’s Up?

Too much work, too little play. I swam 48 lengths in the early afternoon and walked and putted 3.1 miles on the golf course just before dusk. The rest of the day was work, work, and more work.

Today is Thursday 17 November 2022. I may try to get down to the lake for a bit in the morning. This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes two hundred thirty-five days in a row with a new one. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

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!

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

This image was created on the 24 January 2022 on a San Diego IPT. Seated on a rock on the upper shelf at La Jolla and working off the tilted rear monitor, I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 840mm) with The One, the Sony a1 Mirrorless Camera ISO 640. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: 1/1000 sec. at f/10 (stopped down 1/3 stop). RawDigger showed that the exposure was dad-solid perfect. AWB at 9:56:58am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird Eye/Face Detection enabled performed perfectly.

Brown Pelican — Pacific race, head portrait

The Skinny on the Down Low

I was sitting on the edge of the upper shelf hoping to photograph some of the pelicans on the lower level without having to climb down. Unexpectedly, a gorgeous pelican molting into breeding plumage landed right in front of me on a rock just above the lower shelf. When I raised the lens to my eye, I had pelicans in the background. When I rested the lens on my bent left knee and — with my reading glasses on — worked off the tilted rear monitor, I still had pelicans in the background. I leaned forward as far as I could without falling off the rock and — with my reading glasses on — worked off the tilted rear monitor. Both feet were hanging down, my heels against the rock I was sitting on, and I braced both elbows on my knees. In addition to eliminating the distracting pelicans from the lower background, it effectively moved the ocean farther away from the subject thus yielding the gorgeous, out-of–focus Pacific-blue backgrounds that I love working with at La Jolla. While this is certainly not the most stable set-up ever, 1/1000 second was fast enough to yield sharp images.

This handsome bird is just about finished molting into full breeding plumage. In another week, the entire hind-neck with be a rich dark-brown color often with a bit of a reddish tint.

Success in bird photography is often a matter of inventing new techniques in the field, techniques that innovatively solve problems that pop up on an almost daily basis. See yesterday’s blog post for a recent example. Consider joining me on an Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) and get to see how that works in person.

This all-new card includes images created on my JAN 2022 visit to San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022/23 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPTs

San Diego IPT #1. 3 1/2 DAYS: WED 21 DEC thru the morning session on Saturday 24 DEC 2022. $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 5.

San Diego IPT #2. 4 1/2 DAYS: SAT 7 JAN thru the morning session on WED 11 JAN 2023: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Sold Out.

San Diego IPT #3: 4 1/2 DAYS: THURS 19 JAN thru the morning session on MON 23 JAN 2023: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

Please e-mail for information on personalized pre- and post-IPT sessions.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Ducks; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions (both depending on the current regulations and restrictions). And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on exposure along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode so that you can get the right exposure every time (as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant). Or two seconds with SONY zebras … And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of those opportunities. Depending on the weather, the local conditions, and the tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

These IPTs will include four or five 3-hour morning photo sessions, three or four 1 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, and three or four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Deposit Info

A $699 deposit is required to hold your slot for one of the 2022/23 San Diego IPTs. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due three months before the trip.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

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