Three Oldies but Goodies! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Three Oldies but Goodies!

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?

I’ve been feeling a bit better each day. Half of the final bit of work on the NANPA issue was completed yesterday. The initial job should be finished by the time you read this today. Please leave a comment and let us know which of todays’ two featured images is your favorite, and why you made your choice.

Speaking of which, today is Saturday 19 November 2022. Most of the day will be spent working on the San Diego B&H Event Space program. This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare and makes two hundred thirty-seven 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.

Oldie But Goodie #1

This image was created on 29 May 2005 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the Wimberley V2 Head supported Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens with the 1.4X TC and the EOS-1D Mark II. ISO 400. 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open). AWB at 7:14:24am on a sunny morning.

Image #1: Adult dark morph Reddish Egret displaying image

Reddish Egret Action Photography Tip

If you are photographing a single Reddish Egret and another one flies in, get ready for action. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there will be an altercation. Zooming out or moving back and switching to a Zone or wide screen AF pattern may save the day. With Image #1, I was able to go to vertical and photograph one of the two combatants.

Oldie But Goodie #2

This image was created on 9 January 2006 at San Diego, CA. I used the Wimberley V2 Head supported Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens with the 1.4X TC and the EOS-1Ds Mark II. ISO 250. 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open). AWB at 7:56:49am on a sunny morning.

Image #2: Brown Pelican — Pacific race in mega breeding plumage image

Those Distant Pacific-Blue Backgrounds

Ever since I found the best place in San Diego to photograph the Pacific-race Brown Pelicans I have been in love with the distant, Pacific Blue backgrounds. Utilizing them there is child’s play. The lower you get, the farther away and more defocused the ocean becomes. And the best news is that it is sunny most mornings in La Jolla. Recently I learned that you can sweeten, lighten, and soften the blues by moving the Luminosity slider under the Color Mixer tab in Photoshop to the right. Lightroom and Capture One have similar controls. Consider joining me on a San Diego IPT or for an In-the-Field session in La Jolla this winter. I will be there for five weeks arriving on 19 December 2022.


birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100
The companion e-book to the solo exhibit at TheNat, San Diego, California

The new e-book on CD is available here.

birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100

This e-book was created on a wing and a prayer in less than two weeks–see the “Harebrained Scheme” blog post here–includes the 67 spectacular images that hung in the Ordover Gallery at the San Diego Natural History Museum in a career-retrospective solo exhibition in 2017. In addition, there are an additional 33 images in the spectacular e-book that barely missed making the show.

This exhibition companion e-book makes it possible for everyone to “visit” TheNAT gallery retrospectively and retroactively, and, in addition, to enjoy seeing my then-top one hundred bird photographs under one roof. Each image includes a title, the species name, the location, relevant EXIF data, and an anecdotal caption.

birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100: $23 for the professionally produced CD (includes shipping to US addresses only)

Please click here to purchase the CD. As above, your purchase price includes shipping to all US addresses. If you would like your CD signed on the inside cover with a black Sharpie, you will need to place your order by phone and request a signed copy: 863-692-0906. For our Canadian friends we are offering the CD for $28 with shipping to Canada via phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Those who purchase the CD are advised to copy the file to their computers and then archive the CD.

To purchase via convenient download for $20, click here.

Oldie But Goodie #3

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens (with extras)

Multiple IPT veteran Doug West is offering a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM L lens in Good condition for a very low $1999.00. The front element is perfect. The lens is is mechanically perfect and thus still produces sharp images in competent hands. It is, however, obvious that the lens has been well-used. There are numerous scratches, paint chips, and blemishes on the lens and specially on the lens foot. Descriptive photos of the lens are available upon request. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the original front lens cover, a ReaTree LensCoat (a $75.00 value but without the strip that covers the tripod ring), a LensCoat Hoodie (a $24.95 value), a Wimberley P-50 lens plate (a $55.00 value), and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses.

Please contact Doug via e-mail.

The 600mm f/4 lenses have been the state of the art super-telephotos for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Whenever it is feasible for me to get a 600mm f4 to a location, it is almost always my go-to weapon. They are fast and sharp and deadly bare or with either TC. With the latest 600mm f/4 lenses going for anywhere from $13,000 to $15,500, grabbing Doug’s oldie but goodie lens can get you into the big glass game cheaply! As it is priced to go out the door quickly so do not tarry if you are fit and eager to go long. Both of today’s featured images were created with the very same model lens that Doug is offering. artie

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.

16 comments to Three Oldies but Goodies!

  • Old is gold and Gold is never old.

    Stunning images Guru.

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    Oldies but Goodies? How bout Great Oldies? Past as Good as the Present?

    Oh and squabble, ‘ninety-nine’ not nine-nine. Sorry and my wife wants to beat Sue to the punch, she says such cute shots!

  • avatar virginia hayes

    That Reddish Egret image is absolutely lovely. The pose, the color tone, the way the hair is flowing from the back of the head. So gorgeous. I keep going back to look at it again!

    The Pelican is of course wonderful too but we’ve seen many, many perfect Pelican images from you over the years so it doesn’t grab me in quite the same way as the Egret.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks. As you will see in the next Even Space programs, pelican head portraits like the one above are easy to create. I will talk about what might make each one specials.

      with love, artie

  • avatar James Saxon

    The Reddish Egret is my favorite. The stretch in the neck, the position of the feet create a curve that moves my eye back and forth through the image. Very nice. FYI, thanks for all you do for us photographers that read the blog. It is always a learning experience reading, looking at photos and reading the comments by others. I know I have, as you say: “learned a ton.” Thanks again.

  • avatar Chris Davidson

    A stunning pair of images today, Art!
    Thanks for the great tip on being ready for action if a second Egret flies into the scene when photographing!!

    Both images are exceptional in their own right, but #1 the Reddish Egret is off the charts through these old eyes. Gorgeous species, colors, light, details and behavior easily trump the beautiful Pelican IMO.

  • avatar Alan Halberstadt

    I think I have seen #2 before, so I will pick #1. Both have great colors, in addition to the sharpness, and of course great composition. My personal taste prefers colors to the high-key look. Just me, nothing against them. BTW – I will be using my two R5’s (from Bedfords W/ Artie code!) and putting your R5 guide to use at Bosque soon. Facebook post said that they are filling the pools on the west side of the highway for the first time in years.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the plugs! And especially for using Bedfords. LMK how you do at Bosque. I am predicting another lousy year there (as compared to conditions at the heyday when Phil Norton was the refuge Manager).

      Hope not.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Adam

    Ah, the 1dmkII. One of my all-time favorite Canon cameras. Incredibly rugged, a whopping 8.2 MP, incredible AF (shot sports and WL) and beautiful images up to ISO 800 with useable files to 1600!

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Both images are stunning, gorgeous light, perfect poses and beautiful specimens.

    What is more impressive to me is that the image quality with 17 year old technology is every bit equal to what you are producing now (at least for internet viewing).

    The gear of course can be a factor in some situations and for some purposes like large prints or standing up to a large crop and of course AF tracking flying birds.

    The take home message for me is mostly that great photographers manage to get themselves in the right place at the right time and make great images regardless of the gear.

    Well done, as usual!!

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