Pro Focusing/Composition Trick & I Heard He’s a Real A–hole « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Pro Focusing/Composition Trick & I Heard He's a Real A--hole

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Tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X III teleconverter and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6.

Pro Focusing/Composition Trick

This bird was swimming very slowly. I made a few images with the central sensor (the only one active and available at f/8) on the leading edge of the bird’s breast just above the water line. The bird was too centered in the frame. I decided to try for an image with a more pleasing composition, one with the bird a bit farther back in the frame. Using rear button to focus as above, I released the rear focus button and panned smoothly a bit faster than the bird was swimming in hopes that at f/11 the bird would be rendered in sharp focus. All three of the frames were sharp with this one the sharpest. This image is pretty much full frame.

You can learn to set up for rear button focus in our camera User’s Guides for the Mark III, the Mark IV, and the 7D.

I Heard He’s a Real A–hole

The image above was created at a marsh not too far from the LaQuinta Inn in Fort Myers. Geri George and Denise and I had spread out as the birds were on the skittish side. The habitat was gorgeous as was the still blue water. I ran into another photographer as I made my way along the side of the impoundment in search of subjects. We chatted for a bit. Later on as we were headed back to the car our paths crossed again.

He had mentioned that he was looking for spoonbills so I suggested that he get out with James Shadle out to Alafia Banks aboard the Hooptie Deux. When he asked how to contact Jim I told him to to visit BIRDS AS ART and check out the Posse/Small Group Instruction link. He had a puzzled look on his face and said, “Isn’t that the Arthur Morris guy?” “Yes,” I said, I heard he’s a real a–hole.” “Yup,” said Denise. He said, “That’s what I’ve heard.”

I stuck my hand out, shook his hand, and said, “Arthur Morris. Glad to meet you.” He had the same reaction as the last guy: “No way!” “Way,” I said, and we all had a good laugh. The guy’s name was Scott Smith, from Maryland I think. He said, “You are a really nice guy.” I responded, “Don’t always believe everything that you hear or that you read on the internet.”

I have come to realize that about 80% of the folks out there love me and the other 20% hate me. But I do not take it personally especially when you consider that of the 20% who think less than kindly of me, not one of them has ever met me or been on an IPT. And 100% of that 20% are bitter, unhappy, jealous folks.

As I’ve been saying recently, I am happy with my life, happy with what I am doing, proud of the body of work and the legacy that I will be leaving, and happy with myself. All in all I am loving it.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.

Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon 1.4X II teleconverter This is my most used accessory; I would be lost without it.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bod.y And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card Fast and dependable.

19 comments to Pro Focusing/Composition Trick & I Heard He’s a Real A–hole

  • Arthur,
    I was at the JN “Ding” Darling NWR at Sanibel on the 8th/9th February and met a guy who looked just like you. I asked him, “Are you THE Arthur Morris – famed bird photographer?”, to which he replied, “No, but that guy’s a real a**hole”. Later on, someone else bemoaned, something about Venice Rookery and 100’s of flash guns. I was shocked to hear these unprovoked barbed comments, but it does seem that some people really like you and some really don’t. I have not met you personally [would like to though], but one thing IS for certain – you really are an inspirational photographer and I’m pretty sure you’re not an a**hole! It was a funny coincidence having just got back to the UK and read these posts – it made me chuckle.
    Keep up the brilliant work.
    Kind Regards
    Derby, UK.

  • Well I must say 80% is much better than the President or congress ratings !
    I always go with the old saying that you can not please everyone ,and must live your life as you feel as long as you do not hurt others.
    Have a great year and safe travels(you did say you were slowing down ?LOL !)

  • Scott Smith

    I’m glad we both enjoyed the meeting and a good laugh about my comment. I did mention it was something I had read (about six years ago) and not what I had felt, since I didn’t know Art Morris. If I had meet Art personally before this I don’t think I would have made that comment (at least not to his face since I didn’t know what he looked like). So now that I have met him I would have to say he is a very honest person who gives straight forward answers and was willing to answer some personal questions that I have not gotten from other professional photographers. Thanks for your insight and encouragement. I will start checking out your web site more often than once every three years.

    Your friend, (I hope)
    Scott Smith

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Scott, Yes to friend. My message was and is that there are many folks who are quick to believe whatever the hear from others or read on the internet and some who freely pass that info along 🙂

  • Keith Reeder

    Art, I’m no expert on American bird species, but this is an American Coot rather than a Common Moorhen (as you’ve named the file), ain’t it?

  • Gloria

    Pretty funny stories. We love you Arthur xoxoxoxo

  • That was the funniest thing! We all laughed so much!!

    Andrea, Thank you so much. I appreciate it and I am very glad that you are enjoying the guide.

  • Andrea Boyle

    Funny story~~I love it! By the way, please tell Denise Ippolito that I am loving her book which I recently ordered. My home life is such that I don’t have a whole lot of time to read it there, but I also put the e-book on my laptop and explore her techniques and resources while on my breaks and at lunch. I can’t tell you how happy I am with my purchase!! It was $38.00 well spent as it got my creative juices running again!! Denise is one talented photographer that I hope to cross paths with one day. (But when I do, I won’t be bad-mouthing her, that’s for sure!)

    PS: I am regretting that I will be missing your Klamath Falls workshop. It sold out fast, from what I hear.

  • Artie, you are direct and honest – no “Minnesota nice” from you (i.e., the movie Fargo). You don’t suffer fools gladly. But you are fair. When I asked you a question about my camera on an IPT, you curtly replied, “Read your manual.” That was fair. Your communications of what was expected pre-workshop: know how to use your camera and be familiar with its manual. No bird photographer EVER has so freely shared his/her educational materials with anyone who knows how to log on to the internet or read. You are a natural-born teacher. I know you are at least as hard on yourself as some others perceive you to be on them. You’re a perfectionist, have put in decades of practice, and well deserve your reputation as a (if not the) premier bird photographer.

  • I have met you 3 time in Florida, and you even invited me tag long with your group to Blind Pass Beach one day in Ding Darling NWR. I too have heard the stories, and like all we have our good & bad days. But I do know you know your stuff and are one hell of a photographer!!!!!!!!!!

    Do you have any thoughs on the new 200-400 F4 IS zoom with the built in 1.4x Canon is coming out with??????????

  • Steve Read

    Now thats funny!!! I’m still laughing! Aloha from Hawaii, Steve

  • The a-hole story is hilarious! Open mouth, insert foot….


  • Marty

    You are a funny man and a terrific good sport! Any man that can poke fun at himself realizes that; “everything I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten.”

    Thank you for the continued wonderful photos that are food for my heart and soul!

  • Its funny I’m in Canada and have been out shooting a lot, crossing others paths and whenever I mention your guides etc I’ve heard the same comments. I always find it bizarre how people can form opinions of others they likely have never met, taken a workshop from etc. Jealousy? got upset by a critique on BPN? Who can say. I just don’t understand why people can’t keep their mouths shut until they can comment first hand.

    All your comments have ever done is help me, so keep up being an ahole 🙂

  • Darryl KLein


    been following you for quite some time, and never got that impression myself..

    I’m looking forward to your ‘Quality time’ session in St Augustine!

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  • I don’t get it Artie.. What’s not to love about you?

    You’re knowledgeable, giving, sharp witted…

    So, you aren’t what I would call cute and you don’t speak fluent french.. but that doesn’t make you an a-hole…


    with love and respect..

  • Classic story! 🙂 As you once told me the 20% can be handled with this statement: “I have no idea why God puts bitter, unhappy people like you in my path, but I can deal with it.”

    Cheers, and thanks for all you do.