Wrecked. And Loving It. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Wrecked. And Loving It.

This two-frame stitched composite of an Elephant Seal pup and its mom was created at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia with the tripod mounted Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800: 1/320 sec. at f/8 confirmed by histogram check.

Central sensor/Surround/AI Servo Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

I had been concentrating on the face of the pup and missed a chance when it brought its left front flipper forward so I pointed the lens to my right and created an image that included the young seal’s flipper. Then it was a simple matter of converting both images in DPP and merging them in Photoshop: File/Automate/Photoshop. As described in detail in Digital Basics along with my complete digital workflow, all of my keyboard shortcuts, and dozens of great Photoshop tips.

Wrecked. And Loving It.

While not as well known as the two spectacular South Georgia King Penguin colonies at Salibury Plain and St. Andrews Bay, Fortuna Bay has consistently offered superb photographic opportunities whenever I have visited. Conditions on the morning of October 25 were ideal: cloudy bright with light winds. It was our third day of landings and the fifth day of the expedition. I was in a mellow mood and took my time setting up my gear once I got ashore. Rather than rushing to the colony I headed in the opposite direction toward a big group of Elephant Seals and made the image above. Then I headed towards the colony about a mile distant.

This image of a small group of King Penguins with a frozen waterfall in the background was created at Fortuna Bay with the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS EF USM AF Lens (hand held at 84mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera (Body Only) w/FREE Bonus Items – $160.75 Value! [expires 11/24]!. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode.

Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

After about a half mile I came across a nicely arranged group of King Penguins. I grabbed the 24-105 lens, got on the ground, and approached slowly without disturbing the birds. With four very good and one acceptable head angle this, the first image in the series, was the best.

This image of a sleeping King Penguin was also created at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia. I used the tripod mounted Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II lens, the Canon 1.4x EF tele-extender III, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital Camera (Body Only) w/FREE Bonus Items – $160.75 Value! [expires 11/24]!. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/320 sec. at f/8. Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Next I came upon shipmate Andreas Liedmann sitting low and photographing some King Penguins against a backdrop of pure white snow. After carefully choosing my position to ensure that the snow on the distant hillside (see image next) would make up my background, I splayed the legs of my Gitzo 3532 LS tripod,got down in the snow, and had a blast.

This image depicts the situation described above. It was created with the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS EF USM AF Lens (hand held at 24mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image for a larger version.

Aravind Krishnaswamy soon joined us. That’s my 500 II between them. Little did I know what would happen in less than two hours….


I made my way slowly to the colony, hooked up with Denise Ippolito for a while, had my lunch–ham and cheese roll-ups with mayo and low-sugar ketchup and an ice cold orange-ade made with a little bit of orange juice, water, and Stevia, a natural sweetener. Yummy. And messy.

I worked with Alan and Pat Lillich for a while. A bit after 1pm I began to head slowly back to the landing site. Before the trip I had been concerned about falling on some of the longer, more difficult hikes and wanted lots of time to meander and to enjoy. The last zodiac back to the ship would be at 2:30 pm so that the ship could re-position for the afternoon landing at Stromness. I was walking slowly on a clean, flat area with no snow just taking in the sights, totally relaxed and not at all in my usual rushed state. The 500 II and the 1D X were on the tripod that rested on my right shoulder with the lens pointing behind me. My right toe caught on a small rock about the size of my fist. I pitched forward. There was no chance to roll or attempt to protect my gear. I landed gently but the camera hit a half buried rock and was ripped from the lens mount. As I got up and realized that I was OK but that my gear was not I noted that the 1D X was firing rapidly. I removed the battery and it quit. I tried without success to mount the camera onto the lens. In short order I realized that both items had seen their last action on the trip.

I remembered that the last thing I did before leaving for the airport on October 16 was to remove the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS lens from my Think Tank Airport International™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag, place it in one of the large front pockets of my Xtrahand Vest, and put the 300 f/2.8L IS II lens into the rolling bag. Why? “In case anyone wrecks a lens the 300 2.8 II would make a great back-up and provide lots of magnification with the 2X III TC.” I had no idea that that person would be me.

(Note: you can learn more about my custom-designed Xtrahand Vest from Vested Interest here. Denise got one for the expedition and loved it especially because it distributes the weight of your gear so well making it seem lighter than it would be if you were using a backpack.)

As I walked, still alone, I laughed. I was unhurt (or at least it seemed so at the time). I joked that I had been hurt worse getting into bed. I had the 300 2.8 II as a great back-up. I knew that the wreck was the very best thing that could have happened. How could I know that? Because it happened. And because I am a lover of what is. (See the work of Byron Katie at www.THEWORK.com.) I did not berate myself. No matter how careful we are accidents can and do happen.

When I got back to the ship and shared my tale most folks commented to the effect that “you must be so upset.” “What a terrible thing to happen at the start of the trip.” I thought to myself, “What a trip that was.” With “trip” as a pun of course. “No,” I said. “It was the best thing that could have happened and lots of good will come of it.” “Happiness is a choice,” I explained while hearing Byron Katie’s voice in the back of my head. “I am in a great place with great people, I have a great back-up lens, I was not hurt, and I am simply choosing happiness. What good would it have done to lament my fate.”

As it turned out my shoulder was injured a bit resulting in some numbness in my right hand and arm that continues. Both Dr. Oliver and Dr. McKeon are pretty sure that it is a circulatory issue and that it will subside with treatment over time. So am I.

Yesterday I ordered a second 1D X so that I will have one at Bosque and today Jim and I will be shipping both the 500 II and the 1D X to the Canon Factory Service Center in Jamesburg, NJ. All in all, you gotta love it. Why? It’s what is.

Want more peace in your life? See “Loving What Is; Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” by Byron Katie.

Are IPTs expensive? Of course they are. For good reason. The most experienced, knowledgeable, and hardest working leaders. Great Photoshop instruction. Great folks. And great food. For a greater appreciation of the composite image, click on the photo. Click on the enlarged version to close it.

Largest-ever Bosque del Apache IPT Late Registration Discount

With only a single opening and the IPT beginning in one week we are glad to be offering the largest-ever late registration discount for this great IPT. Please call Jim weekdays from 9-5 eastern time at 863-692-0906.

BOSQUE del APACHE 2012 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 21-27, 2012. 7-FULL DAYS: $3399.

Co-leaders: Denise Ippolito, landscape photography expert Jim Heupel, and Photoshop expert Mike Hannisian. Introductory Slide program: 6:30 pm on 11/20. Limit: 12/Openings 3.

Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks including point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. This will make 18 consecutive Novembers at Bosque for me. Nobody knows the place better than I do. Join us to learn to think like a pro, to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather, especially the light and the wind direction. Every time we make a move we will let you know why. When you head home applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Nobody alive or dead knows Bosque better than I do. Do consider joining us for the educational experience of a lifetime. For a greater appreciation of the composite image, click on the photo. Click on the enlarged version to close it.

Bosque/Albuquerque Thanksgiving Buffet Invite

For the past ten years or so I have hosted a midday Thanksgiving Day meal, in part to honor the memory of my late-wife, Elaine Belsky Morris, and in part because I love meeting others who love Bosque as I do. At first it was held at the wonderful and relatively elegant Val Verde Steak House in Socorro, now defunct. Then it was held at the lovely and historic Luna Mansion. Luna Mansion closed a few years ago and recently re-opened but no longer serves Thanksgiving Day. In 2009 we had fun and a fine meal at the Stage Door Grill but that wonderful little joint recently bit the dust also. Socorro is a tough place for businesses to survive. In 2010 we went a bit upscale and dined in the New Mexico Ballroom at the Hilton Albuquerque hotel. There was tons of food and it was all delicious.

The Hilton is now a Crowne Plaza and the good news is that they are having the buffet again this year as they did in 2011. I will be picking up the tab for the IPT group, but as always, all visiting birders and photographers are invited to join us. If you would like to take part in the fun and camaraderie this year please send a check for $45.00 per person made out to “”Arthur Morris”” to cover the cost of the buffet that will include all the traditional items plus lots more as well as tax and tip. Drinks are on you. Please mark ““Thanksgiving Buffet” on your check and mail it to; BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 4041, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Be sure to include your e-mail address on your check and in a short note. Sorry, no PayPals or credit cards for this. I do hope that you can join us.

I have group reservations for Thanksgiving Day (of course). Those joining us will need to be at the hotel at 11:30 am sharp. It is located at 1901 University Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102, about an hour up I-25 from the Super 8 Motel in Socorro where I have stayed happily with my groups for well more than a decade. I do hope that you can join us.

Shopper’s Guide

Thanks a stack to all who have used our B&H affiliate 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. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Shop B&H

B&H Photo Video Pro Audio

photography Pro Audio Computers and Solutions Portable Entertainment Home Entertament photography

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins. We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of the links above. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gizo GT3532 LS CF Tripod. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. Learn more about this great tripod here.
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.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.
Delkin Flash Cards. I use and depend on Delkin compact Flash Cards and card readers most every day. Learn more about their great 700X and 1000X cards here or about my favorite Delkin card here.

15 comments to Wrecked. And Loving It.

  • Robert Sabin

    The lens used on your Wandering Albatross picture is a 70-200
    Not a 300mm. I shot the same bird,same place

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry Robert. The EXIF does not lie. I was using a full frame camera so perhaps that led to your error in reasoning….

  • The best lesson here is not one about photography but what a great attitude can do . . . perhaps the two are even linked! Now I must read what Byron Katie has to say. . . .

  • Take care of yourself Art ! We(me) are not getting any younger and finding myself doing stupid things !in the field but surviving so far !

  • Chuck Garrett

    As a person who owns a Mark IV and considering the merits of upgrading to the 1Dx –i read your comment(s) about the discontinued Mark IV and wonder if spending the extra monies can be justified? Yes I understand the ‘better’ autofocusing system and the other upgrades but we both have taken some truly outstanding images with the Mark IV — you comments are greatly welcomed!

  • Hey Artie: Tommy Rodgers has a brand new 600 II. Talk nice and he might loan it to you. Take care, Dave Neilson

  • Terry Jackson

    Thanks for sharing your “trip” challanges – I look forward to reading more about this year’s expedition. I was there with Lindblad this time last year and did not encounter the snow that you guys did.
    Have you finished the 5D Mark III manual?


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Terry, YAW. There were lots of challenges, mostly physical…. We were lucky with the snow. I finished the 5D III Guide before I left…. Please write Jim at staffbaa@att.net

  • Welcome home! Here’s to swift healing of your shoulder.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David. My shoulder problems for the most part are ongoing :). Have been for about 15+ years–too many years of carrying a heavy telephoto lens on the same shoulder….

  • Charles Scheffold

    Thanks for sharing Artie – I guess I won’t be trying out your new 500 at Bosque 🙁 Always smart to have a backup plan though! Amazing images as always. I hope to get there myself one day.


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Charlie, I just this moment sent a request to CPS asking to borrow either a 600 II or a 500 II…. They might not be available yet. Do you have the 600II????

      • Charles Scheffold

        Nope I’ll be bringing the 800. Will probably buy the 600 II before Galapagos though. I just bought a 5D3 about a month ago. Looking forward to finally getting to use that!