Open to Anything: Splashdowns! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Open to Anything: Splashdowns!

This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (Surround)/AI Servo Rear Focus AF just caught the trailing edge of the closest bird’s left wing–active at the moment of exposure of course. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Morning

The weatherman played havoc with the first morning of the Nickerson Beach IPT. At 5:45am there was torrential rain and high winds. It looked like Armageddon. We pushed back from 6am until 7:15 in hopes of some clearing. By 6:30 the skies to the west were clearing so we called everyone back in their rooms or on their cells or tracked them down at breakfast. We headed for Nickerson at 6:45 am.

We had a great morning till the sun came out at about 9:45. Why? The wind was from the west. After a great breakfast and image design and review session on laptops at Bagel Plaza in Merrick Denise and I decided to head right back to the beach with the group without a nap as it had gotten cloudy bright again. As we pulled into the lot we saw some bird activity in a rain pond at the west side of the lot. There were dozens of terns and skimmers bathing.

This image was also created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

Central sensor (Surround)/AI Servo Rear Focus AF just caught the neck of the subject and the trailing edge of the far wing–active at the moment of exposure of course. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Open to Anything: Splashdowns!

As there was a four foot tall chain link fence it was pretty much impossible to get a lens on the bathing birds and I did not want to risk getting too close. Though it seemed like a longshot I had everyone get out their long lens. It was a long skinny pond and the skimmers were flying towards dipping into the pond for a drink on each pass. That they were not skimming made the difficult photography nearly impossible. The group was great. Everyone found a spot along the fence with their lenses angled to the north. There was no bitching, moaning, or complaining that he or she at the best spot.

Though the photography would be extremely tough–and we new that before we began–both denise and I felt that it was a unique situation and that we should give it a try. Unless the birds were right above the water the backgrounds were horrific. And as the fence went around the back of the pond there were reflections of the fence posts to deal with. But drinking skimmers are drinking skimmers! Everyone had a ton of fun trying and most everyone had a few keepers. As we were slightly off light angle even the exposures were tough; the closer birds like the one in the second image were more off sun angle than the farther birds like those in the first image but the action was so fast and furious and challenging that there simply was no way to change. I went with 1/1600 at f/6.3, coached the group on the exposure, and stuck with it. After about a somewhat frustrating hour we had gone from about 10 degrees of sun angle to more than 20 degrees off so we quit and headed to the beach.

Your Favorite?

Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the two images you like best, the double header or the pano. Be sure to let us know why.

Photographic Society of Chattanooga Seminar

Scroll down here for details on the Saturday seminar that Denise Ippolito and yours truly are doing in Chattanooga on October 12, 2013 and the follow-up Old Car City In-the-Field Workshop. Blog folks who sign up for both are invited to join us at a secret Urbex location in Atlanta on Friday morning October 11. Feel free to e-mail me for details after you are registered for both.

Snow Goose composite, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM. Click on the image for a larger version.

Bosque del Apache 2013 IPT: β€œThe Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 26-DEC 2, 2013. 7-FULL DAYS: $3399. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 6:30 pm on 11/25. Limit: 12.

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 19 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 sky conditions, 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. Includes all lunches and the Thanksgiving Buffet at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque. I hope that you can join me for what will be an unparalleled learning experience.

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Images copyright 2012: Denise Ippoltio & Arthur Morris. Card design by Denise Ippolito. Click on the image to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

Holland 2014 7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. April 17-April 24, 2014 :$4995 Limit: 12 photographers/Openings 9

This trip needs 8 registrants to run so please do not purchase your plane tickets until you hear from us; right now we need 5 more folks.

Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” BPN Photo Gear Moderator, former Nikon shooter, and technical expert Peter Kes, and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light and one of the planet’s premier photographic educators for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2014. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 17, 2014. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Peter who is originally from Holland, will be our local guide/interpreter/driver. Most days we will return to the hotel for lunch, image sharing and a break. On Day 8, April 24, we will enjoy both morning and afternoon photography sessions.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse. In addition we will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and the Anne Frank House in the afternoon; there will be plenty of time for street photography as well. And some great food. On another day we will have a wonderful early dinner at Kinderdijk and then head out with our gear to photograph the windmills and possibly some birds for those who bring their longs lenses. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Edam where we will do some street photography and enjoy a superb dinner. All lodging, ground transportation, entry fees, and meals (from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 8) are included.

For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two or possibly three. The big attraction should be gorgeous Purple Herons in flight at a breeding marsh. We would be photographing them from the roadside. And we might be able to find a few Great-crested Grebes at a location near Keukenhof.

Click here for complete details and some previously unpublished images. And/or click here and see item one for lots more tulip photos and complete trip details.

Images courtesy of and copyright 2012: Bill Mueller. Card design by Denise Ippolito.

Old Car City Creative Photography In-the-Field HDR Workshop: Sunday, October 13, 2013/ 9am till 1pm.

White, Georgia: $250 plus a $15 entrance fee donation (cash only on the day of the event) that will go to charity. Limit: 16 photographers.

On October 13, 2013, Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART and Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure will be conducting an In-the-Field HDR Workshop at Old Car City in White, Georgia. Old Car City is about an hour north of Atlanta, GA and an hour south of Chattanooga, TN where they will, as noted above, be doing a full day seminar for the Photographic Society of Chattanooga on Saturday, October 12th. Click here for complete details.


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3 comments to Open to Anything: Splashdowns!

  • Rob Melone

    The body and particularly the head is remarkably clear on the second image. I see where the bird is heading towards you which helped, but the sharpness is still outstanding. Whites dead-on, blacks dead-on with no noise in the blacks visible, and an extra bonus of a clear and distinct eye. I need to learn how to do this as I am spending way to much time in post correcting head noise on terns and skimmers which is nearly impossible to do without loosing black feather detail. Artie and Denise, let me know the next time you are in Jersey!

  • Jay

    I’ll disagree with Bob. I prefer the pano over the two birds shot. Both shots are good, but I love how the pano shows the shape of the wings and gives you a sense of the birds power. I also like that you kept the water dripping from the birds mouth as part of the image (and a little surprised you didn’t take it out). It is a key part of the story.

  • The water dripping from the bill of the skimmer in the pano image is awesome, but two birds in the frame is sometimes preferred which is very much the case here.