Bempton Cliffs Part II: You Snooze, You Lose Lesson Learned — Again! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bempton Cliffs Part II: You Snooze, You Lose Lesson Learned -- Again!


I got a lot of work done on Sunday on my 2017 taxes. The left knee and the left shoulder are feeling pretty good. I saw the first kingfisher of the season on my morning walk. For the first time in weeks it did not rain at all here at my home in central Florida on Saturday (and then again on Sunday despite some thunder and lightning).

Details for the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT will be announced here soon. We will be visiting Seahouses for the puffins and other seabirds and both Bempton Cliffs and Dunbar for the gannets. If you are interested in the pre-publication details, please shoot me an e-mail. Limit: 10 photographers.

News on the Galapagos Front/Limit 12/Openings: 3

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for a couple or for two same-sex roommates, and for a male single. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.


BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Pierre Williot

I would encourage anyone who wants to sell some of their photographic equipment to contact Art. High-end photographic equipment can be difficult to sell. Art, with is widely read daily posts, will allow you to sell your equipment fairly easily for a reasonable price and commission. Please, seriously consider the price that he suggests as it can be hard to face the reality of the actual value of well loved equipment! Art is well aware of the current market for second-hand photographic equipment.

Used Gear Page News

After a month or so in the summer doldrums, sales on the Used Gear page have been red hot for the past two weeks:

Anthony Ardito sold his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens in like-new condition for $999.00 in mid-August.
I sold my Canon 100-400 L IS II in very good plus (almost excellent) condition and in perfect working order for $1399.00 in late August.
Anthony Ardito sold a Canon EOS-1DX Mark II body (with extras) in like-new condition (less than 41,000 actuations)for $3,999.00 in late August.
Roger Williams sold a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens in like-new condition (but for a single faint scratch on the front element)for the “it’s-your-lucky-day” price of only $899.00 a week after it was listed.
Dane Johnson sold a Canon EOS 40D kit with the body converted to Deep Infrared by Life Pixel in near-mint condition for $549.00 in August, 2918 on the first day it was listed.
Jamie Baker sold his Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III in near-mint condition for $299.00 in late August.
John Lowin sold a (men’s extra large) Xtrahand Magnum vest by Vested Interest for $229.00 within a day or two of listing it in late August, 2018.
Anthony Ardito sold his Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens in like-new condition for BAA record-low by far price of $449.00, his Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $1,499.00, his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $1,099.00, his Canon Speedlite (flash) 600EX-RT flash in like-new condition for $399.00, his Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens (for Canon mount) in near-mint condition for $250.00, and his Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF mount in like new condition for $399.00, all with a day or two of their being listed.
Pierre Williot sold his Canon EOS-1DX Mark II in mint condition with less than 75,000 actuations (rated to 400,000) for $4,199.00 in late August.
Todd Koudelka sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (“the “old five”) in very good plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $3199.00.
Pierre Williot sold his canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens (the original 600 IS) in very good to excellent condition for $3999.00 in mid-August.
Todd Koudelka sold a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in near-mint condition (but for a few tiny, barely visible scratches) for the BAA record-low-by-far of $2249.00 (was $2449.00) in early August.
Ron Gates requested that the listing for his Canon 70-200mm lens be removed and kindly sent me a check for 4% of the original asking price.
Julie Brown sold her Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS lens (the original version) in excellent condition for $2099 in early August.

You can see all the listings here.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

Via e-mail from Anthony Ardito

FYI, I got a D850 & a 200-500 from Bedfords using your BIRDSASART code at checkout. Plus, Steve Elkins gave me a discount and some nice XQD freebies. I have to thank you for that!


Several folks on the UK IPT used the Booking.Com link below for there Edinburgh hotels, got great rates, and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on June 29, 2018 by Peter Kes at Bempton Cliffs, UK with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 142mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/22. WB: 7000K at 6:24am on a dead-clear morning.

Northern Gannets backlit at sunrise, Bempton Cliffs, England, UK
Image courtesy of and copyright 2018: Peter Kes

Oh Those Sunny Days

At various times over the past decade or so, I have opted to sleep in or to stay on the ship for various reasons. Most times my reasoning has been justified. But on several occasions I have wound up looking like a dumb ass. (Can you say “Macaroni Penguins in the snow” or “Dovekies”?) On our third pre-trip morning at Bempton Cliffs the forecast was for bright sun and clear blue skies. Summers in northeastern England are typically cloudy and drizzly or foggy, great for photography on east-facing cliffs. Taking everything into consideration I decided to stay at the hotel and take a long health walk down to the harbor. I waved the group good-bye and sent them off in the good hands of co-leader Peter Kes. When I made it down to the harbor, the dead-clear skies assured me that I had made the right decision. There was zero chance that anyone could make a good image at Bempton in those conditions.

I would learn later that Peter, however, had come up with a great plan: photograph the backlit gannets against the super-bright ocean. As above. He instructed those who were with him on how to figure the exposure and how to set the White Balance; those folks made some great images too. While I walked and rested.

This image was created on June 29, 2018 by Peter Kes at Bempton Cliffs, UK with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 349mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops of the white sky: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6. WB: 7000K at 8:02am on after the fog rolled in.

Northern Gannets with nesting material, Bempton Cliffs, England, UK
Image courtesy of and copyright 2018: Peter Kes

And Then The Fog Rolled In!

I met the bus when the group got back, sure that I would learn that they had had a lousy morning. First they told me about the early morning silhouettes. I was glad for them. When they told me that out of nowhere a huge for bank had rolled in and provided perfect conditions for more than an hour until the sun broke through, I simply did not believe them. But …

My Thoughts

I took solace knowing that I had taught Peter to shoot into the blasting highlights, and in the fact that he had taught others. Spreading the wealth (and the knowledge) is always a good thing. Even when you are not there. 🙂

The Lesson

The lesson here, one that I have failed to learn despite many chances to do so, is that you cannot make any images if you decide to stay in. We are doing nature photography and even when things look bleak, you might figure out how to make a great image, or, conditions can change. Or both!

This image was created on June 30, 2018 at Bempton Cliffs, UK with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 500mm) and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 100. Matrix metering at -1 stop: 1/5000 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 6:31am on a dead-clear morning. Converted at 7400 K.

Center group (grp) Continuos (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The lower point in the array was on the bird’s hind neck.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Northern Gannet, backlit at sunrise, Bempton Cliffs, England, UK
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Next Morning

The next morning, I, and the rest of the group who had not been with Peter the day before, had our turn. Thanks to Peter Kes for inspiring me.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The 2018 Fort DeSoto Fall Weekend IPT/September 23-24, 2018: 2 FULL DAYS: $949. Limit 8/Openings 7.

If you would like to combine the above with the 3 1/2 Fall Fort DeSoto IPT, please e-mail for the substantial discount information.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

Payment in full is due now. Credits cards are OK. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please remember that we will meet early on Saturday morning. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in late September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. I really love it when I am leaving the beach at 9:30am on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving ….

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

2 comments to Bempton Cliffs Part II: You Snooze, You Lose Lesson Learned — Again!

  • David Policansky

    Hey, Artie, it’s all about trade-offs. And you can’t possibly take advantage of every possibility. So one morning you’re tired and feeling crummy and your body tells you above all, STAY IN BED. It’s not a crime. I understand; one has paid in money and time to get to a good place, so in general I drag myself out and go if I’m feeling crummy (usually I can’t wait), but especially for someone who’s had as many opportunities as you have and especially when Peter Kes was there, it’s OK.

    I love the backlit gannet at sunrise.

  • Bill Hill

    As mentioned above. “The shot you don’t take, never comes out any good”