Bucket List Sea Ice Expedition: Beyond Success … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bucket List Sea Ice Expedition: Beyond Success ...


Don’t forget to set your clocks back ๐Ÿ™‚

I spent most of yesterday trying unsuccessfully to fill the single slot on the Falklands Land-based IPT (DEC 22, 2018 thru JAN 5, 2019). ๐Ÿ™ If you missed the details and are interested, please see the blog post here.

Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; do consider joining us on that or another IPT. You can see all the current offerings here.

I was glad to learn that Multiple IPT veteran Mike Gotthelf sold his Canon EOS-7D Mark II for $799.00 soon after it was listed. If you have any Used Photo Gear page business, please shoot me an e-mail.

Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime/Limit 13/Openings: 4

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 one or two couples, one couple and two singles, or four singles. 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.


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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 here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

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.

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.

Emperor Penguin Expedition composite

Bucket List Sea Ice Beyond Success …

After the ship was seemingly stuck in the ice for hours, the captain made good progress. When we stopped, we learned that he had gotten us within 6 miles of the Snow Hill Base camp. Everyone was elated as we were well within helicopter range. We had had several helicopter briefings and several Emperor Penguin trek briefings as well. The announced temperature on the morning of October 24 was -4 Celsius, about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The helicopter operations ran like an oiled Swiss watch. I was on the third helicopter on Day 1, the first helicopter on Day 2, and the last helicopter on Day 3 which, due to two big storms in the Drake, would be our last. The first day everyone was mega-overdressed and constantly shedding layers. My X-trahand vest has a large rear pocket and two long straps on the upper back that made it easy to store (and carry) extra layers.

It was a pleasure meeting noted wildlife photographer and filmmaker Sue Flood on the trip. She has a great new book out, Emperor, the Perfect Penguin. Pretty much everyone on the ship — including and especially me — was inspired and motivated after browsing the hard copy of her book in the library. Better yet, Sue, who has probably spent more time at various Emperor Penguin colonies than any other photographer (living or dead), was amazingly helpful. On our journey down the Drake and through the ice she answered endless questions about gear, clothing, and her favorite bird. Thanks again Sue! You can order Sue’s book by clicking on the logo-link below.

In any case, Day 2 (my best single day of photography), was warmer still. And Day 3 was actually hot with many folks — including me — shedding their parkas and photographing in shirtsleeves without gloves! Having never worn sunglasses in my life, I tried without success to get a pair in the ship shop. Sue Flood kindly loaned me her back-up pair. I used them sparingly the first two days but by 9am on day 3, I could not look at the ice — sun blindness would be soon to arrive … Out of necessity, I devised a way to photograph with the sunglasses in place. That evening my eyes looked as if I had been on a six day drunken binge; they were nearly closed and bloodshot with huge dark bags under them. They returned to normal very quickly.

Sue stated that in all her years of visiting Emperor Penguin colonies that our weather for the three days or landings was the best she had ever seen or heard of. Warm with little to no wind and mostly cloudy bright conditions.

I will be sharing many of the images above from the trip with you here in future blog posts.


Please understand that my life continues to be one amazing blessing after another. Very few folks on the planet have ever had the privilege of traveling (however arduous) to and photographing an Emperor Penguin colony, a trip that is possible for the general public only on a helicopter-equipped ice-breaker. That I was able to make the trip, to make the 3.7 mile round trip walk each, and to make more good images than I ever dreamed possible, was and is one one of the great highlights of a very rich life.

Your Favorites?

After viewing the (admittedly small) thumbnails, please leave a comment noting your three favorite images above. If you hit Command + a few times and view at 125%, you should be able to read the titles.

Sue Flood is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, zoologist, adventure travel leader and public speaker. Her work takes her all over the world but she has a special passion for the wildlife and icy beauty of the Polar regions and is one of the very few women professional photographers who returns again and again to Earthโ€™s harshest and most demanding environments.

Her first visit to the Poles happened during her 11 years in the BBCโ€™s prestigious Natural History Unit, working on such global hits such as The Blue Planet and Planet Earth, with Sir David Attenborough; on National Geographic and Discovery Channel co-productions and on the Disney nature movie Earth.

Since then, Sueโ€™s travels as a photographer have taken her to hundreds of destinations on all seven continents and found her camping at -25ยฐC amid penguins, capturing rare scenes in the African bush, living aboard Russian ice-breakers; exploring the vast Pantanal wetlands of Brazil, guiding trips to exotic parts of Asia and seeking out spirit bears in North America.

Sue was born and brought up in Wales and attended The Queens School, Chester before gaining a zoology degree from the University of Durham. When she is not in some far-flung location Sue lives with her husband Chris Graham in North Wales, UK.


Fort DeSoto in early winter is rife with tame birds. 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 Early Winter IPT/Thursday December 7 through the morning session on Monday December 10, 2018: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 6.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in early winter. 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.

As with the fall IPT, this one will run with only a single registrant. 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).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. 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 the meet and greet will take place at 7:30 on the evening of Sunday, September 23. 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; on this particular trip we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. 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 on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers arrive.

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Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store ๐Ÿ™‚

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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13 comments to Bucket List Sea Ice Expedition: Beyond Success …

  • Hey Arthur, Not sure which images to choose they all look great. The one is the top right corner is pretty neat. The two photographers photographing the chick at point blank range. The last would have to be the socks. Can’t wait to see these bigger.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks John. That is me in the gray vest. The chick was so close that I had to lean back to focus! Lots of images from the trip coming soon.

      with love, artie

  • Ed Dow

    Welcome home Artie!

    What a thrill just hearing about your adventure. Tough judging the pics without seeing details, so I’ll add some caveats:

    I like the preening penguin in Row 3, Column 1 if you can make the eye stand out a bit. I like the colony and cloud in Row 2, Col 3 assuming the penguins are discernible with a larger size. And the group of chicks pano in Row 6, Col 1–“S” shape balances frame nicely. I assume the pano is a crop, not a stitch?

    Cuteness prize for the chick taking a bow in Row 2, Col 4. And honorable mention for the sea ice abstract that caught my eye.

  • Harold Klein

    What a terrific trip…I agree with others, hard to distinguish much from the thumbnails…looking forward to larger images and the info surrounding them…most fascinating!! Looking forward to your review of the 500PF as well!! This looks like a screen shot from PhotoMechanic…I noticed all the files are TIFF…are you creating images in the TIFF format in camera??

    Congrats again on a terrific trip and a life well lived!!

    Travel well.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Harold, Larger images coming soon. Along with lots more on the 500 PF. I capture only in RAW (NEF with Nikon). The PM screen cap featured most of the images that I have optimized to this point.

      with love and thanks, artie

  • Clemens Vanderwerf

    Great images. All of them. Love the middle of row two image with the lenticular clouds. Missing the parents and chick interaction shots (I am sure you have them somewhere).

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Clemens, I did not get any of the classic chick adult interaction shots. Anita North got a few. Best for those would have been 3-4 weeks before (in much colder, windier conditions). We did not see any chicks still on the feet (though others did).

      with love, a

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Wonderful images, but too hard for me to choose at such small sizes. I really look forward to seeing some bigger. I too have had a blessed, rich life but I can’t help being envious of your emperor penguin experience. You and I both are lucky at our ages to be able to see, walk, balance, and hear, to name a few blessings, to say nothing of having people dear to us that we in turn are dear to.

    I send every good wish.

  • Hi Artie, Sounds incredible! I really like ’emperor penguin and chick ii’ (fifth from the right on the top row) because of the two penguin’s head angles and poses. I think (when we see the larger image) I will like ’emperor penguin colony i’ landscape image because of the desolate landscape and complimentary cloud. I also really like ’emperor penguin stretch ii’ because of the unusual pose and comic yawn.
    Keep having fun,

  • Glen Fox

    Was it all an incredible dream? …no you have the images and memories to prove it. Terrific!
    What a great outcome for a real risky adventure. Yes, blessed you were and are, and better still, you know it!