Two Too-Cute … And Image Storage on Big Trips Advice. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Too-Cute ... And Image Storage on Big Trips Advice.


I have been swimming and walking every day since I got home. I walk with my Leica 8×32 Trinovid binoculars and then drive around for a few blocks bird watching. In fall and early winter I usually see between 20 and 30 species each day. It is fun to note the patterns of migration. American Kestrel and Belted Kingfisher are now seen daily. Other recent arrivals have included Double-crested Cormorant, Palm Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Savannah Sparrow, and today, Common (Wilson’s) Snipe. A glimpse of a yellow-throated warbler was a rare treat.

When I got to the pier today, I saw a young gator about two feet long. Went back to the car for my 600 VR, then for my 80-400 VR, and finally back to the house for my Singh-Ray 77mm warming polarizer. The gator remained cooperative. And I learned a ton about the polarizer that really opened my eyes. I will share some images with you and what I learn here with you at some point.

I am still trying to fill the single slot on the Falklands Land-based IPT (DEC 22, 2018 thru JAN 5, 2019). 🙁 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.

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.


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 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.

This image was created on October 26, 2018 on the recently concluded Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island expedition via icebreaker. I used the hand held (while seated) Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 400mm) with my back-up Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering plus about 1 2/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. Auto 1 WB on a cloudy-bright morning

Five AF points up from the center AF point/Single/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the chick’s neck just in front of and well below the eye.

I kept my rig on my shoulder via an RS-7 Curve Breathe Strap so that it was instantly accessible when I was working with the tripod-mounted 500 PF.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +5. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #1: Emperor Penguin chick resting on snow

Two Too-Cute …

Today’s featured images — both from Day 3 — are two of my very favorites from the Emperor Penguin expedition. When we arrived at the colony on Day 1 I was thrilled but a bit dismayed by the 30-meters-from-the-colony ropes … By the afternoon and the next day, the leaders allowed us much more freedom by placing the ropes much closer to the various colonies. And at times, the curious emperors, both adults and chicks, walked right up to us.

Which of today’s featured images is your favorite? Be sure to let us know why.

After leaving your comment you might wish to see what the folks on BPN are saying here. BTW, I do have a clear favorite.

This image was also created on October 26, 2018 on the recently concluded Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island expedition via icebreaker. Again I used the hand held (while seated) Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 80mm) with my back-up Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering plus about 1 1/3 stops: 1/2000 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode on a cloudy-very-bright morning. K 7690 WB by accident from the previous sunset was corrected easily during the RAW conversion.

One AF point below the center AF point/Single/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the base of the chick’s bill right on the same plane as its eye. The high quality of sharp D850 image files allowed for a substantial crop.

I kept my rig on my shoulder via an RS-7 Curve Breathe Strap so that it was instantly accessible when I was working with the tripod-mounted 500 PF.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +5. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #2: Emperor Penguin chick resting on snow

Image Storage on Big Trips

I received the e-mail below from David Stemple after I got back. I get similar e-mails often:

I would be interested to hear how you handle data storage/capture while you were on that extended trip these past few weeks. I tend to shoot a lot of material for a major zoo (once a week) and have been on a few 4-days trips where I have taken a lot of photos. But about 4 days is the limit of my memory cards without having to offload and re-use. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and how you handled this on your long trip. Did you use external hard drives, rent extra memory cards, or just didn’t shoot that many images?

I replied, That topic has been covered many times on the blog but as it keeps recurring and I have something to add, I will start with an excerpt from all of the IPT confirmation letters:

I strongly recommend traveling with a reliable laptop computer and downloading and editing each day. I travel with a very reliable (knock on wood) Macbook Pro with Retina screen and two Western Digital Passport external hard drives for back-up.

Continuing: folks who save their editing for when they get back home will usually face an insurmountable task with many thousands or even tens of thousands of images to review. On the Emperor Penguin expedition I created about 1,200 images the first day, 1,800 images on Day two, and less than a thousand images on Day 3 when I was beyond completely knackered by noon. I walked back to the base camp and, having just missed the last back-to-the-ship-early helicopter, napped in the tent for a bit. In all I created about 4,000 images on the trip. Before I went to bed each night I made sure to edit the day folder. Here is my rule for the first edit: If you are not sure, keep it. In most cases I delete 80-90% of the images on the first edit. On this trip that left me with about 860 images.

On the plane on the way home, I moved all the keepers from the trip into a single folder entitled OCT Emperor Penguin trip and did my second edit. My advice for the second edit is, If you are not sure, delete it. I wound up with only 341 NEF files plus 61 optimized images. Before that folder is transferred to the office Drobo I will do a third edit and likely pare it down to about 225 keepers. My thoughts on the third edit: If you do not love it, delete it.

With Photo Mechanic (and my 35+ years of editing experience), I am able to edit quickly and efficiently. Aside from being swamped when you get home, editing on a big trip allows you to see what you’ve got and to correct some mistakes while still on location. One of the things about my shooting style is that I am not trigger happy. Some of my best students simply like to hear the shutter release even when faced with impossible situations. A friend and student who was on the Emperor Penguin trip — who is actually a very good photographer — created more than 7,000 images on the afternoon of Day 3 after I headed back to base camp. Yes, 7,000 images in less than half a day …

Every once in a while I run into folks keep all of their images on CF or XQD cards; to me, this is the height of insanity. It is pretty much impossible to evaluate your photographs and back-up is difficult at best.

Whatever you do, if you keep your images safe and are content with your editing and backup workflow, then keep on doing it your way. If you wind up losing all of your images from a big trip, Don’t Cry to Me (Argentina).


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.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


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

11 comments to Two Too-Cute … And Image Storage on Big Trips Advice.

  • Jordan Cait

    Hi Artie,

    Both images are gorgeous. I prefer the top image – there is something about a cute chick doing a “cheesecake” pose…

  • James Saxon

    Number 2 for me. Love the expression on the face in the first image but the second image has more definitive separation from the snowy background and the different colors in image 2.

  • Bart Deamer

    Re backup on long trips: if your laptop goes on the fritz during the trip, portable USB drives are useless for shots taken during the rest of the trip. A laptop-independent storage device such as the Flash Porter ( can provide more robust backup than portable USB drives.

  • Guido Bee

    Toss up for me. Control of exposure is impressive (as usual). Good whites allowing separation from the snow. I guess if I had to pick one it would be #1.
    As far as backups, I used a UDMA3 product and a passport external drive for my trip to Katmai and Denali this past July. Viewing on the small (and relatively low resolution) screen is not great, but I ended up with 2 sets of all images and did miss having a laptop, but I did get more sleep this way than I’d have gotten editing / reviewing all night (and they are short in July) long.
    Be well.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As I said, if it works for you and your images are backed up and safe, don’t listen to me 🙂

      with love, artie

      • Guido Bee

        I’m pretty much willing to listen to anyone up until it becomes apparent they do not know what they are talking about. You’re safe so far 🙂
        Worst part of using my method (no laptop in Alaska) was having large numbers of images to edit / review when getting back home. Going without the laptop was driven by numbers / weight of baggage. As you likely recall, having to carry waders to Katmai takes more space than I usually am concerned with, plus my wife went also, so waders x 2. There are now two additional sets of waders on the Coastal Explorer (when I left, anyway).
        All the best, and be well.

  • Carlotta Grenier

    Both Images are outstanding but the one standing is my favorite because of the fine line of dark running along his dorsal. The 1st image is also phenomenal to me because of the clarity on the face