Announcing the 2024 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPT. And On Handholding the 400mm f/2.8 with the 2X TC « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Announcing the 2024 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPT. And On Handholding the 400mm f/2.8 with the 2X TC

artie, knackered in Seattle
i-Phone photo by Bob Eastman

What’s Up?

I slept for most of the 3-hour red-eye flight from Anchorage to Seattle and arrived just after 5:00am. On my layover in Seattle, I set my alarm and fell asleep on a padded bench in the Alaska Lounge for about twenty minutes when I heard a woman saying urgently, “Sir, sir, we do not permit sleeping on the bench seats.” Ugh! Then I slept for more than two hours at the very beginning of the SEA to Orlando leg. We got in early and Jim picked me up at about 5:15pm. We had dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse near the airport and were home before 8:15pm Florida time. The door-to-door trip from Homer to home took 28 1/4 hours. I slept for 10 hours last night and awoke at 6:00am feeling great.

The eagle photography opportunities this year were unmatched. Everyone was great and eager to learn. In prior years we’d have a slow day on occasion. This year, dozens and dozens of eagles responded to our offerings in every bay we visited. We did great in China Post, in Peterson, in Sadie Cove, on McKeon Spit, at Elephant Rock, and made several high tide visits to Franklin Flats. At every stop, we were inundated by eagles with as many as 50 birds in the air at once. The first two trips enjoyed snow on the ground and our two mega-days were 25 February and 1 March, so I made sure to include both of those dates on the two trips planned for 2024. Working closely with Captain Gabe, we came up with new ideas that helped us deal with the sometimes less-than-ideal wind and sky conditions. And when the conditions were perfect as they often were, we were in the right spot to take full advantage of them. Do consider joining me in Homer next year to improve your photography by leaps and bounds.

Today is Friday 10 March 2023. I will head down to the lake to check on the eagle nest and see if there are any crane chicks around. This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes three hundred forty-five days in a row with a new educational post written just for you. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

The plan is to continue to post every day until the streak reaches one year and one day and then begin posting every other day.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so, works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

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All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

2024 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPTs

IPT #1: WED 21 FEB 2024 through the full day on SUN 25 FEB 2024. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers.

IPT #2: MON 26 FEB 2024 through the full day on FRI 1 MAR 2024. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers. Limit 5 photographers.

Register for both trips to maximize your travel dollars and enjoy a $1000 discount while you are at it.

This trip features non-stop flight photography as well as many opportunities to create both environmental and point-blank portraits of one of North America’s most sought-after avian subjects: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Other reliable subjects will include Sea Otter, Glaucous-winged and Short-billed (formerly Mew) Gulls.

In addition, we should see Common Murre, Black Guillemot, Pelagic Cormorant, two or three species of loons, and a smattering of ducks including two species of merganser, all three scoters, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, Harlequin, and Long-tailed Ducks. Close-range photographic chances for these species will require some good luck. Some of these species, especially when in flocks, can, however, often be used effectively when pleasing creating bird-scapes.

If we need to be out early, we will be the first boat out. If the conditions are great, we will stay out. And when there is a chance for sunset silhouettes, we will be in the right spot.

We will be traveling through gorgeous wilderness country; landscape and scenic opportunities abound.

Also featured is a professional leader, often referred to as the world’s most knowledgeable bird photography trip leader and instructor. He is conversant in Canon, Nikon, and Sony. You will learn practical and creative solutions to everyday photographic problems. You will learn to see the shot, to create dynamic images by fine-tuning your compositions, to best utilize your camera’s AF system, and how to analyze the wind, the sky conditions, and the direction and quality of the light. This is one of the very few trips Homer trips available where you will not be simply put on the birds and told to have fun. You will learn to be a better photographer. But only if that is what you want.

You will learn to get the right exposure when it is sunny, when it cloudy-bright, when it is cloudy, when it is cloudy-dark, or when it is foggy. Not to mention getting the right exposure when creating silhouettes.

You will learn to make pleasing blurs working in manual mode and to create silhouettes working in Shutter Priority mode.

Most importantly you will learn to pick your best flight photographs from tens of thousands of images.
You will enjoy working with the best and most creative boat captain on his sturdy, photography-spacious, seaworthy, open-deck watercraft.

Only five photographers (not the usual six), plus the leader.

Small group Photoshop, Image Review, and Image Critiquing sessions.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

What’s Included

One four hour or two two-hour boat trips every day (weather permitting), all boat fees and boat-related expenses (excluding tips), ground transportation to and from the dock and back to the hotel each day, in-the-field instruction and guidance, pre-trip gear advice, small group post-processing and image review sessions, and a thank you dinner for all well-behaved participants.

What’s Not Included

Your airfare to and from Homer, AK (via Anchorage), the cost of your room at Land’s End Resort, all personal items, all meals and beverages, and tips for the boat captain and/or the first mate.

Please Note

On great days, the group may wish to photograph for more than four hours. If the total time on the boat exceeds 20 hours for the five-day trips the group will share the additional expense at a rate of $225/hour. The leader will pay for the bait.

Some folks may wish to rent their own vehicle to take advantage of local photographic opportunities around Homer. In 2023 those included Moose, Great Grey, and Short-eared Owls.

Deposit Information

A $3000 non-refundable deposit/trip is required. You may pay your deposit with credit card or by personal check (the latter made out to BIRDS AS ART) and sent via US mail only to Arthur Morris. PO Box 7245. Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Your balance, due 90 days before the date of departure, is payable only by check (as above).

In Closing

I have been going to Homer off and on for close to two decades. Every trip has been nothing short of fantastic. Many folks go in mid-March. The earlier you go, the better the chances for snow. The only way to assure that you are on the best of these two trips is to sign up for all of them. Can you keep up with me? If you have any questions, or are good to go for one, or two of these great trips, please let me know via e-mail or give me a call on my cell phone at 863-221-2372.

This image was created on 6 March 2023, the next-to-last day of the third and final 2023 Kachemak Bay/homer Bald eagle IPT. I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO set 1600. 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1 (stopped down 2/3-stop). When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be about 1/3 stop short of perfect. AWB at 5:53:36pm on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Tracking: Zone AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly even at 800mm. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Bald Eagle adult posturing

Always Searching for New and Different

With a run of warm sunny afternoons, I went ashore at McKeown Spit with the 400mm f/2.8 and both TCs. After doing some flight with the 1.4X TC at 560mm, I tried for some 800mm close-ups and head portrait by adding the 2X teleconverter. As you can see above, the backgrounds are creamy and dreamy if you get low and the sharpness and image quality are superb. When handholding this combo and working static subjects, you will do best by going with a relatively fast shutter speed while raising the ISO so that you can stop down a bit for extra sharpness. All as I did with today’s featured image.

Remember that when working at 800mm you have 16X magnification and that unsharpness due to gear shake when handholding can be significant; most of the time you would be better off on a sturdy tripod topped by a Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro.

Your Call?

What do you think of today’s featured image? Does anything bug you?


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

10 comments to Announcing the 2024 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPT. And On Handholding the 400mm f/2.8 with the 2X TC


    Canon, Nikon and Sony 400mm f/2.8 AF, way too costly. Not for me. I am staying with my Nikon D500/MB-D17, D850/MB-D18 and ED-IF 300MM F/2.8Dafs II, with either one, TC14EII, TC17E II or TC20EIII, mount on my either one Induro AT313 or Benro TMA48CXL tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead along with my camo daypack, come with roast beef sandwich, chocolate chip cookies and two bottles of Pure Life water, along with deer calls and stuffs.


      Your photos of ALASKAN BALD EAGLEAS are superb. I look at google maps about Homer, AK from Anchorage thru road, 4 plus hours plus few hotels are there so I am thinking about it 4 to 6 years from now, I prefer by myself. and Homer, Ak is easy access to get there than Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, Haines, AK, great places but not so great expenses, problem is mere one hotel, where are vehicle rental???, gas stations, restaurants, NOT EASY but Homer is better, McDonalds, Subway, some fine restaurants. Not bad. Alaska is super HUGE. several times bigger than my home state of Ohio.

  • Nancy R Fischer

    Yeah, what bugs me about the Bald Eagle adult posturing photo is that I wasn’t there to take it. The feathers are exquisite.

  • frank sheets

    I wish you didn’t tell me that.

  • Anthony Ardito

    Great stop down!

  • frank sheets

    Artie, great image today. You are absolutely correct, the sharpness of this image is superb, especially considering you are working hand held at the equivalent 800mm and with (IMO) a relatively slow shutter speed. The image proves to me that the Sony converters are superb and no-one should hesitate using them as compared to past notions that they should be avoided due to image degradation. Have a great day, Frank

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Frank. Just think, the rumor is that they will be releasing new versions of each TC that are huge improvements on the current ones!

      You too!


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