Archive for April, 2008

Birds As Art On The Road

April 30, 2008

On Saturday, April 5th, I attended a presentation by Arthur Morris at Monmouth University in Long Branch, New Jersey. Arthur is a professional wildlife photographer specializing in birds. Art has approximately 200,000 bird photographs in his files which he sells to markets worldwide.

Art Morris is sponsored by Canon. He is an orginal member of Canon’s Explorers of Light program. His presentation was made to the New Jersey Federation of Camera Clubs. There were approximately 300 people in attendance. The title of the presentation was “Birds As Art On The Road”.

The following are my notes from this event categorized by equipment, technique, and digital workflow. For additional information on Arthur Morris and the products and services he offers, click on this link:

Favorite Equipment

Art does not shoot film any longer. His digital cameras of choice are the Canon EOS 1DS Mark III (for maximum image quality) and the EOS 1D Mark III (for speed and action work)

His favorite super telephoto these days is the Canon 500mm F4 L IS with matched teleconverters and three extension tubes for close focusing. Art prefers the 500mm to the Canon 600mm F4 L IS for its smaller size and lighter weight

In the field, Art carries the 500mm attached to a carbon fiber tripod and a zoom lens (70-200mm) is carried over his shoulder

His favorite short lens is the Canon 24-105mm IS which he says is razor sharp

The Canon 70-200mm F 2.8 L IS is widely used with and without the matched 1.4 converter. The Canon 70-200mm F4 L IS is also employed frequently because of its lighter weight

Another favorite lens is the Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 L IS which he likes for its reach

Art swears by Canon”s Image Stabilization System but uses a variety of tripods, a beanbag, and a ground pod to steady his lenses


Art constantly stressed the importance of knowing your subjects habits and habitats and being in the right place at the right time

Art’s photographic style is to create frame filling dramatic bird portraits with creamy blurred backgrounds. I did notice however, a large number of images in his presentation where the bird and the background are artistically blurred. These creative photographs were made at shutter speeds of 1/8th to 1/30th of a second

Even when his eye is glued to the camera’s viewfinder, Art is always watching what is going on to the left and right in an attempt to catch action sequences and interesting behaviors

One of the things Art spoke about is the importance of a bird’s head angle and how this can make or break a photo

For maximum subject impact, Art prefers direct frontal lighting

A favorite technique is shooting right on the ground, eye level or below

Art has trained his eyes to look at subjects in small rectangular boxes and  seeks images with little or no background clutter