On Episode 103 of The Edge of Innovation, we’re talking with professional photographer, Arthur Morris, about the best camera systems & equipment that he uses!

Sections

Introduction
The Photo Editing Process
What Computer Does Arthur Morris Use?
What Arthur Uses For Hard Drive Backup
Checking off the Bucket List: Shooting Emperor Penguins
Arthur’s Future Trips
What is Arthur Up To Right Now?
A Photographer’s Week
Canon, Sony & Nikon: Three Major Bird Photography Systems
Go On A Trip With Arthur
Conclusion
More Episodes
Show Notes

The Best Camera Systems & Equipment from a Professional Photographer

Introduction

Paul: Welcome to The Edge of Innovation. Today I’m speaking with well-known, globally-known, famous… anyway, in my book, he’s one of the best photographers that’s ever lived.

His name is Arthur Morris, and he is known for his bird photography as well as other things, but just has been a tremendous inspiration to me, personally, to be able to go out and take pictures. And we’ve interviewed him before, and we asked him to come back to talk about some new things that are going on in his life and with photography.

Welcome, Arthur.

Arthur: Howdy, Paul.

The Photo Editing Process

Paul: Okay, so, you use Capture One. How big are these files? Each image, just in megabytes.

Arthur: O Lord, the Nikon one is 40 megapixels, so like 130 megabytes.

Paul: My gosh.

Arthur: So, the converted image must be about 200 megabytes.

Paul: Uh huh. And how much are they raw? How, how big are they raw?

Arthur: Well, I always get confused by file size and pixel dimension. So, I’m not the one you wanna ask.

Paul: Okay.

Arthur: I know they’re big-ass files. But don’t quote me.

Paul: Alright. So, you, you go through. You, you bring ’em with Capture, and what do you do next?

Arthur: I just converted one image. I grabbed it. I put it in a subfolder called “To do.” And then, I converted the raw file with Capture One, which is the only program that you can see the enlarged Sony images conveniently with.

Paul: I see.

Arthur: And then I processed one… I have a bunch of folders that I need to go back and edit, ’cause if you lose track in a few days, especially with the huge files of the α7R III, you can wind up with your computer full. I’m not near there.

What Computer Does Arthur Morris Use?

Arthur: Another interesting story about gear and technology, I switched from PC to Mac about five or six years ago. Went through two months of pulling my hair out, and then came to love Mac. So, for me, it’s just a thousand times better. I used to do Photoshop on the PC for 15 years, and every session, Photoshop would freeze. It would crash, and I needed to, you know, hold down the start button for ten seconds and reboot. Three or four, three or four times in a couple of hours, and it was really not fun.

Paul: Wow.

Arthur: And with with Mac, in six years, I’ve had to press the… do a hard reboot, I think, maybe once or twice… Where the machine froze, so a huge improvement there.

Paul: And what Mac do you use?

Arthur: One of the astounding parts of what I do is that everything is done on a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

Paul: Right. And you find that good enough?

Arthur: Everyone tells me I’m crazy and that I should be using an external monitor and a mouse, but I’m happy.

Anyway, back to the computer story. I had my 16-inch or 17-inch MacBook Pro for about five years, and about six months ago it was giving indications that it was gonna die.

I had everything backed up but for a day or two, and then it finally broke. It wouldn’t start. So, I drove over to Brandon, and I brought it into the Apple Store. They took it apart, and they came out, and they said, “Well, this machine will never work again, but, but do you have any idea why the motherboard is encrusted in salt and sand?”

Paul: Really?

Arthur: And I said, “Well, I have done a few slideshows at the beach, in the rain.” So, suffice to say, I’m taking much better care of my new MacBook Pro. And I was able to get almost everything off the old hard drive.

Paul: Wow.

Arthur: I do recommend solid-slate hard drives.

Paul: Right.

Arthur: The hard part there was getting the correct bay to put the old hard drive in.

Paul: I see, yes.

Arthur: So, Apple, AppleCare is generally pretty good, but they misled me.

So, of all things, I finally took it into town, to Lake Wales, to the local computer store, and the guy went online, and he found the right bay with the right number of things, and we were able to get all the stuff off. So, that was a happy day.

What Arthur Uses For Hard Drive Backup

Paul: Excellent. So, you bring up a good point with backup. What do you do for backup with all of these big files?

Arthur: My friend Patrick Sparkman is my technical adviser. When I can’t figure something out, I call him. He recommended a program to back up the Macs automatically. You just plug in. So, I have two solid-slate, two 2-terabyte solid-slate hard drives, and I, every couple of days, I just plug one in, and it automatically starts to back up. And I’m walking over to my laptop —

Paul: Is that Time Machine?

Arthur: No. Actually, it’s amazing how the brain works. All I did was walk to my laptop, with a dark screen, but just being in front of my laptop, my brain came up with Carbon Copy Cloner.

Arthur: Oh, okay. Good, yeah. That’s an excellent. We, we use that a lot with our clients.

Arthur: So, how the brain works is a mystery, because I couldn’t think of Carbon Copy Cloner here. So, when I got there, and I was pressing the button to wake it up, I could see in the top the “C,” the “C” icon, and there it was, Carbon Copy Cloner.

So, I have two of those. I actually have a third one I need to get going so I can give one to my daughter every two weeks.

Paul: Right. Now, have you ever had to use the backup yet?

Arthur: No, thank God. And, and one of the beauties of Carbon Copy Cloner, God forbid, is that if your laptop just won’t boot up, that you can plug in Carbon Copy Cloner and boot from that. Let’s say you were down in Snow Hill Island doing the Emperor Penguins, which I was, which I had the pleasure of doing last November. You could always just theoretically, plug it in. But I hope to never get to that point.

Paul: Well, yeah. It’s, it’s good if you never have to use it, but if you have to, you know it’s there, and that’s great.

Checking off the Bucket List: Shooting Emperor Penguins

Paul: So, now, you’ve shot pretty much… Would you say you’ve shot everything you wanna shoot, or are there some things out there that you’re saying, “I really wanna go shoot this”?

Arthur: In my life?

Paul: Yeah. What’s on your bucket list for photos to take?

Arthur: Oh, about a thousand things.

Paul: Really? Is it all in the bird world, or do you have other things that are outside of that world?

Arthur: Mostly birds. I mean, getting to the Emperor Penguins was a huge check-off on my bucket list because I never thought I would get there. Logistically, it’s really, really difficult, and it was an amazing trip. I can’t believe that I got there. It was ridiculously expensive but worth every penny for me.

You know, just not financially, not business-wise, but it’s just because it’s something I wanted to see. I wanted to get down there. It was a Quark trip, running in conjunction with Cheesemans. We got on the icebreaker Khlebnikov after flying down to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Paul: Wow.

Arthur: And we sailed four days to get down into the ice. One day, we spent drifting to the northwest. Because of a big storm, we couldn’t southeast, where we needed to go. Then we finally got down in the ice, and they weren’t sure if they could get close enough to the colony to fly us there.

And then we made some good progress, and then, I don’t know, by the fifth evening, they said, “We’re in great shape,” and we were six miles from the colony at Snow Hill. And then we had done all the helicopter drills, and they put you in groups, and they fly you by Russian helicopter
to the base camp, and then once you get there, it was a four-mile round trip to the colony. And we did three days, and boy, it was, it was thrilling, and by noon on the third day, I was not good.

A lady I met down there, who’s been down there a zillion times, convinced me to borrow a pair of sunglasses. And I said, “Snow blindness? I’ll never get snow-blind.” And by the third morning, I could not — once the sun got out — I could not even look at the colony, at the snow.

Paul: Wow.

Arthur: My eyes were just burning out of my head. Then I put the sunglasses on, and I was able to photograph through the sunglasses for the whole morning. And then I trudged through the snow and ice back to the helicopter, took a, a nap in the rest tent, wound up back on the trip, and that was our day. So, three days for the cost of about 60,000 bucks.

Paul: Oh my gosh. Really? Wow.

Arthur’s Future Trips

Arthur: But I was happy. But what do I wanna do? I wouldn’t mind getting to Australia, and that’s actually now a remote possibility because I just agreed to judge a photo contest and speak in the Philippines in November of 2020. So, I’m thinking, once I’m there, heck, it’s 12 time zones different. Australia can’t be very far away.

Paul: Right. That’s true. That’s very true. It’s probably farther than you’d wanna swim, but it’s probably pretty close.

Arthur: Sure. And then, I would have to do lots of work in advance, mostly with friends from BirdPhotographers.net, my educational website, as far as planning the trip logistically, you know, if I do a side trip to Australia.

Paul: Right. Wow. That would be really cool.

What is Arthur Up To Right Now?

Paul: So, what else is new? You’re experimenting with Sony, probably going to make that leap.

Arthur: Experimenting with Sony, doing something I should’ve done 15 to 20 years ago, and that’s have a comprehensive online gallery. We’re, we’re almost finished work on that. I’m working with a guy named John Ross with a company called PhotoFolio.

Paul: Oh, neat.

Arthur: So, it should be nice and beautiful and elegant, and we’ll announce that on the blog.

Paul: Cool. That’s fun. When do you think that’ll be ready?

Arthur: Oh, surely within a week or two.

Paul: Oh, really? Oh, okay. Well, that’s fun. Something to look forward to.

Arthur: Yeah, I started by going through about 8,000 images, picking about 1,200 of my favorites to distribute into the various galleries and sub-galleries.

And what else is new with me? My 73rd birthday on June 14th. In celebration, I shaved my head. So, I have this Scott Van Pelt for everyone is familiar with, SVP on Sports Center at midnight. And I got home. I did three trips in a row. I went to the UK to do Puffins again in June, end of June. Came home. Went to, to Galápagos at the end of July, beginning of August, and then I went up to visit a friend in Northern Ontario to photograph Eagles on her lake, Basket Lake.

Paul: Wow.

Arthur: Then I got home, and I was feeling run down, and I was doing a lot of couch potato-ing, and I said to myself, “You know, it feels nice to sit on this couch, but if I do that, I’m gonna be dead in one or two years.”

So, instead, I decided to go back to walking every morning between two and three miles, swimming every afternoon a little more than half a mile, doing all kinds of stretching for my shoulders, getting my knee back in shape. So, the next few days I’ve been feeling great, as good as I’ve felt in years.

A Photographer’s Week

Paul: Excellent. So, what’s on the agenda for the rest of the week? It’s Tuesday. What’re you gonna do the rest of the week?

Arthur: Well, today is Tuesday. Thursday, I drive over to Fort De Soto to teach a small workshop with four or five folks at Fort De Soto County Park in Pinellas County. I’ll be using my new Sony 600 and the Sony 100-400, and playing around with different cameras.

One of the things I didn’t mention about the A7R IV, compared to the previous version, the A7R III, it’s only marginally bigger. The dimensions are fractions of an inch bigger, and yet, the A7R III in my hand felt like a tiny toy. And the A7R IV feels like a real camera.

Paul: Oh, really? Interesting. Just that little bit made a big difference.

Arthur: Yeah. It’s a tiny bit, you know, one small step for man, one giant step for bird photography.

Paul: There you go.

Arthur: And then, their other body is the A9, which has, pretty much science-fiction-like autofocus.

Paul: Really?

Arthur: Yeah. With, with, at the cost of smaller image files. So, the great news is there’s supposed a Sony A9 II with 35 megapixels and a, and a slightly larger body. So, you can put me on the list for one of those.

Paul: Interesting, interesting.

Arthur: I guess it’s sounding more and more for another fire sale, this time with my Nikon gear.

Paul: Yeah. Well, so far, we’ll see. I mean, if Sony doesn’t shoot itself in the foot with something, and it meets your expectations, it sounds like it’s an incredible advantage.

Canon, Sony & Nikon: Three Major Bird Photography Systems

Arthur: One, one of the nice things for teaching is that I have good working knowledge now of the three major bird photography systems.

Paul: Yeah, that’s true.

Arthur: Canon, Sony, and, and Nikon.

Paul: Again, I go back to our comment earlier. It would’ve been unthinkable to think that Sony would be a camera company, even ten years ago, and it’s just amazing that they’ve come to the top of the game, if you will.

Arthur: Well, there’s a lot of, sort of, Sony backlash from folks who just — pretty confident folks — who just say it’s junk.

Paul: Really?

Arthur: Or garbage. But I’ve made lots of nice pictures.

Paul: Interesting.

Arthur: And I’m happy. So, time will tell.

Paul: Absolutely. Well, is there anything else you’d like to cover today in our talk?

Good Photographers Make Good Pictures With Whatever Gear They Have

Arthur: You know, with all this talk about gear, and the latest gear, and 61 megapixels, it’s important to remember that good photographers are gonna make good pictures with whatever gear they have in their hands.

Paul: Right. Amen.

Arthur: And I know lots of folks that are shooting cameras that are four, five years old, three or four generations, supposedly improved, and using the older Canon lenses, the version one of the Canon Super Telephotos. And guess what. The good photographers are making great pictures. And then you run into folks who have two of the best of everything, the most modern lens, camera body, and they have no clue as to how to make a good picture.

Paul: Right. Well, it’s definitely a craft. You know, you have your tools, but you have to know how to use the tools. And, if you’re a woodworker or a painter, all of those things, it’s really the synergy of the tools and the artist.

Arthur: It’s funny, ’cause I often use woodworking to complete that analogy. I say, hey, if you put me in a state-of-the-art machine shop with the fanciest table saws and circular saws, and the greatest tools in the world, the most likely result would be that I would cut my hand off.

Go On A Trip With Arthur

Arthur: Then, last thing I’ll mention is that I’m hoping to get back to the Galapagos one more time, and I’m planning a trip for October of 2020, but I need at least eight or ten folks by this December.

Paul: Oh, wow, okay.

Arthur: If anyone’s interested, they can go to the blog at BirdsAsArt-blog.com, and click on the “Email Artie” button and get in touch. And the same thing, I’m gonna, hopefully, make one last trip, a land-based trip down to the Falkland Islands with, with just four photographers, but you’d better be a happy camper for that one.

Paul: Very cool.

Conclusion

Paul: Well, excellent. Well, we’ve had a good time here talking with Arthur Morris, renown, world-renown bird photographer. Birds from all over the world fly to Arthur for their picture to be taken. It’s not exactly that way, but it’s been such an inspiration for me to get to know you and your work and your books and your websites, and it’s been fantastic, and I appreciate you coming on now a second time and we’ll look forward to your, now, new journeys with Sony.

Arthur: It’s been a pleasure as always, Paul. I enjoy listening to your voice, and perhaps we’ll be able to include the link to the new galleries when we get this online.

Paul: We definitely will. So yeah, there’ll be a whole bunch of links to all of your sites, and as soon as that’s online, we’ll include that, as well.

Arthur: Thank you very much.

More Episodes:

This is Part 2 of 2 of our conversation with Arthur Morris! If you missed Part 1, you can listen to it here!

Show Notes:

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