A Blurry Morning in Homer


This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (handheld at 210mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +3 stops off the white sky: 1/30 sec. at f/9. I like the pan-blurred background streaks in this image, especially those behind the bird.

A Blurry Morning in Homer

Thursday morning dawned foggy on the 1st day of the last Homer IPT. I started teaching zoom blurs right in the harbor (see the image below) explaining that with such low light levels thinking pleasing blurs was the way to go.


This zoom blur was created in the harbor with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (handheld) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/3 sec. at f/16. I love the effect on the masts.

As explained in A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by Denise Ippolito and yours truly I zoomed from long to short, in this case from 280mm to approximately 150mm during the exposure. While we were in the harbor, several folks tried creating zoom blurs without much success. As we explain in the Blur Guide, though creating zoom blurs seems easy it does take a bit of practice to get the timing of the shutter release down pat.


This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (handheld at 210mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the white sky: 1/32 sec. at f/11.

The Glaucous Gulls are usually the first to respond to the tossed fish; most of the time they quickly attract the eagles. For the image above I used the Clone Stamp Tool to get rid of a blurred bill in front of the bill that you see in this image and then used a series of Quick Masks to increase the density of the bill that you see in the image. I needed to warp some of the Quick Masks and ended with a Gaussian Blur of the bill. All as detailed in Digital Basics and APTATS I.


This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (handheld at 210mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +3 1/3 stops off the white sky: 1/30 sec. at f/8.

For most folks it was their first morning with the eagles so in large part they understandably ignored my advice and tried to create sharp images of the fishing birds with high ISO settings. In the meantime, I was having great fun creating pleasing blurs.


This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (handheld at 210mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the white sky: 1/15 sec. at f/9. I love the blurred streaks of snow in this one.

At lunch that afternoon, and later on during our first classroom session, I shared about 50of my pleasing blur keepers. Though most in the group had stuck their noses up at the thought of creating intentional blurs, they loved many of the images that I had created that morning and are hoping for another dark, foggy morning 🙂

I predicted sun for the afternoon despite the heavy fog. My forecast was ridiculed. We did however, enjoy a mostly sunny afternoon filled with eagles. If you would like to learn to create pleasing blurs, do check out the Blur Guide.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the images above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

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12 comments to A Blurry Morning in Homer

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Clear Ken,

    #1: My images looks great because I begin with sharp quality images and process them as detailed in Digital Basics. Did you get yourself a copy? Everything that I do to my images is in Digital Basics. I hold back no secrets. Still, you need to study and practice.

    #2:If I had to choose only one shutter speed for blurs, 1/15th would likely be it though for flying birds at close range 1/30 would likely be better some or most of the time. It is all covered in “A Guide To Pleasing Blurs.” Thanks for your order 🙂

    #3: Glad that you agree.

  • I agree with you, panning water patterns with blurring results can be very artistic

  • Hi Art: What is the shutter speed thatyou usually use for panning.


    I have already ordered the blurr book you talked about and willread it shortly but wuld like to hear it from you for the shutter speed.


  • Hi Art: Thanks for your comments, panning is definitely one of the most difficult skills to master , and you have certainly done a super job. Ken

    Here’s a question, how do you get such a nice finish look to your photos. I have been trying to apply a like glossy finish look on the web and just not happy with my results.

    thanks, Ken

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Dennis, I disagree strongly with your statement. Moving water blurs can be hugely successful as just pure pattern images with nothing sharp 🙂

    Check out “Moving water blur, LeHardy Rapids, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming” here and let me know what you think.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Clear Ken, First a correction. All of the images are “in focus.” It is important that blurs be correctly focused. As far as having the heads or the eye of flying birds in sharp focus, some folks greatly prefer that. It is difficult to do. Getting the eye sharp is a matter of having a steady hand and being able to match the speed of the bird in flight with your panning speed. That said, the eye of the young eagle is sharp. I have many blurs that I like where the head is not sharp. It is a matter of taste. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Jim, You are of course right. And wrong 🙂 The correct name of the lens that I used is “Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.” No mark anything. I have added the II. Thanks.

    And thanks Susan. And thanks Denise.

  • Arthur, You got some great ones. I most especially like the zoom blur of the boats.

  • avatar Dennis Pritchett

    I’m in agreement with Ken here. It’s much like doing moving water blurs; it all looks better when there is some stationary object like rocks or an old log in sharp focus. Personal choice I suppose.


  • Hi Art:

    So you were a teacher – what grades did you teach. I taught for about 35 years before I could get into photography the way I like, You made a big and a great decision after 23 years, all the power to you.

    With panning, I shoot so that one part of the pan should be focused. We panned at the CFR and although everything will almost be out of focus, what we wanted to do was to have the head of the rider in focus. I was taking photos of a barrel racer at the Canadian Finals Rodeo (the twin of the NFR in the States). I should be able to have 1 part that is recognized and I tried to make it sharper, with the backgroud and the rest of the horse and rider in this case blurry.

    With the birds, I would think that the head should be focused or much sharper than of course the rest of the photo. Let me know if I am off base or not.

    thanks ,


  • Artie,
    These images are SPECTACULAR! You really out did yourself. Hard to choose a favorite but if I had to… #1 & #2 would make me very happy if they were mine.

  • avatar Jim Kranick


    You keep saying you used a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens for these shots. Isn’t it the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS MARK 2 lens?

    Beautiful work as usual.