f/22 and Living on the Edge with the Canon 100-400II and the EOS 7D Mark II « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

f/22 and Living on the Edge with the Canon 100-400II and the EOS 7D Mark II

What’s Up?

Wow. Just got back from an amazing afternoon. Canon Live Learning Morro Bay Destination Workshop assistant Aidan Briggs suggested a new location and it paid off in spades. Images, including a killer flapping after bath Long-billed Curlew here soon. I am planning on hitting the sack at 9:01pm….

This blog post took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare and was published from my hotel room in Morro Bay, CA at 9:07pm.just after midnight on the east coast.

If you would like to join us in Morro Bay this coming weekend scroll down for details. All you need is a 100-400 II and a 7D II.

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This image was created at Morro Bay on Tuesday March 17, 2015 at 7:01pm with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 248 mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800 (should have been ISO 400). Evaluative metering -2 1/3 stops: 1/2500 sec. at f/22. Color temperature: 9000K.

Zone/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). It selected two AF points along the right center edge of the rock. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Bird Sh*t Rock/Starburst at the eyebrow

f/22 for the Starburst Effect

With many lenses photographing the sun just above the horizon or peeking out from the edge of a rock or a tree at f/22 or smaller apertures will often produce lovely starbursts. Understand that with today’s two images the moving a fraction of an inch in either direction will have large effects on the image. Even at -3 stops the sun will register as over-exposed with RGB values of 255, 255, 255. No worries. If you work in Manual mode and set an exposure dark enough to avoid blinkies on the sun you will have a black rock in a black sky…. Much better to toast the sun and to avoid underexposing the sky at all.


This image was created at Morro Bay on Tuesday March 17, 2015 at 7:07pm with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens(at 256mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800 (should have been ISO 400). Evaluative metering -2 2/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/22. Color temperature: 6100K.

Zone/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). It selected two AF points just below the “nose” on the right side of the rock. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Bird Sh*t Rock/Starburst in the mouth

What Do You See?

Bird Sh*t Rock is the local name of the small outcrop just to the north of the much larger Morro Rock. I believe that both species of cormorants nest on this rock and it serves as an evening roost for those two species as well as decent numbers of Brown Pelicans. What do you see when you view the shape of the rock? Does anyone see a horse’s head?


This image was created at Morro Bay on Tuesday March 17, 2015 at 7:44pm, well after sunset. I used the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 263 mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 2500. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/15 sec. at f/5.6. Color temperature: 9000K.

Center AF point AI Servo/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The active AF point fell on the rock between the nose and the mouth. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #3: Bird Sh*t Rock/Starburst with landing pelicans

Image Question

Why so little minus exposure compensation with this image as opposed to the first two?

4-Stop IS Rocks the Rock at 1/15 sec.

This image represents a bit more than true four-stop IS. Half of 263 is 131.5. Half of that is 65.75. Half of that is 32.875. And half of that is 16.4375. So 1/15 sec. at 263mm is a bit more than four times better than the old recommendation of 1 over the focal length. IAC, it is quite amazing.

Your Preference?

Though the three images are quite similar, there are differences. Which of today’s three images do you like best? If you do have a strong preference, be sure to let us know why.


Morro Bay offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects in a variety of attractive settings. Do consider joining me there on the March 20-22, 2015 Canon Destination Workshop. Complete info and register here

Morro Bay Pre-Canon Destination Workshop In-the-field Day

The Morro Bay Canon Destination Workshop March 20-22, 2015 now has only three slots open. To encourage folks to sign up I have planned the following:

Morro Bay Pre-Canon Destination Workshop In-the-field Day. Friday March 20: $399.

This in-the-field workshop includes a 4-hour morning photo-session that begins in the pre-dawn, a 2 hour afternoon photo session (3-5pm or so), and a working lunch with image review and some Photoshop. We will finish up in time to attend the Friday evening program that opens the Destination Workshop. At present only two folks are signed up for the day so you will surely receive all of the one on one guidance that you can handle.

Though you not need to be registered for the Canon event to join me on Friday, doing so would make a lot of sense to me. The Friday evening program is of course open only to those who are signed up for the Destination Workshop. See immediately below for details on that.

BIRDS AS ART Morro Bay, CA Canon Live Learning EOS Destination Workshop
March 20-22, 2015: $1050

You must register soon to get in on the fun and learning!

Borrow great Canon gear. Head home with a print or two. Learn from the best.

Click here for complete info or to register.

Click here to see the course agenda.

Join me in one of the most beautiful and scenic places on the planet to photograph a large variety of birds of the sea and shore. The star of the show will be the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. There will be lots of Marbled Godwits and Willets as well as lots of the smaller shorebird species. Black Oystercatcher is likely and we should get to photograph large flocks of Western Sandpipers in flight over the bay; with any luck we should enjoy some great sunrise and sunset photography. There are lots of gulls including Western, California, and Mew. There is one good location where we should get to photograph Western, Clarke’s, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and Common Loon–you will be able to borrow a long lens from Canon along with various camera bodies. We may get to photograph some passerines including Anna’s Hummingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow. And we have a chance for several species of raptors. Yikes, I almost forgot California Poppy. And California Ground Squirrel. Sea Otters are also possible.

Folks who register after seeing this notice are asked to shoot me a copy of their BIRDS AS ART Morro Bay Registration Confirmation via e-mail.

See lots more Morro Bay images here.


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16 comments to f/22 and Living on the Edge with the Canon 100-400II and the EOS 7D Mark II

  • avatar Ken

    Thanks again Arthur. I always use single spot for static subjects and make sure I have focus conformation on critical area, eye head etc. I don’t have Lens Align, perhaps I should order one but I don’t think focus is the issue with this lens close up. Just don’t get the clarity as my 300 prime but I guess I am not supposed to. Just wanted you opinion on the robber flies, they didn’t have the same detail as one a little lower down on my web page which was shot with the 300. Any way, I have only had the lens for a month so I am still learning it’s ways. Thanks for you time, much appreciated
    best regards

  • avatar Ken

    Arthur, thanks for your reply. The lens as a whole does take excellent images. After some extensive testing I have decided that the problems are really when the lens is focused at its closest. I have even messed with the micro adjust but that doesn’t really make any difference to sharpness. I recently put up two shots of Robber Flies at my flickr address. Perhaps you could take a look.
    best regards

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I visited your Flicker site. You have some nice stuff. Love the yellow robin (??) with chick in the nest. I am not sure what you wanted me to see with the two robber fly images…… A few things: you can make sure that you are outside of the minimum focusing distance by switching to One-Shot and listening for the beep…. Also, you can micro-adjust the 100-400 at both the long and short ends…. Are you using LensAlign Mark II?


  • avatar Ken

    Recently purchased the 100-400 ii and although a fantastic lens, I feel it is not as sharp as my 300f4L on my 7Dii. It is better than the prime with 1.4ii attached though. Any one else have thoughts on this ? Perhaps it is just me going through the learning how to use phase but the images, especially close up don’t seem to have the same sparkle.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Either you have an unsharp copy of the lens–that being very unlikely, or your problems involve operator error. There is some chance that micro-adjusting the lens/camera combo might help.

      Have you ever made one super sharp image with the 100-400II/7D II combo?


  • avatar David Policansky

    Talking about the 100-400 version II, there’s a rather surprising thread on this lens on DPR.com in the Canon SLR Lens forum. I can link it if anyone wants. It turns out that at its minimum focal distance of just under one meter, the effective maximum focal length of this nominally 400 mm lens is less than 200 mm. This is due to the phenomenon of “focus breathing,” whereby the effective focal length of many lenses gets shorter as you focus closer. It increases quite rapidly as you focus farther out, but at around 15 feet it’s still noticeably short of 400 mm. Also true of the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, the 300 f/4L, and the 500 f/5.6L, although not to the same startling extent as the 100-400. The inexpensive Canon “kit” 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS lens actually gives greater magnification at its MFD than the 100-400 does! I just did the experiment, and it’s amazing how close the image sizes are.

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Beautiful works as always, no substitute for talent + experience. A question for you….have you tried the 7D2 with the 70-200mm f/2.8 and converters? I am wondering how that compares to the 100-400mm II ?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Joel,

      Been swamped at Morro Bay 🙂

      As I just answered a similar question from Ken Lui, I share that here with you below. Let me know if you have any additional questions.

      I have not used the 7D II with TCs a lot. See the blog posts from my San Diego trip for some 7D II/70-200 images with and without the 1.4X III TC.

      Hi Kenneth,

      Flight photography with the 70-200/2X III is problematic at best…… Why? The battery is not as powerful as those in the pro bodies. IAC, while you can make some sharp images with the 70-200/2X III TC/1D X or 1D IV, it is a less than ideal flight rig. Less so with the 7D II.

      But remember that the 70-200 alone and a 7D II you have more reach than with the 70-200/1.4X III/full frame body, and with the 7D II/70-200/1.4X III TC you have more reach than with the 70-200/2X III/1D X…..

      best, artie

      ps: best tip: pre-focus manually….

      pps: last tip: the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens would make a versatile lens for hiking…. And it can serve as a macro lens as well; see here:


  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Wonderful images all, but the first is my favorite; I love the breaking wave along with everything else, including the sun peeking through a crevice. The sun in the second image is terrific, though. The sea looks pretty rough; it reminds me a bit of the weather we had in Barnegat 2+ years ago (or was it 3+ years ago?).

  • avatar Cheryl Sewell

    Yes, I saw the man’s profile immediately, horse head only after searching for it. I particularly like the image with the sun in the man’s “mouth.” Evokes a myth about a giant who swallows the sun at night and spits it back out in the morning. The poor guy wouldn’t sleep a wink because of the heartburn.

  • avatar Doug

    I see an older photographer laughing (angst?) after their headband slides down over their eyes while setting up for that perfect sunrise shot. As it slid it bunched their hair up on top of their head.

  • avatar Hugh Metcalfe

    Great images, Artie! I definitely see a laughing man’s face. Very clearly defined brow, nose, mouth and chin!

  • I saw the horse only after reading your question. Instead, I immediately saw a human head with the mouth open. I didn’t know what a tam-o-shnater was, but after googling for it, yes it makes sense.

  • avatar Richard Curtin

    Speaking of Scottish, I think the horse head at top left would be more evident after a few sips of Johnnie Walker

  • avatar David Woolcock

    Sorry Art
    The Irish will be incensed as the Tam o’ Shanter is Scottish.



  • avatar David Woolcock

    I see more of an Irishman’s head with a tam-o-shnater on top but yes I do see the horses head on the left side.