Go Take a Bath with the 7D II/100-400 II « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Go Take a Bath with the 7D II/100-400 II


I enjoyed a great morning with battling Long-billed Curlews and an amazing afternoon with bathing gulls and another killer sunset right behind Bird Sh*t Rock. I spend tomorrow with Bill Goodhew and Dwayne Marrott and then meet the Canon group at 7:00pm.

This blog post took about 2 hours to prepare and was published at 9:20pm from my hotel room in Morro Bay, CA.

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This image was created on the afternoon of March 18, 2015 just north of Morro Bay with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400 mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

Zone/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). It selected three AF points that covered the breast and the base of the bird’s left wing, all on the same plane as the eye. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Western Gull bathing

Bathing Photography Strategies

Tight for Drama and Spray

The first temptation when photographing bathing birds is to zoom in or get closer to create tight dramatic images with lots of water droplets flying and sharp detail on the bird’s face. The problem there is that when the bird flaps it is close to impossible to either move back or to zoom wider unless you are able to read the behavioral clues that let you know that a flap is coming. Some birds bathe and bathe for so long that you are positive that a flap is never coming. Then, when you finally let your guard down they jump up and flap and flap. On the day that I made this image I clipped the wings on more than a few flapping Western Gulls when I failed to zoom wide enough….


This image was created on the afternoon of March 18, 2015 just north of Morro Bay with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 278 mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stops: 1/3200 sec. at f/5.6. Color temperature: AWB.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). This image is a small crop from below and behind. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Long-billed Curlew flapping after bath

Bathing Photography Strategies

Wide for the Wing Flaps

If you want to get a great flapping after bath image the very best strategy is to stay back and/or to stay zoomed out. At all costs, resist the urge to get closer or zoom in. And if you are using a zoom lens, it is best to zoom a lot wider than you anticipated to avoid clipping any wingtips. If you find yourself clipping the wingtips when photographing gull flapping after their baths, you might try going vertical.

Exposure Question

Why only 1/3 stop difference in the two exposures here?


The strange thing is that when I lived in New York, I never knew about this amazing and consistently productive location.

Nickerson Beach/JBWR (possibly…)/Black Skimmer/Oystercatcher/migrant shorebird IPT: August 13-16, 2015. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1399.

Meet and greet on the evening of WED August 12. Limit 10/Openings 9.

Most of our seven photo sessions will be spent at Nickerson beach photographing the nesting Black Skimmers. In flight, sometimes battling. Carrying fish. Chicks of varying sizes from a very few just-hatched to lots of fledglings. It is likely that we will get to see some Great Black-backed Gulls preying on the juvenile skimmers. They swallow them whole. There will be lots of gulls to photograph as well as some Common Terns. Locally breeding shorebird species include American Oystercatcher–pretty much guaranteed, Willet, which is likely, and Piping Plover, which is probable but we need to get lucky with those to get close….

If local conditions are ideal we may visit Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to photograph southbound migrant shorebirds on one or possibly two mornings. Even if we do not visit JBWR we should get some good chances with the migrant shorebirds at the beach, especially Sanderling and Semipalmated Plover. Red Knot and others are possible.

Save a space by calling Jim or Jen at the office and arranging to leave your deposit of $499. I hope to see you there.


As you can see, the oystercatchers are quite tame at Nickerson. And we will get you up early and we will stay out late.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge In-the-field Instructional Photo Workshop/Scouting Session. August 12, 2015. Morning only: $250. Cheap!

The tide will be pretty good at the East Pond…. If I learn that conditions there are un-photographable we will do Nickerson Beach as a back-up. This will work either as an add-on for out of town folks coming for the IPT above or as a stand alone session. Either way, you will, as always, learn a ton. And we might even get some good images.


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2 comments to Go Take a Bath with the 7D II/100-400 II

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Tim. You are on the right track, but…. In most cases, you would expect the difference in exposure for a bright white subject and a basically brown subject to be right at about one full stop. The question here is why is the difference only 1/3 stop…. artie

  • avatar Tim Harding

    I’m guessing the EV difference is due to the whites in the gull.