Blindfolded and Prodded into Action; What are Friends For? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Blindfolded and Prodded into Action; What are Friends For?


I woke at 3:30am, packed, got to the airport at about 5am, got TSA Pre :), and enjoyed a smooth flight to Orlando. Jim picked me up at 9:45am. Then Publix and home. I did my core exercises and enjoyed a late swim.

This blog post, the 105th in a row–don’t ask me why…., took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare. It was published just after midnight on Thursday morning. Though I arrived home on Wednesday, I head over to St. Pete tomorrow afternoon, that being Thursday, to meet the group on the sold out Fort DeSoto IPT.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice Spoonbill and Wading Bird Chicks IPT: May 4-6, 2015. TWO FULL and TWO 1/2 DAYS: $1099. Limit 8/Openings 5.

Enjoy practically private instruction. Please call the office at 863-692-0906 for St. Augustine IPT Late Registration Discount info. For complete details see yesterday’s blog post here and scroll down.

Canon’s Huge Megapixel Bodies

Many of you have read about the two new Canon 50+ megapixel bodies, the Canon EOS 5DS DSLR and the Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR. The two cameras look, sound, and pretty much are quite similar. I have withheld commenting until now because I did not have a good–heck, I did not have any–understanding of the single difference between the two bodies, that being the Low-Pass Filter Effect Cancellation.

If you missed the hugely popular “Canon’s Two New 50+ Megapixel Camera Bodies/You Must Read This Before You Buy,” you can click here to catch up and learn a ton to boot.

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This image was created on the North Shore of Long Island with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/11. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo/Rear Focus/Expand AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Piping Plover male with clean background

Thanks a Stack

Thanks a stack to old friend Tom Pfeifer who got me off of my butt on out of my Mom’s house to photograph on my last afternoon on Long Island. I met Tom at a designated 7-11 where my gear was put in the trunk of his car and I was blindfolded and put in the back seat to make sure that I didn’t know the location of the beach where this endangered species has a small stronghold. Tom knows that I like to share and that I like to yak; the less pressure on the birds the better. Several plovers slept in the same spot for about two hours as we sat by the colony ropes waiting for something to happen. At about 6:30 we got some action. I am glad that Tom got me out there.


This image was created on he North Shore of Long Island with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/10. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo/Rear Focus/Expand AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The active sensor was on the breast band just our side of center. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Piping Plover male with beach vegetation background

Your Choice?

Today’s two images represent two different styles. Image #1 is clean and tight, large in the frame with almost a non-background, a swath of totally out of focus sand a good ways behind the bird. In the second image, Image #2, the bird is smaller in the frame and is nicely framed by some beach vegetation. Do you like the in-your-face image or the Japanese painting image?

Please help make the blog interactive by leaving a comment and letting us know which one you prefer. And be sure to let us know why.

600 II/2X II/7D II Combo

I have been talking a lot lately about the vagaries of autofocus. When working at an effective focal length of 1920mm (38.4X) creating consistently sharp images is a challenge. In each set of three or four similar images I’d say that one was always a bit sharper than the others. It helped a lot to snug up both the horizontal and vertical panning knobs on the Mongoose M3.6 Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads just a bit….


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30 comments to Blindfolded and Prodded into Action; What are Friends For?

  • avatar Steve Soderling

    Okay Artie, you definitely got me on this one. I would have bet some money on the 1DX body for image #1 for sure. BTW, when are you going to let us know how badly we did picking the body in your earlier posts?

    Also, I prefer image #1. I like the extra texture and up-close feel that this one provides. An image that let’s me ‘count the feather barbules’ is almost always a winner with me.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Steve, Sunday, I promise. I think that you did better than anyone but you only batted about 500…. artie

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    I prefer #2 because the background ives the image a sense of depth to he eye.

    ps. Love my 7D II

    Best wishes Artie

  • avatar Graham hedrick

    Art. What is a TSA precheck?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Trusted frequent flyers often get that stamped on their boarding pass = very lax security πŸ™‚ a

  • avatar Dave McShaffrey

    Artie – love the cloak-and-dagger. You did turn the GPS on the 7DMII off, right? πŸ™‚ I like #1 better; that’s the zoologist in me showing. One of my students had some amazing “Japanese Painting” images out of his iPhone that he shared in a presentation yesterday and I do like the aesthetics of that style.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Dave, I am a good fiction writer too :). I never use the GPS. Too technical for me. Thanks for stopping by.


  • avatar Carol Nichols

    I like the second image way more than the first, but then I always seem to prefer images of birds and animals that are smaller in the frame and include some of their surroundings. To me those images tell a lot more of the story. In image #2, the OOF vegetation in the background is a huge plus over a solid background (IMHO).

  • avatar Marc Lombardi

    Hi Artie … on the topic of big glass, 2X, 7DII combination, I have had no success with my 500 I, 2xIII and 7DII. Success with the 1.4X has been better but not consistent. It’s back-focusing and I’m at the limit of the MFA. I hear Canon is aware of the issue and is doing a firmware update soon. Have you heard anything about this?

    Thanks! And I like #1 πŸ™‚


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Marc,

      I have only heard the web rumors, nothing substantive. It takes great care to get them sharp at the ridiculous magnifications. If it is consistently back-focusing you might want to try simply moving the micro-adjustment for a given combo. Or, stay tuned for the next LensAlign/FocusTune tutorial.

      Have you tried photographing newsprint taped flat to the wall at various distances?


    • Marc, I have some of the same issues with my 500II used with an extender III on my 7D2. I’m not dismissing the possibility that it is operator error (for me) but I get so much better performance with the 5D3 body with the extenders. I have tried many different MFA settings with the 7D2 but that seems to make no difference. The 7D2 seems to work great with the bare 500 and lesser focal length lenses. It’s good to hear there may be a firmware update possibly addressing this issue. I have also considered the possibility that since I’m used to shooting the 5D3 with a battery grip, getting a grip for the 7D2 might help me to approximate the weight and balance that I’m used to with the 5D3. This, too, falls under the heading of operator error, I admit. Was also thinking about sending the 7D2 in to be checked. I also tried Lens Align with no success.

  • avatar Scott B

    I agree with Doug that I enjoy seeing the little guys big in the frame. I would like #2 more if the beach straw wasn’t in front of the bird as it does add a little more to the image.

    Outside of that, you really are an upstanding birder because you could have easily turned on the GPS features of the 7DII and got the location coordinates, blindfolded or otherwise. I did not see it in the EXIF data. Kudos!

  • avatar Byron Prinzmetal

    In 2 the beach stuff doesn’t really in my mind frame the bird. A good frame in my mind is one because of the frame leads ones eyes naturally to the bird. So my eyes like #1.

  • Great #1 pic. Cleaner. Don’t mind extra relevant background in some pics, but #2 background doesn’t provide it to me in this instance.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Art, I prefer the first one, hands down! I seek out “clean” shots — I actually think about that when I’m taking pictures. But, if it’s a great shot (chicks at the Alligator Farm for example), I’ll take it knowing that I’ll want to clean it up in Photoshop. I’m anal — about my house and my bird photography!

  • avatar Mike Poole

    It’s number 2 for me. I like seeing the environment in an image, it answers the question: Where does this bird live, what does it do?

  • avatar Joe Subolefsky

    Artie I like #1 a lot more not just for the clean BG but overall the bird looks sharper to me with more detail in the legs and the beak. Are they close to the same amount of crop or was one bird much closer then the other?

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie,
    Good things can happen when friends prod us into action. Having an experience is more valuable to me than sitting on the couch watching someone else doing life.
    That little Plover was waiting for you.
    I really like #1 because he’s bigger I the frame and the background is clean. It’s undoubtedly about the bird.
    Safe travels
    Be blessed ,

  • avatar Fatima


    I prefer #1. I find the background and the vegetation a bit distracting in the second image.

  • Hi Artie, image 2 is the sort of image I get most of the time and would be happy with, but image 2 is what I would prefer. I think I would get bored with perfect images like no1 all the time and you need to sometimes include habitat in the shot but in this case I am going for image 1.
    Keep up the great work, I look forward to your blog every day.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Andy, Did you mean to say “but image 2 is…” I think that you got #1 and #2 mixed up a bit πŸ™‚ a

  • avatar Sabine

    My first comment on your blog which I follow since a couple of months – thanks for all the effort, I learned already a lot – all in small convenient portions.
    I definitely like the 2nd more – I prefer the more natural feeling, the “not-so-perfect-beauty” as in the Japanese concept of wabisabi.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Hi! Both show the bird in its habitat but the pebbles say “beach” more so than the vegetation. So – No 1 for me. Still incredible to see almost identical poses in 2 images. After Naveena’s comments I looked harder and could find differences in the two birds (but VERY close).

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes incredible, including my nearly identical angle into the bird, that to do with the breeze and the light angle. arie

  • avatar Naveena

    Hi Artie, For me the birds in both images looks exactly the same. Did you manipulate one of the images?
    I like the clean and neat first image!!! Those pebbles and clean background works for me!!!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nope. Two completely different original RAW files. I did a bit of beach clean-up in #1 and a bit less in #2 but otherwise the same bird in a very similar pose.

  • #1 for me. I’ve always been an ‘in your face’ type of shooter.

    I just love seeing the small birds get some recognition by
    being larger πŸ™‚

    This is actually why I never post an image on BPN πŸ™‚ I always
    hear, its a nice image…but…(and I know whats coming next)…its to
    big for the frame. UGH!

    I love ’em big cause for me, it gives a little more emphasis on
    their texture if you will.

    But that’s me and my style I guess.