So How Did the 600 II Work Out on the UK Puffins IPT? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

So How Did the 600 II Work Out on the UK Puffins IPT?

What’s Up?

I leave for the Galapagos Photo Cruise early on Sunday morning. I have spent the last few days answering many dozens of e-mails and am still far behind. Basically, I will not have internet access from this coming Monday until late in the day on July 29 so please refrain from e-mailing me at the traditional address until my return. For mail order or other help please contact Jim by phone M-F at 863-692-0906 or via e-mail at the staffbaa address. To register for an IPT please contact Jennifer by phone during weekday banker’s hours at 863-692-0906 or via e-mail to our Verizon address with ATTN: JEN in the subject line. AS a side note, my right hand man Jim Litzenberg can help you with just about anything BIRDSASART.

Today is laundry day. Many would chuckle to learn that I pretty much live out of a suitcase when I am home. The dirty clothes go into the washer and then the dryer and then back into the suitcase.

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This image was created on the recently concluded 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/125 sec. at f/14. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the tubercle behind the base of the puffin’s bill 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.

So You Brought the 600 II to the UK: How’d That Work Out?

I traveled to the UK with the 600 II in my big Think Tank rolling bag. I lugged it onto the islands every day in the LensCoat 4X Expandable Long Lens Bag with the companion harness.

As it turned out, I rarely used the 600 II at all. In fact, I used it less than 5% of the time, most of that was with the 2X III TC and the 1D X. For most of the trip, about 90% of the time or more, I went with the amazingly lightweight and versatile Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. On our last morning I was fortunate enough to borrow Bill Lloyd’s Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens. You can learn about the amazing flight images that I created with that and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. I fell in love with the 400 DO II and have ordered one from B&H.

In the image here we were camped out at our favorite morning spot so I sat behind my lowered tripod creating tight head portraits.

AF Question

How did f/14 help me out in the situation above?

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #476

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #476 is online and can be accessed here. Most will enjoy the spectacular opening image that was also made by with the 600II/2X III/1D X combination. It is a tight high key image of a puffin set against a white sky that features incredible detail. See also the information on Jim Neiger’s Haine’s Alaska Bald Eagle workshop.

  • So You Brought the 600 II to the UK: How’d That Work Out?
  • Why?
  • 2016 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
  • Jim Neiger Flight School Photography Haines, Alaska 2105 Bald Eagle Workshops
  • South Georgia October 2015
  • Your Help Needed and Appreciated/Affiliate Stuff


Why travel many hours by car or plane to visit Machias Seal Island, Maine to photograph puffins and sit in a cramped blind for one whole hour with no possibility of flight photography when you can hop on a red-eye flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, live and breathe puffins up close and personal for five full days with tons of flight photography? Not to mention that we get to photograph a fairly wide variety of other seabirds, spend a long morning photographing Northern Gannets in flight until you cannot lift your lens any longer, stay in a lovely place, and photograph two beautiful and historic castles? All of the above while learning from two knowledgeable and creative leaders who love to share and to teach. With 5 (now 6) of the ten slots already filled, this trip may sell out almost instantly. If you have been dreaming of puffins and are good to go, please call (863-692-0906) or shoot us an e-mail so that we can save your spot.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2016 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
June 27 through July 4, 2016: $5699: Limit 10 photographers/only 5 spots left. Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on June 26 arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday 27 June no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are 5 days of planned puffin/seabird trips and 1 morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. And two species of castles 🙂 We will be staying in upscale country-side lodgings that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day and a farewell thank you dinner.

Plan to fly home on the early morning of Monday July 4 or to continue your stay or travels.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2016. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

We do hope that you can join us. artie and denise


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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

21 comments to So How Did the 600 II Work Out on the UK Puffins IPT?

  • Great photos Artie, as usual, and nice to know you have been in the UK!!
    What interests me is not so much the lens you were using but the camera, Canon EOS 7D 11.
    I was out recently with my trusted 7D and was reminded about the auto-focus options; this is really helpful with flight photography! Of course, your 7D guide helped initially.
    It seems the D1 has not got this variable auto-focus ability!? Wonder why because it really does help with flight photography. Or am I missing something. Looking towards a 7D 11 …
    Enjoy Galapagos!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. Am using the 7D II a lot. You have been away from the blog for too long…. Which 1D? The 1D X has the same great AF system as the 7D II….

      Again, which 1D???

      You should join denise and me in Greece or in the UK next June 🙂 a

  • avatar Jeff Sielski

    Hi Art, Outstanding image!!

  • avatar Warren H

    I agree with Elinor Osborn. Obviously, you do too based on your response.

    The one thing missing from the answer is that you had to use the center focus point because you had a minimum aperture of f/8 with the 600 f/4 and 2x TC. Therefore, you couldn’t focus on the eye by moving the focus point. As a secondary priority, you probably wanted as much of the head in focus (i.e. bill) and needed more DoF with that head angle.

    Great photo, by the way. It makes you want to just stop what you are doing and look at it!


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Did mention that : “Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand.”

      Good job and thanks for your kind words. Join us in the UK next year! a

  • avatar Therese Scheller

    My thinking is that because the head is turned the f14 helped keep most of the bird in focus.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good. With the AF point where it was what is the most important thing to have covered by the d-o-f? a

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    The center AF point looks to be pretty much at the top of the gape in line with the bottom of the upper mandible. With a more open aperture DOF would have been more limited making the eye not sharp. So closing down the aperture for more DOF kept the eye sharp.

  • avatar Carl Hanninen

    Please correct your post that says Machias Seal Island is in Maine, when it is in fact in New Brunswick, CANADA.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


      Machias Seal Island is clearly and obviously within US waters. Canada stole it from us. I will not be changing it 🙂

      Please stop telling me what to do on my blog 🙂

      later and love, artie

      ps: no need to SCREAM…

  • avatar Nikhil

    I think f14 helped you get a greater depth of field(deep focus) which in turn helped the bird entirely in focus.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes, but explanation could be better with regards to the active AF point and this specific image….

      • avatar Nikhil

        Hi Art

        Thank you for pointing it out. Yes i should have added it in my response.

        Why did you open the exposure up by +2 stops ? is it that when the center point focus is active, the metering primarily places emphasis on the center which in this case is dominated by the whites. The lesser emphasis on the background and other areas(exluding the black parts of the bird) which is slightly lighter than a midtone so you had to push it by +2 ?

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Hi Nikhil,

          The +2 stops was a cut and paste exposure error from the great high key image in Bulletin #276. My bad. I have correct it above.

          In this image the light tones in the middle balanced nicely with the light green background and the metered exposure worked just fine. As I needed to lighten the image a bit during conversion in DPP 4 +1/3 would have also been fine.

          Thanks for pointing out my error. But the question remains, with regards to this image and the active AF point how specifically did f/14 save me? artie

          • avatar Nikhil

            Hi Art

            I think as the focus was behind the base of the puffin’s bill was active. so a F4 aperture would have led to the eye and beak soft. A f14 ensured it was sharp.

            Better but understand that with the f/4 lens and a 2X TC the wide open effective aperture would be f/8.


      • avatar David Policansky

        Hi, Artie. It’s a wonderful image! In my experience, any head shot with the eye not sharp doesn’t work well. But if you had put the active AF point on the eye, because of the bird’s head angle, the bill would have been pretty much out of focus, enough to have been bothersome, even at f/14. So you focused on the base of the bill and knew that f/14 would be enough to keep the eye sharp enough as well as the bill.

  • Beautiful headshot Arthur!!!

  • avatar Geoff

    Do you feel that the 400DOII is an addition to the 300II or more of a replacement for it? I own the 300II but have been looking at the 400DOII as an option to replace it. Occasionally I have opportunities to shoot at 300 but usually I have TCs on the 300 anyways. The 400 is lighter and would get me out to 800 f/8 in a relatively lightweight package. That is very tempting. Will you sell your 300II after getting the 400 or use them both? Interested in your thoughts. I see Arash has done the switch recently.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      For most folks as a replacement. My near-mint 300 II with all the original stuff is for sale for $4,999. If no takers I will list it when I get back and would be glad to sign it with some sort of indelible marker 🙂 a