Graphic Depth-of-field Lesson & 100-400 II Versatility « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Graphic Depth-of-field Lesson & 100-400 II Versatility

What’s Up?

I flew to Guayaquil with friend and participant Chris Billman. We are both beat after a long day of travel. I meet the group tomorrow at 10:00am for an orientation meeting and introductory slide program.

Beginning on Tuesday I will be leading a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Cruise in the Galapagos archipelago. It will be a first ever with two days spent at the two best sites, Hood Island and Tower Island.

I will not have internet access until late in the day on July 29 so please refrain from e-mailing me at the traditional address until very late July. 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.

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Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few weeks we have sold nearly everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can see the complete listings here.


This image was created on the San Diego IPT just moments before the image below with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm), and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/10.

Distance to the subject: about 12 feet.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the pelican’s eye and re-compose. With my left forearm resting on a rock wall for stability. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Tight Sleeping Brown Pelican

100-400 II Versatility

That the same lens with the 1.4X III TC made both of today’s images from pretty much the same position demonstrates the amazing versatility of the 100-400 II. It truly is an astounding tool.

Graphic Depth-of-field Question…

Before you scroll down to the answer below. Try the following: In image #1, the aperture is f/11. In image #2, the aperture is f/10. For all intents and purposes, the apertures are the same. How is it possible that the ocean in Image #1 is totally out of focus–a pleasing blue blur, but that the equally distant waves image #2 are fairly sharply defined?


This image was also created on the San Diego IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 214mm), and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/400 sec. at f/11.

Distance to the subject: about 12 feet.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the pelican’s eye and re-compose. With my left forearm resting on a rock wall for stability. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Brown Pelicans: One Sleeping, One Scratching

Graphic Depth-of-field Answer and Lesson

With both images, I was about 12 feet from the subject. The only important difference in the EXIF data between Image #1 and Image # 2 is the focal length. A visit to Depth-of-Field revealed the explanation:

Depth-of-field with a 7D II at 12 feet with a focal length of 215mm at f/11 is roughly .38 feet, roughly 4 1/2 inches. (Note: I originally posted 34 feet in error.)
Depth-of-field with a 7D II at 12 feet with a focal length of 560mm at f/10 is roughly 1/2 inch.

Thus, the shorter the focal length at a given aperture and a given distance the greater the depth of field. Some might like to think of it like this: when you go to a shorter focal length you are effectively moving away from the subject, thus the huge increase in depth-of-field. In any case, note how much more the background was brought up in the second image as compared to the first image.


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

2015 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) JAN 8 thru the morning of JAN 12, 2016: $1899 (Limit: 10)

Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the day before the IPT begins
Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito

Join us in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants in breeding plumage with their amazing crests; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions likely; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice landscape opportunities as well.

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, five lunches, after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions, and a thank you dinner. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 11/1//2015. 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. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.


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10 comments to Graphic Depth-of-field Lesson & 100-400 II Versatility

  • avatar Nuno MATOS

    Hi Artie, That is the main diference of shooting with a 300mm or shooting with an almost 600mm, the compression of the background and the shallow DOF.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      True in part…. Again, if subject size in the frame is the same the d-o-f with a 300mm and a 600mm at the same aperture will be the same. Folks have a hard time understanding that concept so take some time to think about it 🙂 a

      • avatar Warren H

        We need to remember that the distance to the subject is going to be very different with a 300 vs. a 600, if the subject is the same size in the image. This greater distance to the subject for the 600 increases the depth of field to that off the 300 at a closer distance.

        (I think I said that right!)

  • avatar Warren H


    Is “perceived” sharpness also a potential impact here? What I mean is, if you have a soft or blurry image, when you look at it from further away it appears sharper. Focal distance is definitely a main factor, as you indicated, but I think this also plays a role…

    In this series, the water in the wider shot looks sharper partly because we are zoomed out and looking at more water. We are focusing on larger areas and larger items, like foam. In the close shot, we see very little of the water due to the narrow angle of view.

    As an example, if you crop the wide view down to only see the area of water shown in the close view, you will loose some of the perceived sharpness. (I know there are less pixels, etc, but I think you will still see my point.)

    Just a thought!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I understand what you are saying but feel that the BKGR in the 2nd image is considerably more defined than in the 1st images. artie

  • avatar Warren H

    I get 0.38Ft, not 34 feet for depth of feild at 215mm, f11?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Warren,, You are correct. Not sure how I came up with 34 feet but my eyes did see that number 🙁 I will amend the text, add an explanation, and address your comment above. Many thanks. artie

      • avatar Warren H

        Things happen when you are tired, jet lagged and having a hard time keeping eyes open….

        Its just a little decimal point…

        Have a great trip!

  • avatar Bob

    Magnification and fstop are the keys. you achieve greater magnification by getting closer or using a longer lens. For a given magnification, how you achieve it is immaterial, long lens from far, short lens up close, depth of field is the same. f stop of course is the other factor.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Bob, Your statement as it stands is factually incorrect. It is true only if the subject is the same size in the frame in each of two images… 🙂