Made With the 100-400 II/2X III/1D X? Seriously You Jest… Plus Bright Sun Lesson « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Made With the 100-400 II/2X III/1D X? Seriously You Jest... Plus Bright Sun Lesson

What’s Up?

I am feeling much better today. My right shoulder was the only thing still seriously bugging me by yesterday afternoon but I was able to get a late, last minute appointment with TJ McKeon, my Active Release Technique chiropractor and good friend. He hurt me pretty good but the shoulder is much improved this morning.

This blog post took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare. It was published from my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL just after 6:15am on Saturday August 8, 2015. I fly to Long Island on Monday afternoon to visit my Mom and lead the Nickerson Beach/JBWR IPT. With back to back Alaska trips (including the Bear Boat IPT) I will not be back home until September 9.

Namibia IPT

If you missed the info on this great trip, please click here. So far we have assembled a cast of international participants: one from the US, two from South Africa, one from Hong Kong, and one from Australia. More than a few are world class photographic talent….


This image was created on South Plaza Island on July 25, Day 12 of the 2015 Galapagos Photo-Cruise. I used with the tripod mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11. AWB.

Manual focus by necessity. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Female Land Iguana resting in the shade

Bright Sun Lesson

It had been cloudy as we sailed to South Plaza and cloudy while we rested a bit after a great lunch. It was cloudy when I woke up from my nap and cloudy as we boarded the pangas (zodiacs). It was cloudy as we made the dry landing just after 2:30pm. And then the big cloud moved to the east as the sun moved slowly toward the western horizon. We had to deal with bright sun and blue skies.

As is usually the case, there were lots of big Land Iguanas basking on the rocks near the landing site. Everyone was excited as they properly moved to our right to sun angle. But we were limited by several Stop signs; nobody could get right on sun angle with their shadows pointing at the subjects. I cautioned that the resulting side-lit images would be less than pleasing in the harsh sun, but big yellow male Land Iguanas were too much for folks to resist. Even when I pointed out the lovely lady iguana sitting in the shade the boys and girls continued making bad images despite my protestations…. Sometimes the clients just don’t listen. During an image sharing session everyone loved my in the shade lady but were–as I had predicted, not too happy with their images of the males in bright sidelight….

Made With the 100-400 II/2X III/1D X? Seriously You Jest

I had chosen the tripod-mounted 100-400 II/1D X combo for our session at the landing as the male iguanas were both close and fairly tame. My 400 DO was resting comfortably in my Think Tank Glass Limo. My TCs were in my fanny pack. Once I spotted the lovely lady iguana sitting in the shade I reached for the 1.4X TC and mounted it. But I still did not have enough reach. So I did something unthinkable: I reached for the 2X III TC and switched out the TCs. Why earthshaking? At f/11 I would have to focus manually; you lose two stops of light with the 2X and go from f/.5.6 to f/11. Without AF. But I was too lazy to get up off of my comfortable perch on a smooth lava rock….

While focusing manually (note that being on a sturdy tripod with a good tripod head is a necessity) I simply concentrated on the iguana’s captivating eye. Focusing accurately was actually a snap. Even as she changed position slightly I was able to focus accurately. Most every image in the series was incredibly sharp. At one point I focused automatically using contrast off the sensor in Live View but the manually focused images were just as sharp and it was easier to re-focus manually when the animal changed position so I quit using Live View.


This (sharpened) 100% crop gives you an idea of how sharp the optics are with the 100-400 II/2X III combo and gives you an idea of how easy it is to focus manually when you concentrate on the subject’s eye….

The Ramifications?

#1: the new 100-400II is so sharp that using it with the 2X III TC yielded super-sharp images.

#2: the techniques detailed above will work only with relatively static subjects provided that the photographer is working on a tripod. Do not even think about using the 100-400II/2X III combo (yes, this will work with the 7D II as well as with the 1D X) when hand holding.

#3: though of somewhat limited use, working with the 2X III TC and the 100-400II further expands the amazing versatility of the new 1-4.

If what you have read in today’s blog post prompts or inspires you to purchase either the new 1-4 or the 2X III TC please use our affiliate logo link above to order either or both. If just one, simply click on the desired item.


All of the images on the bear boat card above were created in Katmai National Park during the month of September.

Bear Boat/Bears Catching Salmon IPT: September 1-8, 2015 from Kodiak, AK/6 FULL & 2 HALF DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings: 2. Plus the leader: Arthur Morris.

Call for late registration discount info: 863-692-0906 and ask for me.

Join me in Katmai National Park, AK for seven days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears (grizzlies) catching salmon, fattening up for the long winter. Other subjects will include Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls in flight and dip-feeding on salmon roe. Did I mention that we live on a boat and that the food is great? Most of our photography will be done in a variety of famed locations: Geographic Harbor, Kinak Bay, and Kukak Bay. We once had 39 bears fishing the creek at Kukak….

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of August 31, 2015 September to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of September 1. With air travel in AK being what it is, with the chance of fog or other bad weather–being on Kodiak on August 30 is an even better plan). I will be on Kodiak on August 30 to avoid any potential disaster. That said in my nearly a dozen bear boat trips I was delayed only once but since I was day early as noted above there was no harm, no foul.

We will take one or more float planes to the boat mid-morning on September 1. We will photograph bears fishing that afternoon and every day for the next six days (weather permitting of course). We should have bears catching salmon every day. In addition, we will get some nice stuff on Mew Gull and Glaucous-winged Gulls dining on roe and the remains of predated salmon. We may–depending on where the concentrations of bears are–get to photograph Harbor seals and some hauled out Steller’s Sea Lions (an endangered species). Halibut fishing (license required) is optional. On September 8, our last morning on the boat, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will do so. The group returns to Kodiak via float plane midday. Most folks will fly to Anchorage and then continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

The eight days will consist of six full days (Sept 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7) of photography featuring lots of Coastal Brown Bears catching salmon as above plus a variety of other natural history subjects plus some nice scenic photography that I forgot to mention above. Plus the first afternoon and the last morning.

What’s included? 8 DAYS/7 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. (The food is quite excellent.) National Park fees. One night’s double occupancy lodging on Kodiak; arrive: Sept 1/depart: Sept 2. The thank-you-in-advance dinner on Sept 1. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional; I will constantly let you know what I am thinking, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). All necessary lodging other than the cost of your double occupancy room on the night of August 31 should you opt to arrive early–we can arrange that in advance for you. We will let you know the cost of a single supplement for the one night if so desired. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat on September 2 and back to Kodiak on September 9. The cost of a round trip this year was $500. The suggested crew tip of $210.

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 6 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….) it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “Arthur Morris” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policy. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us.

Your deposit is due immediately. That will leave a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on February 15, 2015. The final payment of $2000 is due on May 1, 2015.

I hope that you can join us for this wondrously exciting trip.


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8 comments to Made With the 100-400 II/2X III/1D X? Seriously You Jest… Plus Bright Sun Lesson

  • avatar Johann Mey

    Thanks for this. Think on your feet with available gear. Brings me to a question. Does a 70-200mm F2.8 plus TC’s not give you more flexibility than the 100-400mm F4.5, provided you have a long lens like the 500mm or 600mm F4?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The 70-200 with both TCs is an option but unless I am working in low light I would much rather have the 1-4II in my hands. Super-versatile, great for flight and amazing close focusing. And does great with the 1.4X III and as we see here, with the 2X III and static subjects (as long as you are on a tripod….) I do own both as there are times when I need f/2.8 and reach is not a problem. If I could not afford to own both I’d opt for the 100-400 II. a

  • avatar Doug Faulder

    Artie, in this situation do you adjust the Stabilizer mode, i.e. turn it Off?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nope. At times I remember to switch if from 2 to 1. But I leave it on virtually all the time for birds and wildlife. I turn it off only for really long exposures, > 1/2 sec…. a

  • The images are great and so is the lens. Many of my friends are buying version II of this great lens.

    However, recently Nikon stunned the enthusiast world by announcing a 200-500mm f/5.6 telezoom lens at only US$ 1,400/-. Many wildlife shooters are quiet for a while now and calculating in their minds ‘now what to do!’ Just one combo of this lens plus a Nikon body seems to be able to serve all the purposes of an enthusiast.

    We know you are a Canon user however; would like to know your take on this Guru? No it’s not a question of Canon vs Nikon conflict; it’s about whether such a ‘do all’ lens serves most of the purposes of an enthusiast wildlife photographer. Also whether, Canon is brewing any such idea.

    Thanks in advance.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I was not stunned. Nikon stuff is usually very expensive and in general, you get what you pay for. Canon folks have the 100-400 II and the 200-400 with internal TC to choose from and I know that both are amazing lenses 🙂 a

  • avatar David Policansky

    Thanks, Artie. I learn something from each of your blog posts.