Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS II w/Internal Extender & 7D II/Square Crop and More Lessons « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS II w/Internal Extender & 7D II/Square Crop and More Lessons


While it feels great to be home I am still on Alaska time. I hit the sack at 11pm last night, slept only until midnight, and was wide awake reading for about three hours. I fell into a deep sleep at about 3am and slept 5 solid hours until just about 8am. I enjoyed a nice swim and an ice bath. This blog post took about an hour to prepare. It was published at 6:47am on Friday, September 11, 2015.

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This image was created on the 2015 San Diego IPT with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (at 400mm with the internal 1.4X TC in place) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6 was almost a stop too dark. AWB.

AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus Zone AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. It activated two AF points above the center AF point. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Breeding plumage Double-crested Cormorant with crest erected

Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS II w/Internal Extender

The 200-400 II/7D II combo was deadly on the cliffs at LaJolla last year as it usually is when working with large, relatively tame birds. I did great with the 2-4 on my last trip to Africa and I love it at Bosque for the pre-dawn fly-ins and fly outs. On both the San Diego and Bosque IPTs I can ship the 600 and travel with the 200-400. When there is enough light I use the 2-4 with the 7D II. In low light conditions I will usually opt for the 1D X for its superior control of noise at the higher ISOs. When it is either sunny or cloudy bright I grab the 7D II for additional reach.

For our upcoming Japan trip I will likely leave the 2-4 at home and travel with the 600 II and either the 300 f/2.8L IS II or the 400 IS DO II. Why? The mid-range super teles are great for hand held flight with the two species of sea eagles, the Red-crowned Cranes, and the Whooper Swans. And while the 70-200 f/2.8 II kills in low light with the Snow Monkeys, having a mid-range tele along for going super tight is a great plan.

Square Crops

Today’s image was created from a horizontal original. While I am not usually a big fan of square crops this one cried out for exactly that. I find that to be the case with most of my images that wind up as perfect squares. To execute a square crop in Photoshop hit C for the Crop Tool and then select 1 : 1 (Square) from the drop-down menu. Then double click on the image.

Diagonals and Corners

Note that when I cropped this image I opted to bring the diagonal line of the cormorant’s back into the image exactly from the lower right corner. I feel that using diagonals in this manner results in stronger images. Others do not but for me it is a no-brainer.

East Coast vs. West Coast

Double-crested Cormorants on the east coasts exhibit their double crests during the breeding season but their crests rarely if ever have even a single white feather in them. West Coast birds of this species often have bushy white crests. The bird in today’s image has about 20% white feathers in its crest.

San Diego

It ain’t just pelicans!


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….

2016 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?


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.

The San Diego Details

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.


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5 comments to Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS II w/Internal Extender & 7D II/Square Crop and More Lessons

  • avatar David Peake

    As you so often post Artie,
    A simple and beautiful image.
    The subject needs no introduction, no distractions, great light.
    Absolutely love it

  • avatar Gary Axten

    It may be the subject, but in many ways this is as good as yesterday’s image.It has a portrait appeal, nice simple background & the subject has put on their best gems. 🙂

  • avatar David Policansky

    I love this image, Artie. I’ve never seen one like that. I also love the pattern the feathers make on the back; great cormorants also are lovely that way. When President Obama was in Dillingham, Alaska recently he was given a salmon to hold and it spawned on his shoes. An Alaska Native quipped that it was happy to see the president. And so I say this cormorant was happy to see you. 🙂

  • avatar William Lloyd

    “Sick” image, Artie. If mine, that would definitely be printed and hung on the wall! A huge keeper.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill. I should have mentioned that the Brandt’s Cormorants with their cobalt blue eyes and gular patches are also pretty spiffy. a