Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know...

What’s Up?

I got home to Indian Lake Estates at 7:45am on Thursday, just 36 hours after leaving the lodge in Hokkaido, Japan. Co-leader Denise Ippolito had it worse: she was weather-stranded in Toronto, Canada when her flight to Newark was canceled. It took her 48 hours to get home. We both, however, feel that with the Snow Monkeys, Whooper Swans, Steller’s Sea Eagles, and Red-crowned Cranes, the long travel sessions were well worth it.

Toward the end of my 4-hour layover at LAX late on Wednesday I fell off the wagon to the tune of 4 large chocolate chip cookies, two mocha latttes–my first ever, and eight one-inch brownies. After vowing not to eat a thing on my non-stop red-eye flight I accepted and ate a bag of chocolate chip brownie brittle. Twice. The scale was kind to me on Friday morning: 185 1/4 showed only a four-pound weight gain on the trip. I got back on the healthy eating wagon yesterday and will be in the pool today.

I took my first jet-lag “nap” yesterday: 3 1/2 hours from 10:15am till 1:45pm. Then I surprised myself by sleeping from 9pm till 6:15am.

I learned yesterday that the sale of Steve Maxson’s old five and his 70-300 are pending. There are still many great buys on the board; you can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 116 days in a row with a new educational blog post. This post took me about 90 minutes to assemble including the time spent on the image optimization. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated.


Like yesterday’s featured image, this one was also created right near our lodge on the last afternoon of the 2016 Japan in Winter IPT with the with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 176mm) and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the snow: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB.

See below for AF info. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Red-crowned Crane adult and young

Whose woods these are I think I know…

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

High Level AF Question

For today’s image I used the center AF point while set up with AI Servo/Shutter Button AF. How was I able to get sharp focus on the cranes that were well outside of the AF array? Hint: the answer is in most of our Camera User’s Guides.


At times my work is criticized by various internet experts as too clean, too tight and too graphic. 🙂 But since my style is being emulated by thousands I do not lose much sleep over such comments. My rationale has always been as follows: if the background is butt-ugly I will do my best to eliminate it by getting close and using long fast lenses with teleconverters. If, however, the background is lovely or dramtaic or interesting, I will go wide and include it. Thus I coined the compound word “bird-scapes” well more than a decade ago.


This image was created at Lake Kussharo on the Japan in Winter IPT with the hand held Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens at 16mm and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1400 sec. at f/11.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the swan on our right, re-compose, check the in-the-viewfinder, rotate as needed, and push the button. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

With the Singh-Ray 77mm warming circular polarizer set to dark.

Image #3: Whooper Swans on frozen lake with big clouds

Speaking of Bird-scapes…

In the 16-1200: It’s All in the Eye of the Beholder & The Big Question. Plus More Amazing 5DS R Fine Detail… blog post here, I asked, “Which is the strongest image, Image # 1, the tight head portrait, or Image #2, the wide angle bird-scape?”

Though–as several who commented did–I loved the tight, clean Whooper Swan head portrait, but I felt that the wide image with the black water and the puffy white clouds was the stronger image by far. Why? Because the placement of the two swans, the black water, and the puffy white clouds made the image a unique bird-scape.

The Singh-Ray 77mm Warming Circular Polarizer

I used my Singh-Ray 77mm Warming Circular Polarizer and my Singh-Ray 5-stop glass ND more than a few times on the trip, the former with both the 16-35 f/4 and with the 100-400 II, the latter always with the 100-400 II via the Xume system (see same below). Do not use the Xume system with your wide angle lenses as it will cause serious vignetting at the wide settings. In a blog post soon I will be explaining why it is mandatory to use the Xume system when working with the Sing-Ray Ten-stop ND for 30-second exposures on bright sunny days…

Learn how co-leader Paul Mckenzie taught me to set a circular polarizer to dark on a cloudy day in the original blog post here. And learn to set your polarizer to dark on a bright sunny day by clicking here.

Singh-Ray Filters

Singh-Ray filters have been used by the world’s top photographers for many decades. Singh-Ray is and has been the name in quality filters. I often use the 77mm warming polarizer set to dark at Bosque to get to a slower shutter speed in too-bright conditions. No other filter manufacturer comes close to matching the quality of Singh-Ray’s optical glass that is comparable to that used by NASA. And they continue to pioneer the most innovative products on the market like their ColorCombo polarizer, Vari-ND variable and Mor-Slo 15-stop neutral density filters. When you use their filters, you’ll create better, more dramatic images and, unlike other filters, with absolutely no sacrifice in image quality. All Singh-Ray filters are handcrafted in the USA.

Best News: 10% Discount/Code at checkout: artie10

To shop for a Singh-Ray warming polarizer (for example), click on the logo link above, click on Polarizers/color enhancing on the menu bar, choose LB Warming Polarizer, choose the size and model, add to cart, and then checkout. At checkout, type artie10 into the “Have a coupon? Click the “here to enter your code” box and a healthy 10% discount will be applied to your total. In addition to enjoying the world’s best filter at 10% off you will be supporting my efforts here on the blog.

Xume Stuff!

Here is how I use the Xume system with your intermediate telephoto lenses:

First I screw one XUME 77mm Lens Adapter onto the front of my 100-400 II and another onto the front of my 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II.

Next I screw my Singh-Ray 77mm 3-Stop Resin Mor-Slo Neutral Density Filter, my Singh-Ray 77mm 5-Stop Glass Mor-Slo Neutral Density Filter, and my Singh-Ray 77mm LB Warming Circular Polarizer into their own individual XUME 77mm Filter Holders.

The lens adapters stay on the lenses. The ND filters and the polarizer stay screwed into their own filter holder. The filter/filter holder combos are stored in the lovely labeled leather pouches that come with each Singh-Ray filter purchase. The three of them fit perfectly into the small upper left zippered pocket of my Xtrahand vest. When I wish to mount a filter onto the front of one of my intermediate telephoto lenses I simply remove the lens hood, grab the filter that I need, and pop it securely into place in less than an instant. Ah, it’s the magnetic thing!

Be sure to replace the lens hood so that you do not accidentally dislodge the filter by whacking it against some shrubbery. To remove the filter simply remove the lens hood, pop the filter off instantly, place it back in its leather case, and stow it. With the Xume system there are no more tears. You do not have to screw and unscrew the filters onto the front of the lens. There are no more jammed threads. The Xume lens adapters and the filter holders are precision-machined to guarantee fast and secure filter attachment every time.

It is an elegant system but I can recommend it only for intermediate telephoto lenses: when used with short lenses and short zoom lenses some serious vignetting will occur at the wide(r) focal lengths.

If you own only one lens and two filters I would recommend the XUME 77mm Lens Adapter and Filter Holder Starter Kit. It contains one lens adapter and two filter holders.

The next step up is the XUME 77mm Lens Adapter and Filter Holder Pro Kit. It offers two lens adapters and four filter holders. That one was perfect for me.

If you need Xume stuff for front element sizes other than 77mm please use this link; you will find two pages of good stuff!

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. We sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and visiting the BAA Online store as well.


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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 🙂

23 comments to Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know…

  • avatar Walt Thomas - Tucson

    Artie: Whose wood these are I think I know….if you have not heard this poem put to music perhaps you would enjoy the poem from another perspective, espescially the “and miles to go before I sleep” portion? Utube Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening – Randall Thompson/Chor Leoni, as well as Stopping by etc, Dav English3, spoken by Susan Sarandon.
    Randal Thompson was the only composer Robert Frost allowed to set this poem to music. I’ve been fortunate enough to sing this with a chorale group years ago.

  • avatar Bobby Perkins

    Perhaps, If I remember, you choose to set the AF-On to AF Lock, and you prefer to use the star button to focus for thumb issues.

  • avatar Mervyn Lowe

    Use Custom Function > Operation/Others > AF-ON/AE lock button switch.

    Took me a few minutes of trying various settings to find it.

    Normally I have the AF-On button set to AF stop and the AE lock button set to a registered AF point.

    I’ll have to play around and see which setup would suit me.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Confused. All that I do is set up the AF-On button to AF stop as you do… a

      • avatar Mervyn Lowe

        I made looking for the answer harder than it was…

        I misread what button you use for rear button AF, I thought you said AF-ON but I see you use AE lock.

        I suppose we should tell others how to set up AF-ON to stop AF:

        Custom Function > Operation/Others > Shutter button/AF-ON button > Metering + AF start/AF stop

        Anyway, if someone finds it easier to use the AF-ON button for focusing and the AE lock button to stop AF they can switch them via the custom function I mentioned.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Hold the shutter button half down?

    Or use the rear star button to hold focus, it’s a menu option & I think you have a name for it. I have your books but it has been a while since I read them. 😛

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Holding the shutter button down half way only works if you are in One-Shot AF. I was in AI Servo….

      You are close but I have the star button set up for rear focus…


  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    “Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the swan on our right, re-compose.” Doesn’t this quote say it all? You held the rear focus button (you had it set up on the star–I think) while focusing on the right bird. Let go and recomposed. Then pushed shutter.
    Or if this quote is wrong for the swan photo, you held the shutter button halfway while focusing on the right swan. Recomposed and pressed shutter.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No, no, and no. With the cranes and the woods image I was in shutter button AF/AI Servo… a

  • avatar Bobby Perkins

    I have to say Artie, because of you “birdscapes” is definitely what I call landscapes or scenic with birds. Also why I always love having the mid-range zoom afield. Those early morning blast-offs in their seasons, the fiery in the midst sunsets & sunrises, Nature’s places birds gather and scatter in beautiful light is my delight. Ya, ya went and made me grab my Robert Frost book with my first cup of coffee. Thanks for that.

  • avatar John Patton

    How about the auto focus lock button?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are on the right track. How would you set that up? a

      • avatar John Patton

        Not sure with Canon. On my Nikons it’s a menu option. I have it set in My Menu so It is very easy to turn on or off.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          What do you press to stop AF once you have set it?

          • avatar John Patton

            There is an Auto Focus Lock button on the back of the camera. Push shutter release part way down, push and hold AF Lock, recompose and shoot. After exposure AF returns to normal. I don’t use it very often, preferring to use rear button focus.

            Thanks John. As I like to use shutter button AF for flight and action I have a trick, actually one that I learned from a friend, to do the same thing. None of the Canon folks here have figured it out yet… artie

    • avatar Bobby Perkins

      I’m guessing the friend might be Mr. Jim Neiger. He sets the star button (*) to AF Lock. This way he can AF with the shutter button and press (and hold) the star button to recompose and shoot on the fly with out compromising his ability to always remain in AI Servo. This is always been my preference over back-button focus, especially for BIF.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Correct on the friend but I have the star button set up for rear focus… IAC, you are close.


  • How was I able to get sharp focus on the cranes that were well outside of the AF array?

    You focused on the cranes, let go of the button and recomposed.