100-400 II Versatility, Tips, and Landscape Photography Tips & Better Beamer Answer… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

100-400 II Versatility, Tips, and Landscape Photography Tips & Better Beamer Answer...

What’s Up?

I have been tying up lots of loose ends here at the home office getting ready to be away for 2 1/2 weeks. I fly to San Diego this Friday and am hoping to undergo green light laser prostate surgery the following Friday. After the announcement of the huge price reduction on the Japan in Winter IPT yesterday I was pleased to learn of the first sign-up. One down seven to go.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 127 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only.

Price Reduced $2500

Japan In Winter IPT. February 9-24, 2017: $11,499 (was $13,999)/double occupancy. Limit 8, openings 7.

Price Reduced $2,500 on 3-8-16!

Please e-mail for couple and IPT repeat customer discount information.

As I really, really want to make it back to Japan in winter one more time, I decided to lower the price of the world’s best Japan in Winter trip by $2,500. Yes my trip has three great leaders including the best bird photography instructor on the planet. That’s the guy who knows where to be when and why. And yes, it is now a bit more expensive than most. And yes, we stay at a fine hotel in Tokyo. And yes, we stay in a marvelous traditional hotel for our three nights at the Snow Monkey Park. And yes, we are perfectly located on Hokkaido, minutes from the premier Red-crowned Crane sanctuary and an easy drive to most of the other wondrous avian attractions. And yes, we enjoy home cooked breakfasts and dinners prepared by Shinobu, the wife of our local Japanese guide. She is an incredible chef. After three visits her meals are now traditional Japanese fine-tuned for the American palate. And yes, my tour is longer than the others, giving us many days with the cranes. I saw one trip with only two days of crane photography; what a bummer. End each day with a traditional onsen (hot springs mineral bath) to complete your immersion in Japanese culture.

Life is short. I hope that you can join me. Scroll down for complete details.

Everybody’s Doing It…

Everybody’s buying and selling used gear on the BAA Used Gear Page. Sales recently have been through the roof. The sale of three of the twelve items that I posted to the Used Gear Page this morning are pending after only four hours.

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 charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They recently folded. And eBay fees are now in the 13% range. 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 months, we have sold just about 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. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab now on the the left side of the second yellow-orange menu bar at the top of each blog post.

Brand New Listings

Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II Lens

Moody McCall is offering a used Canon 300mm F/2.8 IS II in excellent condition for $4599. The sale includes the hard case and key, the nylon front lens cover, the rear cap, the lens strap, a LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via major carrier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Moody by e-mail or by phone at 904 635 4388 (Eastern time).

The 300mm f/2.8L IS II is astoundingly sharp both by itself and with either Series III teleconverter. It is relatively easy to hand hold for most folks and is a truly great flight lens. It makes an ideal everyday super-telephoto for folks who like to go light and those who usually work with tame birds. artie


This image was created on the recently concluded 2015 Japan in Winter IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 182mm) and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops as framed: 1/20 sec. at f/22 in Av mode. Shade WB.

Center AF Point (Manual selection)/AI Servo Rear Focus a bit past 1/3 of the way into the frame and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: River in marsh on misty morning/color version

100-400 II Versatility, Tips, and Landscape Photography Tips

Many folks do not realize that intermediate telephoto lenses are great tools for landscape photographers; here the 1-4II at 182mm enabled me to get the exact framing that I wanted. Note the effective use of the “S” curve of the river. I like that the “virtual” river exits the frame from the lower left corner.

The 100-400 II is often on my shoulder via a Black Rapid Strap where I can grab it in a moment. Most of the time I unscrew the lens foot with the Wimberley P-20 plate to save a bit of weight. The P-20 is perfect for virtually all intermediate telephotos and telephoto zoom lenses; its flange keeps it from twisting and coming loose.

If I will be working close to the vehicle as was that morning in Japan, the foot and plate assembly remains in my Think Tank Rolling bag where I can grab it easily when I need to put the lens on the tripod for landscapes. If I am away from my vehicle I place the foot and plate assembly into one of the top zippered pockets of my Xtrahand vest.

As almost always when doing landscapes and flowers I worked in Live View (for mirror lock-up) with the 2-second timer (to ensure maximum sharpness). In these situations I am almost always in Av mode so that once I determine the correct Exposure Compensation I can change the aperture quickly and easily by working the index finger wheel. If you are in Manual mode you will need to make two adjustments rather than one. For me, Av mode is easier and makes sense in these situations.


This black and white image was created from the optimized TIFF that opens today’s blog post.

Image #2: River in marsh on misty morning/B&W version

Local Guide and more…

Having a local Japanese guide who happens to be a Nature’s Best Japan-honored photographer not only assures us of access to all of the secret spots but will put us there in the right weather conditions… And co-leader Paul Mckenzie has years of experience in Japan to go with multiple BBC and Nature’s Best honored images.

The B&W Version

I created the B&W version of todays’ featured image with the NIK Silver EFEX Pro High Dynamic Smooth pre-set.

Your Fave?

Please take a moment to let us know which version you prefer, the color version or the Black and White version. And as always, please let us know why. And remember, the more interactive the blog is the more everyone learns. In this race, I have a clear favorite.

Better Beamer Answer…

In the Blacklit blog post here, I asked “Why should you NOT use a Better Beamer in strongly backlit situations?”

Answer: The Fresnel screen that comes with each Better Beamer contains the following warning: This is a magnifying lens. Pointing the lens near the sun may result in damage to your camera or your eyes. It would have been a good idea to have addd “or to your flash!” If you point your lens toward the sun as you would do in a backlit situation you run the risk of burning a hole in your expensive flash. I’ve been there and done that many times… The smell of the burning plastic is yucky! It is best to remove your beamer when working backlit or to at least remove the Fresnel screen.

Kudos to John Rowell and Bobby Perkins for supplying the correct answer in the Comments section.


Consider joining me in Japan in February, 2017, for the world’s best Japan in Winter workshop. Click on the card to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Japan In Winter IPT. February 9-24, 2017: $11,499 (was $13,999)/double occupancy.

Price Reduced $2,500 on 3-8-16!

All lodging including the Tokyo hotel on 9 FEB, all breakfasts & dinners, ground transport and transfers including bus to the monkey park hotel, and all entrance fees and in-country flights are included. Not included: international flights, all lunches–most are on the run, and alcoholic beverages.

Please e-mail for couple and IPT repeat customer discount information.

This trip is one day longer than the great 2014 trip to allow for more flexibility, more time with the cranes, and most importantly, more time for landscape photography. Hokkaido is gorgeous. You will enjoy tons of pre-trip planning and gear advice, in-the-field instruction and guidance, at-the-lodge Photoshop and image review sessions in addition to short introductory slide programs for each of the amazing locations. Skilled photographer Paul McKenzie handles the logistics and we enjoy the services of Japan’s best wildlife photography guide whom I affectionately call “Hokkaido Bear.” His network of local contacts and his knowledge of the weather, the area, and the birds is unparalleled and enables him to have us in the best location every day.


Amazing subjects. Beautiful settings. Nonstop action and unlimited opportunities. Join me.

The Logistics

Arrive Tokyo: 9 FEB 2017 the latest. 8 FEB is safer and gives you a day to get acclimated to the time change. Your hotel room for the night of the 9th is covered.

Bus Travel to Monkey Park Hotel: 10 FEB: A 1/2 DAY of monkey photography is likely depending on our travel time… This traditional hotel is first class all the way. Our stay includes three ten course Japanese dinners; these sumptuous meals will astound you and delight your taste buds. There are many traditional hot springs mineral baths (onsens) on site in this 150 year old hotel.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 11.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 12.

13 FEB: Full travel day to Hokkaido/arrive at our lodge in the late afternoon. The lodge is wonderful. All the rooms at the lodge have beds. Bring your warm pajamas. A local onsen (hot springs bath and tubs) is available for $5 each day before dinner–when you are cold, it is the best thing since sliced bread. The home-cooked Japanese styles meals at the lodge are to die for. What’s the best news? Only a small stand of woods separates us from the very best crane sanctuary. During one big snowstorm we were the only photo group to be able to get to Tsurui Ito; we had the whole place to ourselves in perfect conditions for crane photography!

FEB 14-23: Red-crowned Crane, raptors in flight, Whooper Swans, and scenic photography. Ural Owl possible. An overnight trip to Rausu for Steller’s Sea Eagle and White-tailed Eagle photography on the tourists boats is 100% dependent on the weather, road, and sea ice conditions. Only our trip offers complete flexibility in this area. It has saved us on more than once occasion. The cost of 2 eagle-boat trips is included. If the group would like to do more than two boat trips and we all agree, there will be an additional charge for the extra trip or trips. No matter the sea ice conditions, we will do two eagle boat trips (as long as we can make the drive to Rausu; it snows a lot up there). We have never been shut out.In 2016 there was no sea ice but our guide arranged for two amazingly productive boat trips.

Lodging notes: bring your long johns for sleeping in the lodge. At the Snow Monkey Park, and in Rausu, the hotel the rooms are Japanese-style. You sleep on comfortable mats on the floor. Wi-fi is available every day of the trip.

FEB 24. Fly back to Tokyo for transfer to your airport if you are flying home that night, or, to your hotel if you are overnighting. If you need to overnight, the cost of that room is on you.


Life is short. Hop on the merry-go-round.

To Sign Up

To save your spot, please send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit check made out to “Birds as Art” to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. I do hope that you can join me for this trip of a lifetime. Do e-mail with any questions or give me a buzz at 863-692-0906.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent Galapagos cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links πŸ™‚

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 just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

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.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


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

20 comments to 100-400 II Versatility, Tips, and Landscape Photography Tips & Better Beamer Answer…

  • avatar charles russell

    Hello Arthur,

    I have prayed that all will go well with the op, next week.

    Love you Arthur.

  • Off topic but good luck with the surgery !

  • avatar Dane

    Hi Artie; Of the two images I prefer the color image. The pink in the stream is great. As you may recall I love working with monochrome, and with this image I would try combining both images to see how it works by adding a mask to the b&w image and painting in the b&w effect on the grasses to tone down the color while not eliminating all of the color. This should help the pink in the stream pop a bit more.

  • I prefer the color version. Others seem to have covered this pretty well. I think the peach color reflections off the water a really beautiful. That shine really grabs my eye and pulls me into the photo. The tones of the grass compliments this color very well, all adding a wonderful soft and detailed image. I just don’t get that visual attraction with the b&w version.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    I like the colour version better, I like the soft pastel colours, and the refection in the water shows so much better.

  • avatar James Saxon

    Color version. The reflections in the water, soft pink color in the water and very subtle in the grass in the lower part of the image gives it depth. The B&W appears a little soft without the color going through the grass.

  • Interesting no one has voted for the black and white…including me. I like the one with color in the water by far the best…reflections on water are a fav of mine.

  • avatar Bob Allen

    I prefer the color version; it’s much warmer than the bw. I feel more of a connection to the landscape with color.

    In the section “100-400 II Versatility”, second paragraph, “The P-20 is prefect” should be “perfect”

    I too dig the new 100-400 IS II lens. Thanks for letting me borrow yours @La Jolla cliffs this January. Had to have one for myself, now using it a lot.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, thanks for the typo correction, you are welcome, thanks for using my B&H affiliate link, and hope to see you soonly. a

  • avatar Kathleen Graff

    I much prefer the color photo. The color adds a delicate warmth to the subject that is very nice to look at. The color photo is about mood and also texture and detail; the B&W is mostly just about texture and form (?) I don’t find the B&W cold, though, just not as successful a photograph.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    I agree that the color version is more pleasing to the eye. There is more contrast and definition, even the grasses appear sharper to me. I really like the warm colors on the water and the way you framed it, that warmth draws your eye right in to the center of the shot.
    Photo #2 is very cold, not as sharp. There is no ‘movement’ in this photo.

  • avatar David Peake

    Yep. I like the first one too.
    It’s the warmth in the water from the sky that makes it for me.

  • avatar Brendan

    I love the color picture more. I feel like the black and white one is lovely, but is sort of timeless – it could be from any time of day and any time of year. The color one feels like a captured moment – one can picture the exact time of day and season and imagine it lasting for just a fleeting second.

  • avatar Larry Brown

    I prefer the color photo. Before even seeing the b/w the color of the sky reflecting in the water really caught my eye.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Another vote for the colour version, the peachiness is too good to lose.

  • Artie,

    I once left my Better Beamer in the back seat pointing up. It burned a hole in the upholstery!


  • I like the color version. It almost has a 720nm filter effect…part infra with a little color. The water also has a nicer shine than the black and white. I think the reflections pop a little more.

    The black and white version is almost monochromatic to me.