More 100-400 II Versatility: Variations on Subtlety… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

More 100-400 II Versatility: Variations on Subtlety...

What’s Up?

I felt great and strong all day Saturday. My discomfort level is down 80% from Friday. Folks should know that with green light laser prostate surgery that the success of the surgery is generally not known until from 2 weeks to 2 months after the procedure. That said, there are lots of positive signs already. And I am thrilled that I am doing so well. Again, huge thanks to the many who sent prayers and good wishes.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 142 days in a row with a new educational blog post. Assuming that I will be making the trip to Namibia on April 11, this streak will come to an end fairly soon. As always–and folks have been doing an incredibly 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. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) that we would appreciate your business


This image was created on the Japan IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 321mm) and the amazing mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/320 sec. at f/16 in Av mode. AWB.

One AF point up from the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: trunk of birch tree in snow

The Backstory

On our trips to Lake Kussharo to photograph the Whooper Swans I noticed many lovely birch trees in the snow. But we were always in hurry to get to the lake or to get to the ramen noodle shop or to get back to our lodge. But a few seeds were planted as I loved the look of the patterns on the white bark of the birches set off by a fresh snowfall.

On the morning of February 21 we headed out early for a landscape photography session and then headed back to the lodge for breakfast. I did find some birches but they were lacking character… As I had already eaten (as part of my diabetes regimen) I grabbed my 1-4II and took a walk in the woods surrounding the lodge. Bingo! Fifteen minutes after finding this lovely birch tree we were all photographing Red-crowned Cranes at the sanctuary that is just down the hill from our Hokkaido country home.

Image Thoughts

I like the tilt of the trunk; introducing diagonal lines whenever possible adds interest to your compositions. And I like the little snow pile to our right of the trunk. And I love the patterns on the bark. My first thought was to do all verticals but this, the lone horizontal design, was my favorite by far.


This version was created from the original that opened this blog post.

Image #2: trunk of birch tree in snow/BuzSim III version

Topaz Simplify

I brought the image into Topaz Simplify and experimented with several of the BuzSim options. I liked BuzSim III the best.

Topaz Simplify

If you missed my first effort with Simplify, you can see it here. I was thrilled with what Topaz Simplify did with my pelican image so I decided to see how it might work with this birch tree image. You can help support my efforts here on the BAA Blog by clicking on the logo link above if you would like to join in the fun. After you click, be sure to watch the great instructional video.

Topaz Simplify: Turn your photos into works of art. Create paintings, sketches, watercolors, cartoons, and more. Make your art uniquely personal instead of using cookie-cutter filters. Get better results faster with specialized digital art technology

To use Topaz Simplify open your image in Photoshop, hit Filter > Topaz Labs > Topaz Simplify 4. Under COLLECTIONS, click on BuzSim and then click though the various presets. Here I chose the seventh preset, BuzSim III. And then hit OK.


This version was also created from the original that opened this blog post.

Image #3: trunk of birch tree in snow/NIK Silver Efex Pro Wet Rocks preset

NIK Silver Efex Pro 2

I use NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 (now free to all/click here) for all of my B&W conversions. Here I went with one of my favorite presets: Wet Rocks. The others that I am partial to are High Structure (usually smooth) and Full Dynamic (again, usually smooth).

Your Fave?

All are invited to leave a comment and let everyone know which is their favorite of the three images, and why. I have a clear favorite.


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-limited single supplements available. Limit: 9.Openings: 3

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 supplies large does of inspiration. In addition, 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™‚

18 comments to More 100-400 II Versatility: Variations on Subtlety…

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Yep, definitely a Geisha with lots of make-up on. Even a splattering of hair!

  • avatar Ar

    I prefer #1. I like the subtle shades of color that complement the texture.

    I see the profile of a fox on the right edge of the tree about halfway down.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I think that I see the snout of the fox with the two eyes a bit lower than that. It has a scar on its snout… Is that what you are seeing?


      • avatar Jackie Milburn

        Took me a few minutes but I finally found a the fox…. πŸ™‚ If I keep coming to this blog post I’m going to pick #3: trunk of birch tree in snow/NIK Silver Efex Pro Wet Rocks preset

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    Hi Artie hope you don’t mind me using “Artie”?? #1 Is perfect! The tonality is what draws me in along with the crispness of the bark. The snow around the trunk breaks away setting off the woman’s profile that is clearly in the image.

    #1 is my Favorite

    Happy you’re getting good reports, may your recovery be speedy and perfect.

    Thank you for everything you do to get me in my creative zone!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Artie, artie, a, or Arthur are all fine πŸ™‚ I think that I see the lady… a

      • avatar Jackie Milburn

        πŸ™‚ She’s Victorian Style, Large hat, the snow on the tree trunk would be her hair…I guess the facial features are Picasso style..I’m having fun staring at the bark and making out different things…Hope your knee is feeling better and everything else is too! Jackie

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Sorry Artie, Love the affect of Image #2 for this photo. While in Japan, think like a Japanese!

    Again, Great to hear about the recovery rate.

    Later, Frank

  • avatar Frank Sheets


    I am typically a B&W fan, but iin this case, I like the color better. For some reason, considering the photograph was taken in Japan, the tone of the photo seems to have a Japanese flavor to it. I love the subtal tones, kind of pastells, which for me creates a very soft, appealing flavor to the image. Almost looks like a water color painting. By comparision, the B&W image is much harsher. Anyway, just me.

    Happy to hear you seem to be recovering at a record pase. That’s great!

    Later, Frank

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Frank, Thanks πŸ™‚ Do you like #1 or #2? It sounds as if you are describing #2?

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Good morning Artie!
    Positive signs and the progress you’ve made so far is amazing! I wish you a continued speedy and full recovery.

    For me, I prefer image #1 .
    #2 does not have the detail I want to see with a birch trunk. There is more detail in #1. For example, you can see the peeling bits of trunk better and the eye-like scar on the upper right of the trunk is much more clear and defined in #1. Finally, #1 is warmer and has more dimension: #2 and #3 are a little ‘flat’.
    All my best to you!

  • avatar Cheri

    Image #1 is definately my fav. I love the clean lines, and fine details. Pure, simple and basic, as nature does it best! The blush color on the trunk adds just a hint of interest. Image #2 is just to surreal for me, IMHO.. Continued prayers for a full recovery.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Cheri. Not sure what you mean by blush color… Please explain. Never mind. I just checked online: blush–a pinkish skin color. You gotta love the internet. artie

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    Glad to hear you are feeling better Artie.Will keep you in thought and prayers.

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie,
    I’m a huge fan of black and white.
    The B/W here is my fav also.
    I love the way monochrome reduces an image down to the essentials.
    Light and shadow, line and shape , positive and negative spaces, mood and emotion.
    Not at all as keen on the colour image.
    Kind regards