Honest, I’ve Never Done This Before… Long and Sublime « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Honest, I've Never Done This Before... Long and Sublime

What’s Up

Still feeling good. Got out on Wednesday morning for a few hours. Met a nice guy from CT; we are hooked up for a morning of private instruction and image review tomorrow. Friday am I have my post-op visit at 9am. On the plane home on Monday. But not for long. I leave for Namibia five days after I get home :).

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 145 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 soon. As always–and folks have been doing a really 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) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created on a partly cloudy morning at Gatorland with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800: 1/125 sec. at f/11. AWB.

Sublime Great Egret sleeping

Long and Sublime

On my second visit to Gatorland on March 10, just before I headed for San Diego, things were quite slow with mixed clouds and sun. There were no gorgeous Great Egrets in good positions or settings. Then I came across the bird featured in today’s blog post. It screamed out to me, “Photograph me. I am sublimely beautiful. So I did. I shot verticals and horizontals, all at 1200mm. I even created a few with mixed light on the subject violating one of my never press the shutter button edicts. I did not hate even those.

The Funniest Thing…

The funniest thing is that I pointed the bird out to several other photographers as being particularly beautiful. None bit. I suggested to one guy with a 7D II and a 100-400II that by adding his 1.4X TC that he could make some really nice images. “I don’t use any teleconverters. They ruin the image quality.” Good to know…

Your Call?

Do you share my enthusiasm for this image or do you think that it’s pretty boring because of the soft light and the sparsity of detail? Do you love it or hate it? Either way, be sure to let us know why?

AF Question

If you want the eye sharp, what is the best way to focus this image? One-shot AF? AI Servo AF? Rear focus? Shutter button? A combination of the preceding? Or something else?

Honest, I’ve Never Done This Before…

Working enlarged to about 250% with a tiny, hard (opacity 85%) brush, I sculpted the edges of several sections of the pupil for two reasons: to eliminate chromatic aberration along with edges of the filamentous feathers, and to increase the overall sharpness of the pupil.

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™‚

73 comments to Honest, I’ve Never Done This Before… Long and Sublime

  • avatar Krishna

    Awesome. I love this one.
    Thank you very much for your blogs. They are really helpful to me.

  • avatar Praveen

    Thank you for all your lovely blogs sir, you images are always outstanding and have a different perspective.
    Thank you for all the information sharing

  • Extremely beautiful image this is!!!
    I would consider cropping this square, to make this a perfect wall hangersw

  • avatar Colin Oatley

    Wonderful photo. Why? The delicate lines, the islands of color in a sea of white feathers.

  • avatar Susanne

    So simple – so beautiful!

  • avatar Jeff Friedhoffer

    Love your picture of the great egret.

    Understand the reason for manual focusing, but at 1200mm, doesn’t the image bounce all over the place as you are focusing and the sensitivity of the focusing ring make it very difficult to achieve good focus?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Not with the 4-stop IS for those who employ the advance sharpness techniques in ABP II.

      ps: It is actually pretty easy to MF at f/11… As long as you are on tripod and the bird is pretty still.

  • avatar Ruth Schueler

    Can’t follow, but it is beautiful!

  • avatar Naveena

    I didnt even read the blog when I saw this image(red later) and thought of commenting. Just wanted to congratulate you for this image. I just love this image, it feels like there is some mistery in this image. Having the eye blur adds to the mistery. The position of the eye, the beak, the colours… wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts along with the image!!!

  • avatar Steve Rentmeesters

    Awesome! I bet playing with adjustment curve at the high end could make some interesting alternatives.

  • avatar Jake Levin

    It seems that since the feathers are covering the eye and not leaving anything for the AF to catch behind it, you would have to manual focus the lens and do your best to judge the sharpness via naked eye. I don’t see how the AF could find the eye with so much of it covered by feathers, and if you focus on the feathers just in front and stop way down, you still might not get the sharpness you want, plus your background is no longer soft. I love how the light reflects off the tips of his feathers in the left side of the picture.

  • avatar Tony Botelho

    Love it, and the story about the photographer that ” never uses teleconverters”.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Tony, There are many. Their reason: you can’t make sharp images with TCs πŸ™‚


  • avatar Harry Kaulfersch

    Absolutely Stunning! Perfect composition. Love it!

  • Awesome image. I’d like to see a portrait crop as well.

  • avatar Belinda

    Oh, and the result is outstandingly beautiful.

  • avatar Belinda

    Only manual focus will ensure a sharp eye for this type of image where there is ‘stuff’ in front of what is needed to be sharp. No autofocus mode, including live view, can cope with this.
    In this case the ‘stuff’ is the screen of filamentous feathers over the eye. This will fool any autofocus system – result, sharp feathers, unsharp eye. Focussing manually one can ‘focus through’ the feathers and get the eye truly sharp.

  • avatar Ward Mitchell

    Stellar shot. The longer I study it the more the detail comes to life within the plummage. I can only hope to emulate a shot like that one day…..keep em coming.
    Ward in Canada

  • avatar Den Bagwell

    Re: Why you MUST use MF for this one (without Live View)?

    Is it because the camera automatically controls the aperture in Live View?

  • avatar Jennifer Morris

    I love it. It’s got a Charley Harper feel to it.

  • avatar Michelle

    One of you more creative shots. Has a bit of edginess to it

  • avatar Kathleen Graff

    Well, I’m getting in on this late…. Really beautiful image. I liked it a lot the moment I viewed it. Not boring or bland at all. At first I would have said use manual focus to make sure that the eye is sharp. However, since you reject that, I’d go with depth of field preview button to make sure the eye is sharp and you could also control the sharpness of the feathers. Could do this with live view also.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Where did I say that I reject manual focus?


      • avatar Kathleen Graff

        Because of your response to Cheri’s answer?

        She said: I would use live view, magnified, manual focus.

        And you said: Even sleeping birds are moving all the time so LV is NG :).

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          The problem is using Live View not using Manual focus πŸ™‚ There is a big difference.

          later and love, artie

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Absolutely beautiful!! Love It!!

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    I am definitely a sucker for high-pass photos and this one is really a lovely shot. To have a light photo like this and keep the saturation in the bill and the black eye really creates a stunning image. And love the softness of the perimeter feathers as they blend into the background.

    Considering you were using the 2X converter and having only one af point available (won’t it be great to have the new version of the 1DX available to overcome this limitation), I would think you would use a rear focus and recompose. I honestly don’t know what the difference would be to use single shot AF or AI servo. Perhaps you could help this dummy on that question?

    Again, lovely photo.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. Will help soon. For now, all wrong answers and guesses but you are in good company with most everyone else πŸ™‚ later and love to you and Laurie and see you in the Galapagos at the latest πŸ™‚ a

  • avatar Cheri

    Absolutely love it! With this image, less is more. Bit of mystery with a sharp, crisp eye! The softness of the feathers just adds to the overall image.

    I would use live view, magnified, manual focus .. Test shots to select best DOF

  • avatar Chuck Carlsonk

    Beautiful! But I presume with 600 II, not 500 II.

  • Amazing image – the feathers partially obscuring the head absolutely MAKEs the image! Nit picking here, but I might move the head a little to the left, as there is too much featureless white on the extreme left. BUT – I wasn’t there so I don’t know if there was a distracting background that made you compose it this way.

  • avatar Paul Smith

    Love it!!!!! <3

  • avatar David Policansky

    Love the image. I haven’t had great results with the 1-2 II and 1.4X TC but I know many people have. I use spot AF when I want a bird’s eye to be sharp and i’d probably use one-shot AF, although I have never tried spot AF with a TC.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Note even spot AF will get through those filamentous feathers to the eye…


  • avatar Neil Caithness

    Love it. The eye is everything.

    Single point AF on the eye.
    Rear focus and recompose if needed.
    Smallest aperture possible to get the deepest DoF as AF is likely to pick a point a little forward of the eye (no background to blur here). DoF for 2x500mm, f/11 at 1200mm is about 90mm (but at f/8 DoF would drop to about 70mm, which may also be fine).

  • VERY VERY nice! Just love it! Well seen and done. Focus point on the eye.

  • avatar Den Bagwell

    Beautiful image btw…why not manual focus this one???

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good questions but I have a better one. Why MUST you use MF for this one (without Live View)?



  • avatar Den Bagwell

    Artie – perhaps I’m missing something here, but how are you shooting at 1200mm w/ a 500mm and the 2X TC?

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    As I pulled the image up on the monitor it was “WOW” pause, I saw the eye then “WOW” then a double wow when you said you used the 2x!! “So you can get sharp images with a 2x”???

    The detail of the feathers veiled over the eye surprised me with the clarity….you did a fantastic job with the eye.

    I’ve not used the rear focus so that is something I need to practice with and learn. I would use the center AF point, one shot, and for me I would have half pressed the shutter button to focus and keep it focused, I know that is wrong.

    I love it and I would print it…In love with the mysterious look…”The White Phantom” plus what AR said!! πŸ™‚ Have a great day keep healing!! Jackie

    • avatar Jackie Milburn

      MF focus?? I guess if I was in the field I would have resorted to MF.

      I have a lot to learn to keep up with you all….

  • Manual Focus on the eye using live view. Alternatively, use the center point AF and recompose – but this one makes it more difficult to nail the plane of focus precisely.

    Choose an aperture that will give you enough depth of field to get an area covering the hair in front to an area slightly behind the eye in sharp focus.

    Take multiple shots using a wireless remote or the multi shot timer setting. This should cater to any slight movements of the bird as well as the relatively slow shutter speed and give you a couple of sharp shots if you are lucky.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Again, sleeping birds are moving all the time do LV and MF is not a good plan… a

  • avatar Ted

    I would use manual focus and also try focusing on part of the bill on the same plane as the eye

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Gorgeous image! The feather detail and colors of the bill and lore is sublime. The image is peaceful, however, the eye looks a bit ominous under there! Agree with Ar: A signature “Arthur Morris” image.

    I would use rear button focus. I would put the center AF point on the eye, hold the button down to get it in focus, then frame the shot how I want it and take the shot.
    You don’t say anything about evaluative metering?

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie.
    Really love this image.
    For focusing I would use manual focus with some enlargement on the rear screen if the bird was fairly still.
    Did you mention Michael Tapes.?

  • avatar Brendan

    Love this one. Among the “abstract” or non-traditional portraits, I most love the ones that are still demonstrably a bird, but where its not obvious on first glance. The colors, lines, and details that emerge with closer inspection are all wonderful here.

    Regarding the focus, I dont know. I’d think rear button and recompose. Maybe manual?

  • avatar Ron Fullelove

    Hi Artie,
    It’s been a while since I commented on one of your posts. But saw the image above and had to take time to say WOW, I love it.
    Fine art indeed.

  • avatar Mike Moore

    My test is always could I hang it on my wall and look at it every day? This definitely qualifies. One of my favorite images of yours ever. Shows how a great eye can find great images in your backyard and can find unique perspectives on commonly photographed birds. Wow!

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    A sublime image! I’d shoot Live View, cable release, A1 Servo and place the focus point on the eye.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the superb but all wrong, especially since at 1200mm you only have the center AF point πŸ™‚ a

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Manual focus using live view enlarged?
    Sublime !!! image. Mysterious, delicate, subtle detail in the white feathers, just 3 colors–yellow, green, white. It’s unique with the feathers over the eye.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Even sleeping birds move so MF with Live View might work or it might not… a

  • avatar Gordon Lindsay

    A really nice soft image one I think could rank with the Gannet images.

  • avatar Helen Jones

    This is a superb image Artie.

  • Really like it. Different, detail, colors, and eye visible and sharp enough to draw your attention. If rear focus didn’t work, would try live view and manual even with some magnification – if the bird was still enough.

  • Oh man, I am really captivated by this image. It really looks like a mean and menacing egret the way you got it frowning down. Oh, and indeed good to know about TC’s! πŸ™‚

  • avatar Shane Shacaluga

    What’s not to like here! Looks like some godly being looking down from the clouds!

    Depends how you cropped this but single point AF using Rear focus and moving focus point to the right of the viewfinder would have been my chosen option.

    Glad the TC guy knew his stuff πŸ™‚

    Great image and glad to see you are recovering well

  • avatar Ar

    Exquisite. Artistic. Soulful. Hauntingly beautiful. A signature “Arthur Morris” image.

  • avatar Gerald Kelberg

    Love it – big time! Beautiful image composition. The fine feather tips over the eye and the green lore give the image a ‘sublime mystery’.
    Keep well! Gerald