Heresy on Bass Rock? An Image Design Question. And a 1D X II Sensor Dust Question « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Heresy on Bass Rock? An Image Design Question. And a 1D X II Sensor Dust Question

What’s Up?

I started and finished this blog post at 35,000 feet en route from EDI to MCO. I am still tired. I can’t wait to get back in the pool. And I need to get back to doing my core exercises…

Nickerson Beach Terns/Skimmers/Oystercatchers Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): July 18-22, 2016. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1899. Limit 10/Openings 6.

Call 863-692-0906 or e-mail for late-registration discount info!

Meet and greet at 3pm on the afternoon of Monday, July 18.

Please e-mail for repeat customer or couples discount info, or for info on a 3-day option.

With only four folks signed up, learning situations will abound. The primary subject species on this IPT will be the nesting Common Terns and Black Skimmers. The trip is timed so that we will get to photograph tiny tern chicks as well as fledglings. There will be lots of flight photography including adults flying with baitfish. Creating great images of the chicks being fed will be a huge challenge. In addition to the terns we will get to photograph lots of Black Skimmers courting, setting up their nesting territories, and in flight (both singles and large pre-dawn flocks blasting off). Midair battles are guaranteed on sunny afternoons. And with luck, we might even see a few tiny skimmer chicks toward the end of the trip. We will also get to photograph the life cycle of American Oystercatcher. This will likely include nests with eggs and tiny chicks, young being fed, and possibly a few fledglings.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, makes-no-sense, 240 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. 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. AND Please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created on the Tuesday morning July 5 Bass Rock landing add-on day with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f11. AWB.

AF Micro-adjustment for the 400 DO II/2XIII TC/1DX II: -5

I selected the AF point two to the right of 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). The selected AF point fell just below the chick’s eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Herring Gull chick

Heresy on Bass Rock?

Be one of the lucky few to make a Bass Rock landing and spend a good deal of your time photographing Herring Gull chicks; what’s wrong with you?

Nothing. I love gulls and their chicks are so, so cute. This was the smallest one on the Rock; most were large or huge. Several were already fledged. I photographed them too… but I did make some very nice gannet photos as well. Coming soon.

Image Design Question

Would you eliminate the dark tones in the upper right corner of this image? If no, why not? If yes, why? And how would you attempt to do it?

The Image Optimization

Converted in DPP 4. Dust spotted. A bit of feather and bill clean-up. NeatImage noise reduction. That’s it.

EOS-1D X Mark II Sensor Dust

I have spoken to at least one other photographer who agrees with me that the 1D X Mark II sensor is far more prone to collecting sensor dust than the last few generations of Canon camera bodies… After using my new camera only a few times the sensor was such a mess that I sent it back to Canon to have the sensor cleaned. I did not check the sensor when I got it back and used it only for six days in the UK. By the middle of the trip I was seeing more than a dozen serious dust spots at only f/8.

I would love to hear from other 1D X Mark II owners as to their opinion of sensor dust on the new flagship professional camera body…


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

This trip has sold out far in advance every year so do not tarry. I hope that you can join me.

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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 New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, 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.

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22 comments to Heresy on Bass Rock? An Image Design Question. And a 1D X II Sensor Dust Question

  • avatar Craig Wiese

    I would leave it as is. Dark area helps focus attention on the chicks head – the focal point.

  • avatar Tony Botelho

    I like the dark area on the upper right, it keeps my eye in the frame on that side. In fact if this was my photograph I may think about burning in the upper left corner to keep the viewers eye in the frame on that side. I said I may do that, I don’t like to change very much about a photo capture unless there was a candy wrapper or other man made trash in the scene that I couldn’t get to. Nice photograph!

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    I’d leave the dark area in upper right. Looks to me like it brings out the chick and its beautiful sharp feathers.
    Here’s something I’ve wondered about for a long time. Before I look at the exposure info on your photos I try to guess what exposure compensation you used. If you say it was +2/3, is that the exposure at the time of capture (which would have been moved to the right in the histogram)? Or was it +2/3 when you converted in DPP while the capture may have been +1? Hope this makes sense?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Whenever I mention EC it refers to the moment of exposure in camera. Here I was rarely and actually in Av mode so the +2/3 is in the EXIF. Most times I am in Manual mode and either remember or guesstimate the actual EC. The shame is that a simple firmware update could give us that info in the EXIF as the camera knows where the indicator is when the shutter button is pressed… I have made that suggestion to Canon to no avail for years.

      If I brighten or darken and image during the RAW conversion I will almost but not always mention it.


      ps: so when you are gonna join an IPT?

  • I would remove the dark tones in the upper right corner of this image because I find it a distraction. I would do this by making a quick mask selection of the top left corner a bit larger than the dark corner, I would then inverse the selection so the top left corner was the selected area, I would then feather the selection by about 50 pixels, copy the selection to a new layer, then Transform – Flip Horizontal the selection and drag the selection to the corner of the dark tones thereby covering it.

  • avatar Buddy Eleazer

    I doubt it is a dust issue. It is an oil issue. Many owners have reported minor oil in early uses and Canon has acknowledge this to some. Most have had no problems following a cleaning and a few thousand accusations

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Buddy. That sounds pretty good. I am checking with Rudy Winston of Canon and will share what I learn with the group here on the blog.


  • avatar Dane

    Hi Artie, I don’t mind the dark area in the upper right corner as it is concave and frames the chicks head. If the dark area were convex I think it would likely be distracting as if something were coming to whollop the chick on the back of the head.

  • avatar Tim Harding

    I don’t mind the dark area, but if this image were mine I would probably lighten it a bit. I would use a luminosity mask and a curves layer to lighten the dark area to my liking.

    If I wanted to remove it completely, I would create a duplicate of the base layer, flip it horizontally, then use the luminosity mask to paint in background from the upper left of the base layer. Brush opacity and/or layer opacity could be used to match the colour tones.

    Nothing beats luminosity masks when dealing with gradient blends of colour or light/dark. IMHO.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Oh yeah, I don’t like the dark area. Find it distracting. Not as bad as a light area would be but still distracting. Because there is no fine detail in the background, I would just paint over it using the clone stamp tool on a separate layer set to lighten mode and then reduce layer opacity to allow a hint of the spot.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I followed the link Matteo provided and updated the firmware. I had not realized there also is a SanDisk software link. I downloaded that too and reformatted the CFast card. The only hitch was the software had to be shut down and restarted before it would read the info on the card. After that it seemed to work fine. Now if Canon would only figure a firmware update to keep the eye cup from falling off. I now have it taped on. Piece of tape holding a $6000 camera together!

  • I like the dark area in the upper right as it concentrates the viewer on the chick.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    I have to admit the 1DX was so good about dust that I have become lackadaisical and never check anymore. After reading your post, I did the f22 sky test and there was one nasty dust bunny. I took 30 seconds and cleaned it off with a Lenspen. That was it for me but I have only about 1000 shots on the body. Thanks Matteo for the firmware link. I have been waiting for that.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Agree with Jackie – arms of steel AND really sharp manual focus!
    The dark spot in the upper right doesn’t bother me. I’m too focused on the adorable chick! As David says, it does add some context and interest.
    Hard to believe we are seeing downy feathers, because this baby looks like a little fur ball with a bill!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry, no arms of steel; I was seated in yucky wet mud with no rain pants on and using the knee-pod. The dungarees got washed twice this morning. And the 400 DO II with the 2X III TC and the 1DX II not only offers AF but you can select any AF point…

      See you soonly,


      ps: I just correct the AF point info in the blog post; I was two to our right of center.

  • That detail on the chick is a killer!

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    Artie, you must have arms and shoulders of steel?? Hand held with 400mm and 2xII WOW! The image is tack sharp!

    The dark area in the corner isn’t an issue for me, it gives some depth and doesn’t distract from the subject. It would be interesting to see the image without the dark area.

    Removing a gradient is difficult with clone and healing brush (for me). It would take time. I would try reversing the image, create a layer and paint away the worst of it, them I would probably touch up with healing and cloning brush. I guess using the patch tool would work just as well.

    I may try it to see if it works. 🙂


  • avatar David Peake

    very chik chick. Cute as can be. I would leave the dark area. It adds a little context and interest I think.

  • avatar Matteo Bianchi

    Canon has recently released a firmware update for the 1dx mark II, to correct a problem with the Sandisk cfast cards (data corruption), described here:

    The latest firmware can be downloaded here:

  • With almost 20 thousands shots and little more than 2 months of use, I had only one spot one day on my sensor and it went off by itself with the built in cleaning system. But, I’m always very careful when * change my lense with the 1DXII pointing the ground.