Serendipitous 1DX Mark II (Dis?) Advantage… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Serendipitous 1DX Mark II (Dis?) Advantage...

What’s Up?

The colonoscopy went well, clean and green. After not eating for 30 plus hours, breakfast tasted amazingly great. Bummer on no swim on Tuesday but my shoulder is aching anyway and I could use a day off. Lots of work to do today.

More high on life: I spent about an hour on the phone on Monday night catching up with former student Sylma Cortes Vasquez. It was great to learn that after running away from home when she was 17 to escape a very demanding and verbally abusive step-father that she made something of her life. She is a radiation therapist, has a wonderful husband, and three great kids, one a skilled varsity soccer player at Sienna College. I shared the basics of my life over the last 40 years with her. There were big smiles and lots of love all around.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 286 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… 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 2015 UK Puffins & Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 200mm) and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6.

Four AF points down from the center AF point/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was on the bird’s eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Arctic Tern on nest

Serendipitous 1DX Mark II (Dis?) Advantage…

Sometimes you get lucky.

I was taking advantage of the tameness of the nesting Arctic Terns and the amazing (less than one meter) minimum focusing distance of the 1-4 II and pointing the lens nearly straight down. I knew that I had the right exposure set manually (from photographing other terns in the unchanging light) and carefully selected an AF point that would fall right on the bird’s eye. I checked the in-viewfinder level. As is my wont, I created three images in rapid succession. Working at close range the bird was startled from the sound of the first shutter release–the 1DX II is very loud–and raised its wings for the second image.

As I said, sometimes you get lucky.

1DX (Mark II) AF Guide Offer

Toward the end of my Long Island trip I found myself relying on my 1DX Mark II more and more, for its high frame rate, fast and accurate AF, high ISO performance, and its f/8 AF advantages (as discussed here ad infinitum here in several of the last few blog posts).

The 1DX II is so similar to the original 1DX that I have no plans on doing any type of 1DX Mark II guide. If you use my B&H affiliate link to purchase your Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader and send me your B&H receipt via e-mail I will be glad to have Jim send you the 1DX AF Guide as a thank you once I confirm that I received credit for the sale.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

First-ever BAA Used 100-400II!
Sale Pending 8/24/16

Mike Hansen is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens in excellent plus condition (with just a few small paint chips on the lens foot)for $1599. The glass is flawless. The sale includes the rear lens cap, original tough front lens cover, the original soft carrying/storage case, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at 312-497-9144, central time.

Y’all know how much I use and love my 1-4II for its incredible sharpness (even with the 1.4X TC), it’s amazing versatility, and its hard-to-believe close focus. artie

The Image Optimization

Though there was unexpectedly little whitewash in the vicinity of this nest, I decided to eliminate pretty much all of it. The final image shows what the nest would look like an hour after a good rain. I used several small Quick Masks, each refined by a Regular Layer Mask; the largest one was transformed and warped. The rest was done with the my usual clean-up tools: the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, and the Spot Healing Brush. I enhanced the highlight in the eye just a bit; it is easy to overdo that. Next, after selecting the bird’s head with a Quick Mask and placing it on its own layer, I applied my 25/25 Nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast/Detail Extractor and a 15/65/0 Contrast Mask; see the huge before and after differences there. Noise Reduction via NeatImage was also applied.

You can learn to do pretty much all of the above and lots more in my Digital Basics File. Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Digital Basics is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, the basics of Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur settings that I use to smooth background noise, and tons more.

Image Optimization Question…

Do you think that I overdid the NIK 25/25 on the bird’s black cap? If yes, how could I have reduced the effect during post?


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.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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.

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, and for everything else in the new store, 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 those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART 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 🙂

7 comments to Serendipitous 1DX Mark II (Dis?) Advantage…

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Glad you are liking the 1DX2. 5D4 being announced tomorrow.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi Glen, Thanks for your purchase (noted in your comment below). Since I usually found myself reducing the Opacity of my 50/50 recipe to 50%, I decided to create a 25/25 recipe in the exact same manner. I very rarely if ever change the Tonal Contrast or Detail Extractor default settings. In the many years that I have been using NIK Color Efex Pro I have messed with the sliders maybe once or twice…

    In the last update, OCT 2012, Contrast Masks are covered on page 79. If you have an older version, please shoot Jim an e-mail at and cut and paste the first page of the version that you do have into the e-mail.

    Please let me know if I have answered your questions clearly.


  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Art: I love the raised wings! I assume it didn’t fly though.

  • avatar Glen Fox

    I have and have read Digital Basics! When you say 25/25, that is clearly the amount slider for the filter, but each of those filters has several constituent sliders … do you use them at their default settings? I have looked several times for Contrast Mask to no avail. Could you enlighten me/us here? Thank you.