Canon EOS-5DS R/100-400 II for Flight and What the heck is a lying histogram? And some pretty fancy Photoshop work… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon EOS-5DS R/100-400 II for Flight and What the heck is a lying histogram? And some pretty fancy Photoshop work...

What’s Up?

Boy, this is getting repetitive. I’ve got to get out more. What’s on the schedule for Saturday? BAA clerical work and answering e-mails, preparing blog posts, posting different stuff on FaceBook, an easy 3/4 mile swim, and some core exercises and stretching.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Tale of the Scale

When I left home in mid-July, I weighed in at 182, my fighting weight. After eating eight jars of various healthy nut butters on my 5-week Long Island trip, I weighed 188 3/4 my first morning after getting back home. Yikes! This morning, aided by my fast last Monday while prepping for my colonoscopy, I tipped the scales at 184 3/4. I will be losing more slowly in the coming weeks. 175 would be lovely…

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, 290 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.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

If you missed the special edition Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR blog post yesterday, you can catch up here.

Anyone with an interest in the new camera should check out the round table video here. The panelists include my good friend, top Canon technical rep, Rudy Winston. You need to scroll all the way down to the bottom to find the video.

DPI-SIG Naples Speaking Gig

On the morning of Saturday September 10, I will be presenting “A Bird Photographer’s Story” at 9am in the auditorium at Florida SouthWestern State College located at 7505 Grand Lely Drive, Naples, Florida, 34113. Learn more here. If you live anywhere near SW Florida, I hope to see you there. Be sure to come up for a hug. Those who would like me to bring along a mail order item or two from the BAA Online store are invited to contact me via e-mail no later than a week in advance.


This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) with the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop off the blue sky: 1/5000 sec. at f/6.3. Daylight WB.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point (as shown in the DPP 4 screen capture below) was on the base of the near wing, which–fortuitously–was on the same plane as the bird’s face. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Western Gull in flight showing dorsal wing surfaces

Canon EOS-5DS R/100-400 II for Flight

The Canon EOS-5DS R/EF 100-400 II makes for a great lightweight combination that can easily be hand held for photographing birds in flight. Comparing the 5DS R to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, the resulting image quality when a sharp 5DS R image is cropped to the size of the bird in the frame with the 7D II image will be far superior. With today’s featured image, I executed a pretty decent crop while maintaining excellent image quality. I did add canvas left and below as noted below under Image Optimization. And by working wider when doing flight, you have a much better chance of getting the AF point on the bird’s face, head, neck, or breast (shame on me here…). In addition, when working wider, AF has a much better chance of tracking successfully and producing razor sharp images.

The same, perhaps in spades, can be said about the recently announced Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR which offers less megapixels, a faster frame rate, and most likely a superior AF system. More on that topic here on the blog soon.


DPP 4 Screen Capture

DPP 4 Screen Capture

As always, there is a lot to learn by taking a close look at the DPP 4 screen capture. First note that I failed miserably in getting the AF point (illuminated above in red) on the bird’s face, head, neck, or breast but that the image was quite sharp in spite of me. Next, check out the RGB values with the cursor placed on the brightest whites on the gull’s head: 233, 233, 233.I got the perfectly neutral whites as you can see in the screen capture, by using click White Balance). Note also that I increased the exposure just a bit by moving the Brightness slider .12 to the right…

The Lying Histogram

The screen capture here reveals what I refer to as a “lying histogram.” Though the WHITE RGB values are right where I want them, 233, 233, 233, there is no visible data anywhere in the right-most histogram box. Please do not think that this is a problem only with DPP 4. The same exact thing happens often with digital cameras. That is why you need to learn to get in the habit of not only checking the histogram in each new exposure situation, but you need to start pushing the exposure to the point of blinkies (while working in Manual mode of course) and then backing down on the exposure by going one or two clicks faster with the the shutter speed.

Note: at times with images like this folks with good vision viewing the RGB histogram can see tiny strips of Red, Blue, and Green making their way into the fifth histogram box. I have all my cameras set up so that I can view both the Luminosity and the RGB histograms.

The Image Optimization

When I first looked at this image, my thought was that even with a large crop from the right and below to true 3X2 image quality would be fine. But I wanted to keep the waves. First I leveled the image based on the horizon line using the Ruler Tool and Image > Rotate > Arbitrary. Then, using techniques from APTATS I & II I moved the bird back in the frame. But the gradations in the sky made that impossible so I came up with plan B:put the bird in the upper right of the frame by cropping a bit from the top and a lot from behind and expanding canvas left and below and then filling it in with Content Aware Fill. (Yes, I know that the latest version of PS CC will do that automatically with the Crop Tool set up properly but I hate having to reload all of my plug-ins so I still do it the old-fashioned way). I needed to smooth things out in the lower left corner. After that I decided to do a few swipes with the Patch Tool to add the waves there. So I wound up with the bird in the upper right thirds position, much like the dowitcher in the recent post here. The upper thirds positions can be very powerful when you have lots of nice habitat or a pleasing, varied background to work with.

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…

I set the black point with a Levels adjustment–hold down the Alt key while pulling in the slider until you see black specks. In retrospect, I think that I made the blacks too black. What do you think?


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

2017 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) JAN 11 thru and including the morning session on JAN 15: 4 1/2 days: $1999.

(Limit: 10/openings 8)

Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Tuesday 1/10/17.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well.

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication.

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//2016. 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. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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 please remember that I am 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, 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 🙂

11 comments to Canon EOS-5DS R/100-400 II for Flight and What the heck is a lying histogram? And some pretty fancy Photoshop work…

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Artie: We want to come to Naples and see you on Sept. 10th. But we were unable to get into the link “learn more here.” It didn’t work. Please post the information again.
    Thanks, Pat and Stokes

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It works perfect here. I see that you did get the info so we will see you there.

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Warren Robb

    Thanks for the link to the round table discussion of the 5D IV. They did a great job of explaining the improvements.
    I especially keyed on the ability to auto focus at f8 which means I could use my 2x extender with my f4 super telephoto lens. It also incorporates other interesting improvements seen in the new 1DX at a more affordable price point, at least for me.

  • I have done the 7DII to 5DSR comparison, and the 5DSR wins every time. The 7DII might be closer if it had the Low-Pass filter cancellation as I think that makes a big difference. I never tested a 5DS, so I can’t say if that is the only difference.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Lovely image. You say that an image with the 5DS-R cropped to the size of a 7D2 image will have much higher quality. Have you actually made the comparison? The conclusion surprises me. The resolution will be almost identical, so the improvement would have to be caused by something else.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It should not be surprising as all pixels (and imaging sensors) are not created equal. I would bet my life on a 5DS R cropped image for anything higher than ISO 400. And I am pretty sure that I am correct across the board regardless of ISO.

      Here is a comment from Ryan Sanderson that will appear in tomorrow’s very relevant blog post:

      The 7D II has not been used since I picked up the 5DS R.

      And I know that Patrick Sparkman agrees with me but only 100%. Please do not take my comments personally and please understand that I firmly believe that the 7D II is the greatest value ever in a digital SLR.


      • avatar David Policansky

        Artie: Many thanks. Of course I did not take your comments personally! As you didn’t take mine personally. I”m fascinated that someone might choose the 5DS-R over the 7D2 for all applications. Also interesting that you mentioned “above ISO 400.” I almost never go above ISO 400 with my 7D2, but would love to be able to get the image quality at say ISO 1600 that some people can.

        I remain convinced–and this has been debated here before–that sensor size is a huge factor in determining image quality. I have no doubt that the 5DS-R’s combination of large sensor, high resolution, and no low-pass filter can lead to images that we 7D2 owners can only dream about. 🙂

        Yes, for me the 7D2 is currently the value proposition. (As is the 6D, by the way; what a gem that camera is.) I wonder if there will be a 7D3 and what it will be like.

        I look forward to tomorrow’s blog post. Thanks again for all you do.


        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          All good. I have no knowledge at all of the 6D. Tell me the basics and what you like about it. I have heard that AF is not too good. Is that true?

          later and love, a

          • avatar David Policansky

            Artie: The 6D was released in 2012. Full frame, 20.2MP, 4.5 frames/second, 11 AF points, center cross point, focuses down to -3EV (no other Canon DSLR could do that in 2012, and I think none could until until 2015). People have given its AF a bad rap but it’s really pretty decent, especially with the center AF point. Obviously not close to Canon’s higher-end DSLRs but quite usable. Superb image quality for landscapes and portraits, probably slightly better than the 5D3. And relatively low price, I think around $1700 at release and much less now. I find it a perfect companion body for my 7D2.

            Many thanks. a