100-400II/1.4X III/1DX II Versatility. An Easy d-o-f Question and a Tough AF Point Question… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

100-400II/1.4X III/1DX II Versatility. An Easy d-o-f Question and a Tough AF Point Question...

What’s Up?

I am somewhere in South America. I hope that you are well. Jim and Jen are at the office most days to help you with your mail order needs and Instructional Photo-Tour sign-ups. I still need folks for San Diego, Japan, Galapagos, the Palouse, and the Bear Boat (Grizzly Cubs) trips. Among others 🙂 Please e-mail for couples and discount info for all of the above. Click here for complete IPT info.

I will have relatively decent internet access for all but 22 OCT thru 11 NOV while I am on the Sea Spirit. Best and great picture making, artie

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 Streak: 355!

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, 355 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 2016 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 379mm), and the high ISO king, the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at about +2/3 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/8. AWB.

Two AF points to the right of and one row down from the center AF point/AI Servo Spot/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). See illuminated red square in the DPP 4 screen capture below. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Shag: close-up of feet

100-400II/1.4X III/1DX II Versatility

With it’s close focus, the versatility of the 100-400II/1.4X III/1DX II combination is unmatched (except perhaps by the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender that comes in a lot larger, heavier package with a slightly higher price tag, $10,999 as compared to $1,999.

With the 1-4II you can to everything from bird-scapes at 100mm to a full frame shag’s foot at one meter… It is a simply amazing lens not to mention super sharp and fairly lightweight with a great 4-stop IS system. I pretty much take it on every trip that I make…


DPP 4 Screen Capture for today’s featured image

What’s to learn from the DPP 4 Screen Capture?

Lots. First off, note the perfect histogram with barely any data in the histogram box on our left. This ensures that there will be lots of detail in the dark tones. Note also that on the right side of the histogram that no data touches the right-hand axis of the histogram. This ensures no blinkies and at least some detail in the brightest WHITEs, which by the way, come in with RGB values of 231, 235, 240. Right where I want them.

Of note during the RAW conversion in DPP 4 was the highlight slider set to -2.

Once in Photoshop I used Select > Color Range to select the brighter WHITEs and adjusted that selection with the Fuzziness and Range sliders. After putting that selection on its own layer, I added a Regular Layer Mask and painted away (B, D, X) the effect with the opacity of the brush set and anywhere from 25 to 100%. I was quite happy with the results as the WHITEs were nicely toned down where they needed to be.

Next I used the Quick Selection Tool (my personalized Keyboard Shortcut: W–I use M for the Magic Wand so that I can toggle back in forth between the two as needed) to select the last toe on the bird’s left foot (the toe in the very lower right corner of the image). After putting that on its own layer I applied a strong Contrast Mask–Unsharp Mask at 20/80/0.

After a small Original Ratio crop from the lower right, I did very little clean-up before flattening the file and converting it to 8-bit. Then I created the 1200 wide JPEG above and sharpened it with Unsharp Mask at 110/.3/0. I always use Save for Web (Shift + Alt + Command + S) and optimize my JPEGs to < 395 kb so that they work well on the blog and on BPN.

All of the above plus tons more is of course detailed in my Digital Basics File, 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.

Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Easy-Peasy-Depth-of-Field Question

Why might f/11 have been better than f/8 here? What would the danger be of working at f/11 at the same ISO?

High Level AF Point Question

Why should I have selected an AF point one to our right of the one that I actually used?


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.

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 🙂

11 comments to 100-400II/1.4X III/1DX II Versatility. An Easy d-o-f Question and a Tough AF Point Question…

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Focus in the box to the right would provide the benefits of more DOF behind that point where the detail exists in the webbing of the feet. Where the focus is as selected, the DOF in front of that point gains very little of interest. Not really a big deal, and the use of F 11 would have covered about the same thing, though dealing with a longer shutter speed or the higher ISO could negate any gains.
    I like the shot; nice graphic elements.
    Hope the trip is going well and you’re feeling fine.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      All good but d-o-f at 379 mm is pretty much 50-50 so I was happy with my choice of AF points. Thanks for the good wishes. It looks as if I am in the process of beating my third cold in a month.

      Later and love from Ushuaia, artie

  • avatar Warren

    My answers are a little different:
    Why might f/11 have been better than f/8 here? What would the danger be of working at f/11 at the same ISO?

    f/11 would give a greater depth of field and the back of the feet would be more in focus. The danger would be that your shutter speed would drop below the recommended speed for the effective focal length of 379mm. (Some would say you can drop the recommended speed of 1/ focal length based on image stabilization, but I think most people shooting long lenses try to stay at that number regardless, unless on tripod.)

    Why should I have selected an AF point one to our right of the one that I actually used?

    The focus point one to the right has more contrast since it would intersect the toe and webbing. More contrast helps the camera grab focus.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    re: stopping down to f/11: to increase sharpness. The danger of stopping down to f/11 is less light – the shot might be too dark.

    re: focus point – agree with Richard – to get more sharpness in the bird’s toes.

    I love these tight shots that you do. A montage of various bird’s feet would be very nice!

    Hope you’re having a blast and feeling great!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks girl-Kerry. I am getting better again. Note: if I had gone to f/11 I would have either lowered the shutter speed or raised the ISO to keep the right exposure.

      Later and love from Ushuaia, artie

  • avatar Mark Zimmerman

    I rented the Tamron 150-600 G2 last week; doesn’t come near the Canon 100-400 II + extender in terms of detail and image quality. Image stabilization of the Tamron also is much inferior.

  • Re focus point – possibly to get even more detail in the toes?
    Also this weekend, found the 100/400 II very versatile for the bigger birds at the Rome GA Airshow!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      One to the right would have offered the AF system a bit more contrast to work with.

      Later and love from Ushuaia, Argentina, artie