Canon 100-400 II/5DS R Displaying Brandt’s Cormorant on the Nest: Which Crop? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 100-400 II/5DS R Displaying Brandt's Cormorant on the Nest: Which Crop?

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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: 361!

Todayโ€™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, 361 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-โ€“and folks have been doing a really great job recentlyโ€“-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 at La Jolla, CA with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 stops off the wet sand background: 1/400 sec. at f/8. Daylight WB.

Four AF points to the left and one row up from the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell on the tan feathers just below the bottom of the light blue gular sac (pretty much on the same plane as the eye). Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Brand’t Cormorant displaying on nest–3X2 crop

The 3X2 Version

The 3X2 version above is represents the full frame original capture. There was all kinds of junk to the left of the nest so I went with an out of the box framing and image design.


This is a boxy crop of the image that opens this blog post.

Image #2: Brand’t Cormorant displaying on nest–boxy crop

The Boxy Version

Image #2, a boxy crop, was created from Image #2. The bird is still left of center, facing left…


This is a square crop of the image that opens this blog post.

Image #3: Brand’t Cormorant displaying on nest–square crop

The Square Version

Image #3, a square crop, was created from Image #1. The bird is slightly right of center.

Your Preference?

Which version do you like best? Be sure to let us know why. I will share my thoughts with you in a few days.


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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

34 comments to Canon 100-400 II/5DS R Displaying Brandt’s Cormorant on the Nest: Which Crop?

  • avatar Kylie Jones

    The original image to me feels like it needs a crop, and the boxy crop feels too boxed in and gives me the optical illusion that the image is distorted vertically, which I know it isn’t.

    I prefer the 3×2 crop, I like the way Nick describes it, and add to that the curve of the cliff at the right creates a peaceful leading line into the shot, and good balance. Also, the negative space of the creamy background particularly to the right is the space for the bird to go – if that makes sense.. normally you want to give room in front of the bird so it feels like the bird has “somewhere to go”, but in the case of a bird roosting on a cliff, if its how I imagine, to depart the nest the bird needs to turn around and fly off to the right, so though it breaks the normal rules of subject placement, it matches the natural world’s rules and works.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in, especially the new folks.


  • avatar Ron Gates

    Artie, I prefer the square framing in #3. I like the way it pulls the image together and eliminates the extraneous space on the sides. I believe it focuses the attention on the bird more. I also echo the comments of David and Kent. It was a great week. I appreciated the time you gave us and your critiques done gently. Hope you’re feeling well and enjoying your added time in the Falklands and the rest of South America.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks. It was very nice meeting you too.

      later and love from Ushuaia; Peru tomorrow.


  • avatar Neil Hickman

    I like the first 3:2. Breaks the rule of distance in front and behind bird but gives the best impression of where it is on a cliff top over a vast sandy beach. Sense of place and space is conveyed.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Neil. Smart man. You conveyed what was going on in my brain when I made the image better than I could have…

      There was of course a ton of crap to our left of the nest. Well done and well said.

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    #3 the square crop is my favorite. I always like more space in front of the bird rather than behind the tail. Here the space in front of and behind is about equal. But………The lines (diagonal below the nest, straight line up of the neck and bill) show up best in #3 and lead my eye up the bird’s neck to its eye. That straight vertical line is balanced almost in the center in #3. The diagonal line is balanced as well ending at the right and left frame edges.

  • avatar David Peake

    I like the #2 image.
    Fresh back from the incredible Cheesemans South Georgia trip and an amazing week in the Faulklands. Thanks Artie for your sound advice and all the fun we had along the way.
    I didn’t get to hang out with you as much as I planned but the time spent around you was very valuable.. The lens align you helped me with is perfect. Muchos Gracious.
    Safe travels.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The pleasure was mine. Thanks for your help with the Fuji gear ๐Ÿ™‚ I will likely open a few eyes soon.

      later and love, a

      ps: glad the LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment worked especially under such crude conditions ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    I definitely like the square crop — too much empty space to the right on the others. Moreover, the bird is larger in the frame — it is, after all, what the picture is all about.

  • avatar Kent Downing

    Hi Artie-What an incredible experience with you, the Cheesemen’s-Sea Spirit Staff, and the BAA Happy Campers exploring the Falklands and South Georgia ! After 31 hours of travel back home I am buzzing from the trip and wish it did not end. An experience of a life time and first class in every respect. Thanks so much for your guidance and teaching along the way. Still thinking of that snowy day at Right Whale Bay with you photographing the King Penguin colony with the jaw dropping back drop of Mt Edwardo all in perfect white. Thanks for the photos of me too. Hope the rest of your travels go smooth and that you stay well. Until next time. Cheers Kent (NZ)

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Kent. Many thanks. You are a class act. Your smile and gentle manner was a highlight of the trip for me.

      later and much love, a

  • I like the 3×2. Hope all is well way, way, way down south!

  • avatar Michael Renner

    I seem to be alone, but I actually like the full frame image the best. The soft background to the right of the bird seems to offset some of the clutter of the nest and makes the image seem cleaner to me. I like the negative space and even though the bird is facing to the left it has a decent head angle and is still placed in the left third. The other crops just seem somewhat awkward to me.

  • avatar Warren Robb

    I much prefer crop #3. Since there is no information to the right and above the subject, it becomes a distraction, and an exception to the rule of thirds is warranted.

  • avatar Forrest Mobley

    I prefer the square crop because in the original, the bird looks trapped in the rectangular format. I usually try to crop so that the bird has someplace to go. If the bird were facing the other direction I would prefer the rectangular format.

  • avatar Krishna Kotti

    I like the boxy crop, reducing the negative crop. I also like how the edge of the nest ends at bottom right corner.

  • I prefer the boxy crop. The full frame image seems to have too much empty space to the right, which attracts my attention to look for something there. The square crop seems too tight to me and seems to lose the balance provided by the space to the right in the boxy crop.

  • avatar Tony Zielinski

    I like image #2 – the boxy crop.
    For me, the images is as much about the nest as it is about the bird, and i love the composition of #2, especially at the lower right-hand corner.


  • avatar Frank Sheets

    I like the last one, square. I used to shoot with a Hasselblad and got used to the square format. In the other two, the bird is a little too far left in the image and the image isn’t balanced. I keep looking to the right of the bird and wonder whether there should be something there, but there’s nothing there. Just me, but I almost always like to see some more room in front to the bird, not more room to the rear of the bird.

    • avatar Frank Sheets

      ps, was it a 5DSR or 7DII? I really want to go up to Morro Bay. Any suggestions as to the best time of the year.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Duh. Good catch. I took me an hour to fix everything up due to operator error ๐Ÿ™‚

        later and love, artie

  • avatar Pierre Williot

    I also prefer the square crop. This bird is looking towards the left of the picture and most of the space is behind it. The square crop decreases this huge dead space.

  • avatar Harry Selsor

    I like the square crop (last one), it focuses more on the bird than the shoreline and nest material

  • avatar Warren

    I like the Boxey crop. It gives more of a since of place than the square crop but not so much empty (negative) space. Also, it provides a nice “line” from the bottom right corner that leads my eye around the nest.

  • avatar Dave kenny

    I prefer the 3×2 crop. To me it is a well balanced photo giving you a nice sense of the birds habitat while the bird is big enough that it is not lost in the image. It tells more of the story.

  • avatar James Saxon

    The square crop is my favorite. It seems to balance the image and draw your attention to the birds eye and bill.

  • I prefer the boxy crop. Possibly because I’ve gotten so used to a rectangular format. And it does remove the empty space on the right of the original capture.

  • avatar Donna Bourdon

    I prefer the square crop. My eye was drawn immediately to the bird’s beautiful blue eye in this version.

  • My pick is the boxy crop. Two reasons.

    #1. The nest/rock is filling up the empty space in the bottom right.
    #2. The bird is bigger in the frame. I’ve always liked my bird big in the frame,
    so that’s what draws me to this one.


  • Much prefer the square crop. In the original i find my eye being drawn to the blank space top right where as in the crop i’m focusing on the eye of the bird.