Canon EF 100-400L IS II La Jolla Versatility and Fine Point Photo Editing (selecting your keepers) Practice « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon EF 100-400L IS II La Jolla Versatility and Fine Point Photo Editing (selecting your keepers) Practice

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 intermittent internet access for the rest of my South American adventure. I get back home late on December 25, 2016. Best and great picture making, artie

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA 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: 381!

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, 381 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.

Straightforward Image Questions

1-Which image features the best exposure?

2-Which head angle do you like best?

3-Which image design do you like best and why?

4-Which single image would you choose to optimize, i.e., which do you think is the best overall? Why?

100-400 II Versatility at La Jolla

All three images in the series above were created with the handheld Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at focal lengths between 312 and 321mm) with the EOS-1DX, now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.

This easily hand holdable combination is deadly on the cliffs of La Jolla where you can create an amazing variety of images of the pelicans, gull, and cormorant ranging from 100mm habitat images to both horizontal and vertical portraits of all three families to tight detail shots showing the incredible textures and colors on the pelican’s bill pouches. Vertical head and shoulders portraits like the three featured above are a snap. With all three, 61-point Automatic Selection AF did quite nicely by activating AF points that fell on or near the bird’s eye or face. It is important to remember to begin AF with the middle of the AF area on the bird’s face and then re-compose downward. With what I have learned recently Upper Large Zone AF would be ideal in similar situations. Lastly hand holding the 100-400II gives you at least a chance to create some spectacular head throw images. On my two San Diego trips last year I used the 100-400II to create about 60% of the images that I made. Not to mention that with the nice weather (and light) adding a 1.4X TC is an extremely viable option (though the birds are so tame that it is not often needed).


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 🙂

4 comments to Canon EF 100-400L IS II La Jolla Versatility and Fine Point Photo Editing (selecting your keepers) Practice

  • avatar Anthony

    1-Which image features the best exposure?
    Image #3

    2-Which head angle do you like best?
    Image#1. 1 & 3 are about the same angle, but I like #1 the best. The head takes up most of the frame from top to bottom…exaggerates the length of the bill.

    3-Which image design do you like best and why?
    I like the richness of Image #1. Maybe the darker contrast is appealing. Also #3, while nicely exposed, may have some highlights blown that need fixing. Although it is hard to tell with the small .gif

    4-Which single image would you choose to optimize, i.e., which do you think is the best overall? Why?
    #1, #1, #1….composition and length of bill in the frame is key. Everything else wrong with #1 can be fixed very easily.

  • avatar Barry Ekstrand

    1) The histograms of all 3 images show data across all 4 quadrants, without blowing out either the leftmost blacks or rightmost whites, so I say all 3 are acceptable. Image #3 shows more exposure on the subject but to my eye / my monitor it looks like there is more exposure change in the background than the bird itself. Either way, effectively it is a tie for me, take your pick from an exposure standpoint.
    2) I like the head angle of #3 the best. Like #1 the head is looking more to the right, but slightly less downward tilt in #3.
    3) #3, it is centered vertically slightly better for this portrait view.
    4) For the reasons above, I like and would optimize #3.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    1. Image 3 is best exposed to the right.
    2. Preferred head angle is 2.
    3. I liked image design in 2 the best because rear feathers detract from the clean line of the bill.
    4. I’d optimise 2 because of reasons 2 & 3 above.

  • My guesses:
    Exposure #3 more info in last column
    Head angle: #1
    Design: #3 head angle nearly as good and a little more room below the bill tip
    Optimize: #3 for exposure info and design
    –Suspect I’m about to learn why my pictures don’t look like yours 🙂