King Penguin Editing Triptych/You Pick the Best One & Upper Zone AF for Verticals « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

King Penguin Editing Triptych/You Pick the Best One & Upper Zone AF for Verticals

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: 402!

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, 402 days in a row with a new educational blog post. 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 at Right Whale Bay on our magical snow morning with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my all-time favorite Canon camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/10. Daylight WB.

AI Servo Upper Zone/Rear Focus AF on the penguin’s face and release. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

King Penguin preening upper breast triptych

King Penguin Editing Triptych

These are three of the 140 keepers (after the first edit) that I made on our best morning: six inches of fresh snow at Right Whale Bay on our last South Georgia landing. Assuming that that the eye is open and visible in all three images—it is, and that each image is tack sharp—they are, which of the three images do you think is best? Please let us know why you made your choice and why you ruled out the other two.

From where I sit, one is clearly the best.

Upper Zone AF for Verticals

I began using Upper Zone AF for verticals with my all-time favorite Canon camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and had such great success with it that I started using it with my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II.

Upper Zone AF is better than 61-point Automatic Selection because the system will not focus on the breast which at times may be the closest thing to you. And though the system is always supposed to focus on the closest part of the subject 61-point will often switch to the breast even when the head is closest to the camera. I suspect that that is because the head is often too small to register with the AF system as compared to the bird’s body/breast. Secondly, Upper Zone AF is better than Surround because you can easily move the subject to either side of the frame without having to move the selected sensor to the left or to the right. Try it. You will love it.

Note: though I used rear focus and release I most often use Shutter Button AF in conjunction with Upper Zone AF.

Image Editing on IPTs

On each IPT, we do at least one session where folks are actively engaged in helping me pick my keepers from a day folder. Everyone always loves these sessions as they learn what I see that makes one image stand out as best in a long series. On the Bear Boat IPTs with the small group and cozy quarters, there are many opportunities to do editing sessions with both my and your images.


Images and card copyright Arthur Morris/BEARS AS ART 🙂

2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPTs: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings 3.

Join me in spectacular Katmai National Park, AK for six days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears. Mid-July is prime time for making images of small, football-sized cubs. The cubs, and these dates, are so popular that I had to reserve them three years in advance to secure them. There are lots of bears each year in June, but the mothers only rarely risk bringing their tiny cubs out in the open in fear of predation by rival bears. In addition to making portraits of both adults and cubs, we hope to photograph frolicking and squabbling youngsters and tender nursing scenes. At this time of year, the bears are either grazing in luxuriant grass or clamming. There will also be some two- and three-year old cubs to add to the fun. And we will get to photograph it all.

We will live on our tour operator’s luxurious new boat. At 78 feet long its 24 foot beam makes it quite spacious as well. And the food is great. We will likely spend most of our time at famed Geographic Harbor as that is where the bears are generally concentrated in summer. On the odd chance that we do need to relocate to another location we can do so quickly and easily without having to venture into any potentially rough seas. We land via a 25 foot skiff that has lots of room for as much gear as we can carry.

Aside from the bears we should get to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin and should get nice stuff on Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Harbor Seal, and Steller’s Sea Lion as well. A variety of tundra-nesting shorebirds including Western Sandpiper and both yellowlegs are also possible. Halibut fishing (license required/not included) is optional.

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 17 to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of July 18. Again, with air travel in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter) subject to possible delays, being on Kodiak on July 16 is a much better plan.

Barring any delays, we will get to photograph bears on our first afternoon and then again every day for the next five days after that, all weather permitting of course. On our last morning on the boat, July 24, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will have the opportunity to do so. The group will return to Kodiak via float plane from late morning through midday. Most folks will then fly to Anchorage and to continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

What’s included? 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. National Park and guide fees. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of two top professionals; we will constantly let you know what we are thinking, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and informal Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). Your lodging and meals on Kodiak. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat and then back to Kodiak as above. The cost of a round trip last year was $550. The suggested crew tip of $200.

Have you ever walked with the bears?

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 5 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….), it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “BIRDS AS ART” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

Your deposit is due when you sign up. That leaves a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on September 15, 2016. The final payment of $2000 is due on February 15, 2017. We hope that you can join me for what will be a wondrously exciting trip.

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 🙂

12 comments to King Penguin Editing Triptych/You Pick the Best One & Upper Zone AF for Verticals

  • avatar Marr

    #1 has the best head angle. Initially, I preferred #2. But on closer examination switched to #1.

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    #2 for me. I like the head angle, the action, and the beak clear of the body.
    #1 head is parallel to camera and there is less action than in #2
    #3 the lower bill against the body makes the bill hard to discern

    I like the white background in all of them.

  • avatar Marc Scott-Parkin

    In the minority here, but my favorite is #1. The head angle may be slightly less than perfect(?) but to me the head positions in 2 and 3 look just a little awkward.

  • avatar Tony

    No2. Looks like he’s laughing harder and lower beak is well defined with white BG.

    Art, are you using the battery grip with you new favorite body?

  • avatar Cheri

    Def #2 – love the head angle and wide open mouth. Great shot.

  • avatar James Saxon

    No. 2 is the one I like. I would keep No. 1 and throw out No. 3. No. 2 is my pick because of the angle of the head and the open mouth. It is a different perspective with the head cocked back. No. 1 is a nice portrait but the type of photograph I have seen before and No. 3 does not have the separation of the bill from the body which I prefer.

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    I started with no. 2, but changed my mind to no. 1. Just like the angle of the head better at right angle to the viewer.

  • #2 here, I feel it’s the best by being more interesting than #1, but not as awkward as #3.

  • 2 for me too. For all the reasons mentioned and it seems to have more interaction with the viewer.

  • I’m also for #2. #1 is also a keeper though, I wouldn’t throw it away at all. Just that #2 is a more unconventional and unique head position, so it makes for a more dynamic image. Then again, that’s my personal preference toward the unconventional.
    #3 there’s not enough separation between the body and lower mandible for me.

  • avatar Ruth Schueler

    I agree with Doug, for the same reasons, The center one seems the most “balanced”,

  • I would pick number two.

    Number one it looks like the head angle is slightly looking away. Number three,
    the beak is slightly intersecting with the neck/body.