It’s Time! Answers please: a-, b-, & c … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

It's Time! Answers please: a-, b-, & c ...


If you did not chime in on Thursday’s blog post, please do so now by clicking here; the blog is designed to be interactive. As always, the more folks who participate, the more everyone will learn. And yes, that includes me ๐Ÿ™‚

I swam early on Friday — 3/4 of a mile. New friend Noel Heustis came by to pick me up; we are headed to Desoto as I type. Before we left, we watched the three UFC championship fights from last Saturday night on Tivo! Best of all, the three folks I was rooting for all won again!

This just in: we enjoyed a fine afternoon of shorebird photography in very dark conditions. Having seen the weather forecast, I brought my flash along and used it with success. Photos soon

The Streak

Today makes one hundred six days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 90 minutes to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of 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.

This image was created on the early morning of Wednesday, November 8, 2017 down by the lake near my home in Indian Lake Estates, FL. I used the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 247mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 in Av mode. AWB in bright early morning sunlight with clear skies.

Left Large Zone/AI Servo/shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system selected a square array of nine Af points on the bird’s cheek (as shown in the DPP 4 screen capture below).

LensAlign/FocusTune Micro-adjustment: extrapolated to zero.

Sandhill crane, head portrait with multicolored background

It’s Time!

To quote Bruce Buffer, “It’s time!” Time to start heading down to the lake by my home at ILE each morning to see what the cranes are up to, to see what other birds are around, and to check for some neat wildflowers. The bird are silly tame. When I get out of the car to do some flower photography pairs and families from last year walk right up to me.

I often work at full height; getting lovely out of focus green backgrounds is a snap. For some image such as the one above I crouch down a bit to include some of the marsh and the lake and even a bit of sky in the background; what is it that they say about variety?

Image Questions

a: I made this image at only 247mm. In view of the fact that using a 1.4X TC will degrade sharpness by about 14%, why did I have the TC in place?
b: Would you have done any bill clean-up with this image? If yes, be specific.

The DPP 4 Screen Capture for today’s featured image

The DPP 4 Screen Capture

As usual, look how beautifully (Upper) Large Zone AF worked. Note also the early morning light as we have been seeing in the RGB values of the brightest WHITEs: R = 236, G = 230, B = 220. That after I moved the Color fine tune dot well towards BLUE. The values were even more skewed before that adjustment. After entering my 5D IV ISO 400

AF Question

c: Why didn’t I raise the lens and point it a bit to the right so that the system activated AF points that were right on the crane’s eye?

An unsharpened 100% crop of today’s featured image

A 100% Crop …

Just think how sharp this image would be without the unsharpness caused by adding a TC to the mix ๐Ÿ™‚ The 100-400 II/, 1.4X III/ 5D Mark IV combo truly is a superb, versatile, lightweight combo.

Recent Fort DeSoto Images

From bottom left clockwise back to center: Great Egret, blasting sunrise highlights; Black Skimmer, winter plumage in pre-dawn light; Roseate Spoonbill foraging; Brown Pelican, juvenile landing; hybrid heron X egret; American Oystercatcher feeding; Royal Tern, worn juvenile; Great Blue Heron from below.

Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT. 3 1/2 days: $1599

Saturday DEC 2 (afternoon session) through the full day on Tuesday DEC 5, 2017. Meet and Greet Introduction on SAT DEC 2, 2017

With no water in Estero Lagoon, Corkscrew Swamp and Anhinga Trail total busts for many years, and Ding Darling NWR managed into oblivion, Fort DeSoto has emerged as the premier bird photography location in the state. Join me in early winter to escape the cold weather and photograph lots of tame terns, gulls, herons, egrets (including Reddish Egret), shorebirds (including and especially Marbled Godwit), Osprey, and Brown Pelican. Long-billed Curlew, Wood Stork, and Roseate Spoonbill all range somewhere between likely and possible.

Learn to get the right exposure every time, to approach free and wild (and often tame!) birds, and to design a pleasing image. And learn the location of my new Fort DeSoto hotspot along with my favorite sunset location (sky conditions permitting). To register call Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 or shoot me an e-mail.

DeSoto IPT Details

This IPT will include four 3 hour afternoon sessions, three 3 1/2 hour morning sessions, three lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

Because of the narrow time frame, your $499 non-refundable deposit can be paid not by credit card. Call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906 to register. Your balance must be paid by check once you sign up. The balance check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART) should me mailed to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your balance check. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Canon lens rentals are available on a limited basis: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, and 200-400 f/4 with Internal TC.

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19 comments to It’s Time! Answers please: a-, b-, & c …

  • avatar Tony Z

    Hi Artie,

    I’m very curious about the answer to (a). I really don’t know the answer, thought it might have to do with depth of field, but without the TC and at F/9, you would just have zoomed in to achieve the same framing and depth of field.

    That is correct assuming that you were still at f/9. I think. That is actually a question that I do not know the answer to … But I shall inquire on this: with the subject size constant, if d-o-f the same at f/9 with or without a TC in place? It is a very very fine point …

    (b) – Sounds like others would leave the bill alone, but i might be inclined to remove the little tuft of brown on the top bill, about 1/4 of the way back from the tip, where it appears outside/above the line of the bill, over the blue background.

    Me too plus one more.

    (c) – Raising the camera up and right would bring the bill-tip down and left, too close to the bottom edge of the photo to give a nice framing of the bird’s head.

    Correct plus more.

    Additionally, you could certainly have focused on the eye and frozen the AF to recompose to the current framing, if you had wanted to.

    True, but when hand holding as I was, it is very easy to throw off the focus. It is much better to have AI Servo active if at all possible when hand holding.

    thanks for commenting, with love, artie

    ps: hope that the family is well ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Good morning Guru. Hope everything is fine with you. I’ve seen that great crane head shot on facebook. Needless to say, it’s outstanding.

    Guru, Enthusiast Photographers like me have been eagerly awaiting arrival of Canon EF 200-600mm for quite a while. It’s not a rumor as Canon has patented it.

    That super telephoto zoom will produce a focal length of 960mm at the long end which is good enough for us. But Canon seems to be having problems with its development.

    Meantime, we watch the Nikon users having nice time with their D500 + Nikkor 200-500mm combo and produce awesome shots.

    Could you kindly let us know whether the Canon EF 200-600mm is going to be announced soon?

    Thank you in advance.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thank you Quazi.

      As for the rumored Canon 200-600mm lens, I have no clue as to when or if it will ever be released. Canon has lots of patents that never come to fruition. I do not waste my time watching the Nikon photographers I prefer instead to make great images with the Canon gear that I own, that including the great 100-400 II with its amazing close focus, and with both of my big guns, the 500 II and the 600 II, often at 1000mm and 1200mm with the Canon 2X III TC in place.

      That said, I do know that the Nikon 200-500 is an excellent lens.

      thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Upper large zone means the left major square, I take it.

    My bad. Upper Large Zone was a cut and paste error. I have corrected that to Left Large Zone. Thanks for pointing that out.

    AF gravitates to the nearest object so background is not going to be a candidate. The lower region of the zone is largely background so my question is where else would you expect it to focus?

    With the sun out I would not expect AF to have a problem acquiring and holding the subject.

    I’m not sure why a single upper point on the eye wouldn’t be just as good.

    To do that I would have had to raise the camera — see question c. That would have resulted in more room above the bird’s head and ruined the perfect compositional balance. And that would not have been “just as good.” So my message is that Large Zone AF offers you far more compositional freedom than Expand or Surround especially when the bird changes position!

    I may have missed something and be wrong, but when you have shots with backgrounds such as this one, AF should be having a pretty easy time doing a decent job.


    I’d like to see a sample of a song bird in a tree with twigs etc. so we can see what intelligence the AF really has in zone. So far, I’m not that impressed with it for my stationary bird photography.

    I would never use or recommend Large Zone when working in a cluttered situation such as the one that you describe above. There, I would likely opt for Expand.


    thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar DEBRA LUCAS

    I emailed you with question about lens align guide but have not received a reply. Do The list of lenses and distances only apply to full frame cameras? Would the distances be the same for crop sensor cameras?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I do recall answering that ๐Ÿ™‚ IAC, the distances remain the same for both full frame and crop sensor bodies. Thanks for your purchase.

      and thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    1. The only thing I can think of is that you had the TC in place and didn’t want to take the time to remove it. Obviously, the loss of 14% sharpness didn’t hurt anything.

    Sort of and agree ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. No.

    A matter of personal choice.

    3. If you’d moved the lens to the right, you’d have had the bird’s head and neck too close to the left side of the image and might even have cut some of them off.

    Correct plus more.

    thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar john farnsworth

    An emphatic “NO!” to the question of bill cleanup. When you privilege artistic notions of cleanliness over natural history, the art itself loses value. Please show us what the bill actually looks like, not what you think it ought to look like.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Funny that you say that. For me the artistic value increases when the bill does not look so messy. Different strokes I guess. In addition, without the grass folks can actually see what the bill looks like.

      thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    560mm maybe would have been a different story

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    a. Using the 1.4x tc for those occasions that might present themselves (Subjects in flight, other subjects at farther distances)

    Yes, the 1.4X TC was in place so that I had the potential to go longer if need be. Well done.

    b. I’m not a big fan of bill clean-up. I like au naturale.

    With this image the two big and light toned pieces of grass are really distracting. I shall remove them and repost at some point.

    c. You were only at 247mm F9, so plenty of DOF to get eye pretty dead on focus.

    All correct but understand that f/9 was only stopped down 1/3 stop from wide opn (f/8 with the TC in place).

    Cheek and eye are about on the same plane of focus anyway to start.

    That is the most important factor, one that many folks overlooked.

    Plus if you moved the points onto the eye, the subject would then be too close to the left frame of the picture.

    Correct in part.

    thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar frank sheets

    I would agree with Harry’s comment about the focusing point.

    Harry was incorrect ๐Ÿ™

    Re using the 1.4 converter, even though the bird was sufficiently close, ?, better boquet, softer background.

    Bokeh. However you spell it, neither is correct. The look and quality of the bokeh in a given image is largely determined by the lens and in part by the aperture. And I did not add the TC to come up with a “softer background.” I will share the answer to this commonly asked question with everyone here soon.

    Thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar Adam

    Nice, nice image and you are so fortunate to live in an area where there are so many and varied birds.


    As far as bill cleanup, one could repair the apparent defect in the top of the bill by cloning or using a context sensitive brush but I think it adds to the character.

    I think that what you are talking about is a large piece of grass.

    Currently Iโ€™m on the road and am in Israel at the Hula – have you ever been? It wasnโ€™t specifically a photo trip and Iโ€™m traveling rather light without much (and the proper) gear. The area is akin to a mini Bosque and itโ€™s filled with thousands of migrating Eurasian cranes. They are extremely skittish of people and unfortunately the site is very protective.

    Also, it might be fortunate that the area is protected …

    and I donโ€™t have access to blinds. It addition there are many raptors including Kites, Harriers, and eagles. In the morning around 9 am, the raptors form these tornado like structures as they ride the thermals. Itโ€™s like rap-nado and a site to behold. There are many passerines and king fishers and Iโ€™ll have to make a return visit.

    Sounds wonderful. Do you have the 100-400 II and a 1.4X TC with you? Thanks for commenting, with love, artie

    • avatar David Policansky

      I have been to that lovely place. Lucky you to be seeing all those birds.

      • avatar Adam

        Yes, itโ€™s a treat and thereโ€™s a great vibe though I wish that the 600mm was in the box. Sunrise is 0600 and sunset 16:30 so the time window to shoot is short.

  • avatar Greg

    Using the converter increases the effective focal length and magnifies the image by 1.4X but retains the close focus distance of the lens to which it is attached – hence a head shot becomes larger in the frame than using the 200-400 on its own.

    That depends on the size of the bird and will not always be true with large birds … But yes, the 100-400 II kills the 200-400 with Internal TC on close focus.

    Makes sense if the 200-400 was on its close focus limit already.

    Sort of true but quite confusingly stated.

    The negative trade off is slight loss of sharpness (not a problem here!) and effective aperture (again not a problem here as the light was good) but this is more than made up for by having more subject pixels to play with.

    Sorry, I am confused again by the “more pixels to play with” comment …

    Not sure about bill clean up. For me it looks fine, but some might clean up the longer bits of grass above the nares and near the bill tip.

    Me too ๐Ÿ™‚

    thanks for commenting, with love, artie

  • avatar Harry Selsor

    At f/9 your depth of field allowed you to put the autofocus on the point of the bird closest to you and still have a sharp eye in focus and still bring out the feather details in the neck

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Harry and welcome. Do remember that f/9 with the teleconverter is only stopped down 1/3 stop …