Two of My Honest Critiques and a Big Time Exposure Lesson Available … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two of My Honest Critiques and a Big Time Exposure Lesson Available ...


It was cloudy/foggy in the early am so I kept working on the 5D IV Guide but at 8:15 I looked out the window and saw that it was sunny. I ran down to the lake and wound up taking a mile plus walk with my 400 DO II, the 1.4X III, and a 1DX II. That is not a typo: a 1DX II. I will share lots more on my new 1DX II with you here soon. For most of the rest of the day I was an NFL couch potato. I did however, take a slow half-mile plus (48 lengths) swim late in the afternoon. As the sunset was a big fizzle, I decided to stay on the couch and watch more football on TIVO.

Right now it is looking as if the 5D Mark IV User’s Guide will be in the BAA Online Store available for purchase sometime on Tuesday, December 26, 2017. I have lots more to do on the guide today as I received several new reviews from folks who got their free copies. Thanks to all the help that I have gotten it will be much improved from my original drafts.

Though sales have been going very well, there is still lots of great stuff available at just the right prices on the BAA Used Photo Gear page here.

Enjoy the holiday and don’t eat too, too much. 🙂

Important Note

More than a few folks over the past few days have sent requests for their free copy of the 5D Mark IV Guide along with their B&H receipts. When I searched my account by their order number, there was no record of the transaction. When I asked them about it, it turned out that either they made a phone order and never mentioned BIRDS AS ART (please remember, web orders only), or that they simply had not used a BAA affiliate link. Please remember to make all of your B&H purchases by starting with the generic Photo Gear and More B&H logo link on the top right of each blog page, or to use a product-specific or to e-mail for one and then click on that. Using these links won’t cost you one penny more and are the best way to thank me for the work that I put into the blog and the time I spend answering your queries via e-mail. Using my Amazon links helps too. All of your efforts are appreciated.

Click on the logo-link above for great holiday savings!
$300 off on the Canon 100-400 II!

The Streak

Today makes one hundred forty-nine days in a row with a new educational blog post! This blog post took about two hours 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 and my continuing insanity willing.

Click here for Amazing 5D Mark IV Bundles and Deals

Here is the best news: those who have used a BAA B&H affiliate link to purchase a 5D Mark IV (or other items totaling $3200 or more) are invited to send us a copy of their B&H receipt via e-mail and receive a free copy of the guide. If you would like to review the document before it is published, please send your receipt now. This offer is also valid for future purchases.


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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA in 2017 with the hand held the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens (at 119.5mm) and the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera body) outfitted with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip. ISO 800. Pattern metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

Shutter Button Continuous Autofocus. Additional AF information is unavailable.

Brown Pelican, Pacific race head throw

Your Critique Needed

In the The Elusive Head Throw. And What Makes a Good Critique? blog post here, I wrote, with regards to the photo above, Please let me know what you think of today’s featured image, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You most honest response is appreciated.

Lot of folks offered critiques, mostly all positive. Warren H came closest to how I felt about the image when he posted, This isn’t my favorite image of yours.

My Honest Critique #1

The image does show the habitat (cliff by the ocean) well. It is relatively sharp. And it shows interesting behavior. I do not mind the abstract nature of the photograph. When I began working on the image I thought that I could make the image pop. I failed. The image is very flat with no contrast and boring color. The image quality is poor, feather and bill pouch detail are lacking, and with the relatively short focal length, the background detail — the ocean chop — has been brought up much too much. The framing is OK but in retrospect, taking some off the left side of the image while centering the bird in a tall skinny pano might have improved what I consider a pretty poor image overall. Some typical San Diego sun with a bright Pacific blue background would have really helped.

This image was created down by the lake near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL on the evening of December 22. I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my favorite silhouette photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 200 in Av mode. WB: K7500 at 5:31pm with just a bit of haze in front of the sun.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -10.

Manual focus with rear focus set. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Boat-tailed Grackle, singing male at sunset.

My Honest Critique #2

I ran the image above in yesterday’s “Dime a Dozen Part IV: It’s Just a Boat-tailed Grackle. And some really tough exposure questions …” blog post here and asked, What do you think of this image?

For me this is an outstanding image. It is sharp and the difficult exposure is perfect. The image pops and is dramatic. With the singing grackle set against the large disc of a somewhat muted sun, it is very different. If I had my druthers I might have liked it a bit better had I moved the tripod on inch to my right to get the bird’s tail away from the red rim of the sunset and had gotten an inch higher to move the bird slightly down in the frame. Why didn’t I do that? I was working in about a foot of soft organic muck and positioning the tripod was a big challenge. Right near sunset the sun is moving down like a bomb; I had to change the framing every 15 seconds or so. All in all I absolutely love this image.

Big Time Exposure Lesson Available …

I also wrote, Knowing that the ISO was 200 and that I was in Av mode, what do you think the exposure compensation was? What do you think the shutter speed was? And what do you think the aperture was?. Jake, the last to comment, was getting closer to the correct exposure and exposure compensation but his thinking proved to be somewhat convoluted when he wrote, “As there was no cloud obscuring the sun and you may have been trying to keep your shutter speed fast in case the bird took flight (hence the use of ISO 200), I reckon your shutter speed was around 1/1000 or 1/1250.” My question to him would be why would I lower the ISO if I wanted a faster shutter speed? ISO 200 is a clue that might lead folks closer to understanding the situation and getting closer still to the correct exposure and exposure compensation. But in truth, it is not the correct answer that is important here. What is important here is how I managed to come up with the winning exposure and EC.

All are welcome to take another crack at those two by revisiting yesterday’s post. I will share all here soon.

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 3 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT #2: Sunday, JAN 28 thru and including the morning session on Wednesday, JAN 31, 2018 and a free morning session on Saturday, JAN 27: 3 1/2 days (+1/2 free day!): $1699. Limit: 8: Openings: 3.

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Saturday, Jan 27, 2018.

San Diego IPT #2: Shorter and Less Expensive!

Join me in San Diego near the end of January to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; 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. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


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….

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. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

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 four 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, three 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo 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.

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 is payable only by check. 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.

Support the Blog

Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. with love, artie

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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.

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9 comments to Two of My Honest Critiques and a Big Time Exposure Lesson Available …

  • avatar David Grant

    At an effective focal length of 1200mm a smaller aperture is needed to get both bird and sun relatively sharp otherwise sun would be a huge defocussed blur.
    Starting with an maximum aperture of F8, stopping down say 2 stops would give you F16.
    Background is either dark or you want to make it dark so you underexpose by say 1-2 stops. This will produce a lot of noise so you use a lower ISO (200).
    Sunny 16 rule (it’s not sunny but you have a lot of sun in the frame) suggests a shutter speed of around 1/200sec.
    With -1EV that gives you a shutter speed of around 1/500sec?

  • avatar David Policansky

    Happy holidays and new year, Artie. I’m eager to see the revelations. As I said before, I have no idea how you created the wonderful image.

  • avatar Mitch Haimov

    Just added this to yesterday’s post, but now that I see the discussion is continuing here I’ll re-post where it’s more likely to be seen…

    Knowing you use evaluative metering, there must be some negative EC or you wouldn’t have those blacks (even though the relatively bright sun is near the center). I’ll guess -2 1/3. You had difficult focusing conditions and wouldn’t have wanted to spend a lot of time at it (to protect your eye, minimize chance of subject departure, cope with rapidly changing conditions due to sun movement) f/11, possibly as high as f/16, so that DoF would cover your subject even if the focus a little off. Another hint to a fairly small aperture is that, while not sharp, the sun has a definite edge rather than being a diffuse blob as I would expect wide open. Shutter speed is the hardest to guess. Sunny f/16 would be 1/200; -2 1/3 EC would take that to 1/1000. These were not Sunny f/16 conditions, so shutter speed a little slower–perhaps 1/640 (2/3 stop slower than 1/1000).

    Peace, health, happiness to all.


  • avatar Jay

    At 5:30 pm, sun is brighter than surroundings, but not too bright. So to block out everything else, your aperture would be smallest (22 or something like that), SS very high. They you adjusted ISO so that sun is bright but not overexposed. That ISO may be 200.

    What was the Ev value? I am going to guess it was +ve, which raised ISO. Without +EV compensation, sun might be too dark.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for trying but you are very confused. One assumption that you made “but not too bright” led you down the wrong path …

      Also, what did you mean by +ve ?

      Also, you are missing the fact that the still very bright but somewhat muted sun is in a very large dark sky even at 1200mm …

      with love, artie.

      ps: when the revelations come, you will get it 🙂

      pps: we always have the histogram and blinkies to help teach us this stuff …

  • avatar Joe Randle

    Have A Blessed Christmas… You are a Blessing to many…
    I appreciate your friendship and your photography skills…

    God’s Blessings…
    Joe Randle