November 20th, 2014

Canon 100-400mm IS L II/7D Mark II: 640 Hand Held for Flight Rocks/Too Little Time...

Great “Love Affair” News

I just learned that my Canon EoL-sponsored program, “A Twenty Year Love Affair With Bosque,” is not only free and open to the public but that folks do not need to register. Just show up at the Bodega Restaurant in Socorro at 1pm and enjoy: 606 N California St. The program will be over at 2:40pm so you will be have time to get out and enjoy some sweet afternoon light. Blog readers who attend are welcome to come up and give me a hug.

The Streak Continues: 355

On Tuesday night I was sick as a dog after eating some un-refrigerated left-overs…. Can you say food poisoning? Not fun. The only thing that saved me is the fact that I travel with activated charcoal tablets and downed most of the bottle during the night. I slept very little but felt well enough to head down to the refuge at 6:15am. I missed some sublime predawn colors.

I dropped off the 100-400 II at Fed Ex just south of the airport; it will be back to Canon at the new HQ at Melville, long Island, NY before 9am tomorrow. I was sad to see it go :(. Then I continued on to ABQ to pick up Lady D.

The geese were right next to the road just past the paybooth as Denise and I were setting up our gear, having headed to the refuge practically straight from the airport. By the time we were ready to spring into action, the last of the geese floating in still blue water had departed.

After a superb night’s sleep I am feeling a thousand times better than yesterday. This blog post, the 355th in a row, took about 2 1/2 hours to prepare. It was published from my hotel room in Socorro, NM at 4:15am.

If you are in Bosque right now it would be best not to miss our seminar at the Festival this afternoon :).

Please Help Support My Work on the BAA Blog

Thanks a Stack! October was a Great Month.

The last six weeks have been quite rewarding month with more and more folks making it a habit to use my B&H links especially for their major gear purchases. It is great to feel appreciated. Thanks a stack to all who used our links for purchases large and small.

To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H Is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. 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 we are 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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.



If what you’ve learned here on my blog about the Canon EOS-7D Mark II has inspired you to purchase this great new camera body, please consider using the logo link above to support our efforts here in bringing you the latest, greatest educational materials on daily basis.


snow-goose-flight-100-400ii-7d-ii-3y8a1686-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm_0

This image was created on Wednesday morning past with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (hand held at 400mm) and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central sensor AI Servo/Surround Rear Button AF on the bird’s face was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Canon 100-400mm IS L II/7D Mark II: 640 Hand Held for Flight Rocks

I had only limited opportunities to work with the 100-400II. And none really in an excellent flight situation. That said, I did get to use it some on Wednesday morning at one of the crane pools. BTW, both crane pools are in pretty poor shape and the one to the north is completely overgrown. Refuge manager Kevin Cobble explained that unexpected but welcome rain left both pools too muddy to be plowed and disked. In addition, we have had winds from the NW every morning since I arrived. The cranes take off to the west without offering any good flight photography chances.

Hand holding the 100-400 II will take a bit of getting used to as it does not balance as nicely as the original one; I find it a bit awkward as I did the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens. I am sure that folks who own and use the new 100-400 will get used to it quickly. I hope to be one of those. The lens trend lately is lighter and lighter and the 7D II drives the whole shooting match….


sandhill-crane-flight-impr-100-400-7d-ii-3y8a1696-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was also created on Wednesday morning past with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (hand held at 255mm) and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Evaluative metering off the yellow grass at zero: 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode.

Central sensor AI Servo/Surround Rear Button AF on the bird’s butt as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Several Important Things to Note

1: 7D Mark II AF is indeed remarkable.
2: Having the ability to zoom out for flight photography.
3: The new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens will have two primary uses:
a: hanging on a Black Rapid RS-7 strap as an auxiliary intermediate flight lens for folks toting big glass.
b: as the main lens of folks who can not afford or carry one of the super-telephotos.
4: The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens in combination with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II will further revolutionize bird photography opening up a new world to both beginning bird photographers and birders curious about photographing birds.


sandhill-crane-flight-200-percent-impr-100-400-7d-ii-3y8a1696-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This sharpened JPEG represents a 200% view of the optimized image. Amazingly, the optimized image that opened this blog post is a fairly substantial crop. See more below.

Whaddy Think?

Considering that the optimized image was a decent crop I would say that both sharpness and image quality are astoundingly good. Background noise was smoothed with a small dose of Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. In addition I did some Eye Doctor work and sharpened the face only with a contrast mask. The subject bird was moved down and back in the frame using techniques from APTATS II and clean-up was done using techniques from APTATS II and Denise Ippolito’s protective cloning on a layer techniques. See more below.


sandhill-crane-flight-before-100-400-7d-ii-3y8a1696-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This is an in-progress JPEG. It shows where I was at after moving the bird down and back in the frame.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s image is covered in detail in my Digital Basics File–written in my easy-to-follow, easy-to-understand style. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Digital Basics File is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips (including the Surface Blur settings as taught to me by Denise Ippolito), details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, and tons more.

APTATS I & II

Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 weekdays to order.

The Bosque Site Guide

All BAA Site Guides are designed so that with a bit of study you can show up at a great place and know exactly where to be at what time on what wind and in what lighting conditions. With a Site Guide on your laptop you will feel like a 20-year veteran even on your first visit. Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. If you plan on visiting the refuge it would be foolish to make the trip without having this guide in hand. Why spend money on gear and travel and then spend days stumbling around in the wrong spots? If you have visited previously, and are still unsure of where you should be at this time of day with that wind, this guide will prove invaluable to you as well.

You can order yours here or check out all of our site guides here.

Canon Telephoto Lens Specifications, Info, and Links; Bookmark This Page!

I have added the 100-400II to the chart here. Bookmark this page and consult it often as it makes comparing different lenses an easy chore. The chart includes weight in both pounds and kilograms, MFDs in feet and inches and in meters, magnification, filter size, and the year of introduction.

IPT Updates

Would you like to visit some of the great bird photography locations on the planet? Would you like to learn from the best? Click here and join us.


morro-bay-card-layers

Morro Bay offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects in a variety of attractive settings.

2015 Morro Bay 5-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): MAR 14 thru MAR 18, 2015: $1999 (Limit: 8/Openings: 8.)

Meet and Greet after dinner on your own at 8:00pm on MAR 13.

Join me in one of the most beautiful and scenic places on the planet to photograph a large variety of birds of the sea and shore. As above, the star of the show will be Long-billed Curlew. There will be lots of Marbled Godwits and Willets as well as lots of the smaller shorebird species. Black Oystercatcher is likely and we should get to photograph large flocks of Western Sandpipers in flight over the bay. With any luck we should enjoy some great sunrise and sunset photography. There are lots of gulls including Western, California, and Mew. There is one good location where we should get to photograph Western, Clarke’s, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and Common Loon. We may get to photograph some passerines including Anna’s Hummingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow. And we have a chance for several species of raptors. Yikes, I almost forgot California Poppy. And California Ground Squirrel. Sea Otters are also possible.

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, five 2 1/2 hour afternoon sessions, five lunches, after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions, and of course tons of great in-the-field instruction and photographic instruction. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to use 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 12/1//2014. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance. 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.

See lots more Morro Bay images here.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

…..

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use this link:

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here. Many thanks to those who have written.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

November 19th, 2014

A Day Late...

The Streak Continues: 354

On Tuesday we enjoyed fire in the mist conditions at sunrise. Learn more below. The crew was thrilled to see this amazing display despite the fact that the birds at the time were scarcer than the proverbial hen’s teeth. By 1:00pm, we had finished shooting all the footage for the 7-segment “Bird Photography” video project that is being created by the Canon Digital Learning Center. Again we worked long and hard. Everyone in the crew was as nice as could be and is incredibly professional. And that goes double for project director/producer Jem Schofield who spent another day trying to get me to behave. It was great also to have Rudy Winston along as the project advisor; his help and guidance were invaluable.

More and more cranes are using the crane pools each day. The birds were right next to the road until a train went by and scared all the birds to the far side of the pond. This blog post, the 354th in a row, took about 2 hours to prepare. It was published from my hotel room in Socorro, NM at 3:51am.

E-mail Problems

After spending more than 1 1/2 hours on the phone with ATT technical help and missing out on an afternoon photography session, I was able to send and receive e-mails. Apple Mail is, however, still acting quite finicky….

Fire in the Mist Fizzles…

Though conditions seemed perfect on Monday morning–it was a toasty 14 degrees at 6:00am yesterday, the mist dissipated as it got closer to sunrise. My prediction was close but no cigar.

Please Help Support My Work on the BAA Blog

Thanks a Stack! October was a Great Month.

The last six weeks have been quite rewarding month with more and more folks making it a habit to use my B&H links especially for their major gear purchases. It is great to feel appreciated. Thanks a stack to all who used our links for purchases large and small.

To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H Is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. 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 we are 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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.




fire-in-the-mist-w-crane-and-duck-3y8a1536-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was created on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at at 6:54am at Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM. I used the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod), the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (at 219mm), and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II . ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/800 sec. at f/25 in Manual mode.

65-Point Automatic Selection/Rear Focus AF on the catkins lower right, release, and recompose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Fire in the Mist: A Day Late, But Not a Dollar Short

What Can I Say?

In Monday’s blog post I mentioned that conditions looked good for fire in the mist that morning. That prediction was a near miss. Tuesday, the second consecutive 14 degree morning, made me a genius after the fact. There were more than 100 photographers at the refuge. At a minimum, they owned more than half a million dollars of photography gear, that a conservative estimate. There was several who lead photographic tours, and several of those are presenting at the Festival of the Cranes. Guess how many folks were in the right spot for Tuesday morning’s spectacular fire in the mist display? That would be two. Me first, followed by an old student, Carl Kling. I am not sure if Carl figured it out on his own or if he saw me and knew that as usual the best place to be was right next to me. He was smiling.

From where I sit, it is ironic that the Bosque Site Guide explains fire in the mist, when to expect it, and how to get yourself in the right spot. In addition, most folks simply do not understand how to juxtapose themselves to the light in order to maximize their photographic opportunities. The best way to learn to do that is to join me on an IPT.

This morning’s proceedings reminded me of a guy a few years ago who wrote asking about a Bosque IPT. He stated that he would do anything to get some fire in the mist. He considered joining the IPT, but passed on the opportunity explaining that he did not need me to learn to make great images at Bosque. The end result, Denise and our group got some of the best ever fire in the mist stuff on the first IPT morning. The guy? He was in the wrong spot and got nothing.

The Image Optimization

In the original image, there were three flying cranes just right of center. I eliminated two of them along with several blackbirds with the Patch Tool, and used a Quick Mask to move the crane that you see well forward in the frame to improve the compositional balance. As I was not able to match the tonality of the sky perfectly, I added a Regular Layer Mask and, working large, painted away the mismatched sky. Then I selected the duck with its wings raised with the Quick Selection Tool and darkened it by pulling down the curve.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s image is covered in detail in my Digital Basics File–written in my easy-to-follow, easy-to-understand style. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Digital Basics File is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips (including the Surface Blur settings as taught to me by Denise Ippolito), details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, and tons more.

APTATS I & II

Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 weekdays to order.

The Bosque Site Guide

All BAA Site Guides are designed so that with a bit of study you can show up at a great place and know exactly where to be at what time on what wind and in what lighting conditions. With a Site Guide on your laptop you will feel like a 20-year veteran even on your first visit. Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. If you plan on visiting the refuge it would be foolish to make the trip without having this guide in hand. Why spend money on gear and travel and then spend days stumbling around in the wrong spots? If you have visited previously, and are still unsure of where you should be at this time of day with that wind, this guide will prove invaluable to you as well.

You can order yours here or check out all of our site guides here.

Canon Telephoto Lens Specifications, Info, and Links; Bookmark This Page!

I have added the 100-400II to the chart here. Bookmark this page and consult it often as it makes comparing different lenses and easy chore. The chart includes weight in both pounds and kilograms, MFDs in feet and inches and in meters, magnification, filter size, and the year of introduction.

IPT Updates

Would you like to visit some of the great bird photography locations on the planet? Would you like to learn from the best? Click here and join us.


morro-bay-card-layers

Morro Bay offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects in a variety of attractive settings.

2015 Morro Bay 5-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): MAR 14 thru MAR 18, 2015: $1999 (Limit: 8/Openings: 8.)

Meet and Greet after dinner on your own at 8:00pm on MAR 13.

Join me in one of the most beautiful and scenic places on the planet to photograph a large variety of birds of the sea and shore. As above, the star of the show will be Long-billed Curlew. There will be lots of Marbled Godwits and Willets as well as lots of the smaller shorebird species. Black Oystercatcher is likely and we should get to photograph large flocks of Western Sandpipers in flight over the bay. With any luck we should enjoy some great sunrise and sunset photography. There are lots of gulls including Western, California, and Mew. There is one good location where we should get to photograph Western, Clarke’s, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and Common Loon. We may get to photograph some passerines including Anna’s Hummingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow. And we have a chance for several species of raptors. Yikes, I almost forgot California Poppy. And California Ground Squirrel. Sea Otters are also possible.

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, five 2 1/2 hour afternoon sessions, five lunches, after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions, and of course tons of great in-the-field instruction and photographic instruction. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to use 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 12/1//2014. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance. 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.

See lots more Morro Bay images here.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

…..

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use this link:

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here. Many thanks to those who have written.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

November 18th, 2014

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens: First Impressions and First Two Keepers

The Streak Continues: 353

On Monday, day one of the “Bird Photography” video project that is being created by the Canon Digital Learning Center, everyone worked long and hard to complete six of the needed seven educational segments. As we were concentrating on creating educational content and getting it on tape, several decent photographic opportunities needed to be bypassed; when we returned to the refuge at about 1:30pm there were about 20,000 white geese in the main impoundment with dozens every minute braking in flight and landing right next to the road into the perfect southwest wind. They were so close to the photographers that you could have killed them with a hand held 70-200 and a 1.4X III TC (or with a 7D II). It killed me to drive by that situation as south winds are so rare at Bosque, but a deal is a deal and we needed to create three more educational segments that afternoon. Jeez, I almost forgot to mention that lots of single Snow and Ross’s Geese were floating in perfectly still blue water along with their mirror-image reflections…. As I say, you gotta love it.

As part of the deal, the video and sound crew will follow me around on Tuesday morning while I visit my favorite early morning spots and actually getting to do some serious bird photography. Both video cameras will be hand held and most of what we create tomorrow will be done in an over-the shoulder, documentary style. Once the light gets too harsh for good photography we will create the seventh and final segment, “What’s in the Gear Bag?” We have affectionately been referring to that as “The Junk in the Trunk.”

Everyone in the crew is as nice as could be and is incredibly professional. And that goes double for project director Jem Schofield whose most difficult task has been keeping me in line!

My plan for this morning is to use the 100-400 II/7D Mark II combo as much as possible, and I hope, of course, to be sharing some more 100-400 II images with y’all here soon. This blog post, the 353rd in a row, took about 2 hours to prepare. It was published from my hotel room in Socorro, NM at 3:51am, same as yesterday.

E-mail Problems

Please be aware that I am having att e-mail problems and at present am not able to send or receive e-mails at my samandmayasgrandpa address. In addition, I am unable to access my ATT via webmail. I will be calling them after we wrap things up this afternoon.

Fire in the Mist Fizzles…

Though conditions seemed perfect on Monday morning–it was a toasty 14 degrees at 6:00am yesterday, the mist dissipated as it got closer to sunrise. My prediction was close but no cigar.

Please Help Support My Work on the BAA Blog

Thanks a Stack! October was a Great Month.

The last six weeks have been quite rewarding month with more and more folks making it a habit to use my B&H links especially for their major gear purchases. It is great to feel appreciated. Thanks a stack to all who used our links for purchases large and small.

To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H Is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. 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 we are 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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.



If what you’ve learned here on my blog about the Canon EOS-7D Mark II has inspired you to purchase this great new camera body, please consider using the logo link above to support our efforts here in bringing you the latest, greatest educational materials on daily basis.


sandhill-cranes-chupadera-sunset-3y8a1396-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was created on the late afternoon of November 17th while working on the seven-segment “Bird Photography” project that is being created by the Canon Digital Learning Center. I used a pre-production beta version of the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (hand held at 146mm), and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/500 sec. at f/7.1 in Av mode.

Central sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens/ First Impressions

Thanks to Rudy Winston and the rest of the gang at Canon USA for allowing me to get my hands on a pre-production beta version of the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. Though a bit heavier than the original 1-4, the version II is a bit smaller, less bulky, and less clunky than its predecessor and with the twist zoom, it handles like a dream. Unlike the 200-400 with Internal Extender, you can zoom throughout the entire focal length range easily with a single twist of the wrist. As we spent pretty much all of the day creating educational comment there was little time for actual bird photography until very late in the day. So I grabbed the new lens, put on my 7D Mark II, and quickly added a 1.4X TC. As you can see from the shooting data, adding the TC was not at all necessary for either of today’s images. But I was very impressed with the speed of initial AF acquisition both with the lens alone and with a 1.4X III TC in place.


snow-geese-flock-in-field-pink-purple-blue-earth-shadow-3y8a1403-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

This image was also created on the late afternoon of November 17th while working on the seven-segment “Bird Photography” project that is being created by the Canon Digital Learning Center. I used a pre-production beta version of the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (hand held at 156mm), and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/7.1 in Av mode.

Central sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the geese and recompose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

A 100-400 II Plus for Hand Holding

The tripod collar, which allows the lens to rotate in a super-smooth manner, is not removable. But the lens foot, to which the lens plate is attached, is detachable. It can be removed by twisting a single large screw. This lightens the weight of the rig by several ounces making hand holding that much easier. The new lens balances nicely with the 7D Mark II. BTW, the Wimberley P-20 plate is ideal for the 100-400 II as it is for most intermediate telephoto lenses. The flange keeps the plate from rotating. I do not see a big need for a low foot for the new lens.

IPT Updates

Would you like to visit some of the great bird photography locations on the planet? Would you like to learn from the best? Click here and join us.


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Card and design by Denise Ippolito. Scroll down here to see lots more of Denise’s Palouse images.

Palouse #1. The Palouse A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. May 29-June 2, 2015/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12 photographers/Openings: 1.

With two recent cancellations, we still have one opening on this long sold out trip. See item next for additional details.


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Card and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

The Palouse A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 5-9, 2015/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12 photographers/Openings 2.

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will likely enjoy spectacular sunrises and possibly a nice sunset or two. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. We will take you to some really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join us for this trip. Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

After 6 days of back-breaking scouting work in early June 2014 we found all of the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and views. We will teach you what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time.

What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, our newfound but very extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions when possible.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills. You will learn to get the right exposure every time. You will learn to develop your creative eye. You will learn the basics of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. You will learn a variety of in-camera creative techniques; Canon 5D Mark III bodies are a plus. And most importantly you will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images. Do see both of our blogs for lots more on that in the coming weeks. You will learn how the quality and direction of light combine to determine the success of your images. And–please don’t gasp–we will be working quite a bit with sidelight when creating landscapes. Lastly, we will be touching on infrared photography.

A non-refundable $699 deposit is due now. The balance will be due on January 29, 2015. If you cancel and the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. 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. Whether or not your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

With the unpredictable nature of the photography business, I have not said this often lately, but it seems quite likely that this one will fill up very quickly. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining us. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours or send us a check; the latter is preferred.

Please send your deposit check made out to “Arthur Morris” to us at Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail. You can also contact denise via e-mail here

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