214 Keeper Day at Lake Kerkini, Greece « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

214 Keeper Day at Lake Kerkini, Greece

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This Dalmatian Pelican image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/125 sec. at f/11 in Av mode. From shore. The hair-dos on these birds are too much.

214 Keeper Day at Lake Kerkini, Greece

After a day of icy rain and biting winds we woke today to huge soft snow flakes. But by 10am it had turned into a lovely bright soft-box of a day and we enjoyed our best photography yet. After my first round of editing I was left with 214 selects.

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This image of a landing Dalmatian Pelican was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. From shore.

Each shift we send 6 folks out on the 2 boats and 4 of us remain ashore. And each day we develop new strategies. I realized that when the boats return the birds will always follow them so we have the boatmen drive right at the photographers on shore who are set up with their long lenses….

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This baited feeding spree photo was created with the hand held Canon 15mm fisheye lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/800 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. From shore.

Peter Kes and George Brunt’s friend Jack Cohen and I teamed up on shore to work some fisheye feeding magic while Paul Davison stalked the elusive Great Cormorants…. Here I used the central AF sensor on the bottom row and taught the others to do the same.

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I created this image with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 1.4X III TC and the EOS-1D Mark IV (hand held at 170mm). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. From shore.

To create this image I was down on my belly in the dirt at the edge of Lake Kerkini with the bottom of my camera supported by the coarse brown grit and the lens barrel–perhaps an inch above the surface of the lake, supported by my left hand. Great fun!

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I created this image with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV (hand held at 155mm). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. From the boat.

Here one of the orange billed pelicans is chasing a tossed fish. Totally unnatural but whimsical.

Which is Your Favorite Image?

Please do leave a comment and let us know which is your favorite image and why. (If you wish to complain about folks feeding the pelicans please call 1-800-I-DON’T CARE; the local fisherman feed the pelicans regularly during the winter and populations are at record levels.)

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the images above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 15mm fish eye lens. Robert O’Toole inspired me to have fun with this lens and that is just what I do!
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2XIII teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC..
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens. Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable.

27 comments to 214 Keeper Day at Lake Kerkini, Greece

  • I like the first one the best, it makes me think of a dishevelled fisherman. I love the textures and the look the bird is giving us.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Rob, YAW. If you love your old 70-200 f/2.8L IS you will be absolutely insane about the 70-200 II. It is indeed a remarkable lens. And thanks for your kind words. artie

  • Artie, it’s always fun to follow you on your journeys. Your photographs are off the chart as usual. I do favor the the feeding frenzy. The angles of the beaks just draw you into the photo. Congratulations on a successful trip and IPT!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Deb, I hope that you get a chance to join us again somewhere down the road 🙂

  • Thanks very much for the detailed response- it is greatly appreciated. I don’t worry too much about initial AF acquisition as my 1D4 is set-up to not search when a focal point can’t be found when shooting BIF. So, most of the time I need to manual focus initially anyway (at least with my 500 f4).

    I am going to think about the 70-200 2.8 IS II the next couple days. It is a tough decision as I have always loved my 70-200 2.8 IS. I use it all of the time for shooting wakeboarding and it has always performed exceptionally. I can see the benefits for an extra stop of IS since my camera would occasionally creep up to ISO 12,800 when shooting sports in a gym.

    Thanks again and I really enjoy your work and this site.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Rob, Thanks for your kind comments. Do remember to comparison shop with Gary at Hunt’s Photo to make sure that you are getting the best price. If you do decide to purchase from B&H know that we greatly appreciate your using a BAA link.

    As you probably know, I used the 400 f/5.6L IS a lot in the film days; I think that I was quite responsible for the great popularity of my beloved “toy lens” among bird photographers. I now champion the new 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with both Series III TCs.

    I have used the Canon 400mm f/5.6 L lens only rarely with digital. I have not done any sharpness testing with either lens. Heck, I have never done a sharpness test on any lens…. I am a seat-of-the-pants type of guy. As I have written from the get-go, initial autofocus acquisition with the 70-200 II and either 2X TC will–as expected–be on the slow side, especially when compared with the lightning fast AF acquisition of the 400 f/5.6. But for AI Servo tracking accuracy and sharpness I simply love the results I have been getting with the 70-200 II and any 2X TC. Once I acquire focus with the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L II lens, most every image in the series will be sharp on the bird’s eye (barring operator error). I do believe that the 2X III TC is marginally sharper than the older 2X II TC.

    I cannot use a lens without IS any more and the 4-stop IS on the 2.8 II performs superbly. I made lots of sharp images with the lens and the 2X III TC while hand holding at 400mm and using shutter speeds as slow as 1/125 second. Amazing. With the 70-200 II and either 1.4X TC initial AF acquisition is lightning fast, about as quick or quicker than with the 400 f/5.6L. And with the prime lens alone initial focus acquisition is–as would be expected at f/2.8–pretty much instantaneous. As you can use this lens with either the 1.4X or the 2X TC, or by itself, it is amazingly versatile. And the sharpness and image quality are–as you have been seeing here and in the BAA Bulletins for the past year, spectacular.

    So why is the conventional wisdom no longer on the money? With their vastly superior optics the newest lenses are far sharper than previous those of previous generations; even when TCs are added folks with decent technique are able to make incredibly sharp images on a consistent basis.

    To sum up, I would say that the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with the 2X III TC is as sharp as the old 400mm f/5.6L. I used the 70-200 II for at least 75% of my images on the recently concluded trip to Greece (but only rarely with the 2X III TC as the pelicans were quite close).

    Please let me know if you have any additional questions. And thanks for your initial one

  • My situation.. I currently own 100-400, 70-200 2.8 IS, and a 2X II. I want something better for BIF and lighter than my 500 f4 IS (I am also using a 1D Mark IV). I was going to get a 400 5.6 but after reading here daily for a couple weeks I am almost sold on selling the 100-400 and my 70-200 and picking up a new 70-200 2.8 IS II. However, I don’t feel that the new 2X III is worth the money compared to my 2X II at this time (your pics with the 2X II seem to confirm this to me but please explain if I am wrong). My dilemma is this: conventional wisdom says a prime (400 5.6) is always sharper than a zoom AND an extender will always degrade the image to some extent. So, I do find it tough to imagine a 70-200 WITH a 2X extender will be as sharp as the 400 5.6 prime. I love this site and will use the links from here to order from B&H after I convince myself it is the right choice. Thanks for the expertise.

  • Two favorites— The feeding frenzy with 15mm lens. Very creative! You must have been right at bill tip. Great composition with a feeling of vast space behind the birds. The other is the swimming pelican with camera positioned on the dirt. I like the feeling of connection with the pelican. Pelican and viewer are equal. Also like the soft background. Overcast soft light in all is great too. Beautiful whites when they could have turned out bluish. With no flash you must have done a great PS job to get them.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hey Jim, It gets worse. It was sunny on Friday morning and I kept 344 images after the first round of editing. I am looking forward to seeing you in Homer soon and to enjoying some more great opportunities.

  • 214 keepers in one day for Artie is unheard of!! If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were pretty easy on your editing. But I do know better! You are really tough editing, throwing away images most photographers would keep. So, I have no doubt all 214 are as good or better than the images you posted here — and all of these are GREAT! Congratulations, Artie. If our time in Homer were to do half as well, that would be like hitting the ball out of the park. I think you hit this one out of the country!

  • I love the third shot. Something about being so close to the pelicans and them finding it completely ok. There is some harmony in that 🙂
    The first photo is the next best for me!!

  • Ilija Dukovski

    First #4, then #1, then feeding etc. Considering the feeding, on a nearby lake Dojran
    fisherman have not only fed, but used birds for centuries, mostly Pygmy Cormorants, to help them with the fishing.

    Is Prespa lake on your schedule too? Any White Pelicans around?



  • bill clausen

    They are all great Art. I looks like a wounderful place to shoot! I like the landing!

  • The last one is the winner hehe 🙂

  • All great shots but the feeding frenzy fisheye is my favorite, great composition and DOF really make this a stand out. Close second is the first portrait, it too is wonderful! Have a great rest of the trip.

  • Ray

    I like them all and love the last one that is so funny. Feed them all…

  • All shots are great, and amazing, but my favorite is the third one took with the fisheye, also like the pose on second one…

  • Andrea Boyle

    Food frenzy first. A great use for the fisheye lens. Not only does the shot get the 4 winners in the foreground but the losers in the back rows as well. A very nicely composed shot. It sounds and looks like you are having a great time!

  • All wonderful, but the last one is hillarious!!!

  • Being a big fan of super-low shooting angle, loved the 4th one. The trees on the opposite shoreline are adding a lot to that image. Along with the pouches, the eyes and the hairdos make them very photogenic.

  • My favorite two are the first one and the fourth one, in that order. They are all good. My eye just really likes the first one . . . love all the white which makes it etheral (kind of like your gannets in love) where the white subject and white background merge without real contrast. I think THAT one could be a contest winner. I also really like the fourth one with the background trees barely discernable. In fact, that same shot could also be wonderful if all the background was white and the sky and water monochrome, if you know what I mean . . . with a slightly tighter crop (less nothingness on the right). Not saying that would improve it, but it would be another interesting treatment. The others are “fun.”
    So there you have it – just my opinion.

  • Esther Corley

    The laughing one, of course! (The last one.)

  • Elizabeth Lodwick

    I love the feeding frenzy, the composition, the expressions, the DOF

  • I captured photos of the Great Cormorant in November at the click ponds at Viera Wetlands

  • The second to the last. It looks totally alien with its haircut and orange chin.

  • Wow, the first photo is off the charts. I just love the starkness of it with the splash of color. And the do is over the top! 🙂