My Comments on: For Your Critique/Image #2 « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My Comments on: For Your Critique/Image #2

Tundra Swans, Lower Klamath NWR, CA. This image was created was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X III teleconverter (hand held at 140mm) with the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av Mode.

Central Sensor/Rear Focus/AI Servo AF and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. To enjoy viewing a larger sized image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

My Comments on: For Your Critique: Image #2

On July 1, 2011, I posted the image above here as #2 in the “For Your Critique” series. It was entered in the WPOTY category: Animals in Their Environment. It proved to be a popular post as it prompted 30 comments. On the whole it proved more popular than #1 in the series, the image that was honored in the Creative Visions of Nature category of the 2011 WPOTY competition; see here for details.

With Image #2 I was pretty much baffled by the comments on the composition. To my eye, this motif (as my friend, the late, great German nature photographer Fritz Pölking called the design of his images) is perfect. That is one of the main reasons that I included this image in my 20-photo WPOTY submission. 🙂

The Comments

There were many positive comments, some of which mentioned things that I did not even know that I liked about the image. 🙂 Here is one of the many: Big fan. I really like the scene as it has a lot of depth. The wave, the swans, the shoreline, the fields, the hills, cloud shadow, clouds, and finally sky. A definite keeper in my opinion. I’d have to agree.

Many folks suggested a variety of crops, mostly cropping from the top, some from below, and some from both top and bottom. While creating a different version or two would surely an option I do love the image exactly as cropped. Including the entire cloud yields a powerful and complete image with a nicely balanced composition. That of course IMHO. As I write often, “If an element is worth including in the frame I almost always want to include the whole thing with at least a small border around it.” One poster summed it up perfectly by writing, “I’d keep the towering clouds as they give a feeling of depth and the expanse of the scene.”

I would have been OK with a sliver of a crop from the bottom to eliminate the small dark area in the lower left corner but I did not mind that bit of dark blue so I left it. (Covering it with a Quick Mask for entry into the WPOTY and many other competitions would not be permitted; doing so would be fine in the BAA 1st International Bird Photography Competition.)

As for the lack of a clear subject, for me the cold and the blue are the main subject. And finally, this poster wrote a fine conclusion for today’s offering: I like the image as is. It looks … like a wonderful winter wonderland. Thanks to all who commented either positively or negatively and to all who offered suggestions.


With images like this folks often ask, “Why did you have the 2X on when you used a focal length of 140mm?” You could have removed the 2X, worked at 140mm, and produced a sharper image. They are of course correct. I was, however, trying to photograph small groups of the swans in flight as they departed so I needed to be able to zoom in tight to 400mm. Then I looked up, saw all the swans in a row with that big, beautiful cloud above the pond and the mountains, and zoomed out. When I saw that I could include all of the elements that I wanted for the image I rear-focused on the closest swan, re-composed, and pressed the shutter button. By the time I began to remove the TC the perfect grouping no longer existed….

The tale above also explains why I was at 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 (rather than at 1/1000 sec. at f/11 for more depth-of-field….)

B&H Photo Free Overnight Holiday Shipping on Selected Canon Lenses

BAA sponsor B&H Photo is offering free overnight shipping on selected Canon lenses (including many of my favorites) from now only until Thursday Dec.22, 4:00pm EST. Any lenses ordered via this link only will be received in time to be placed under the X-mas tree (or under the Hanukkah bush).

The selection includes two versions of the 70-200 IS, my current favorite, the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, and my old favorite, the 70-200 f/4L IS. (Click here to learn about the 70-200 IS L II with the 2X III TC.) Also included are the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens (the wide angle zoom that I am taking to Antarctica) and the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. Also on the list is Denise Ippolito‘s favorite Canon intermediate telephoto zoom, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS (Image Stabilizer) USM lens; lord, I made a zillion great images with that lens. In addition, there are five other shorter Canon lenses on the list. Again, you can view the entire list here.

Click on the logo-link below for free overnight shipping on Canon Powershot Cameras; they make great gifts!

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Earn Free Contest Entries and Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

More and more folks are earning multiple contest entries with their B & H purchases. See here for details on that. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here to visit the competition home page.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in today’s blog post. 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 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. Designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine. Also available for the 7D and the Mark III here.

4 comments to My Comments on: For Your Critique/Image #2

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks gang! artie

  • I absolutely love the white on white on white with monochromatic blue. I also love the diminutive swans in respect to the grand mountains and big fluffy clouds. The shadows in the clouds are wonderfully contrasted with the sunlight on the camera side of the photo. The fact that there was vegetation showing through the snow on the flat and on the mountains is much nicer than thick heavy snow in this instance. The contrasting clear blue sky above the clouds is so pretty. And the blue water beautifully sets off the white birds. A real work of art!!

  • avatar Charles Scheffold

    This is one of my favorite images – would not change a thing.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Its a wonderful image. It gives a sense of openness and wildness and a feeling that maybe there is still hope, and space, for the other animals that share this earth with us.