Unexpected… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


Image #1 was created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode.

Central sensor Rear Focus/AI Servo AF and recompose. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Home Safe

I flew home from California yesterday getting home at about 7pm. Morro Bay was great. And so was the IPT.


There were some nice patches of California Poppies in and around Morro Bay. We saw them every day on the way to and from the birds. And we had some great birds. On the last morning of the IPT I got back to the room at about 9:45am. We were meeting for lunch at Giovanni’s at 11. I was tired and was looking forward to my nap. But those poppies–all in perfect bloom–had looked so, so beautiful that I grabbed the macro lens, the diffuser, and the reflector, and went out to spend an hour photographing flowers. You gotta love it.

For image #1 I used my big reflector/diffuser to block the wind and diffused the direct sunlight with a slightly smaller one. By scrolling down here you can find a variety of collapsible models. I’ve been saying for years that most flower images could be drastically improved by shading or diffusing direct sunlight. And bouncing some light back in with a reflector can make the images even stronger.

Image #2 was also created with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

Central sensor Rear Focus/AI Servo AF and recompose. Click on the image to see a larger version.

For the image above I raised the tripod so as to include a bit of background and then went with a pano crop. I shaded the blossom with my body and bounced a bit of light back in with the gold side of the reflector.

Image #3 was created with the hand held Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/3.5 in Av mode.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Inspired by stuff that I learned from Denise Ippolito’s “The Softer Side of Macro” I got down on the ground and took a look at the backlit flowers. For this one I got pretty close to the minumum focusing distance of the lens. As autofocus with this lens is very poor at best in low contrast situations I pre-focused manually on the pink edge of the sepal and tried to make an image or two each time that my breathing and body movement brought that edge into sharp focus. It learned that technique from a George Lepp seminar that I attended years ago. For all of these images it was important to check the RGB histogram to avoid burning one of the color channels. I love that Canon finally got around to putting a thin white line around the histogram box on the 5D Mark III so that outdoor photographers can actually see the ends of the histogram while in the field….

Image #4 was also created with the hand held Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens and the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/4 in Av mode.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Again inspired by “The Softer Side of Macro” I employed stronger backlight for this image of the whole flower. Focusing was achieved as in image #3.

Which Do You Like Best?

Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which image you like best. And least. And why. I have a clear #1 and a clear #2.

Contest Deadline Extended

The contest deadline has been extended until April 30, 2012. In case you missed the big news, click here.

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Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the images in today’s 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 EF 180mm f/3.5L macro lens. I love the narrow angle of view and longer working distances that come with Canon’s telephoto macro lens.
Canon EOS-5D Mark III. Except when I need extreme focal length, I have been using my 5D III on the 800 a ton. And loving it.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gitzo GT3530LS 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.
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.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

18 comments to Unexpected…

  • avatar Jim Swinehart

    I like 3&4 the best because of the
    Lighting; they glow. Not enough
    contrast in 1&2!

  • avatar Walt Novinger

    The pictures are beautiful, Artie…wish I had taken the time to visit them while on the IPT. As usual, though, it’s the tips and techniques you share that are most valuable for me. I now have to rummage through my not-often-used photo stuff and find my reflectors/diffusers. Of course, I’ll now also have to buy a few more to be sure I have the RIGHT one for every circumstance. 🙂

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Numbers 3 and 4. I can’t decide which I like better, but probably #4 because the edges of the petals are so pleasing (but then the vibrant color and flame-like feel of #3 is great, too…).

    Numbers 1 and 2 don’t please me as much, perhaps because the stamens don’t make patterns that I find particulaly attractive.

  • #4 is my favorite …..I like that composition best…..with #3 coming in next

  • avatar Phil Ertel

    I prefer number one. I like how you have used nature to create an image with an abstract feel. Very nice!

  • avatar Gloria

    Love Number Three. It looks as if each petal is lit from within. Very beautiful and elegant.

  • avatar Lamar May

    Art, #3 is my favorite with #4 a close second!

  • avatar Paul Smith

    Hi Artie:

    Congrats, great work. Number 3 is my favorite!

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    I like #4 the best. It is absolutely beautiful. For something different I like #3 it looks to me as if the orange petals are streaming from the sepal.

  • I absolutely love image #3! The softness of it is brilliant! I would like to have this hanging on my wall!

  • I love the last two images. They are gorgeous and I wish they were mine!

  • avatar Colin Oatley

    I like them in reverse order: #4 most, #1 least. #4 is a beautiful composition, and having the tips of the petals out of focus implies motion, not just shallow DOF. My main complaint with #3 is that the stem is out of focus; the DOF is too shallow. Comparing #1 versus #2, #1 looks too clinical, #2 is a more artistic.

  • avatar cheapo

    Wow, nice colour overload! It’s a shame the weren’t any interesting bugs lurking in the Poppies, but #3 is fave for me. I love the colour contrasts.

  • avatar Jeff Carlson

    Image #4 is my favorite with the delicacy of the flower and the accent of the background color. #3 would be my second choice. Thanks for the tips as I’m off to the Smoky Mountains next week for the spring flowers.

  • avatar Bill Brinkhorst

    I really like the last one. The first two don’t have enough contrast between the petals and the stamens for me. That’s not your fault, it just isn’t there in nature.

  • avatar Colin Smith

    Flowers, good for you Art. I like them all, but number four is my favorite. I did these poppie in Arizona in late February near tucson using 16mm.

  • avatar Trd Krug

    My favorite is #4 followed by #3. Both of these images speak to me of what was really the subject

  • avatar Adam Felde

    I like the last two best!