Passing Fancy « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Passing Fancy

This image was created on Great Gull Island on June 3, 2013 with the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 800. Evaluative metering off the grey sky +2 stops: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Two sensors down and two to the right of the central sensor Surround/AI Servo/Rear Focus on right hand bird’s upper back active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Passing Fancy

In the image above, the male, the bird on our left, has just passed a baitfish to its mate. I believe that the prey item is an Atlantic Silversides, the “spearing” of my youth. I used them as for bait for snappers, baby bluefish about 6-8 inches long. Ten inches was a lunker. Helen is excited (assuming that I am correct) as this is the first year in 45 that the terns of GGI have been feeding on this species of baitfish.

I was hand holding the 300 II/2X III/1D X combo while sitting low in the rocks covered up with a Summer Weight Kwik Camo Throwover Blind. I was facing southeast on a somewhat chilly, hazy afternoon. Hand holding gave me a lot more freedom that had I been using the tripod-mounted 600 II. Why was I lucky not to be using the 600 II with the 2X III TC?

If you missed yesterday’s blog post and would like to learn more about Great Gull Island and the most amazing Helen Hays, click here.

This is a screen capture of the BreezeBrowser Main View.

BreezeBrowser Main View Screen Capture

Above is the BreezeBrowser Main View screen capture for the image. The illuminated red square shows that I moved the active sensor 2 down and two to the right of the central sensor. Why did I do that?

Note that since I normally work with Surround as my AF Area Selection Mode that were six rather than the usual eight active AF sensors. In Breezebrowser you need to make sure to check Show Focus Points under View to activate this feature. To see the focus points in DPP check AF Point under View or hit Alt L.

Regular readers know that I use and depend on BreezeBrowser every day of the year. It allows me to sort my keepers and deletes the rejects faster than any other browsing program. We use it on the main computer in the home office to catalog our images file-drawer style. And the companion program, Downloader Pro allows me to download my images quickly and conveniently. It automatically adds my IPTC data and the shooting location. I have it set up to create a folder named by the Month/date/year. The Breezebrowser/Downloader Pro combo saves me many hours each week. To learn earn more or to purchase this great PC only program, click here.

To learn everything that I know about the great 1D X AF system check out our 1D X AF Guide here. To learn how I convert all of my images in DPP check out the DPP Raw Conversion Guide here.

Help Keep Great Gull Island Open For Terns!

This spring crews are continuing to fight vegetation and to rebuild most of the blinds to be ready for the terns when they arrive. 31 of 34 blinds, many already in dire need of repair, were finished off by Hurricane Sandy. Crews are ready to help with both of these projects, but the GGI Project needs funds to purchase lumber and equipment. Contributions of all sizes are both welcome and appreciated AND are tax deductible! Please make checks payable to: AMNH, and send them to:

Great Gull Island Project/AMNH, Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West and 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

Kudos to Julianna Barrett (UCONN) and Suzanne Peyton (USFWS) who obtained grants to expand the Roseate Tern terraces and rebuild the observation blinds but more help is always needed. Not to mention that the GGI’s best-ever dock that was completed in 2010 was totaled by Sandy. The project is looking to FEMA for help but as above, any and all donations would be greatly appreciated.

You can learn more about Great Gull Island here and visit the GGI Blog here.


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21 comments to Passing Fancy

  • avatar Chris Cooke

    This thread has been so very informative it goes into my “keep for a rainy day” folder which I use as an excellent reference tool on days when the Cameras rest. Thank all who contributed to this great read.and of course thanks Artie for showing that stunning image (With the rock of course)

  • Gonna share why you were so lucky with your lens choice then, Art?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Actually, I was being a bit hazy lazy. With the hazy bright conditions I left the tripod and the 600 II in the banding room and headed down to the roseates with only the 300 and both TCs…. Things worked out quite well that afternoon.

  • Artie, It looks and sounds as if you are having a blast. Great capture! Love the rock.

  • The 600mm + 2x would put you on f/8 – that’s centre AF point-only territory isn’t it, Art? You wouldn’t have been able to use the AF point that you actually used.

  • avatar Faraaz Abdool

    Stunning shots as usual, Artie.

    Lucky not to be using the 600 + 2X because you would’ve been too tight and wingtips would’ve been clipped. Plus at that ridiculous focal length (1200mm) you would’ve had to stop down a fair amount to get both birds in focus and thus lose shutter speed.

    You used the AF sensors to the lower right because you have a great knowledge of bird behaviour. You were anticipating the male coming with his offering to the perched female, he would appear in the empty space on the left. And it happened jjust like that.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Rasta-man,

      Pretty good. Only problem with the 600/2X would have been too tight in the frame…. I had no clue that the male was coming :). I just want to get the single bird on the right side of the frame. Then I got really lucky.

      • avatar Faraaz Abdool

        I see, I see. Any reason in particular you didn’t use rear focus and recompose, instead of choosing these particular AF sensors? Was there any reason you wanted AF to be active at the moment of exposure?

        This is me learning 🙂

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          When you are hand holding you always want AF active so that your breathing or other movement does not throw off focus.

          This is me teaching :).

  • avatar Jim Kranick

    “Why was I lucky not to be using the 600 II with the 2X III TC?”

    The 600 II + 2x III would give you 1200mm and the birds would get cropped. You were also able to move the handheld 300 II + 2x III easier than the 600 II would have been. However the 600 w/o the 2x III would give the same focal length as the 300 + 2X and give you one more stop (f/4) than the 300+2x (f/5.6).

    Nice work, thanks for the blog.

    • avatar Jim Kranick

      Moving the active sensor over 2 and down 2 places it on the more steady side of the bird rather than the moving head/eye. This way when you get the slight head turn to the left the eye and bill move inline with the sensor and into focus.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        I chose the sensor that I did just to get the bird on the rock on the right side of the frame. Remember, there was only one bird on the rock. When the male flew in I kept AF on the bird on the rock and kept firing. Got four sharp frames but only this one worked.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      YAW. Yes, I would have been way too tight at 800….

  • Hi,
    Love the image, great behavior- very clean background. Quick question, on the BeeezeBrower info. shows ISO 810 and on the Camera capture is shows 800 ISO.
    I use Aperture{ true Mac user} so is there a reason the ISO doesn’t match?
    Keep up the great work,


  • s/b “parboiled alive”, in what I wrote above.

  • You used the AF sensors you did (in the lower part of the array) because of how easy it is to clip the wings of the bird when you do not. 🙂 This is one of the best tips I ever learned on your site/blog.

    I am intrigued by the throwover blind, even though I am nervous about being parboid alive trying to use it here in Florida. 🙂

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You (and others I think) are forgetting that when I chose the active AF sensor there was only one bird on the rock…. The throwover blind is quite good but I think that it can be improved. I need to get with Bob Peltz on that when I get home.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Fantastic capture, great action especially the motion blur in the wings & I love the high key effect.