The Prelude « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Prelude

The Streak…

This blog post marks 52 days in a row with a new educational blog post, a record by far that should be extended for at least another week or two. Or not. 🙂 To show your appreciation, we ask that use our B&H and Amazon affiliate links for all of your B&H and Amazon purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store. We sell only what I use and 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.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

We would of course appreciate you using our B&H and Amazon affiliate links for all of your B&H and Amazon major gear, video, electronic, household, and personal purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned above we would of course great appreciate your business.

Thanks and enjoy today’s blog post!


This Brown Pelican image was created with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (hand held at 217mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop off the light blue sky: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the top of the bird’s breast (on the same plane as the eye) active at the moment of exposure. There were 3 sensors active on the upper back and the bottom of the neck. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Yesterday, with the birds flying relatively consistent flight paths, I experimented with using central sensor only as opposed to Surround for my flight photography as recommended by Jim Neiger in his great eGuide, Flight Plan.

The Prelude

In the two images here we see the great versatility of the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender: great for hand held flight photography and great on a tripod for tight portraits with the Internal TC in place. And adding an external TC gets you out to 784mm….

I have received several e-mails asking which is the better lens, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens or the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender. At first I thought that this was a tough question. But I have reached a definitive conclusion. I will be sharing my revelations with you here soon.


This Brown Pelican image was created with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the internal TC in place at 566mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero as framed: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode.

61-Point/AI Servo Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure. There were 9 sensors active on the middle of the bird’s large bill (on the same plane as the eye). Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

61-Point AF

I have been using 61-Point AF for many of my vertical images on the cliffs over the past few days. With both the 1D X and the 5D Mark III you can set up your cameras with one AF Area Selection Mode for horizontals and a different AF Area Selection Mode for verticals. The cameras recognize whether you are holding them horizontally or vertically. You can learn how to do this in either our 1D X AF Guide or our 5D Mark III User’s Guide. Along with dozens of other great tips.


This is a BreezeBrowser Main View screen capture. Learn more below.


Above is the BreezeBrowser Main View screen capture for the vertical pelican image. The illuminated red squares on the bird’s bill indicates that 9 AF sensors were active at the moment of exposure. 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/Windows-only program, click here.

Note also the histogram that shows the highlight data well into the fifth box…. Expose to the right. Learn more about exposure in the Two-Book Bundle here.

Your Favorite?

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the two images here you like best. Be sure to let us know why.


Breathe deeply, bite the bullet, and live life to its fullest; we all get only one ride on the merry-go-round… Join me on this great trip.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Southern Ocean…

There has already been a ton of interest including that from some long time wonderful Happy Camper BIRDS AS ART folks. Mulitple-IPT veteran Michael Viljoen of South Afirca has already committed to making the trip with his son. He and lovely, smiling wife Lyndsey were with me on the memorable and wonderful October 2012 Cheesemans’ South Georgia Expedition. Repeat-clients–I like to call them recidivists–are a good sign that you are doing something right.

Click here for complete details. If you are seriously interested please shoot me an e-mail for the trip link.

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!
This Bulletin took about 12 hours to prepare

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!


Everyone buys something from Amazon, be it a big lens or deodorant. Support the blog by starting your search by starting your search by clicking on the logo-link below. No purchase is too small to be appreciated; they all add up. Why make it a habit? Because I make it a habit of bringing you new images and information on an almost daily basis.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. 🙂

IPT Info

Many of our great trips are filling up. See especially info on the South Florida, Holland, and Nickerson Beach IPTs. Two great leaders on most trips ensure that you will receive individual attention, have all of your questions answered, and learn a ton including how to think like a pro, see the situation, and get the right exposure every time. In addition you will have fun, and make lots of great images. Click here for IPT details and general information.

17 comments to The Prelude

  • Love the in-flight shot of the Brown pelican since I know how difficult that can be. Takes LOTS of practice and having the right settings. Love the shot!

    Thanks Rob!

    I got the 5D MK III settings guide you published and have changed a lot of my original settings. Shot an event over the weekend and I was really impressed with the high number of quality images due to the changes that were made. You got me farther down the road in my learning curve Artie, THANKS… Rob

    You are most welcome; that it the plan! artie

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are most welcome Rob. Thanks for the plug for my 5D Mark II User’s Guide 🙂

      • side note. Not sure if this is the place to put this since this is my first post on your site. I got the 2x TC III, using it my 500 f4. Only the center focus point was active, i could not switch to any other focus point. Am I missing something or is that the way it is with the 2x TC?

        With what camera body? artie

    • 5D MK III, lens is 500 f/4L ver 1 (not ver II)

      Thanks Rob. With the 5D III, any 500mm lens, and any 2X TC, you will be limited to central sensor AF at f/8. If you keep the Expand option available, I would recommend setting that when you add the 2X; doing so will give you 5 active points as opposed to 1. You can learn a ton more about your 5D III In our 5D III User’s Guide. artie

      ps: thanks for your ABP/ABO III/APTATS order this morning; it is greatly appreciated.

      • I already got the 5D III user guide and going through it in detail (great input). I made several adjustments already and really like what I’m seeing. I did the expanded AF point option and do get all 5 AF points, just wasn’t aware that the ability to select AF points with the 2x goes away. Not a big deal, i just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a setting that I enabled that caused it.

        Now I need to learn how to maximize that combinations ability. First set of photo’s are soft so I’m holding off till I get through the entire 5D III user manual then I’ll know if it’s my technique that’s getting in the way (probably). I figured the ABP/ABO III/APTATS will help a great deal. Love your info and absorbing like a sponge, just wish I had known about this years ago. I would have been a lot further down the learning curve by now but hey, just glad I found this site and all the great information.. Thanks for sharing so much of your knowledge Artie…

        Looking to join one of your IPT’s this year, maybe Bosque in Nov30 – Dec3… It’s only a 6hr drive from Phoenix.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Thanks Rob, It was worse when both the 1D X and the 5D III bodies came out–there was no AF at all at f/8. Firmware updates were finally released for each that gave us AF at f/8….

          Many folks have a problem making sharp images at first with the 2X TCs. Read the stuff on Advanced Sharpness Techniques in ABP II and then practice. Soon you will learn to make it seem as if the rig is actually an extension of your body. That’s the feeling that you want>

          What tripod head are you using?

          It would be great meeting and working with you in New Mexico.

          later and love and thanks for finding BAA 🙂

          ps r u active on BPN yet?

          • Q: What tripod head are you using?
            A: Gitzo carbon fiber with a wimberley gimbal head ver 1 (no center column, 3 section CF tripod, pretty sturdy)

            It would be great meeting and working with you in New Mexico.
            A: Working out the details now. I figure 4 days with you is the equivalent of 1yr of book reading, field work, trial and error, etc… 🙂 I want to get down that learning curve quickly.

            later and love and thanks for finding BAA 🙂

            Q: ps r u active on BPN yet?
            A: no Sir, haven’t seen that site yet, will get on it tonight when I get out of work.
            I can feel the love..

            If you get involved in BPN you will learn a ton and get and give lots of love. artie

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Good point on the two images being totally different. I am gonna be a lot colder in Japan 🙂 artie

    • avatar David Policansky

      How I’d love to join you there….but it costs as much as a lens I want but also cannot afford. I look forward to seeing many wonderful images from your Japan IPT.

  • avatar Chris Houston

    My favorite is definitely the flight shot. After trying it myself, I know how much skill it takes to get a perfectly sharp and especially a perfectly lit flight shot like that. Nice one.

  • avatar Steve Rentmeesters

    In the second paragraph of the description for the gorgeous brown pelican portrait there is an “on the on the” typo.

  • avatar Bob

    I like the penguins walking on the snow scenic in the center. Next would be the upper right of the penguin lying on the snow with wings extended upward.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    The Portrait is my Favourite. The beautiful colours of the subject and the beautiful blue of the background do it for me.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Congratulations on the blog record and thank you for them all. Those two images are so different that it’s hard to choose a favorite; they are both beautiful and perfectly executed. By the way, I was at the Bernardo Wildlife Management Area before sunrise this morning, about 40 miles north of Bosque, to photograph cranes against the setting nearly full moon. I got lots of good opportunities and it was 9 degrees F! It didn’t seem to bother the camera but my glasses got fogged.