My Two Favorites From a 1362-Image Day on Great Gull Island… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My Two Favorites From a 1362-Image Day on Great Gull Island...

The Streak Continues: 242

This post was published just before 5:45am from Great Gull Island Project, NY. As noted yesterday, strong NW winds in the morning found me at work at my laptop all morning before heading for another wonderful midday swim. The afternoon was again quite excellent but I lost the last hour of golden light and blue water that I had enjoyed on Tuesday. It is still this morning with a gentle breeze from the east northeast, in other words, perfect for bird photography. I am going to head for the western end of the island in an attempt to photograph some of the large flocks of terns feeding. This post, which took me more than 2 1/2 hours to prepare, marks 242 consecutive days with a new enjoyable and educational blog post.

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This image was created on the evening of July 28 at 7:20pm on Great Gull Island when a huge dark cloud covered the sun. I used the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the very light blue sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. AWB.

One sensor below the central sensor AI Servo/Center Zone AF caught the bird’s right foot and again the eye was very sharp. Again, AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to see a larger version.

My Two Favorite Images From a 1362 Image Day on Great Gull Island…

As I mentioned yesterday, Monday afternoon past was positively magical. I did a lot of flight photography and with the last half hour of golden light, tried a new spot at the eastern end of the island that proved to be fantastic as I had imagined the previous evening. I started at abut 5:00pm, earlier than I had previously; that gave me time to explore some new areas that panned out quite nicely.

Seeing the Situation

Each of these images was made possible only because I recognized the potential of the two completely different situations and realized the possibilities. While it is possible to learn to do that by studying the blog every day, the very best way to do that is to join an IPT. Learn more and commit to become a better photographer today by clicking here.


This image was created with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop as originally framed (this is a small crop): 1/1000 sec. at f/4 in Av mode. AWB.

Though 61-Point Automatic Selection/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF activated a single point well below the bird’s neck the image was very sharp on the eye. AF was of course active at the moment of exposure. Learn everything that I know about the great AF systems of the 1D X and 5D III including how to manage the various AF Area Selection Modes, when to use which one, and several ways to move the AF sensor around in the 1D X AF Guide and the 5D Mark III User’s Guide. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Funny How Some Things Never Change…

In The original The Art of Bird Photography I wrote something to the effect that my two favorite backgrounds were distant out-of-focus green vegetation and still blue water lit by richly colored light….

Av Mode

I was in Av mode for the second image because some of the rock perches were in the shade while others were lit by warm evening light. Working in Av mode let me adjust quickly by adding 2/3 stop of light for the birds in the sun or 1 or 1 1/3 stop of light for the birds in the shade among the white rocks. As I have said many times, sometimes Av mode is faster and more efficient.

Image Questions

What is the one thing that bugs me in one of the two images? What would I have preferred?

What are the strong points of each image? Any weaknesses?

Which is the two images is your favorite and why?

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advise, usually sells in no time flat.

In the past few days BAA has sold two 300mm f/2.8L IS lenses and a 500mm f/4L IS II, all in near mint condition. No matter your budget or your focal length needs there is a great lens for you below.

Used Gear Caution

Though I am not in a position to post images of gear for sale here or elsewhere, prospective buyers are encouraged to request for photos of the gear that they are interested in purchasing via e-mail. Doing so will help to avoid any misunderstandings as to the condition of the gear.

Used Canon 800mm f/56L IS USM Lens

Multiple IPT veteran and good friend Mike Gotthelf, is offering a used Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens in excellent + condition for $8850. The lens is like new except for some very minor wear on the finish. The sale includes the leather hood, the original hard case and key, a low foot, a LensCoat, and insured shipping via UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

This great lens, my favorite for 3 years, sells new at B&H for $13,999.00. B&H is asking $11,399.95 for a used one here in the same condition as Mike’s. They recently dropped their price for this lens from $11,999.90…. Buy Mike’s lens and save $2456.95 right now! It will save you a ton of dough and you will have a super-sharp lens with lots of reach. And it works great with a 1.4X TC too with all pro bodies and with the 5D Mark III.

Interested folks can contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at (978)-407-0679 (eastern time).

Used Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Chris Callahan is offering a used Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens in good to very good condition for $900. There is some wear on the finish. The sale includes the heavy duty fabric carrying case that is moderately worn, the tripod ring (tripod collar), and the rear cap. The seller will pay insured UPS shipping within continental US. The lens will ship after the check clears.

Please contact Chris via e-mail or by phone at 1-850-516-7155 (eastern time).

I have long recommended this lens as the best Canon bird photography starter lens, a clear choice over my old “toy lens,” the 400mm f/5.6L. Why? It is faster at f/4. It has IS. And it autofocuses with a 7D and a 1.4X teleconverter. The 300 f/4 L IS has great close focus making it great for frogs, butterflies, medium-sized and large flowers, and large insects like dragonflies. It is a great flight lens either alone or with the 1.4X TC. And it is deadly sharp. It is great on a tripod with the Mongoose M3.6.

Used Nikkor 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens

Steve Ellis is offering a used Nikkor 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 G ED VR lens in excellent condition for $699. The lens has some very minor wear on the finish. The sale includes the original box, soft case, manual, lens hood, front and rear caps a Hoya HMC UV filter, and insured shipping via UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; the lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

Contact Steve via e-mail or call him at 203-292-3101 (EST time zone).

The 28-300 focal length range makes this lens very versatile. It is a great travel and B roll lens and a great lens to have at Bosque. It sells new at B&H for $1,046.95.

Used Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II Lens

Dale Lorenzen is offering a used Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens in nearly mint condition for $1850. It is like new with a small scratch on the hood. The sale includes the original box, the software CD, the carrying case, the tripod ring, and the front and rear caps. The seller will pay insured UPS shipping within continental US. The lens will ship after the check clears.

Please contact Dale via e-mail. At this give-away price, this lens should sell instantly.

As regular blog readers know full well, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is one of my very favorite lenses. It is often the only other lens that I take into the field with my tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens. As above, I use it often to create small-in-the-frame or habitat images. I use it for flocks in flight at Bosque with either TC. I use it often to photograph family groups of birds or birds interacting at close range. I use it a ton for scenic images as I did with great success in the Palouse. And I use it either alone (see here) or with either TC to photograph birds in flight at close range. In short, the 70-200 II is an incredibly versatile hand holdable intermediate telephoto lens that offers me a focal length range of from 70 to 400mm.

Used Canon 400 DO IS USM Lens

Joe Messina is offering a used Canon 400 DO IS USM lens in very good ++ condition for $4200. There are some minor cosmetic scratches to the finish. The lens hood is slightly out of round and is difficult to install. The sale includes an AquaTech flexible strap-on hood, a $150 value. The sale also includes the lens trunk (with key), the original leather hood, and a hard plastic lens cap. The seller will pay insured UPS shipping within continental US. The lens will ship after the check clears.

Please contact Joe via e-mail or by phone at 415-563-6577.

If you are looking for a fast, lightweight, hand holdable telephoto lens, this is the lens for you. Learn a ton more about the 400 DO here and see lots of 400 DO images by visiting the “The Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO Lens: Fourteen Images that Prove that the Internet Experts are (As Usual) Idiots” blog post here. The lens sells new at B&H for $6499.00.

Used Canon EOS-1D Mark III

Michael Zajac is offering a Canon EOS-1D Mark III professional digital camera body in Excellent condition for $1250. The sale includes the battery charger, one battery, the original paperwork, the camera strap, the original box, and shipping to the continental US.

Please contact Michael via e-mail or by phone at 732-979 -6644. Photos are available upon request.

Some EOS-1D Mark III bodies originally had AF problems. Michael’s did not. I have seen his great flight images made with this camera. This body features a 1.3X crop factor sensor and is a great step-up for someone who wants to take a big step up from a 7D. It’s powerful battery drives AF much faster than the pro-sumer bodies especially with either a 1.4X or 2X teleconverter in place.

Used Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens, the “old six”

An Amazing Package for Someone Young and Strong. Or Old and Strong.

Chuck Pettis is offering a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens for $6199 with an amazing package of extras, extras that I used and depend on. The lens is in excellent condition used only a dozen times. The sale includes the Lens Trunk (one latch on the case was damaged by the TSA on a trip to Bosque but the latch still functions fine), the leather lens hood, and the rear cap. Amazingly Chuck is also including more than $30 in extras: a Canon 52mm Drop-in Circular Polarizing Filter PL-C, also in excellent condition and an extra Canon 52mm Drop-in Filter Holder in excellent condition. I put a 3-stop ND in my extra filter draw for creating blurs on sunny days.

The seller will also pay insured UPS shipping within the continental US.

Interested folks can contact Chuck via e-mail or try him at 360-331-6667 or on his cell at 206-930-2623.

The old six was my workhorse super-telephoto for too many years….


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16 comments to My Two Favorites From a 1362-Image Day on Great Gull Island…

  • Like both images but love the second for the open bill, wing symmetry, blurred wings but sharp body/bill and gorgeous background. The one thing I don’t like about the first image is the bird’s bill slightly protruding past the tail feathers – would have been better if the entire bill was framed within the tail feathers. I do like the overall framing of the first image with OOF green background and the sky.

  • avatar Art Buesing

    Love the contrast in the 2nd photo with bird on the green background. Could have cropped to get rid of the sky to green interface. I don’t care for side view in 1st photo.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your comments Art. I too like the green BKGR but I disagree with the rest. But only 100%. 🙂 artie

  • I would get bugged by the inclusion of part of the sky in the first image. A uniform green bg would have been more pleasing.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I disagree but only 100%. 🙂 I am a big fan of narrow strips of color at the top of an image. artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Great images! You get bugged by things I don’t even notice, so this is a long shot, but I’m guessing what bugs you about the first image is that there’s no highlight on the bird’s eye, so the eye is hard to see. I get that a lot when photographing terns in breeding plumage and I always discard the image where the eye has no highlight in favor of one that does, if I can. But it’s a great image overall and I would be delighted if I’d made it. I love the bird’s claws. In the second image I like the open mouth and slightly blurred wings, as well of course as the color, exposure, and composition. I slightly prefer the second image.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David, I never worry about the lack of a catch light in the eye and cannot remember the last time that I added one. artie

  • avatar Gary Axten

    I like the position of the wings & open mouth in the second image. The punchy colours in both are also attractive.

    No idea what bugs you about them.

  • I’m going to guess the uneven lighting between the two wings in the top photo is what bugs you. Even with that I like the top photo best because of the head turn and BG just wish the wings were light like the body and tail feathers.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Joe, Yes, I would have preferred the light from behind me so as to light both underwings evenly but the result does not bug me. See Paul’s comment above. artie

  • avatar Giovanni

    Hello Arthur, Very nice shot. I prefer the second because in the first the head is not so well visible.

    A question for the first shoot used + 2 and 2/3 stop for your exposition setting ..without being afraid for the whites ? Thanks. Gio

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Giovanni. The + 2 2/3 stops was off the reading of the WHITE sky. If I had done +2 2/3 stops as framed the WHITEs would have been many stops over-exposed as the camera would have opened up for the green BKGR. artie