Personal Insights on Getting Close/Texture City/Depth-of-field Question, and More… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Personal Insights on Getting Close/Texture City/Depth-of-field Question, and More...

The Streak Continues: 287

After spending lots of time on Friday working on the DPP 4.0 RAW Conversion eGuide,I got inspired at about 4:00pm and just about finished Saturday morning’s blog post. A rare occurrence. After a great night’s sleep of more than 8 hours, today’s offering was published at 5:45am from my home in Indian Lake Estates, FL; it took me about 2 1/2 hours to prepare and makes 287 in a row. 365 is well within reach….

As always, I would appreciate your using the BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases, using our Amazon logo-link for all of your household purchases, and visiting the BAA Online Store for your tripod, tripod head, LensCoat, miscellaneous, accessories, and eGuide purchases as well. Please remember, web orders only. πŸ™‚

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.

For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Purchasing the items listed above from B&H actually hurts us :). Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and visiting the BAA Online store as well.

Rare Bird in NJ

A Whiskered Tern was present on and off at Bunker Pond in Cape May State Park on Friday, September 12, 2014. Click here for details.


This image was created at 9:27am on January 15, 2014 at LaJolla, CA with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop as framed: 1/200 sec. at f/22 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor (by necessity)/AI Servo-Expand/Rear Focus AF on the gape, the spot where the upper and lower mandible meet, where the black of the lores meets the flesh color of the lower mandible, in front of an below the bird’s eye and re-compose slightly. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Getting Close

I am a pretty big guy. Was 6 foot, 264 pounds once. Now 5 10 1/2 inches, 186, up from a low of 170 about 4 years ago but down from a recent high of 190 1/2. My balance is nowhere what it was a decade or two or three ago. Many would describe me as bull-in-a-china-shop clumsy. I am often my own worst enemy, cracking my elbow on a door frame or opening my scalp after having left the laundry-detergent, hanging cabinet door open and not realizing it as I loaded the washing machine :).

There is however one thing that requires some degree of maneuverability and stealth that I can do better than most folks: get very close to free and wild birds without disturbing them. I know how to move around birds; usually low, slow, and aware. Many folks enjoy shooting with me just to watch me in action on silly close approaches. I am sure that at times there are folks on the scene who do not know me who are wondering, “What the heck is that idiot doing trying to get so close? He’s going to scare all the birds.” Ten minutes later they are almost always amazed when I back out of the situation with the bird or birds exactly where they were when I approached. Though there is not a lot of physical skill involved, not everyone can learn to get really close. You need to learn their signs and signals that tell you “stay away,” “slow down” or “I am cool with you;” the huge advantage that I have over most folks is 37 years of closely observing birds.

Join us in San Diego and I will surely help you develop the skills that you need to get ridiculously close to fee and wild birds.

Texture City

At the “Head Throw Photography & Word Association” blog post here (and see image next), Gary Axten left a comment on September 10, 2014 at 9:46am and wrote, “The patterns of the skin folds are very interesting. Do you have a close up taken with a longer lens?

The image above is for Gary.

Depth-of-field Question

Today’s image was created at f/22. How is it that the depth-of-field and therefore the sharpness of the bill pouch falls off so drastically as it approaches the lower right corner of the frame?


This image was created n LaJolla, CA with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the 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), the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter) (tripod-mounted at 655mm), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed in cloudy bright conditions: 1/500 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Central sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus on the base of the lower mandible as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Word Association

Thanks to the few who chimed in. They had some good ones that I missed, like “pitcher plant.” You can see the comments here.

This is my list:

Patterned, corrugated, rough, abstract, diagonal, pelican, feathers, soft parts, brown, yellow, cliffs, red, La Jolla, head throw, intra-flock communication, Pacific, colorful, pointy, stretching, scoop, bill, bill pouch, bill tip, mandibles, yawn, yakking, wide open, breeding plumage, bottom, hormones, and yes, texture.

Feel free to suggest a few more here by leaving a comment.


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

2015 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): FEB 1 thru the morning of FEB 5, 2015: $1799 (Limit: 8/Openings: 4)

Meet and Greet after dinner on your own at 7:00pm on JAN 31

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red bill pouches; Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants in breeding plumage with their amazing crests; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other species possible inluding Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semiplamated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions likely; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice landscape opportunities as well.

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, five lunches, after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions, and two fine dinners. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to use at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 12/1//2014. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

San Diego Natural History Museum Program & The Birds of the World Exhibit

On Saturday morning, February 7, 2015 I will be presenting “A Bird Photographer’s Story” at the San Diego Natural History Museum to kick off the Birds of the World photographic exhibit that will feature the images of about a dozen of the world’s top avian photographers. This program,which is being generously sponsored by the Canon Explorers of Light program, will be free and open to the public. I am proud to say that both Denise Ippolito and I will have images hanging in the show. The exhibit opening is scheduled for later that same day, February 7, 2015. (Times TBA).

Folks on the IPT who wish to stay over and attend the program and the exhibit opening on Saturday are invited to join me for a photo session on Friday morning as follows:

Friday Morning Add-on Photo Session: February 6, 2015: $299.

This workshop includes 3 hours of in-the-field pelican photography instruction and brunch with image review and Photoshop instruction. For now, this session is open only to folks attending the IPT.

The San Diego Site Guide

The San Diego Site Guide is, as all of our Site Guides are, the next best thing to being on an IPT. I share all the hard-earned secrets learned over three decades of birding and bird photography in and around America’s Finest City. Learn more or purchase here.


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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. πŸ™‚

15 comments to Personal Insights on Getting Close/Texture City/Depth-of-field Question, and More…

  • avatar Sharon Hallowell

    Sharp…same focal plane. The Right side is in front of the focal plane.

  • avatar Sharon Hallowell

    I’m sorry! I was referring to the head throw image when I made my second comment. DUH! Oh, you mean THAT left!!!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Well, your blunder might lead someone to the answer. Take a close look at the lower left corner of the first image. What do you see? Sharp or unsharp???

  • avatar Sharon Hallowell

    Does it have something to do with the central sensor having an easier time locking onto the contrasting light and dark lines that are in the center of the image, but lacking in the lower right edge? The white feathers overlapping the black ones in the lower right DO appear sharp to me.

  • avatar Sharon Hallowell

    The closer you get to your subject the faster the depth of light falls off, affecting dof; and also, dof is decreased with a longer telephoto lens.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      All correct but everyone is missing the 2nd part of the answer… See my response to David Pugsley below. artie

  • 600 + a 2x at what I suspect is near the MFD of the lens yields an extremely shallow DOF.

    • And the perfect HA has the bill pouch angled towards the camera so it’s a good bit closer than the eye and surrounding area.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi David,


      “600 + a 2x at what I suspect is near the MFD of the lens yields an extremely shallow DOF.”

      That is the first half of the correct answer.

      But as for this:

      “And the perfect HA has the bill pouch angled towards the camera so it’s a good bit closer than the eye and surrounding area.”

      You need to take a closer look at the image….


      ps: see you in Bosque; we will be sending the roster and car pooling info this week πŸ™‚

  • DOF question–at 1200mm depth of field is only about knife edge wide. Love the closeup !

    More word association for the head throw image–lines. fine lines, thin lines, narrow, pinks, v’s. And I’m trying to decide whether the lines qualify as fractals.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Elinor. Not knife edge but thin: .36 inches in front of and behind the point of focus…. That’s a bit less than 3/8 inch. And a bit less than 3/4 inch total d-of. So nobody has come up with the complete answer yet πŸ™‚ artie

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Thank you, that is an amazing photo. The thing that instantly attracts the eyes is the bright colours, after that the different patterns formed by the feathers around the back of the bill closest.

    Re lack of d.o.f is it due to being at or close to minimum focusing distance? Though despite your comment above quite how you’d get that close to such a big bird I don’t know.

    I presume you use the word association to find a picture quickly, is that within Darkroom or another product? I should confess I didn’t finish reading ABP2…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your kind words Gary. Yes to point blank range but there is more to it…. The pelicans in San Diego are on the easy side as long as you know how to move πŸ™‚ artie