Dealing with a 7D Mark II King Penguin Underexposure « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Dealing with a 7D Mark II King Penguin Underexposure

What’s Up?

With yet another cold front the pool was down to a not-so-balmy 71 degrees yesterday. I swam anyway :). I am still trying to catch up on old e-mails and have made some progress there.

This post took about 2 hours to put together and was published from my home at ILE, FL at 5:47am.

Used Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II Lens

Price reduced $300 on 2/20/2015!

Melissa Hahn is offering a used Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II lens in mint condition now for $8699. (Original asking price as $8999.) Original owner. The sale includes the lens hood, the E-180D front lens cover, the 400C lens trunk, the rear lens cap, the wide lens strap, a black LensCoat (an $89.99 value), a TravelCoat (a $59.95 value), and insured ground shipping to US addresses. The lens will ship only after your check clears. Glass and lens immaculate. The lens was very recently cleaned and checked by Canon. Photos are available upon request.

Interested folks can contact Melissa on here cell phone at 1-631-404-2965 (eastern time) or via e-mail.

This fast, super-sharp, relatively lightweight (8.49 pounds) super-telephoto lens (the Nikon version weighs 10.2 pounds) is a versatile lens for wildlife photographers. It creates super-sharp images with both the 1.4X III and the 2X III Extenders. It currently sells new at B&H for $10,499 and they are offering a used one for $9,899.95. You can save some significant bucks by grabbing Melissa’s lens now.

South Georgia October 2015

Do consider joining me in South Georgia next October for the trip of a lifetime. See below or click here for the complete details.

Save $242

Register before the end of the month for the South Georgia trip and receive a $242 discount on your return airfare. Please e-mail for details.

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This image was created in cloudy conditions at 7:52am on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia on December 23, 2014 with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 280mm–effective 448mm), and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/4.5. AWB.

AI Servo/Rear Focus/Zone AF as framed selected two sensors as shown in the DPP 4 screen capture below. These were active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

More on Going Light at South Georgia

When working with the 7D II on various South Georgia landings I turned often to the 70-200 II even though I had the 300 II along. The penguins are both tame and curious. For the image above +1 stop was a big underexposure.


This is a DPP 4 Screen Capture for today’s featured image.

Click on the image to enlarge so that you can read the fine print.

DPP 4 Screen Capture

As you can see, Zone AF did a good job of creating a sharp-on-the-eye image. Note the position of the two active AF points. I have been experimenting with Zone AF in an effort to work around the problems associated with the AF Grid Void. (I share my thoughts on that here.)

When I created this screen capture the cursor was on the white sky near the center. Note the perfect color balance with the RGB values of 251, 251, 251. These yielded clean, bright WHITEs with no trace of a color cast. Study the screen capture carefully and let us know how I achieved the perfectly balanced WHITEs. Let us know also how much the original image that opened today’s post was underexposed.

During the RAW conversion in DPP 4 I should have done a bit of work on the YELLOWs and ORANGEs on the Adjust Image Colors tab as that would have avoided my having to do some high stepping in Photoshop. Pulling down the Luminance just a bit would have eliminated the over-saturation in those two colors. Live and learn.

Though I rarely use the Contrast slider note that I moved it to +2 here in an effort to produce the high key look that I wanted.


This is the optimized King Penguin head portrait.

The Image Optimization

The image optimization was fairly straightforward. I did a bit of color balance and Selective Color work on the BLACKs and on the YELLOWs. I did a bit of bill and plumage clean-up with the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch Tool. Then I applied my NIK 50-50 (Tonal Contrast and Detail Extractor) recipe to the bird only after selecting the penguin with the Quick Selection Tool and putting that on its own layer. I reduced the Opacity to about 40%. Eye Doctor work was done with a Quick Mask of the pupil and Tim Grey Dodge and Burn on the iris. Last was Auto Contrast on a layer again with the opacity reduced to 40% as taught to me by Denise Ippolito.

It was the Eye Doctor work that really brought this image to life.


All of the images on the card were made on South Georgia. This remote wilderness island offers both spectacular scenery and hordes of tame wildlife and birds. From top left clockwise to the center: Southern Elephant Seal, courting King Penguin pair, King Penguin abstract, Grey-headed Albatross, King Penguin rookery on Salisbury Plain, Macaroni Penguin head portrait, King Penguin molting Okum Boy, Macaroni Penguin pair, King Penguin preening, Southern Elephant Seal yawning, the view of Gold Harbour from a Light-mantled Sooty Albatross nest.

Click on the image to see an extra large version.

The Southern Ocean

South Georgia Expedition Voyage

I’ve been blessed. I’ve now made four trips to the Southern Ocean, three expeditions that visited the Falklands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula, and one to the Falklands and South Georgia. Each was a truly amazing experience. South Georgia has been the star of the show each time: rugged snow covered peaks, tame and abundant wildlife including Southern Elephant Seal and Southern Fur Seal, and penguins: more King Penguins than you could ever have dreamed of. Gentoos. And my favorite, the golden-yellow spaghetti-topped Macaronis. With four trips to South Georgi under my belt, I have a pretty good idea about how to make great images at each of the iconic landings. In addition, we should have some pretty good flight photography sessions from the stern of the ship. I would love the chance to share my knowledge with you.

Click here for more info.

Cheesemans’ Well Deserved Kudos

I know from personal experience that if you are a photographer who is going to invest in Southern Ocean voyage, you will want to put your money on Cheesemans’. No other tour company goes as far out of their way to ensure making every possible safe landing. And no other tour company will have you spending more time on land. Michael Viljeon from South Africa was aboard the Ortelius on a Southern Oceans voyage that preceded the Cheesemans’ trip that we were both on. As we headed back to Ushuaia, he said, “The folks that ran that first trip were pathetic. Too rough. No landing today. Surf too high today. No landing. Wind wrong direction. No landing. Cheesemans’ routinely and safely gets folks on land in conditions where the leaders of other tour companies do not even bother getting out of their bunks.”

Why Sign Up Through BIRDS AS ART?

If you have been thinking and dreaming of finally visiting South Georgia, this is the trip for you. Quit dreaming and act now. Though I will not be an official leader on this trip, those who have traveled with me know that I cannot help but teach. I will make pre-trip gear recommendations. I will hold informal pre-landing briefings. In the same vein, everyone will receive a free copy of our Antarctica Site Guide once they are paid in full (July 2, 2015). I will be available on the ship to review your images,, answer questions, and conduct informal over-the shoulder Photoshop sessions. And best of all, everyone who signs up under the auspices of BAA are invited to tag along with me on the landings where I will be glad to offer invaluable in-the-field advice. And the same goes for the ship-board birds in flight and marine mammal photography opportunities.

Do join us. To learn how to be part of the BAA group please e-mail me with the words Antarctica/Extended Expedition BAA Info Please cut and pasted into the Subject line.

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12 comments to Dealing with a 7D Mark II King Penguin Underexposure

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Warren and Ray, Yes, the image was about one stop under. artie

  • wtlloyd

    I am curious about how you view using the 7DII at ISO 800 and above, Artie – “I am not lovin'” ISO 800 noise….:-)
    It may be a personal issue, I reverted back to a 1D3 after I discovered the 1Ds3 was too noisy as a wildlife camera.
    I love everything else about the 7DII.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Make sure that you expose all the way to the right and convert in DPP using Arash’s NR settings as per our DPP 4 Guide. I will see if I can dig up some ISO 800 and ISO 1600 images for a blog post.


  • Matteo Bianchi

    It seems that the sensor of the 7d mark II has a much lower shadow noise, with respect to the previous aps-c canon sensors. Did you have the highlight tone priority function turned on?

    Concerning dpp (I use the version 3), I have found that in very high constrast scenes, the standard picture style increase contrast too much, and the highlights are easily blown out (and other parts of the image are underexposed). With the neutral setting you have a wider dynamic range: you have even more dynamic range with the picture styles specifically designed for movies, like “video-x” (downloadable from the canon website) or cinestyle (downloadable from the technicolor website). On the other hand, with these last two picture styles the contrast, color saturation and sharpness are set very low, even you have more flexibility concerning the shadows and highlights recovery.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I leave HTP enabled unless I need to get below ISO 200 in order to create pleasing blurs without having to go to small apertures and deal with the resulting dust. Important note: unless you are converting in DPP you must leave HTP disabled.

      If you are over-exposing the highlights that is your fault. By using Standard as Arash and I suggest, you maintain control over everything important.

      What camera body are you using?


      • Matteo Bianchi

        Actually, I use a canon 1d mark III: I am considering to switch to the mark IV, but the prices are still too high, in my opinion (as you probably know, in europe the prices of most the electronic products are way higher than in usa).

        Concerning the picture style, the standard one set the contrast and color saturation on a relatively high level. In all the scenes with high contrast (very dark areas, and very bright areas), this picture style exacerbates the problem. Also on the canon website they point out that you can have more details on the bright areas with the neutral setting (I was not precise, in the previous message, since I was speaking about the dynamic range, that is related to the sensor).

        I was asking about the htp, because it increases the shadow noise, when turned on: so, “recovering” two stops with the htp turned on, preserving detail, is a good performance of the sensor, in my opinion.

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Following up. Picture style has no permanent effect on any RAW file. If you convert in DPP you can change it at any time. Some third party conversion engines recognize the Picture Style, some do not. artie

          • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

            Natteo, There are lots of cheap used Mark IVs for sale on the Used Photography Gear for Sale page. Do you have someone in the US who could accept a camera for you? artie

          • Matteo Bianchi

            Concerning the 1d mark IV, the problem is that if I buy one in a country outside the european union, then I have to pay the 30% or more in custom fees (and the fee is calculated including the delivery costs), and this make economically unconvenient the transaction. In Italy this happens for every product whose value is over 22 euro, including books (and this is not a case if many sellers refuse to deliver to italy).

            The 1d mark III is still a very good camera, but the improvements in the mark IV about image quality and autofocus are quite noticeable (I have also tried the 1dx, but I still prefer the aps-h sensor format, since the 1.3 crop is useful, and I mainly use the 100-400 hand-held, possibly with the extender 1.4x). Probably in the next months the prices will decrease further.

  • Warren H

    To your question on underexposure,I would say 1.0 stops, since that is what you adjusted the brightness slider…

  • Ray Rozema

    Eager to hear answer