100-400 II Draws First Blood… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

100-400 II Draws First Blood...


I have slept great the first two nights with not a trace of jet lag. I always do great flying to places; not so good flying back home regardless of the direction. Tired as we were after the first day of puffins, most of us made it out after dinner to photograph a nearby castle (with the bonus of a rising full moon). After another great dinner of haddock two ways with steamed broccoli/cauliflower/kale prepared by yours truly the group continues to rave enthusiastically about the chef: me. This blog post, the 173rd in a row–what is wrong with me?, is scheduled to be published automatically at 9:00am eastern time on Wednesday, July 1.


This image was created on Day 1 of the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3.

Center AF point (Manual selection)/AI Servo Expand/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected and active AF point was on the base of the bird’s right wing, just past the plane of the eye, yet the eye was sharp. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Atlantic Puffin incoming flight

Day 1

We have a super-nice group, a mix of IPT veterans and first timers, all happy campers. We need to get out for day two on the puffin boats so I will be brief here. I brought the 600 II to the islands and barely used it….

With a year under our belt Denise and I knew that with the given sky and wind conditions that there were only two good locations on our morning landing, and that is right where we put the group. I used the 100-400 II with both the 1D X and with the 7D II, with and without the 1.4X TC.

The Image Optimization

As you can see by the animated GIF, I need to level and crop the image. I used content aware fill to fill in the two small triangles of added canvas. A healthy dose of Detail Extractor was applied to the brightest WHITEs on the sides of the head after selecting those with a Quick Mask and refined with the addition of a Layer Mask. That was followed by a 30% layer of my NIK 50-50 recipe and a Contrast Mask on the dark parts of the bird’s face only (after selecting those with the Quick Selection Tool.) Dust spotting and cleaning up the strip of vegetation along the lower frame edge pretty much finished the job.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s image is covered in detail in my Digital Basics File–written in my easy-to-follow, easy-to-understand style. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Digital Basics File is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur (background noise reduction) settings as taught to me by Denise Ippolito, and tons more.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only. Please call Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-221-2372 to take advantage of this special offer. I am pretty sure that we have extended that offer to the BAA Online Store as well… No time to check right now. 🙂


You can order your copy of “The Photographers’ Guide to Canon Digital Photo Professional 4.0” (aka the DPP 4 Raw Conversion eGuide) by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris by clicking here.

The DPP 4 eGuide (PDF)

Learn how and why I and many other discerning photographers choose and use only DPP 4 to convert their Canon RAW files in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. The latest version supports all of the newer Canon camera bodies and several older models including the EOS-7D and the EOS-1D Mark IV. The DPP IV Guide is the ideal companion to the 7D Mark II User’s Guide, a runaway best seller.


The strange thing is that when I lived in New York, I never knew about this amazing and consistently productive location.

Nickerson Beach/JBWR (possibly…)/Black Skimmer/Oystercatcher/migrant shorebird IPT: August 13-16, 2015. 3 1/2 DAYS: $1399.

Meet and greet on the evening of WED August 12. Limit 10/Openings 3.

Most of our seven photo sessions will be spent at Nickerson beach photographing the nesting Black Skimmers. In flight, sometimes battling. Carrying fish. Chicks of varying sizes from a very few just-hatched to lots of fledglings. It is likely that we will get to see some Great Black-backed Gulls preying on the juvenile skimmers. They swallow them whole. There will be lots of gulls to photograph as well as some Common Terns. Locally breeding shorebird species include American Oystercatcher–pretty much guaranteed, Willet, which is likely, and Piping Plover, which is probable but we need to get lucky with those to get close….

Save a space by calling Jim or Jen at the office and arranging to leave your deposit of $499. I hope to see you there.



If local conditions are ideal we may visit Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to photograph southbound migrant shorebirds on one or possibly two mornings. Even if we do not visit JBWR we should get some good chances with the migrant shorebirds at the beach, especially Sanderling and Semipalmated Plover. Red Knot and others are possible.


As you can see, the oystercatchers are quite tame at Nickerson. And we will get you up early and we will stay out late.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge In-the-field Instructional Photo Workshop/Scouting Session. August 12, 2015. Morning only: $250. Cheap!

The tide will be pretty good at the East Pond…. If I learn that conditions there are un-photographable we will do Nickerson Beach as a back-up. This will work either as an add-on for out of town folks coming for the IPT above or as a stand alone session. Either way, you will, as always, learn a ton. And we might even get some good images.


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5 comments to 100-400 II Draws First Blood…

  • avatar FintanMcTiernan

    Hi Art,
    Absolutely beautiful images of the puffins. You should check out the Saltee Islands off the south east coast of Ireland as there is a fabulous puffin, gannet, razorbill, guillemot, kittiwake etc., colony there and very accessible. We would give you a great Irish welcome !! Hope you are having a great Independence Day.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Been there, once, long ago, I once wrote them an e-mail about visiting but nobody answered 🙂


  • Fess up, Artie, you must have paid the puffin a fortune to pose for you like that. 🙂

  • avatar Jeff Sielski

    Hi Art, Outstanding image!!

  • avatar Jon

    Hey Artie what did I tell you – pretty darned good bud