100-400II Versatility Allows for a Unique Shipboard Perspective and Mega-Creativity « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

100-400II Versatility Allows for a Unique Shipboard Perspective and Mega-Creativity

What’s Up?

After 15 days on the ship, the bathroom in my home was still rocking a bit in the dark last night…. I really fell off the wagon eating the great food on the trip and need to get back with the program now. Breakfast soon.

I have tons to do after the long travel day yesterday. We taxied for more than an hour coming out of Panama City Panama for the flight to Orlando. Without any AC. I flew home with good friend Chris Billman; my right-hand man Jim Litzenberg picked us up at MCO at about 3:45pm and drove us to Publix and then on to Indian Lake Estates. Chris loaded his truck and headed back to his home in South Carolina. I am hoping that he had the sense to overnight at his sister’s home in Kissimmee.

Today’s blog post was published from my home at Indian Lake Estates at 7:20am on Thursday, July 30, 2015.

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Galapagos Photo Cruise

I would assume that after viewing the variety and quality of the images in this and in coming blog post that most passionate nature photographers would wish to join us on the next Galapagos photo adventure during the first two weeks of August, 2017. If that includes you, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Galapagos August 2017 Photo-Cruise” cut and pasted into the Subject Line. Details will be announced shortly after I get back. The best news is that there will be two great leaders, yours truly and Denise Ippolito.

Relevant and Important Comments from yesterday’s blog post….


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This image was created at 3:05pm from the deck of the ship while it was anchored for our landing at Rabida on Day 14 of the 2015 Galapagos Photo Cruise with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 135mm!) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering -2/3 stops off the green water: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point fell on the base of the right side of the petrel’s fanned tail. Note: this image was rotated 3 degrees clockwise and a small crop was executed. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

White-vented (Elliot’s) Strom Petrel dip-feeding/dorsal view

100-400II Versatility Allows for a Unique Shipboard Perspective and Mega-Creativity

I noticed some storm petrels feeding off the stern of our boat so I grabbed my 100-400 II and mounted the 1D X. Immediately I noticed that several of the birds were flying slowly into the wind just a foot or two from the hull on the port side of the ship. I realized that I would need a relatively fast shutter speed from the gently rocking boat so I set ISO 1600. I held the camera vertically and set the exposure manually to 2/3 stop darker than the reading off the shaded green water.

As I was formulating my plan to create a few images featuring a dorsal (top) view of this difficult-at-best to photograph bird, I noted two or three perfect (and missed) opportunities as the birds flew towards my position. After I was ready I had one chance and made three images of a petrel that was just past my position. Today’s featured image was the best of the lot.

Image Questions

#1: Why did I grab the 1D X rather than the 7D II? (There were three good reasons.)

#2: Why did I need to go with -2/3 stop exposure compensation (EC)?

#3: What is your favorite part of the image?

#4: What is your least favorite part of the image?

#5: Overall, what do you think of the image?


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9 comments to 100-400II Versatility Allows for a Unique Shipboard Perspective and Mega-Creativity

  • avatar Peter Macdonald


    This is a lovely image. To me it looks even better if it is rotated to a landscape view.


  • avatar graham hedrick

    Getting close to buying my new Canon 5D mkIII. Will use your website as the gateway to B&H Photo. – Graham

    P.S. I hope you do short IPTs to Ft. Desoto in 2016. Would love to learn from the Ansel Adams of Birds.

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    #1: Why did I grab the 1D X rather than the 7D II? (There were three good reasons.) you were using a high ISO, 7D has more noise; reducing exposure by 2/3 which would give more noise; birds were close and didn’t need the extra reach of the 7D

    #2: Why did I need to go with -2/3 stop exposure compensation (EC)? dark bird is fairly large in the frame and in the middle of the frame where it influences the meter most. -2/3 kept the white on the tail from burning out

    #3: What is your favorite part of the image? shape of the bird

    #4: What is your least favorite part of the image? eye not clearly seen

    #5: Overall, what do you think of the image? beautiful

  • avatar Warren H

    I agree with the better high iso and the shorter focal length since the birds were close. But I think the 3rd reason would be for better focus in low contrast situations. Dark birds over dark background can be tough to get focus.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. 1. You grabbed the 1DX for its wider angle of view, and additionally it’s hard to catch a moving bird, especially in portrait orientation; you grabbed it because it handles ISO 1600 better than the 1DX; and you grabbed it because of its more powerful batteries its AF is even better than the 7D2’s. And maybe you grabbed it because the lens was already on it and it was handy and you had no time to waste. 🙂

    2. I don’t have a good answer for the -2/3 EC. I’d agree with the others about the white patch in the tail, but the bird’s wings are perfectly exposed and they are much darker than the white patch.

    3. My favorite part of the image is the beautiful spread wings.

    4. My two least favorite parts are the waves, which seem to be oriented at a big angle from the horizontal, making me feel motion-sick and looking to me as if the whole image needs to be rotated 90 degrees left; and the bird’s head angle.

    5. If this were my image I’d be ecstatic with it. I don’t think it’s one of the best images I’ve seen from you recently but I still like it a lot.

  • Love the shot! Can’t wait for the Galapagos 2017 trip!

  • avatar Mike Moore

    Of many spectacular images you have produced, this is one of my favorites. The colors are great and the perspective is so unusual. However, I think I like it better rotated 90 degrees counter clockwise. Maybe because for me the perspective is a little too unusual and I prefer something more conventional. Regardless, a really beautiful portrait of a rarely photographed bird.

  • Hmmm let’s give this a go :).

    Reason one: you didn’t need the extra reach that the 7D II offers over the 1DX.
    Reason two: you needed to work with a relatively high ISO so the 1DX would yield better results.
    Reason three (from here on I am just guessing): with the 1DX you would get a nicer bokeh because of the full frame sensor and the water was relatively close as a background.
    Reason four: the faster fps?

    2. Your subject was relatively dark and large in the frame. With the neutral green from the sea you would have a risk of blowing up the small white patch.

    3. I absolutely love the tail and the wings. Such detail and such a great pose!

    4. I don’t really think it’s all that bad the way it is, but if the water would have been one big patch of blurry green then I would have preferred that.

    5. I like it! It shows a different view and this “over the shoulder” viewpoint is really interesting. We don’t get to see birds from above that often when in flight so that’s really great! Detail in the wings and tail is amazing as well.

  • avatar Geoff

    Great image and at 135mm!!
    As to your 5 questions:
    1) Using the 1DX here because you had to go to 1600ISO, much cleaner on 1DX vs 7D2 once you get above 800 in my experience. You were close (135) so with 7D2 your shortest effective focal length would have been 140…still would have been okay but why not use those beautiful light grabbing 1DX pixels when you can…I always reach for my 1DX over my 7D2 when I can fill the frame with the FF sensor.

    2) I think just to protect the white band on the tail from blowing out. The bird is darker than the water so usually would think that adding +EC but that big white area would need some negative EC protection.

    3) My favourite parts of the image is the 3D affect of the bird over the water (really pops out at you), the nice color of the water and the wing and tail position of the bird.

    4) Would like to have seen more of the birds head.

    5) I like the image…I remember trying to photograph storm-petrels in the Southern Oceans and it was not an easy task at all, this was a great opportunity with them so close and I think this image works well.