Canon 100-400II/Which Teleconverter? & What do you think of the image design: disappointing or fortuitous? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 100-400II/Which Teleconverter? & What do you think of the image design: disappointing or fortuitous?

What’s Up?

I answered a few zillion more e-mails yesterday and began work on a companion CD book for the solo San Diego exhibit. I worked hard with the folks from Cheesemans’ organizing the BIRDS AS ART group on next October’s South Georgia/Falklands expedition, their last. I learned from Ted Cheeseman that this voyage is now 75% full so if you are planning on joining us and would like to become part of the BAA group, please scroll down and do not tarry.


This image was created at Salisbury Plain on South Georgia on our last day of landings on the memorable 2015 Cheesemans’ South Georgia Expedition with the Induro GIT 304L tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm), and the rugged Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/16. AWB.

Center AF point (Manual selection)/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

King Penguins neck abstract

Canon 100-400II/AF with which Teleconverter?

I receive several e-mails each week asking if the new 100-400II will focus with this camera or that teleconverter. First off, assuming that you have one of the newer Canon camera bodies (5DS R, 5D S, 1D X, 5D III, or 7D II), your body will focus to f/8. As the 100-400 II is effectively an f/5.6 lens, that means that it will autofocus with the 1.4 X III TC at effective f/8, and that it will not autofocus with the 2X III TC at effective f/11. When working with static subject the latter combination can produce some amazing images as long as you (gasp!) focus manually and are working with a sturdy tripod. See the blog post here for a wonderfully sharp example of what is possible.

Do understand that when you add a 1.4X III TC to the 100-400 II (or to any f/5.6 lens) with any camera body, initial focusing acquisition will be slowed somewhat as the AF system needs light (and contrast) so see; adding a 1.4X TC robs the system of one stop of light, going from f/5.6 to f/8 That is one reason that I love using this combination on sunny days (although it worked just fine in cloudy bright conditions for today’s featured image). Note also that with a 1.4X TC on the 100-400 II or on any f/5.6 lens that only the center AF point (plus the 4 assist points if you go to Expand) will be available.

What do you think of the image design: disappointing or fortuitous?

On every South Georgia trip that I have made–5 in all–I create many hundreds if not several thousand tight images of the necks of King Penguins. These birds are both large and curious. Working with a full frame camera for today’s image I did not hesitate to add the 1.4X III TC to the mix.

I was excited to see that the main subject in today’s image had bent its head over backwards creating a new and different shape and new and different patterns. But just as I pressed the shutter button I realized that another penguin had walked into the frame.

What do you think? Do you like the additional penguin breast in the lower left corner? Or do you hate it? Either way, be sure to let us know why. I will share my thoughts with you here in a day or three at most.

Blog Interactivity

Please remember that more learning takes place when the blog is truly interactive. You will learn more by pondering a question and leaving a well thought out response. And when you do leave a comment, everyone else learns more as well.

Depth-of-field Questions

Why f/16 for this image? The extraneous penguin’s breast was only about two inches in front of the subject; why didn’t it show more detail?


All images on the card were created on the 2015 Cheesemans’ South Georgia Expedition. From top left clockwise to center: King Penguin resting on Snow, Fortuna Bay; Macaroni Penguin in snow, Cooper Island; Grey-headed Albatross, Elsehul; King Penguin neck abstract, Godthul; Northern Giant Petrel, Undine Harbor; adult Wandering Albatross, Prion Island; Elephant Seal, Undine Harbor; South Georgia Pipit fledgling/thanks Joe Kaplan! Fortuna Bay; high key King Penguins in snow, Fortuna Bay.

Card design and all images copyright 2015: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Cheesemans’ 2016 OCT/NOV South Georgia/Falklands Expedition

If reading last Saturday’s blog post here put a thought in your mind about joining the BIRDS AS ART group on the Cheesemans’ 2016 OCT/NOV South Georgia/Falklands Expedition, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Cheesemans’ Last Southern Ocean Expedition” cut and pasted into the Subject Line with any questions or if you wish to receive additional inspiration. This will surely be my last ship-based trip to the Southern Ocean as well.


All of the images on this card were created in the Falklands on the 2014 Cheesemans’ Southern Oceans Expedition. From top left clockwise to center: Black-browed Albatross tending chick, Steeple Jason Island; Black-browed Albatross courting pair, New Island; the Black-browed Albatross colony at Steeple Jason Island; Black-browed Albatross landing, New Island; King Cormorant head portrait, New Island; hull detail/derelict minesweeper, New Island; Rockhopper Penguin head portrait in bright sun, New Island; Striated Caracara, Steeple Jason Island; Magellanic Snipe chick, Sea Lion Island.

An Expedition Overview

Experience the vibrant spring of South Georgia, a true Antarctic wildlife paradise. Observe and photograph wildlife behaviors seldom seen beneath the towering, snow-blanketed mountains that dominate the island’s landscape. Southern Elephant Seal bulls fight for breeding rights while females nurse young, overlook vast colonies of loafing King Penguins, watch Macaroni Penguins cavort in the snow, photograph handsome Gray-headed Albatrosses in flight or attending to their cliffside nests and awkward Wandering Albatrosses attempting first flight. The itinerary includes six landing days on South Georgia and three landing days in the Falklands to observe too cute Rockhopper Penguins, Magellanic Penguins standing watch at their nesting burrows, and more Black-browed Albatrosses than you could ever imagine. To commemorate Shackleton’s famous self-rescue crossing South Georgia, CES also offers an optional trek retracing his steps. With Cheesemans’ twenty years of experience in the Antarctic region, they commit to an in-depth exploration of one of the densest wildlife spectacles found anywhere in the world, and with only 100 passengers, they routinely give you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself on each landing.

Two of the scheduled Falklands’ landings, New Island and especially Steeple Jason Island, rival the best locations on South Georgia. Those will likely include Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Elsehul, Fortuna Bay, and either Cooper Island or Hercules Bay (for Macaroni Penguins).

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. There will likely never be another trip like this as the best outfit in the Southern Oceans business will not be returning after 2016…. Quit dreaming and act now. Though I will not be an expedition staff member on this trip, those who have traveled with me know that I cannot help but teach. And I will be doing a introductory photography program for the entire ship on our crossing to South Georgia. All who sign up via BAA will receive a free copy the new Southern Ocean Photography Guide (a $100 value) that I am currently working on. It will include pre-trip gear and clothing recommendations and a ton of info that you will find to be invaluable.

I will hold informal pre-landing briefings aboard ship so that when you land you know exactly what to expect and where to go. I will be available on the ship to review your images, answer your 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 shipboard birds in flight and marine mammal photographic sessions.

Again, if you would like to join me on what will truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity to a wondrous place, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Cheesemans’ Last Southern Ocean Expedition” cut and pasted into the Subject Line.

You can learn more about the trip here. If you sign up on your own be sure to mention that you would like to be part of the BAA Group. I’d be glad to answer any and all question via e-mail or by phone at 863-692-0906.

Important Notes

#1: If you fail to e-mail me as noted directly above, and register directly with CES you MUST let them know that you would like to be part of the BIRDS AS ART group.

#2: Joining the BIRDS AS ART group as above will not cost you one penny.

For additional details on the trip and the ship, see Saturday’s blog post here.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. We sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. I just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

19 comments to Canon 100-400II/Which Teleconverter? & What do you think of the image design: disappointing or fortuitous?

  • avatar Andy

    The lower left OOF area distracts my eyes from the rest of the image. If I cover that part with my hand, I love the image.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Being so close the DOF would be very narrow, hence f16. The detail in the grey next to the corner bird is really lovely. I would have loved to see more of it. In my book that would have made it a “cracker”.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It sounds as if you are referring to the grey feathers to our left of the orange neck feathers. As I was already at f/16 and was on a tripod the only way I could have gotten more detail in those feathers would have been to have used a 5DS R…. But I did not have on on that trip. a

  • Love the image as a purely abstract piece, but I do find the lower left area a bit disconcerting…perhaps it’s the slight gradient/soft edge between the white mass and the detailed feather pattern above that draws undue attention to it?

    A question regarding the 100-400 II and the 1.4 ex: Is there a good reason to upgrade from the version II extender to the version III? I have the 100-400 II and the version II extender currently, and am finding it much sharper than my previous go-to combination of the 300 f4 and that extender…do you think I would gain much my upgrading to the version III extender? I am using a 7D mkII body.

    Thanks for all that you do, and I hope you are enjoying this holiday season.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks John. Sharpness with the 1.4X II and with the 1.4X III are pretty much identical. And this includes edge to edge sharpness. This is not the same as with the 2X II and the 2X III TCs.

      The 1.4X III is supposed to have slightly improved weather sealing. In addition, there it is possible that the 1.4X III is better able to communicate with some of the newer lenses…. I will try to learn more about that and let everyone know via blog post.


      ps: if you do decide to upgrade when you 1.4X II bites the dust, please remember to use my B&H affiliate link 🙂

  • avatar Tony Botelho

    I love so much about this photograph except the white blob in the lower left. I love the colors, diagonal leading lines, and the out of focus background.
    Happy holidays, thank you for all you do!

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Beautiful image Beautiful design. I noticed your signature in the white, but it didn’t register on me that is was part of another penguin. Only when you made me aware of it.

  • avatar Nikhil

    Hi Art


    I assume you were very close to the bird i think , 4 to 5 meters . As the center point was active and as the The extraneous penguin’s breast was only about two inches in front of the subject my rough calculation yeilds that the dof in front of the subject is 1.5 cm so it did not show more detail

  • avatar Sujinder Pothula

    I love the abstract. The contrasting colors along with the lines add a nice dimension to the image.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I also like the way the curve of the photo-bombing penguin mirrors the curve of the main-subject penguin, and since this image is pretty abstract anyway, it doesn’t bother me. That said I think I’d prefer it without the second bird. At that close distance at 560 mm you have effectively zero depth of field. I assume you stopped down to reduce the exposure and maintain a low ISO.

  • avatar Sarah Mayhew

    The pattern is beautiful! I feel the out of focus light area in the bottom left corner is distracting. I also feel it would be quite a bit more distracting if your signature wasn’t written in that corner.

  • avatar Max Warner

    Typo alert: Caption for photo refers to ” memorable 2016″ South Georgia trip. We are not yet in 2016.

    Fascinating image, though, and good discussion of use of TCs.

  • avatar Steve Rentmeesters

    I like how the lower left echoes the diagonal curve of the penguin and background, but I think I would tone it down a bit. As it is it pulls the eye to the lower left too much.

    The depth of field falls off in all four corners of the image. I really love the close focusing of the 100-400 II.

  • avatar Geoff Coe

    Artie, it’s a good image for discussion purposes, but as a display piece I think it’s a near miss. Not knowing the morphology of King Penguin, I assumed at first that the distracting white blob in the lower left was a wing. My first instinct was to wonder why you didn’t stop down to f/16 and get it sharper? And then I read the notes and saw that you had done just that.

    Upon reading that the blob wasn’t a wing, but another (photo-bombing) penguin, I kinda lost interest. I’m also not crazy about the leading line going directly into (and out of) the lower right hand corner. That said, would love to see another image, if you have it, that shows the design you were after before Penguin 2 wandered into the frame.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Geoff. I too would like to see the same neck pose without the photo-bombing penguin breast but the bird only held that pose for a few seconds…. Take a few minutes and give the depth-of-field questions some thought…

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Marr

    The white intrusion gives the dark gray in the opposite corner some pictorial balance. Yet, it doesn’t add enough to compensate for the distraction. I’m neutral.

  • avatar Doug West

    Never thought I’d say this but…I hate it. I dunno, hate seems a little strong, dislike sounds better 🙂

    I looked at the larger version and I just don’t see anything there, just looks like a white orb to me. Maybe if the outer
    white was a little more jagged or something. Also, maybe if it were a little smaller. I just get an impression that it is overwhelming the main subject.