More 100-400 II Versatility & Self Portrait & near-Zero depth-of-field Lesson « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

More 100-400 II Versatility & Self Portrait & near-Zero depth-of-field Lesson

In Case You Haven’t Noticed

In spite of having been buried by travel, teaching, and several major writing projects for the last two months, today’s blog post marks 59 days in a row with a new educational blog post. Please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases.

There is not a whole lot of room left on the OCT/NOV 2016 Cheesemans’ South Georgia Expedition, their last ever. If you would like to make your 2016 special by joining the BIRDS AS ART group for this trip, please scroll down for complete information.

Important Note

Please understand that if you are up in the air about selling any old gear that the price of your item is dropping every day….

Selling Your Used Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the yellow-orange tab on the right side of the menu bar above.

Things have been heating up on the Used Gear page lately.

  • Bill Ellison sold his 100-400 for $650 in early January, 2016.
  • Alice Garland sold her Canon 500mm f/4L IS Lens for $3999 in late December 2015.
  • Doug Rogers sold his Canon 100–400mm L IS zoom lens (the old 1-4) for $649 in late December 2015.
  • Troy Duong sold his Canon 500mm f/4L IS II lens for $7500.00 in late December 2015.
  • Walt Anderson sold his used Canon 1D X for $3000 in late December to a BAA friend before it was even listed!
  • Larry Master sold his Canon EOS-1D Mark IV in excellent condition for $1399 in mid-December 2015.
  • Melissa Hahn sold her Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II lens in mint condition now for $8299 in early December, 2015.
  • Monte Brown sold his 300mm f/2.8L II lens in near-mint condition for $4499 two days after it was listed in mid-December, 2015.
  • Stephen Zarate sold his used Canon 100-400mm L IS zoom lens very quickly in early December for $650, the original asking price.
  • Kenton Rowe sold his Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in early December for $9799.
  • Brent Bridges sold his Canon 600 II for the full asking price, $9799,in early December 2015.

New Listing

Canon 500mm f/4L IS Lens

Sale pending in less than 10 hours!

Mike Quigley is offering his used Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens in excellent condition for $3999; the glass is in pristine condition. The sale includes lens trunk with keys, the manual, the original leather front lens cover, a LensCoat Hoodie, a black LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via major courier. This lens was cleaned and checked in April, 2015. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike e-mail or by phone at 815-549-1269.

The 500mm f/4 lenses are the world’s most popular super-telpotos for good reason: they produce sharp images either alone or with either TC, and they are well lighter, less bulky, and easier to travel with than the 600 f/4s. I used an owned one for more than a decade. I just purchased the lighter-still Canon 500mm f/4L IS II last week; it sells for $8999 at B&H. You can save a cool $5,000 by purchasing Mike’s lens. artie

Featured Listings

Canon 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6L IS Zoom Lens

Doug Bolt is offering a used Canon 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6L IS zoom lens (the old 1-4) in excellent condition for the record-low BAA price of $629. The sale includes front and rear lens caps, the ET-83C hood, the tripod ring, the tough fabric LZ1324 lens carrying case, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Doug via e-mail or by phone at 301-937-3112 (Eastern time).

The old 100-400 was and is superb. I made hundreds of sale-able images with mine including the one used on the front cover of Scott Weidensaul’s “Return to Wild America”. Contrary to reports by the internet idiots the lens is–in competent hands–sharp at all focal lengths. It is extremely versatile and would make a great starter lens for those interested in bird, wildlife, and general nature photography. artie

Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO Lens

The Already Record Low BAA Price was Reduced $200 MORE on DEC 27, 2015.

Stephen Zarate is offering a used Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens (the old 400 DO) in very good plus condition for a new record-low BAA price, an insanely low of $2499.00. The lens is covered by a well-worn “digital camo” LensCoat and the tripod ring shows minor signs of wear. The sale includes the lens trunk, the front and rear lens caps, the leather front lens cover, the aforementioned LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via UPS ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Stephen by e-mail or by phone at 949-697-8194 (Pacific time).

I used this lens for several years with great success, especially for birds in flight and while working from various type of water craft. In addition, it would make a great prime super-telephoto lens for folks with a 7D II. Gannets in Love was created with the 400 DO. You can see that one and 13 other killer images that I made with my old 400 DO here. The title of that blog post is “The Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO Lens: Fourteen Images that Prove that the Internet Experts are Idiots.” Stephen’s lens is priced to sell. artie

Featured Items

Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS II Zoom Lens with Internal 1.4X Extender

Good friend and IPT veteran George Golumbeski is offering a used Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS zoom lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in excellent plus to near-mint condition with several extras, for $9450.00. The sale includes all of the original items supplied by Canon including the lens trunk, the lens strap, the Canon E-145C Lens Cap (actually a lens hood made of tough synthetic fabric), the rear lens cap, the ET-120 Lens Hood, a 4th Generation Design CRX-5 replacement foot, the the original Canon foot and screws, a LensCoat (in digital camo), a Don Zeck front lens cover, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact George via e-mail or by phone at 1-973 216 3832 (Eastern time zone).

The 200-400 is a killer lens when you are working with tame birds or large mammals; can you say the Galapagos, Africa, South Georgia and the rest of the great Southern Ocean locations, Florida, or La Jolla? I have owned and used this lens since its release. artie

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body

Bill Fraser is offering a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body in excellent condition for $1299. The sale includes the original box in perfect condition, three (3) LP-E4 Battery packs (the original and two spares), the battery charger LC-E4, Wide Strap L6, the Stereo AV Cable-DC400ST, the Cable Protector with attaching screw, the EOS Digital Solution disc Ver. 21.2, the Software Instruction Manual, printed Instruction Manuals in English and Spanish, the Pocket Guide (abbreviated instruction manual), and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Your camera will be shipped only after your check clears.

Interested folks may contact Bill via e-mail or by phone at 1-336-288-9025 (Eastern time zone). Bill traveled with me on the 2012 South Georgia Cheesemans’ Expedition and will be joining us on the San Diego IPT.


Like yesterday’s three images, this one was also created at Godthul on the Cheesemans’ 2015 South Georgia Expedition with the with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 450mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/100 sec. at f/9 in Av mode. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The active AF point fell on white crescent just above the lower left corner of the seal’s eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Eye of seal plus self portrait

More 100-400 II Versatility

I mentioned this seal eyeball image in yesterday’s blog post. I was surely right at about 1 meter, just outside the new 1-4’s amazing close focus of .98 meters–3 feet, 2.52 inches. Considering how tame this animal was and the round black eye, I am pretty sure that this was a Southern Elephant Seal pup. Antarctic Fur Seal pups are tame but not this tame. They can be a bit feisty.

Comparing the subject matter and the framing in the four images in the last two blog posts should give you an appreciation of the amazing versatility of the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Self Portrait

Did you miss my reflection in the seal’s eye? The most amazing part of the image for me, however, are the radiating lines that we see in the eyeball detail. If you know what they are, please feel free to let us know by leaving a comment.

Near-Zero depth-of-field Lesson

At my favorite online depth of field calculator website, DOF Master, I entered following data: EOS-7D (II); focal length: 500mm (even though I was at 560mm, the lens is not really at 560mm when zoomed all the way in with a TC; the 500mm was an estimate); selected f-stop: f/9; and Subject distance: 1 meter. The depth of field in front and in back of the plane of focus was zero and the total depth of field was of course zero as well. That is confirmed with a quick look at the image; only the eyeball itself, some of the fur in front of and below the eyeball, and a bit more fur above and the right of the eyeball, are in relatively sharp focus.

Note: do see the excellent comments by Mike Moore below.

This confirms two principles that I have been teaching here for quite some time:

  • You need to be concerned about depth of field when you working at or near the minimum focusing distance of a given lens.
  • With a telephoto lens, there are times when even very small apertures are just not going to help; focus on the eye and forget about the rest. In today’s example, even if I had stopped down to f/64 the total depth of field would still have been zero.


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 the 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 an 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 questions 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 extra penny.

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

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links 🙂

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.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. 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.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


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

10 comments to More 100-400 II Versatility & Self Portrait & near-Zero depth-of-field Lesson

  • avatar Patrick Sparkman

    Ahhh…the holy grail of shots for me, and the reason I lug a 600 and the 100-400 around. I love eyeball shots, even though my wife (Robin) is alway bugging me to go wider and get the environment. But for me, I love seeing the detail in the eye and the reflections that generally occur. Nicely done, and I particularly like the radial muscles that David points out.

    I would like to see you photograph an adult elephant seal male from 3 feet away! I would be right behind you with my iPhone set on video!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The big male Elephant Seals are actually pretty docile as long as you are not a big male Elephant Seal. The big danger is that they run over you accidentally 🙁


  • avatar Bob Allen

    In the caption for the seal, “yesterday” is misspelled.
    In the same caption, you need a space after the right paren in “(at 450mm)and the amazing”

    I didn’t read the adverts, so I don’t know if there are problems there.

    In the “Zero depth-of-field Lesson”, you need a comma before “the lens” in “(even though I was at 560mm the lens”

    Later in that sentence, I’d put a semicolon instead of an m-dash in “(…a TC–the 500mm was an estimate)”

    “Why Sign Up Through BIRDS AS ART?” Need “an” instead of “a” in “And I will be doing a introductory”

    In the last line of the paragraph, “question” needs to be plural.

    In your email links, you can embed the subject line, saving the user the trouble of doing so. When you add the email link, add a question mark, the text “subject=”, then the subject, thus:
    “’ Last Southern Ocean Expedition”

    “Important Notes”. “… will not cost you one penny.” Add “extra” before (or after) penny. Without that, it sounds like the trip is free.

    Egads, I’ve done so much editing lately that I cannot turn it off! ;7)


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


      Oh my, I have created a monster! Thanks for the corrections. I have saved your how-to and will work on including the subject line in future posts…. On the off chance that I remember to do so 🙂

      later and much love and hope to see you early Friday morning.

  • avatar Mike Moore

    If you enter 36 inches, you will get the result that your depth of field is 0.02 inches at f/9. At a theoretical f/64 it increases to 0.15 inches. Still razor thin, but not zero. You were getting zero because your units (meters) were to large. I photograph a lot of insects near the 1-4 close focus limit and stopping down does make a small, but significant difference. Also I think your focal length estimate is too high. It’s probably more like 400 at min FD. The loss of focal length due to the floating element at close focus in this lens is severe, but necessary in a zoom to maintain the sharpness which is clearly evident in your great photo.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Mike, Thanks for clarifying. .02 inches is close enough to zero for me. a

      ps: I am not too good with the technical stuff but in spite of that I make a good image every so often…

      • avatar Mike Moore

        You might not be a technical wizard, but you certainly are a master of most technical aspects of photography. I have read all your guides which prove that. I was trying to gently take issue with your second principle. As some one who photographs close subjects a lot, I know that stopping down does help, but only a little. The real solution is focus stacking, which takes a lot of work, but produces spectacular results.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Thanks. I am pretty good at solving logistical photography challenges but still not very technical :). It sounds as if you do some macro…

          As for my second principle, using really small apertures with bird photography with subjects near the MFD almost always requires the use of crazy high ISOs…. Not something that I or most folks care to do.

          And since birds are always moving at least a bit, focus stacking will not work. As I said, it seems that you must do some macro 🙂

          later and love, artie

  • avatar David Arkin

    These are the radial muscles of the iris. When these muscles contract the iris becomes smaller and thus the pupil dilates. See website here for more info on this subject.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi David,

      Thanks and amazing. a

      ps: sometimes I wonder if there is anything that the readership here does not know about…