How Would You Hold a Log? And still more 100-400II Versatility « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

How Would You Hold a Log? And still more 100-400II Versatility

What’s Up

I finished up all of the work on my end for the upcoming San Diego exhibition. I sent off the Canon panel, the sponsor’s logos for the Thank You panel, and everything needed for the Introductory Panel.

And yikes! I just about forgot to mention the best news: the overnight parcel arrived at Arcube, the master CD read fine on both a Mac and a PC, I received and approved the cover art proof, and it looks like clear sailing from here. The exhibit companion e-book has to be placed in the what a miracle category…

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.

birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris

At TheNat, San Diego, California

Learn more here. Learn about the opening NATtalk, Choosing and Using Lenses for Bird and Nature Photography, here.

The Streak

In spite of having been buried by travel, teaching, and several major writing projects for the last two months, today’s blog post marks 60 days in a row with a new educational blog post. Please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases.

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.

  • With three offers on the day his lens was listed the sale of Mike Quigley’s Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens (the old five) is pending.
  • 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.

Featured Items

The two items below are severely under-priced and surely represent the two best-ever buys in the history of Used Photo Gear Sales!

Mint Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

The Already Record Low BAA Price was Reduced $150 MORE on January 5,2015.

Walt Thomas is offering a used Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens in mint condition for $749. The sale includes all original packaging, the lens case, the lens hood, and insured UPS ground shipping. Your lens will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Please contact Walt by e-mail or call him at (520)-495-5612 (Mountain time).

The 100 macro IS is Denise Ippolito’s very favorite flower lens and I love mine too. It is incredibly light and sharp and easy to hand hold. I would, however, strongly advise adding the Canon Tripod Mount Ring D for IS 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens. 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


This image was also created at Godthul on the Cheesemans’ 2015 South Georgia Expedition with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB.

AI Servo/Rear Focus Zone AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). It did a great job by selecting three AF points on the pup’s neck above and to the left of the center AF point, right on the same plane as the eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Young Antarctic Fur Seal on tussock mound

Antarctic Fur Seal

Though on most South Georgia landings it seems that there is a young fur seal on every tussock mound, I must admit that I do not spend much time photographing them. And the same goes for the adults. We were headed back to the zodiacs when I saw this cute little one so I decided to make a few images while experimenting with Zone AF. As far as the fur seals go, it is best to stay away from the big males on the beaches. There is a fairly substantial section in the Southern Ocean Photography Guide that lets folks know just how not to get bitten by a fur seal…

100-400II Versatility

The image above succeeds because of the endearing pose and the perfect framing. Zoom lenses are great for nature photographers as they allow us to adjust our framing without having to move our position. Here are two tips for hand holding an intermediate telephoto zoom lens:

  • Hold the lens with your left hand below the lens and your palm pointed to the sky–it’s amazing how many folks have their left hand on top of the lens with their palm pointed down. When I see folks on an IPT doing holding their lens incorrectly, I ask them, If you were trying to hold a small log up would you grab it from the top?
  • Hold the lens with your left hand far enough out on the lens barrel that your hand rests close to the center of the zoom ring. Though it seems quite obvious that in this manner, zooming in and out would be easier, but many folks hold the lens with their left hand too far back on the lens barrel, close to the camera body. That always prompts another log question from me: “If you were holding a log would it make more sense to hold it in the center or at the end?”

Image Cleanup

There was nothing that I could do in the field about the ugly strand of tussock grass intersecting with the seal’s flipper and hind quarters, but in Photoshop, eliminating it was fairly simple. I used my Divide and Conquer techniques: Clone Stamp to break the untoward strand of grass into manageable segments and then the Patch Tool to make them disappear. Then Protect and Defend cloning on layer to get rid of the grass where it merged with both the flipper and the rear of the pup’s body followed by a series of small Quick Masks each transformed and warped and then refined with a Regular Layer Mask to smooth over the areas of intersection. Then some regular Patch Tool and Spot Healing Brush work to get rid of some of the blemishes in the fur.

Next I carefully selected the whole seal with the Quick Selection Tool, put that on its own layer, and applied my NIK 50-50 recipe, 50% Tonal Contrast and 50% Detail Extractor. That layer was refined by a Regular Layer Mask. Then I selected only the face with the Quick Selection Tool and put that on its own layer and applied a Contrast Mask: Unsharp Mask at 15/65/0 and then pulled up the Curve to lighten it. Total time: 8 minutes after converting the RAW file in DPP 4.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s featured 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, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur settings that I use to smooth background noise, Divide and Conquer, protective cloning on a layer, 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. Please call Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-221-2372 to take advantage of this special offer. You can find the same deal in the BAA Online Store here.


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)

The RAW file for today’s image was of course converted in DPP 4. 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 DPP 4 eGuide (PDF) Updated for 1D Mark IV and the original 7D

The DPP 4 eGuide was recently updated to include the luminance and chrominance noise reduction values for both the 1D Mark IV and the original 7D. If you purchased your copy from BAA please e-mail Jim and request the DPP 4 1d IV/7D update. Please be sure to cut and paste page 1 into your e-mail as proof of purchase.

DPP 4 Kudos

From Richard Gollard via e-mail:

I have been doing tons of studying the books and PDFs that I have purchased from BIRDS AS ART. And I have to say that after reading the DPP 4 conversion guide that you did with Arash Hazeghi I tried DPP 4 and was blown away with the difference from the conversions that I made with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Thanks for the consistently great information.


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.


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