600 II + 2X III TC + 5DS R = Banking Flight Miracle « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

600 II + 2X III TC + 5DS R = Banking Flight Miracle

What’s Up?

We enjoyed our best morning ever at the Otawa Bridge with the cranes in the mist. And yes, it was cold. Next we photographed Ural Owl, and finished with a perfect session of flight photography with the wind behind us, the cranes landing right at us, and a sky of White-tailed Sea-eagles and Black-eared Kites.

At the onsen I did shower, onsen, sauna, cold tub, onsen, sauna, cold tub, onsen, outdoor onsen, shower, and dress. Then another great dinner by Shinobu.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 106 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated.



B&H contributed generously as the primary SDNHM exhibition sponsor. Thank them (and me for the blog) by clicking on the logo link above to shop.

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. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.


This image was created at the Akan Crane Center on the Japan in Winter IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400: 1/1250 sec. at f/9. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to see the incredible fine feather detail in a larger version.

Red-crowned Crane adult banking in flight

600 II + 2X III TC + 5DS R = Banking Flight Miracle

On Monday afternoon I concentrated on photographing the cranes in flight with the Canon 600 II, the 2X III TC, and the 5DS R. In the soft light most of the images were nowhere near sharp. When the sun broke through I was able to make a few sharp images. Why the difficulty? Flight photography with the 2X TC and an f/4 super-telephoto is always a challenge. AF is slowed by the two stop loss of light that comes with the doubler. In addition, initial autofocus acquisition is not as fast with the 5DS R as with the 1D X, and when you add the 2X TC the 5DS R lags even farther behind due to its less powerful battery that has more difficulty driving the AF system than the more powerful battery of the 1D X.

In relatively soft light, today’s featured image was indeed somewhat of a miracle.


Consider joining me in Japan in February, 2017, for the world’s best Japan in Winter workshop. Click on the card to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Japan In Winter IPT. February 9-24, 2017: $13,999/double occupancy.

All lodging including the Tokyo hotel on 9 FEB, all breakfasts & dinners, ground transport and transfers including bus to the monkey park hotel, and all entrance fees and in-country flights are included. Not included: international flights, all lunches–most are on the run, and alcoholic beverages.

Please e-mail for couple and IPT repeat customer discount information.

This trip is one day longer than the great 2014 trip to allow for more flexibility, more time with the cranes, and most importantly, more time for landscape photography. Hokkaido is gorgeous. You will enjoy tons of pre-trip planning and gear advice, in-the-field instruction and guidance, at-the-lodge Photoshop and image review sessions in addition to short introductory slide programs for each of the amazing locations. Skilled photographer Paul McKenzie handles the logistics and we enjoy the services of Japan’s best wildlife photography guide whom I affectionately call “Hokkaido Bear.” His network of local contacts and his knowledge of the weather, the area, and the birds enables him to have us in the best location every day.


Amazing subjects. Beautiful settings. Nonstop action and unlimited opportunities. Join me.

The Logistics

Arrive Tokyo: 9 FEB 2017 the latest. 8 FEB is safer and gives you a day to get acclimated to the time change. Your hotel room for the night of the 9th is covered.

Bus Travel to Monkey Park Hotel: 10 FEB: A 1/2 DAY of monkey photography is likely depending on our travel time… This traditional hotel is first class all the way. Out stay includes three ten course Japanese dinners these sumptuous meals will astound you and delight your taste buds. There are many traditional hot baths (onsens) on site in this 150 year old hotel.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 11.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 12.

13 FEB: Full travel day to Hokkaido/arrive at our lodge in the late afternoon. The lodge is wonderful. All the rooms at the lodge have beds. Bring your warm pajamas. A local onsen (hot springs bath and tubs) is available for $5 each day before dinner–when you are cold, it is the best thing since sliced bread. The home-cooked Japanese styles meals at the lodge are to die for. What’s the best news? Only a small stand of woods separates us from the very best crane sanctuary. During one big snowstorm we were the only photo group to be able to get to Tsurui Ito; we had the whole place to ourselves in perfect conditions for crane photography!

FEB 14-23: Red-crowned Crane, raptors in flight, Whooper Swans, and scenic photography. Ural Owl possible. One 2-night trip to Rausu for Steller’s and White Tailed Sea Eagles on the tourists boats is 100% dependent weather, road, and sea ice conditions. Only our trip offers complete flexibility in this area. It has saved us on more than once occasion. An afternoon of duck photography in the harbor at Rausu is a strong possibility. The cost of 3 eagle-boat trips is included. If the group would like to do more than three boat trips and we all agree, there will be an additional charge for the extra trip or trips. Do understand that few if any tours offer at least one afternoon boat trip….

Lodging notes: bring your long johns for sleeping in the lodge. In Rausu and at the Snow Monkey Park, the hotel the rooms are Japanese-style. You sleep on comfortable mats on the floor. Wi-fi is available every day of the trip.

FEB 24. Fly back to Tokyo for transfer to your airport if you are flying home that night, or, to your hotel if you are overnighting. If you need to overnight, the cost of that room is on you.


Life is short. Hop on the merry-go-round.

To Sign Up

To save your spot, please send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit check made out to “Birds as Art” to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. I do hope that you can join me for this trip of a lifetime. Do e-mail with any questions or give me a buzz at 863-692-0906.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent Galapagos cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

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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 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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4 comments to 600 II + 2X III TC + 5DS R = Banking Flight Miracle

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    Hi Artie,

    Wonderful image you have of the Red-crowned Crane. As you’ve nailed the exposure, the subtle layering of feathers give it the look of a painting. I love that look about all cranes. Compositionally from a subject perspective, would you have been happier with the crane’s head, and perhaps body, angled more toward you?

    In an unrelated note, when I click on your IPT cards, the entire screen is covered by the dimming effect of the lightbox. Your instructional images are not behaving this way, with the content dimming, but not the image itself. Are you experiencing this issue or is it a Problem-In-Chair (PIC) issue?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      If the bird’s head and neck were angled more towards us we would lose the great dorsal view that this image is about…

      Not you on the dimmed cards…


  • Hi Artie,

    Do you have a explanation or ebook for such sharpness technics to get a sharp image with 600 + 2 TC

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      See the section on advanced sharpness techniques in ABP II or join an IPT πŸ™‚ That all applies to static images for the most part. artie

      ps: flight photography at f/8 with a 2X III is never easy.