Old Dog Re-learns a Long Lens Depth-of-Field Trick. More 5DS R Incredible Detail, This Time at 1200mm… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Old Dog Re-learns a Long Lens Depth-of-Field Trick. More 5DS R Incredible Detail, This Time at 1200mm...

What’s Up?

We killed all day on Day 3. Included were some 4-day old oystercatcher chicks. Again we ended the day with some great Italian food at Insieme in Seahouses. Everyone is looking forward to our morning on the gannet boat tomorrow. Except for the getting up early part…

If you are interested in joining Peter Kes and me for the puffins and gannets in 2017 please scroll down.

Nickerson Beach Terns/Skimmers/Oystercatchers Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): July 18-22, 2016. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1899. Limit 10/Openings 6.

Meet and greet at 3pm on the afternoon of Monday, July 18.

Please e-mail for repeat customer or couples discount info, or for info on a 3-day option.

With only four folks signed up, learning situations will abound. The primary subject species on this IPT will be the nesting Common Terns and Black Skimmers. The trip is timed so that we will get to photograph tiny tern chicks as well as fledglings. There will be lots of flight photography including adults flying with baitfish. Creating great images of the chicks being fed will be a huge challenge. In addition to the terns we will get to photograph lots of Black Skimmers courting, setting up their nesting territories, and in flight (both singles and large pre-dawn flocks blasting off). Midair battles are guaranteed on sunny afternoons. And with luck, we might even see a few tiny skimmer chicks toward the end of the trip. We will also get to photograph the life cycle of American Oystercatcher. This will likely include nests with eggs and tiny chicks, young being fed, and possibly a few fledglings.

From Tom Pfeifer via e-mail

Hey buddy,

Got to Nickerson yesterday evening. It is rocking with Common Tern chicks close to ropes. Some are still on eggs. Lots of oystercatcher chicks also. The skimmers for now are set back in the colony. At work so I gotta run… Looking forward to seeing you soon! Tom

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, makes-no-sense, 236 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This is yet another image created on our amazing Day 1 of the 2016 Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used 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 mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops off the grey sky: 1/250 sec. at f/13. 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 was on the eye of a fish in the the center of the bill. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

LensAlign FocusTune micro-adjustment: -5.

Atlantic Puffin with sand eels

Old Dog Re-learns a Long Lens Depth -of-Field Trick

In the Catching Up on Learning: Too much depth of field… blog post here, K.G.Wuensch suggested that by focusing on a bird’s eye when making head portraits that I was wasting the depth-of-field beyond the plane of focus. I knew that but had gotten away from practicing it. To check his theory, I made lots of similar images, some with the active AF point on the eye, some with it on the base of the bill, and others with it on the fish. K.G. was very correct. For this image, I focused on the fish at about the midway point of the bill while working at f/13. Though the total depth-of-field at 1200mm here is small, roughly about .6 inch, it was enough to cover all the fish including those on the right that were in front of the plane of focus and the puffin’s eye.

Please Don’t Scoff…

Many folks scoff when I say that I often learn from folks who post comments on the blog. Please don’t. We have seen two really important lessons that I–after 33 years of doing this–have learned from two great recent comments… If you think that you have nothing to learn, you are very sadly mistaken.


100% crop of bill and fish detail…

More 5DS R Incredible Detail, This Time at 1200mm…

If you think that your Canon camera body can produce detail like this, you are mistaken; unless you own a 5DS R. And let’s not forget that according to many, you simply cannot make a sharp image with a 2X teleconverter…


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

This trip has sold out far in advance every year so do not tarry. I hope that you can join me.

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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 New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, 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, and for everything else in the new store, 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 those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


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10 comments to Old Dog Re-learns a Long Lens Depth-of-Field Trick. More 5DS R Incredible Detail, This Time at 1200mm…

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Ha! Would love to but would have trouble getting Laurie to give up some time in Montana before we head to the Galapogos. Nice try

  • avatar Madeline

    Re: depth of field focus area. Your above depth of field trick worked well. I did notice, because of the way the bird was turned, the beak and the eye were not really that far apart in a linear way.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      In terms of super-telephoto photography, aka, 1200mm, the eye is actually well back from the plane of the fish 🙂


  • avatar Pierre Williot

    Was yesterday’s picture “photoshoped” or not?

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    Hi Artie,

    Sounds like you are having a great time, as usual.

    Wonderful image. It is one of those that when you first view, you say to yourself, “Wow, that is really wonderful.” Thanks for the tip about DOF. I usually don’t even think of it, but in the situation when you are close, a couple of stops could make a big difference.

    Have fun!


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      We are. You are welcome. You and Laurie should join us next year so that we can spend the whole summer together 🙂

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    The detail in this image is simply amazing, including the ridge that separates the bill and the face.
    Are the puffin shots taken from the boat?
    Do the puffins move around a lot or are they easy to photograph when on land? it looks like this one is posing for you.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks and agree on the detail thanks to the 5DS R. We land on two different islands and then walk, but not far on either one. They like to pose 🙂


  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: wonderful image, I am envious! Those fish look just like the sand eels we get here in the northeastern US (“sand lances” in the UK, I think).