A Big 1D X Mark II Advantage & Tips on Adding an Eye Highlight « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Big 1D X Mark II Advantage & Tips on Adding an Eye Highlight

What’s Up?

Though Dom Scaglione did not play Frankie Valli on Saturday afternoon past, Younger daughter Alissa, her husband Ajiniyaz, and yours truly enjoyed Jersey Boys tremendously. Quinn vanAntwerp killed as Bob Gaudio as he has done more than 2500 times. He is leaving the show in six weeks so I am thrilled that I got to see him again.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 270 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. AND Please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

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.

Used Gear Sales Continue to be Brisk

  • Tom Mast sold his Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $625 in late July.
  • Henry Raymundo sold his Gitzo 1325 tripod and a Wimberley V-2 head both in very good plus condition for the very low price of $699 and two used Canon 100-400mm IS L Zoom lenses, one in excellent condition for $599, the other in very good plus condition for $549–all in late July.
  • Jonathan Ward sold his Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for $2,000 CAD in early July.
  • Long ago multiple IPT veteran Charles McRae sold his Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS lens in good to very good condition in early July for a record low $4,199.
  • Jeffrey Fredberg sold his EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM L series lens in like-new condition for the record-low BAA price of $749 in late June.
  • Jim Burns sold his Canon 200-400mm F/4L IS zoom lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in brand new condition for the insane BAA record-low price of $8499 in late June.
  • Moody McCall sold his Canon 300mm F/2.8L IS II in excellent condition for $4199 in mid-June.
  • Long-ago IPT veteran Charles Sleicher sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens in very good plus condition for $3400 in mid-June.
  • Top BAA Used Gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III in absolute mint condition for $1599 in mid-June.
  • KW McCulloch sold his Canon EOS-1D X in excellent condition for $2459 in mid-June.
  • Top BAA Used Gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (the old five) in very good plus condition for a BAA record low price of $3699 in mid-June.

New Listing

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L Lens

Thomas K. Gross is offering a used Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L lens in excellent condition for $725. The sale includes the front and rear lens caps, a camo LensCoat, the original Canon tough fabric lens bag, and insured ground shipping via UPS. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements; Paypal preferred.

Please contact Tom by e-mail or by phone at 1-765-427-2504 (Eastern time).

I used, loved, and put the “toy lens” on the map for about a decade. It is a great flight lens and would make a great starter lens for folks with a steady hand or those who properly use a tripod and a Mongoose M3.6. artie


This image was created at Fort DeSoto last May with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR Camera with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stop in Av mode: 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1. Daylight WB.

One AF point below and one to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell right on the bird’s eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Unidentified spring shorebird–feeding pose

A Big 1D X Mark II Advantage

Not being limited to the center AF point when working at f/8 with a 2X TC and an f/4 super-telephoto lens is a huge advantage when photographing birds that are moving. Here I was able to select and place an AF point right on the bird’s eye thus ensuring a sharp image.

Tips on Adding an Eye Highlight

I cannot remember the last time that I added a highlight to a bird’s eye. But I did remember how to do it:

  • Where in the eye should you put the highlight? Someplace that might look natural… Any suggestions?
  • Work large.
  • Use the Clone Stamp Tool with a tiny hard brush.
  • Grab from a spot in the image with a pure bright WHITE.
  • Build the highlight with multiple small clicks and be sure that the highlight is irregularly shaped.

What Is It?

This shorebird was photographed in mid-May of 2016. Can you identify it as to species? How did you know? Can you age it as an adult or a juvenile? How did you know? What stage of molt is it in? How did you know?


Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall one way or another. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99

Join me on the morning of October 2, 2016 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.


Folks attending the IPT will be in the field early and stay out late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto Short Notice Fall IPT/September 28 (meet & greet and afternoon session) through the full day on October 1, 2016. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1549. Limit 10. Sunday morning ITFW free to IPT registrants.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds in fall. There they join dozens of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With any luck, we should get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher likely. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join me as my guest on the ITFW on the Sunday morning following the workshop. See above for details on that.

On this and all other IPTs you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify and age many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

At brunch (included) we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one. If you opt to bring your laptop, we can take a look at a few of your images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As I already have one signed up for this workshop, it is a go. Hotel info will be e-mailed when you register. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). It is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel so if you are interested it would be a good idea to register now and make your hotel reservations as soon as you hear from us. We can, however, coordinate with local folks who opt to stay at home.

Because of the relatively late date, payment is full is due upon registration either by check or credit card. If the former, please e-mail us immediately so that we can save you a spot. If the latter, please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to register. Your registration fee is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight so please check your plans carefully before committing. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions and gear & clothing advice a fairly soon.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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.


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 🙂

8 comments to A Big 1D X Mark II Advantage & Tips on Adding an Eye Highlight

  • avatar Chuck Carlson

    I agree with Eddy Vaes on his description of the Semi-palmated Sandpiper. You can even see a bit of the palmation between the bird’s toes. Yes the Western Sandpiper shares that feature but the bill is too short and blunt for a Western. Not a juvenile in May, but not in adult breeding plumage either. Still first year bird, I think. Artie, your Semi-palmated Sandpiper photos on Birds of Nrth America do not include a May pic from so far south. I think they need to buy this one!

  • avatar George Cottay

    RE Highlights: Along with Artie’s excellent tips you can get more fussy with usually excellent results (both with birds and your human subjects) by putting the faux highlights on a separate layer. If you find the highlights don’t match well with light direction you can move the layer. You can also apply a touch of blur and hue correction to get the desired look.

  • avatar Eddy Vaes

    Artie, I think it is a semipalmated sandpiper.(Calidris pusilla) because of the fairly short, tubular, straight black bill, black legs. Broad supercilium contrasting with darker auriculars. Only a tinge of rust on crown, auriculars and scapulars while Western sandpiper would be more rufous.
    In Florida in may it would be an adult on its way to Alaska. It is molting from winter to breeding plumage. It will loose more of the white feather edges by abrasion during its trip. The supercilium will get more inconspicuous and the spots on the breast will get darker.

  • avatar Mike Pugh

    Great image. Looks like a breeding Semi-palmated Sandpiper from plumage, date taken, and bill length. The only other alternative would be a Western Sandpiper, also with partially webbed feet, but with a longer bill. But both these birds are pretty scarce in the UK…!

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Perhaps a Sanderling. Non-breeding.
    However, if that truly is webbing as David P. points out then I agree it must be Semi-palmated Sandpiper.
    I reviewed e-bird, then ‘The Shorebird Guide’ and ‘National Geographic Field Guide…..’
    not fresh plumage as there appears to be some fraying at the edges of the feathers, so perhaps partial molt.
    agree, shorebirds are a challenge.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: Lovely image, as always. I looked in your charming book “Beautiful Beachcombers” and in Sibley’s Guide to Birds, 2nd edition, and of course, at your image. I am going with semi-palmated sandpiper because of the webbing in between the toes (the “semi-palmation”) and the color, which seems to match the illustration in Sibley. Also the white line through the eye, but other peeps have that too. In May in Florida I’d expect this to be a bird on its way north to its breeding grounds, so breeding plumage. I don’t see any evidence of molting (mixture of worn and fresh feathers) but I wouldn’t expect a bird on its northern migration to be molting. What do I know; not so much; shorebirds remain a challenge for me.

  • avatar Michael Collard

    Is it a Semi- pal Sandpiper, a juvenile and half way through its pj moult; as a UK birder this is a superbly educational and wonderful image, Arthur; keep going on these please!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes to Semipalmated Sandpiper, but not a juvenile. It is an inexplicably worn breeding plumage adult. Thanks for your kind words.