5D IV Image Quality & Large Zone AF Magic. Why did I not level this image? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

5D IV Image Quality & Large Zone AF Magic. Why did I not level this image?

What’s Up?

I made it to Holbrook, Long Island, NY in plenty of time to see my Mom. She is bed-ridden and has been sleeping a lot. She was glad to see me. When she is awake her mind is perfect though she is a bit forgetful. A wonderful young doctor, Lawrence Salob, from an amazing house call service called Island House Doctor, visited on Thursday. He said that she is not in the process of dying but that her lung function has declined rapidly due to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). That caused by my Dad being a 4-pack a day man for 35 years. That as a result of his having taken up the habit during WWII because the troops did not have the proper cold weather gear, especially gloves. You gotta love second-hand smoke. My Dad survived the smoker’s daily double, throat cancer and lung cancer. In a way it is ironic that my Dad did not die as a direct result of his smoking but that his smoking will eventually take my Mom. Realize of course that 60 years ago there was no known connection between smoking and various types of cancer and nobody had ever heard of second-hand smoke. My Mom will have a hospice evaluation soon.

Thanks to all who left or e-mailed kind and supportive comments for me, my Mom, and my family. Thanks also for the increased participation on the blog these last few days. Keep it up. Most recently Steve Traudt helped a friend sell his Canon 500mm f4L IS USM lens in near-mint condition for $3899 in late March, a week after it was listed, Mike Pace sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II in excellent plus condition locally and is kindly sending me a check for 2 1/2% of the original asking price, and BAA friend John Armitage sold his Canon EOS 1D-X in excellent plus condition for $2,348 the day it was listed. There are just two slots left on the DeSoto IPT.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 14!

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 14 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Gatorland In-the Field Instructional Meet-Up Sessions

Join us in Kissimmee, FL this coming weekend to photograph Great (with chicks in the nest) and Snowy Egrets in breeding plumage, Cattle Egret and Tricolored Heron in breeding plumage, Wood Stork, American Alligator (captive), and more. We should get to make lots of head portraits of all the bird species and to photograph them building nests, displaying, copulating, and flying. Learn to see, find, and make the shot in cluttered settings. Learn exposure and how to handle WHITEs. Learn fill flash and flash as main light. All of the birds are free and wild.

Debra Lucas has signed up for all day SAT; she will be driving down from AL. And Mike Pool will be joining me on Sunday. That leaves room for you.

This Coming Weekend’s Schedule

  • Saturday April 1, morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $100. Lunch and Image Review: $75. Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $100.
  • Sunday morning April 2, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $75.

Last minute sign-ups can either shoot me an e-mail try my cell at 1-863-221-2473.

Next Weekend’s Schedule

  • Saturday April 8, morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $100. Lunch and Image Review: $75. Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $100.
  • Sunday morning, April 9, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $75.

Cheap Canon lens rentals available: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, or 200-400.

To pay for one or more sessions in full via credit card, call Jim or Jen in the office weekdays at 863-692-0906. You will be responsible for the cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s pass or passes. Please shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions.

DPP 4 Screen Capture for: Great Egret flying over marsh

The Magic of Large Zone on the 5D IV

As regular readers know I have been enamored with Upper Large Zone as my go-to vertical AF selection area. As I mentioned recently, I encountered a big feeding spree in a pool in the marsh in the lake near my home. The situation was very cluttered and lots of images were ruined by too many birds or by a poor framing job by yours truly. I did have some nice incoming flight images. I used Large Center Zone exclusively while working in horizontal format. What truly amazed me was that virtually all of the images where I successfully acquired AF were razor sharp on the eye. I will be using Large Center Zone a lot more in the future for both flight and action. As I type here, I remember that I started using Large Center Zone on the dancing Red-crowned Crowned Cranes in Japan with success, switching at times to left or right Large Zone as needed …

This image was created with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop off the sky was about -1 2/3 stops as originally framed: 1/5000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

Large Center Zone/AI Servo/shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system activated two AF points one of which just caught the tip of the secondary feathers (as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below). The image is razor sharp on the bird’s eye.

Great Egret in flight

5D Mark IV Image Quality

The superb image quality of 5D Mark IV allows for significant crops. This is about as large a crop as I ever use.

Why Not Level This Image?

It is fairly obvious on several counts that this image needed to be rotated a degree or two clockwise. How can you tell that? Why didn’t I level it?

Background Clean-up

I cleaned up some of the light background grasses along with some other distracting elements primarily with the Spot Healing Brush. I also used the Patch Tool. Here is a great Patch Tool tip that I have never published anywhere before: If you use the Patch Tool and you note a small crescent or two on the edge or edges of the patched area, simply use the Patch Tool on the crescents. One pass is usually enough to eliminate them but sometimes it takes two.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10/Openings 2. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.

We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

The group will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express in St. Petersburg. (Write for a less expensive option). Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.

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

Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of Sunday, April 23, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of Sunday April 23, 2017 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.

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 please remember that I am 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, 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 :).

14 comments to 5D IV Image Quality & Large Zone AF Magic. Why did I not level this image?

  • avatar Sam Marsh

    I started using the center large zone af area on the IV this weekend while photographing landing brandt’s cormorants in la jolla…. I had great results, and i did not have to bump focus nearly as much (although my instinct is still to do so!). I’m still a bit confused on how i can best use the initial point (and config settings) to keep the face/eye in the cross-hairs when using the wide area focus…. any tips? Thank you Art!

    • avatar Sam Marsh

      I think i answered my own question.. large zone AF only has bias towards closest object, unlike the widest af mode which can be started at a certain focus point and follow in the frame….

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        That is the plan but it does not always work that way … Another option is to use Expand and move the cluster one up from the center. Keep experimenting and keep trying. Flight for me is more about hand-eye coordination — I don’t have much of that left — and determination — I have lots of that, than it is about AF Area Selection Modes …

        with love, artie

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    If straightened, the bird’s bill would point more downward?
    All the best to your Mom. Hope things go well.

  • avatar Douglas Bolt

    Glad to learn your mom is better than you had feared.

    Can’t speak highly enough about Hospice. My mom and dad both had them. The most kind and caring group that I can imagine. They were excellent with the patients, but don’t forget that they are also very helpful to the family.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      We (my sister Arna and I) almost waited too long to call Hospice in Deltona, FL when Elaine was near the end. They send a woman named Laura Priest. It was as if they had sent us an Angel of Love. So yes, I agree 🙂

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Artie, happy to hear you are in NY with your mom and sister. Best wishes to you all.
    Beautiful shot of the egret!

  • avatar Andy

    My best to you and your family!

  • avatar Rob Stambaugh

    The water surface and vegetation tilt left, but rotating would necessitate some cropping from above (or a canvas extension that would be a pain with the busy background). I assume you don’t want the bird any higher in the frame – at least I wouldn’t.

    Thanks for the tip on Large Zone. I will have to try that more.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Dear Art: So glad to hear your Mom has improved. My mother, a non-smoker, got lung cancer as a result of my step-father’s two pack a day habit. Both of them died of lung cancer. But, back in the day, no one knew about the connection between smoking and cancer. In fact, doctors’ recommended smoking for it’s “calming” effect!

  • Hi Artie, Glad your Mom is doing fine. You have the wrong caption on the first image in today’s blog, limpkin instead of great egret. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar Joe Randle

    Good morning Artie…
    I am happy to hear that your Mom is feeling better… and you had a great visit with her… “family is everything”…

    Enjoy your Day…

  • Glad to hear your Mom is doing better.
    re rotation:could only tell by looking at grass reflections in the water. Seems to make no difference in the cropped image.
    re cigarettes: know of one local man that made enough selling his C-ration cigarettes during WWII to start a car dealership when he got back.