Help Needed With an AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF Lens. And some insightful comments, questions, and answers … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Help Needed With an AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF Lens. And some insightful comments, questions, and answers ...


The DeSoto IPT ended with lone participant Ed Dow and I sitting in six inches of warm saltwater photographing some tame spoonbills in still blue water … More on Ed in a future blog post.

Help Needed With an AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF Lens

If you know of a camera store that has one of these lenses in stock please do not leave a comment. Please call my cell phone at 863-221-2372 or shoot me an e-mail. More on this new lens later today.

Some insightful comments, questions, and answers …

Yesterday’s Red Tide Blessings #s 2, 3, 4, & 5. D5/200-500mm Flight. Mr. Dickhead. And Using Diagonals to Strengthen Your Image blog post here, prompted some excellent comments. Below are two along with my responses.

I did of course receive a long e-mail from Mr. Dickead who said in part:

Well, well, Artie

What a nasty post. What did I do or say in our last exchange of emails that warrants you using an insulting epithet like ‘Mr Dickhead’ to address me? My name is Richie. You could have used that surely? How ungracious, how ignorant and how ungrateful after the help I freely offered. We are adults after all, not ill mannered louts. That you feel the need to do this speaks volumes about your character – or lack of one. You seem desperately insecure, small minded and vindictive to lash out at someone who although disagreeing with you, nevertheless sat down and spent some considerable time to help you when asked. With respect, you still have a way to go in The Work.

You don’t have to agree with accepted, verified scientific truth – that’s a choice – even though it makes you wrong and as stupid as your meter on a dull day.

Then he went on to share some excellent information on digital resolution and ppi, two areas that have always baffled me. I will be sharing some of that info with you in the future while crediting it to an anonymous source. I did not bother responding to Mr. Dickhead but I am saving his e-mail both to study the knowledge he shared with me and to consider his criticisms. I will do The Work on the latter.

John Broadwell/September 28, 2018 at 6:06 am

Artie, I have asked an expert digital imaging friend of mine about this and he says that there is something in it. It doesn’t seem to be just someone’s idea. It seems to be based on science. Could you please explain the idea behind it and why it doesn’t work?

I responded:

Hi John, Welcome and thanks for posting our question. In short, as I have explained here often and in detail Digital Basics II as well, bring your RAW files with the RGB values for the WHITEs at 254, 254, 254 is theoretically correct. So why don’t I do that ? Doing so requires a great deal of extra work in order to get the WHITEs to look good while restoring or bring back the detail. I found that for me, bringing my Canon files into Photoshop with the RGB values for the WHITEs in the mid-230s worked perfectly. Please remember that there I converted my RAW files in DPP and that I enabled Highlight Tone Priority. Once I started using Nikon and converting with ACR I found that bringing my WHITEs into Photoshop with the RGB values in the low to mid-240s was just what I needed to produce nice clean, bright WHITEs with lots of detail.

I call my approach practically correct. 🙂

with love, artie

John Broadwell/September 28, 2018 at 9:16 am

Artie, yes, that is my understanding too. Using ETTR, one should push the RAW histogram as far as practically possible to the right (254 254 254 in ACR), pull those values back to 230-240 in ACR and then open the image in Photoshop at 230-240? However, the camera histogram only shows a JPEG histogram which could be compressed by as much as 3EV compared to the RAW, so surely it must be a poor guide for judging correct exposure?

I responded:

Hi John,

As noted above, pulling the WHITEs down from the 250s just does not work well for me. That based on 17 years of digital experience with both Canon and Nikon. If it works well for you, then stick with it.

Yes, the histogram and blinkies are based on the embedded JPEG. I find it a great guide for getting the exposure that I want and then creating images that look great to my eye and make me happy.

with love, artie

Jim Howell/September 27, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Change of subject: Because of your images, I’ve begun using auto ISO. I’m shooting with the Canon 7D II, 1/2000, no exposure adjustment, in high speed mode. Two different birds in deep shade flying out into bright light. The images shot in the shade were better than past attempts so I was quite happy. However, in each case the images taken in bright light were totally blown out. I’m sure it was due to operator error, though I would like to blame the camera. Was this not a good approach to take under these conditions?

Hey Jim, The situation you describe in a virtually impossible one. Using Auto ISO with EC is no panacea unless you have a complete understanding of exposure theory and you are working with constant light with consistently similar backgrounds. (Be sure to see the upcoming blog post on creating pleasing pre-dawn blurs using S or Tv mode, Auto ISO, and the correct EC.) No automatic mode can handle a situation with two birds of different tonalities in the shade one moment and in the sun the next. It can be done with limited success if you are super fast with the exposure compensation dial, if you have completely mastered exposure theory, and if you get lucky … To learn Exposure Theory I have long directed folks to study the section on Applied Exposure Theory on pages 58 to 63 in the original The Art of Bird Photography.

The Snowy Egret is beautiful!

Many thanks with love, artie

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9 comments to Help Needed With an AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF Lens. And some insightful comments, questions, and answers …

  • avatar Mike

    You’re welcome. Great discussion

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Mike, David, Therese, and Krishna.

    with love, artie

  • Artie, I heard about RAW digger and other RAW programs. I use Fast Raw Viewer to render the RAW instead of Camera JPEG. I like it. I do not like to have Whites in my RAW close to 254 etc.

    All valid points..

    Thanks for sharing.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      HI John, Both Krishna — who is a great friend — and I, understand the theory and everything that you say above quite well. Our choice is to leave a bit of room to the right, not to have our WHITEs in the low 250s. I keep saying the same thing: I do not like having to pull back the WHITE RGB values 10-20 points because it is difficult to maximize the detail and I at least am not happy with the look of the WHITEs. As with most all of yesterday’s posted images.

      I you want to capture with your WHITE RGBs in the low 250s I am fine with that. But your saying the same thing over and over will not change the way I do it 🙂

      with love, artie

  • avatar Therese Scheller

    As far as how one works their images I find it to be less scientific and more about what someone likes, similar to how an artist works. There is no one way to do things. When it comes to you and your treatment of whites I am always blown away and strive to have the same careful approach. Thank for the inspiration and the many great lessons.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and thanks for sharing all of this. I find auto ISO gets me into areas that I can’t handle. I feel totally out of control when I try it and so far haven’t ever got acceptable results. So I no longer use it. I use Av (aperture priority) with or without EC, or manual mode for most of my photography. If I’m trying to make pleasing blurs, I use your technique as best as I remember it (Tv = shutter priority at around 1/13, with whatever ISO seems to work best in the conditions).

    I don’t like any of today’s images. 🙂

    My favorite from yesterday is the snowy egret.

  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Hi Artie,

    As you and I have discussed in the past, I like auto ISO in manual mode (I can set shutter speed, depth of field, and EC with 1dx). You are correct that it is difficult in changing light conditions and should be used with caution. Also, auto iso is not practical unless your camera allows EC with those settings. Many cameras don’t.

    Thanks for all the great info,


  • avatar Jim Howell

    Thank you so much for your answer to my question. I have the original Art of Bird Photography and will certainly review and try to learn the information there. This was a case where I had used the approach before and apparently with total luck – it worked – not the greatest – but enough that I thought with more practice . . . Back to basics! Thank you.