Long Lens Depth-of-Field Question and a TC in the Pacific Tale « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Long Lens Depth-of-Field Question and a TC in the Pacific Story

[Not a valid template]

This handsome pair was photographed at La Jolla, CA on the recently concluded San Diego IPT rather late on a clear morning. I used the hand held Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X II TC (at 270mm), and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400.

Long Lens Depth-of-Field Question and a TC in the Pacific Tale

Here is the question: considering that the Heerman’s Gull (that’s the one in the front :)) was much more sharply rendered than the Brown Pelican in the back, what aperture do you think was used to create the image? Wide open for the combo is f/5.6.

[Not a valid template]

This is the beautiful pelican that sat on the perfect perch well away from the masses. I used the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6. It was photographed at 8:04 am before we were joined by the human masses on the lower shelf. You be the critic; what is the only problem that I have with this image?

BTW, here is a cute lover of what is story from La Jolla. On the morning before the IPT began I was checking out the current pelican situation. I went down to the shelf below while most folks stayed back by the platform so that the pelicans would have room to land on the point. Then I looked up and saw one guy standing up at full height and in plain view behind his tripod. I called up to him, “Excuse me sir. The birds have been very skittish this year. If you sit down or move back there would be a much better chance of the birds landing on the point.” He looked at me as if I were from outer space. I asked, “Do you have a problem with my request?” He said, “Listen Dude, I have been photographing here for 20 years and the birds have no problem with me being here.” I replied politely, “As I said, this year the birds are acting differently.” He stared at me and was obviously not going to back down so I said, “Whatever.”

I had one friend sitting with me. We sat so the birds would fly in and land. The birds refused to land up top because the dude guy was standing in full view so we had dozens of pelicans land right in front of us on the lowest cliff ledge, right into the wind. After about twenty minutes two guys–bored by the lack of birds on the upper cliffs, come down to the lower ledge with their tripods on their shoulders as if they were strolling down the supermarket aisle and were late for dinner. The birds freaked and moved to the lowest part of the cliff pretty much out of sight but for the one gorgeous bird on the perfect knobby rock to the right. I turned around and said, “Easy fellas. You just about scared away every bird.” As my new favorite author Lee Childs writes often, “They said nothing.” Any Jack Reacher fans out there?

In ten more minutes there were about 15 photographers standing behind us enjoying the pelican action. Including my friend the dude guy. At least the rest of the gang came down carefully and quietly. I though about trashing the dude guy by asking him how he could possibly have been wrong in view of his 20 years of experience. But fortunately I refrained.

Why fortunately? As it got hotter, I took off my sweatshirt on laid it beside me. At some point, I laid one of my two 1.4X teleconverters on the sweatshirt and folded the material on top of the TC. Fatal mistake…. For some reason I picked up the sweatshirt. The TC fell out of it and as fate would have it, it landed on its side and rolled inexorably down the cliff towards the Pacific Ocean. There was not even a tiny pebble to stop it. Everyone behind me gasped as it went over the edge. I laughed. It was an old one that had served me well and I would soon be ordering a Series III TC anyway. It was just part of staying in business and I try not to sweat the small stuff. Heck, I try not to sweat the big stuff either. That’s all part of being a lover of what is. (Check out the work of the wonderful Byron Katie at TheWork.com.

[Not a valid template]

This pelican flew by our position after being scared off from landing up above by the folks on the upper level 🙂 Bad for them; good for me. This is the beautiful pelican that sat on the perfect perch well away from the masses. Again I used the hand held Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X II TC (at 285mm), and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6 was a rare error of underexposure by me in the early light of 8:03 am. Not sure how I managed that but both the TIFF and the JPEG here look fine.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X teleconverter.
Canon EF Teleconverter 2X II. This 2X is currently being replaced by the EF 2X III TC.
Canon 800mm f/5.L IS lens Right now this is my all time favorite super-telephoto lens.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera bod.y And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card Fast and depen.

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.

9 comments to Long Lens Depth-of-Field Question and a TC in the Pacific Tale

  • Larry Brown

    My guess is f9.5. The head angle is not quite right. The bird seems to be looking slightly away from the viewer.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    M. Bruce, Why do you think that no one should be allowed beyond the fence in front of the platform?

  • 1. f11
    2. the focal point too centered?

  • Andrew

    A Heermann’s Gull is ~18-~20 inches long. Since the gull’s right foot, which appears stretched back, is fairly sharp, I would say your aperture was f/8 or f/11. I am assuming the gull was about 30 ft. from your sensor when the image was taken. If it was closer than that, your aperture would be more stopped down.

  • M. Bruce

    Interesting “Long Lens Depth-of-Field Question” but first I have to say that I think no one should be allowed beyond the fence in front of that platform – but hey – that’s just me.

    As far as attempting to keep both the Heerman’s and the pelican sharp @ 270mm (looks like they might be 3’ apart) your are going to have to be at least @ f11 and considering that the pelican isn’t sharp, even that might not do it. I guess I would have stopped down as far as conditions allowed. Sound like a question for AA’s “Group f/64”.

    As far as the second picture is concerned – I love it!

  • My first guess on the aperture would have been f11. The only fault I see with the second image is the eye seems to be pointing down – seems disconnected with the viewer. Jack Reacher books? Read ’em all!!

  • Allen

    I’d guess f16 on the first one.

    The eye contact is missing on the 2nd one – his head needs to be turned just a tad towards you (but I like the pouch showing so prominently).

  • For picture 1, I’d guess over f/16, given that you are using an APS-H sensor and have even less DoF, but not knowing the sizes of these birds, I can’t estimate the distance between them.
    For picture 2, it seems the head is turned a few degrees away from us, but I may be wrong.

  • Bill Clausen

    The one of the pelican alone is just an awkward pose. It does not work well in the frame. The neck seems to me to be elongated.

    I guess F11 for the top one.

    Nice story!