Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II/1.4X III Composite Flight Pano « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II/1.4X III Composite Flight Pano

This image was created from five images made with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III teleconverter and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop off the blue sky 35 degrees up from the horizon: 1/2500 at f/5.6.

To see a spectacular 1400 wide pixel version of this image, click on the image and give it a few seconds to load. To close the larger image and continue reading, simply click on the larger version.

Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II/1.4X III Composite Flight Pano

One of the most important things that folks learn on an IPT is how to recognize a good situation. Not only is that something that I have learned to do very well over the past 28 years but it is something that I share with my groups at every opportunity. Black Vultures and cormorants spend lots of time on the roof of the shelter at the spot where the main boardwalk at Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park turns back towards the Royal Palm Visitor’s Center. (Note: not all professional photographers are proficient at recognizing a good situation; there was another supposedly competent tour leader who arrived at the rain shelter before we did two days running yet chose to stand with his group under the shelter to keep them “out of the sun.” I guess that you get what you pay for….)

In any case, many of the folks in the Canon group enjoyed some great chances two days running whenever a bird would land on the roof of the shelter. The first morning the wind was from the east northeast and the second morning it was from the east southeast. Both of those are good flight photography winds in the morning with the sun rising in the east. The first image, the one on the left, was created with the lens zoomed to 170mm. With the next four I had zoomed out a bit; all of those were created at 165mm.

Note: The very first frame (not seen here) in this seven frame sequence was–possibly due to operator error, not in focus. The fifth frame in the sequence (also not see here) was sharp but I chose not to include it as the pose was less then ideal. I have written that initial focusing acquisition with the 70-200 II and any teleconverter is not blazingly fast but that once focus is attained the tracking accuracy is usually excellent. This sequence illustrates both of those points nicely.

After converting the five RAW files in ACR I optimized each image individually in Photoshop CS-5. I did some Eye Doctor work on each frame and selectively “sharpened” the head of each bird with a contrast mask (Unsharp Mask at 15/65/0). Then I created a canvas that was 85 inches long by 12 inches high; this gave me a bit of room to play with both from side to side and up and down. As you can see, I placed each bird a bit lower in the frame (going from left to right). I used the Clone Stamp Tool to fill in the empty areas of the pano (top and bottom).

Then I started on the left with Layers 1 & 2 and matched the tonality of the blue portions of sky by using the up and down arrow keys after hitting Control M (Curves on a Layer). Then I continued in the same vein all the way down the line. Next I used Tim Grey Dodge and Burn to lighten the darker underwing areas of two of the birds. The last and most difficult part of the process was blending the clouds in adjacent frames. I used the Patch Tool to do pretty much all of that work.

I am quite proud of the final result. 🙂

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 2XIII teleconverter.
Canon EF 2X III TC. It seems that the new 2X (the EF 2X III) is noticeably sharper than the old one (the EF 2X II).
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. And this is the very best professional digital camera body that I have even used..

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. Fast and dependable.

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.

12 comments to Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II/1.4X III Composite Flight Pano

  • Beautiful Artie! Always an inspiration.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hey Gang, I have been thinking hard about all the backwards comments and finally get it 🙂 When I have some time, I will redo the image as many of you suggested.

    Thanks all for dropping by.

  • Hi Artie, I love all your stuff and usually manage to follow all of your thoughts and explanations however, in this case I have to agree with the previous bloggers regarding the sequence of the images. If the bird is landing, and coming in from right to left, surely it should get lower as it progresses across the image from right to left. If you reposition the images so that the first one is higher on the right and the rest follow in sequence, gradually getting lower then you will get a more natural progression.
    Keep up the good work.
    Andy Gregory

  • Alfredo

    i understand about the 35°, it would be a diagonal line. but where in that diagonal line, few inches aover the horizon or 200 over it?
    i dont know if you understand me.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Alfredo, When I write, “meter off the blue sky 35 degrees up from the horizon,” the horizon is 0 degrees. Directly overhead is 90 degrees. So 35 degrees up from the horizon is about 1/3 of the way up from the horizon to directly overhead. Got it?

  • Claudio

    Unless of course it was one of that rare species that lands backwards 🙂

  • Claudio

    I think Peter is right. It is clearly a landing sequence..head angle of the bird and positioning of the feet would indicate so. However the direction it is flying and the positioning in the frame (going up ) appear at odds. While it is a nice panorama it still leaves the impression that something is not quite right.

  • Alfredo

    Hey Artie,
    first of all i love your webpage and blogs, and your books (currently hhave the DigBas and ABPII)
    Theres one think i dont understand,
    what do you mean when you said that you metered 35° of the horizon??
    if you could explain me that, it would be awesome,
    Thanks a lot,

  • I’m sorry I was unclear. What I meant was that there is a mismatch in direction: we English readers expect a left-to-right time sequence, but the bird is flying right-to-left. Hank suggested resolving the mismatch by having time go right-to-left, matching the bird. What I was trying to say was to keep the left-to-right ordering of frames, but create a mirror image (flip horizontal) of each individual frame so that the bird is flying left-to-right,.

  • I believe what Peter is saying is that he would have reversed the order of the images. If the bird was flying right to left, then it makes sense spatially for image #1 to appear on the far right of the image. Image #2 would be to the left of that and so on, the final image appearing on the left hand side of the image. I had the same initial thought as Peter. In my landscape panos, I usually shoot left to right, and stitch the images that way. However in this case, I probably would have stitched right to left, so that the viewer can see the bird seem to fly in sequence from the right of the image over to the left.

    That said, it is a great sequence!

  • It is a beautiful piece of work, and thanks for sharing all the techniques. One question though: it is easy to read as a sequence evolving in time left to right, and the bird is going down in the frame, showing that it is a landing, but would it have been more effective if you had flipped each individual frame left-to-right first, so that in the fiinal image the flight would seem to go forwards, not backwards?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Peter, Thanks for stopping by. I am unsure that I understand your comment….. The bird was flying from my right to my left so that is how I constructed the image…. It seems to make sense to my brain that way….