Blessed Again… Which is Your Favorite Image? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Blessed Again... Which is Your Favorite Image?

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This dark and light geese blast-off image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV (hand held at 320mm). ISO 50. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/8 sec. at f/16 in Tv Mode. (You can learn to create a great variety of pleasingly blurred images in “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and yours truly.)

Blessed Again…

My visit to Klamath, OR for the Winter Wings Festival has been wonderful. About 175 folks attended my keynote presentation on Saturday evening past and were thrilled hearing “A Bird Photographer’s Story.” They loved both the images and my schtick.

When I signed up for the gig, which was generously sponsored by Canon USA’s Explorer’s of Light program, Leo’s Photo of Klamath, and Pro Photo, I was told that–depending on the weather–there might or might not be any birds around to photograph. Visiting Lower Klamath NWR for the first time on Friday, I was greeted by about 125,000 light and dark geese: Snow and Ross’s, and Canada and White-fronted. The latter, known as speckle-bellies, really added spice to the stew and the massive blast-offs looked quite a bit like salt and pepper.

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This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3 in Tv Mode.

The was snow on the ground on Friday, and on Saturday morning, snow in the air–heavy snow at times. (BTW, the refuge is actually in California as it is located just south of the OR/CA border.) By working in Tv Mode I am quickly and easily able to switch from blurs to sharp simply by rolling the index finger wheel to change the shutter speed. Setting ISO Safety Shift or Auto ISO (as described in our Camera User’s Guides–Mark III, Mark IV, and 7D–makes working in Tv mode a breeze when light and backgrounds are fairly consistent.

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This bird-scape was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 2X III TC, and the EOS-1D Mark IV (hand held at 140mm). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av Mode.

Klamath is indeed a beautiful place, especially with snow on the ground and on the mountains. Tundra Swans winter at the refuge, their numbers increasing as the weather begins to warm a bit in late winter and early spring.

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This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 100. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/30 sec. at f/11 in Tv Mode.

By Sunday morning the number of birds had grown to about 1/4 million. I took ten folks out in a small school bus and we had a front row seat for the most spectacular blast-offs anyone had ever seen.

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This image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/20 sec. at f/29 in Tv Mode.

A nice wind shift found the birds taking off right at us. By any measure, my life had been blessed again in many ways on my visit to Klamath for the Winter Wings Festival. Winter wings indeed!

Which is Your Favorite Image?

Let us know which of the five images here is your favorite, and why.

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 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 dependable.

18 comments to Blessed Again… Which is Your Favorite Image?

  • Mike Damoth

    I like #2 the most. It is definitely “ARTsie”. Thanks for the great show and life story Art. Yes, I was there and really enjoyed everything. Thanks for coming to Klamath Falls! I look forward to when you come again.

  • Terry Olmsted

    I am torn between number 2 and 5. Number 2 has a beautiful impressionistic feel to it because of the snow in the air. Number 5, though is just gorgeous with perfect mix of the snow and soft, slightly blurred, pastel-toned snow geese. So put me down for number 5.

    After having posted in the BPN forums since Jan 2008, it was a delight to hear your talk and to meet you in person! Glad I was able to attend!

  • Art, I had the pleasure of watching your Keynote address last Saturday evening. I enjoyed it immensely! Mostly because you stayed away from the “shop talk” Apertures, ISO’s, Shutter speeds of specific photo’s etc… Blah…Blah…Blah… As a lifelong Artist, Woodcarver, Photographer, etc… I really enjoy the story behind the image and the idea that “observing” your subject is Important, Ernest Seton would be proud. As for the best image…I particularly like #4 above. I can almost hear all those geese!

  • The Tundra Swan is by far my favorite. I love all the horizontal lines in the image which is so well balanced with the water, the birds, the mountain, the clouds, the blue sky – it is a serene image and I would love to be there. The blues “echo” themselves and the puffy white clouds are fantastic.

  • Arsdel Fluesmeier

    I like the swans in the water with the mountains in the background. Has a meaning for me.

  • Michael Henry

    I like #2 the best. To me it is a very nice abstract where I first look at it and like the overall appearance but then get pulled into the details of all of the single geese. I also like the somewhat speckled appearance probably due to falling snow. I have to say I like all five but this is the one that stands out to me.

  • I really like them all, except for #4, which, for me, is difficult to discern what it is. If I didn’t know beforehand it was bird photo, I’m not sure I would figure it out, at least not on my computer screen. Of the other 4, I like #2 best. It has a bizzare-ness that is very interesting, yet it is easily discernible as a photo of birds. Well, I say photo…being new to all of this, it looks more like a painting to me, and, again, if I didn’t beforehand it was a photo, I may very well have thought it was painting. I do agree with the others that #3 is a great, classic, evocative shot.

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  • Odd Johan Lundberg

    Elimination method: 1 and 4 lacks detail to hold the viewers eyes. To busy.
    2 More details and an “anchor” in the lower center diagonal birds. Keeps your eyes within the frame.
    3 The least demanding and/(but?) very good. Reasons mentioned in the other replies.
    5 My favorite. Very good color gradient. Lots of details without being to busy. Energy and “look up” feel mentioned.

  • I’ll have to go with the majority so far and say the birdscape, too. First, the obvious…it combines the birds with the gorgeous shot of the mountain against sky. I love bird photos, and I love landscapes, so it’s a perfect combination.

    Second, the multi-“layer” effect (not Photoshop layer…visual layers) of sky over mountain over flatland over water over swans and under swans is very striking.

    Third, the feeling of COLD, from the coolness of the snow and sky, comes right through the image. I’m in Florida right now where it’s warm and comfy yet I feel like shivering as I’m looking at it.

    Fourth, a long, narrow crop of just the swans would make a great panorama shot.

    This one is far and away my favorite of the group.


  • I really like them all! The last one draws me in because of its energy. The swans on the water shot is a real classic. The second-to-last image is graphically quite intriguing. But I think my favorite is the second image…it has a painterly quality that captures me.

  • Charles Scheffold

    I like 3rd ones, with the swans on the water below the mountains. It gives me a very good feeling of the entire surrounding environment. The others are of course much tighter, more focused views.

  • I liked the birds on the water, 3rd image, best because of clarity of the photo and great background with the hill and beautiful clouds.

  • Alan Lillich

    Before reading the other comments I chose the last one as my favorite because of the sense of the birds heading right at the viewer. Interesting that Jim had the same opinion.

  • The second image just struck me as I scrolled down. The way the snow makes patterns on the wings is lovely and ethereal. Plus a few of the birds are facing the camera with wings fully spread. This is a unique image.

  • Esther Corley

    I, too, like the swans in the water best. To quote Jim Knoy, the image also took me there and I could also feel the cold crisp air. I liked the line of swans with their necks sticking straight up, and the various directions in which they were looking. It seemed a moment frozen in time, to me.

  • I like the swans in the water picture the best. The image took me there. I could feel the cold and smell the crisp air. Of the remaining images, I like the last one the best. The energy of the birds was captured so well that I feel like ducking when I see it. I think the blurring enhanced that sensation.