Gear Stuff & My Comments on the Squabbling Eagle Images « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Gear Stuff & My Comments on the Squabbling Eagle Images

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This image was made from the boat near Homer, AK with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 185mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. 7:05 pm. Evaluative metering +1 stop off the blue sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/5 in Manual mode.

I am down to 1250 images from the Homer trip. After the next edit I should be well below 500. I probably created more than 7,000 images during my 12 days of photography. I found this one sort of by accident. I love the soft, low angled light. I love the sweeping wing positions and the way that the bird is angled towards us. There is one thing that I do not like about the image. Only one…. If you think you know what it is, do feel free to post a comment.


Sorry about the mis-fire earlier today. I accidentally hit Publish instead of Preview and that mistake was followed by a comedy of errors :). All is now well with the world.

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #368

BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #368 is on line and can be viewed here.



The great stuff, above, plus 13 really good images, eight of those mine with our legendary BAA educational captions. Be sure to see the news about the Homer IPTs and the single opening on this summer’s Galapagos Photo Cruise.


I swear, I must answer 50 e-mails a week from folks asking questions about photographic gear, mostly about lenses. Below are two.

Here is an e-mail exchange with Nancy Bell:

AM: Howdy, re:

NB: I just want to say thank you and THANK YOU!!!


NB: I just purchased the Digital Basics PDF and the Mark IV users guide. Your teaching and writing skills have provided super-valuable information that NOBODY else provides. I have learned more from these two guides than I have from reading manuals that seem way too general and do not provide the nitty-gritty details for using either the camera in the field or Photoshop. Thank you for putting in your time and talent into producing these and your other great guides. You are a generous man and I am grateful to have spent time with you last year on the SW Florida IPT. I enjoy learning from your blogs and the abundant information provided by all on BPN.

AM: Thank you for your kind and supportive words.

NB: Now just a quick question.

AM: Ah, so you were just buttering me up 🙂

NB: I have the 400 DO lens and now the Mark IV (yeah!), as well as the older 70-200 f2.8 IS L lens and the old 1.4 II teleconverter. Could you recommend adding the new 2x III teleconverter to this setup? I have always heard that a 2X degrades the image substantially and of course, uses 2 stops of light. At $500 I only want to add a very useful piece of equipment.

AM: Have you seen the images on the blog made with the 70-200 and the 2X III TC? They are amazingly sharp. Do know that I have been using and making professionally sharp images with 2X teleconverters with my f/4 super-telephoto lenses for close to a decade. Yes, the images made with any TC are not as sharp as images made with the prime lenses alone but they are so sharp to start with that with good technique most folks should be able to create critically sharp images with either the 500 or 600 f/4L IS, the 2X II or III TC, and any pro body. Period. That said, the 2XIII is only marginally sharper than the 2X II. And the two 1.4X TCs are about the same as far as sharpness. As I have been saying for many months, the biggest advantages with the Series III TCs will likely be seen when they are used with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses. The availability of the new lens will surely be delayed substantially by the recent tragedy in Japan. I love my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with the 2XIII so much that will be selling my 400 DO very soon. The only thing that I will miss is the 400 DO with the 1.4X TC…. See the mockingbird image and related comments here. It pays to subscribe to the blog and enjoy tons of great free info 🙂 later and love, artie

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This is another 2nd pick that I have come to like a lot. It was created from the boat near Homer, AK with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 222mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. 7:05 pm. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the white sky: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode.

To soften the look of the snow covered mountain-side at the bottom of the frame I created a Quick Mask and applied about a 20 pixel Gaussian blur.

And another with Brenda:

AM: Hi Brenda, re:

B: I am a long time reader and occasional purchaser of items from your site. I really enjoy your blog and the Bulletins. I live in Galveston, Texas. My main photographic interest is birds. My current equipment consists of a canon 50D, a recently-ordered Canon 7D, a Canon 100-400mm, a 400mm/5.6, a 24-70L/2.8 and a Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM UD. The lens that stays on my camera the most is the 400/5.6. I have been reading the excellent reviews of the new Canon 70-200 and 2x teleconverter combo and was thinking of purchasing one and selling my 100-400mm.

AM: Given that you own the 400 f/5.6, the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II would be a great choice… Heck, with the 2X you could even think of selling the 400 f/5.6 though it is a bit lighter… And you would have IS.

B: I think that the IS would help. I do not currently own any teleconverters. If I purchase a TC should I buy the new version in case I buy a new 500mm in the future.
AM: Only if you can realistically afford the new Series II 500mm.

B: I love shooting birds in flight and I have great opportunities to photography migrating warblers. Much of the time the 400 f/5.6L Is too much lens for the breeding birds at the High Island rookery but is not long enough for the warblers. I am hoping that the 7D will allow me to make tighter crops. I have not used the 7D yet.

AM: In my opinion you would much be better off with a 500mm lens and a 1.4X TC for the warblers. As more pixels are stuffed onto a small sensor, image quality begins to suffer as the pixels are smaller (in this case 4.7 microns for the 50D as compared to 4.3 microns for the 7D). So you would not gain very much if anything by cropping 7D images….

B: I have an upcoming June trip to Alaska.

AM: Have a great trip. I hope that my comments helped a bit 🙂

My Comments

Though I liked both of the two squabbling eagle images here, I felt that the top image, the one with the right wing of the juvenile clipped in the middle of the primaries, was the stronger by far. I like that we have a clear view of the young bird’s face and I like the fact that the adult is looking at the young bird rather than at the fish they were fighting over. The final tally was 10-6 in favor of the top image, the one with the clipped wing. (I did not count Clear Ken’s vote as he posted that he was clearly confused :)) Do not that I am fine with the wing which has actually been cut rather than clipped. I often teach, “Cut don’t clip.” And that is just what I did with the top image. Had I zoomed wider the image would have lost a ton of its impact.

Note: the folks who liked the bottom image best were not “wrong.” Everyone did a fine job of making the case for the image that they chose. And there were lots of things about the bottom image that I liked. A lot.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear (or the current replacement) that I used to create the images 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. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon 2X III teleconverter. I use this with both the 70-200 and with the 800 (the latter while focusing in Live View as described in our Mark IV User’s Guide).
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

10 comments to Gear Stuff & My Comments on the Squabbling Eagle Images

  • That wing bothered me at first but the more I looked at it the more I liked the idea of a battle scarred wing. It creates a story behind the picture, and becomes impressive instead of annoying.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    ps to Giovanni: in part, you answered your own question. How could I have created the image at 222mm with just the 70-200?

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Giovanni. I think that I have answered that question recently 🙂 I will try to remember it for a future post. Yes, for this given image I could have used the 70-200 alone and created a slightly sharper image. But in this given situation, I was often working at 230mm, 250mm, and 280 mm from one moment to the next. So I stick with the TC to give me the reach when I need it. And it is the same story when I work with the 70-200 and the 2X III TC; at times I need the extra reach.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Clear Ken, We are finally on the same page. Overall the plumage is worn much but the missing/broken primaries in the near wing are what bugged me. As you said, I did my best. And I still like the image for the reasons I mentioned.

  • giovanni

    Hello Arthur
    the shoot are very impressive also if I prefer the first because there is also the water and it is make better the composition.
    About the lens why you used 70/200 plus 1,4 ?
    I saw that the shoot was made about 200 mm (185/222) and it is to have more facility using a short lens? Could better 100/400 ?

  • What disappoints me about the shot and it is nothing to do with the photographer, but the eagles wings look like they need a retrofit, they look like they have been in a few battles and are the worst for wear, but since that can’t change, the other part of the photo that is a problem if there has to be a problem is that his claws are together and would look better stretched more. Like in a portrait the way one likes to have the fingers curl to a degree not tight together or wirely stretched out. But those are uncontrolable specs but probably just wait for his brother or sister to come along, hopefully of a year or two younger and their body is in better repair – But the eagles are really beautiful birds – it is a beautiful photo

  • I don’t like the band of white cloud that keeps pulling my eye away from the eagle.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Morris, Ah, different strokes. For me the soft white clouds add tremendously to the image. They are not bright enough to be distracting (to me), they balance the composition perfectly, and yes, they help to move the viewer’s eye around the frame. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure 🙂

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi Carol, Those reflections can be alluring. But as you can see upon close examination, they fade quickly as they get farther from the bird’s body…. Pretty soon they become distracting for me. I actually cropped a bit from the bottom. I did make a few vertical with complete reflections. I will see if I can dig up the best one.

  • I love the both shots, but personally I keep wishing I could see a bit more of the ripply reflection on that first image. I don’t know whether anyone else would look at it that way or not; maybe it’s just me.