Same Photographer, Same Lens. Hard to Believe … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Same Photographer, Same Lens. Hard to Believe ...


We had our fourth great morning with the pelicans. We went back to Santee Lakes in the afternoon and it was worse than the first time we have gone when things were pretty bad compared to prior years …

The 2nd San Diego IPT #2 is now a sell-out and there are three slots left on the Spoonbill Boat IPT. The Master Classes will be announced soon.

The Streak

Today makes one hundred seventy-two days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 90 minutes to prepare including the time spent optimizing the image. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (with extras)

BPN Avian Moderator Arash Hazeghi is offering a Canon 580EXII flash in excellent condition for $200. The sale includes the soft case, stand and manual, and insured Fed Ex groups shipping to continental US addresses only.

Please contact Arash via e-mail.

I own two of these and still use them on occasion. They are more intuitive than the newer 600 EX-RT. artie

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on morning of Thursday, January 18 at La Jolla, CA with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 420mm), and the blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. AWB at 8:29am on a clear morning.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +5.

Upper Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter button AF as framed; the system performed perfectly by activating an array of five AF points on the left side of the bill half way down.

Brown Pelican, Pacific race in pre-breeding plumage, preening individual feather


This gorgeous pelican was quite comfortable with our presence; there were at least five of us from the group photographing it from close range for close to an hour. I was the lowest and this enabled me to be the closest; others were standing and shooting over me. I created lots of head and bill vertical portraits with lovely Pacific-blue backgrounds. Then I decided to get even closer and try some abstract and quasi-abstract stuff. Why did I go super-tight? The bird had a chunk of feathers missing on one side of its forehead. Note that I went with just a bit of extra depth of field: f/10 instead of the wide open f/9. But at point-blank range, this did not make any real difference at all. Note als0 that I am zoomed out a bit here; from 560 to 420mm.

The JPEG here represents the full frame image capture.

Question #1

Does this image need to show the bird’s eye to be successful? Why or why not?

This image was created on late afternoon of Wednesday, January 17 at La Jolla Shores Beach, CA with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 176mm) and my favorite bird-scape photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode. K7500 at 5:11pm with light clouds and fog on the horizon.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: extrapolated to -2.

Five AF points to the right of and two rows down from the center AF point/AI Servo/Surround/Shutter button AF as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below.

Willet foraging in the surf at sunset

Willet Foraging in the Surf at Sunset

When we got to the beach it was 100% foggy. We played around with the gulls and made some nice images. Just as it seemed that the sun might break through two folks left. Those who stayed were rewarded with a pretty decent soft salmon-toned sunset.

Question #2

Which of the two images above do you like best? Why?

Question #3

How would you attempt to level this image?

DPP 4 Screen Capture

Question #4

What was I attempting to do by moving the Shadow slider to -5?

Question #5

Why should I have used Single Point/Manual Selection AF instead of AF (Expand) Surround?

The San Diego Site Guide

Whether you are visiting San Diego for photography for the first time or live in the area and have done the pelicans many dozens of times, you will learn a ton by studying the San Diego Site Guide. Why spend days stumbling around when you can know exactly where and when to be depending on the wind direction and sky conditions? In addition to the pelican primer, there is great info on the best beaches for the gorgeous gulls, on Marbled Godwit, on the lower cliffs, Lesser Scaup, and Wood and Ring-necked Ducks as well.

Learn more or purchase your copy here.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store ๐Ÿ™‚

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

16 comments to Same Photographer, Same Lens. Hard to Believe …

  • Dan

    Why have you switched to shutter button AF after being such a proponent for back button AF for so long?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The main reason is that it is easier to do one thing than two. That change has been in effect for at least several years now.

      with love, artie

  • Neil Hickman

    3. Image is level. If perspective was a problem – should have moved left down the beach to get waves horizontal.
    5. Would the single point AF be more accurate than the extreme corner AF point?

  • Mike Cristina

    I think the wake of the bird is level and that “makes” the image level, literally and figuratively.

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I’m late to the party. On the second (willet) image, it seems to me that there is no totally satisfactory solution. The willet’s wake is level. I accept PhilA’s observation that the horizon is level, but the horizon is so faint that it doesn’t determine the feel of the image with respect to leveling, but the waves do and the willet’s wake does. If you made the waves look level then the willet would seem to be walking downhill, which (a) is impossible and (b) wold be quite disorienting. If you don’t level the image, then the waves look un-level, even if their angle is due only to your angle with respect to them. In other words, their plane isn’t parallel with the plane of the sensor. For me, this issue detracts from the image. On question 5, you wanted the willet to be in focus and you wanted it to be far down and right in the frame to give it space and to include the waves and the sunset in the sky, so you selected that AF point manually.

    I prefer image 1, and I’d like to see it with the eye included. I’m guessing if it had been better that way you’d have included the eye, but I’d still like to see it. But the answer to your question is “no,” because I think it is successful as is.

  • To state a contrary view on the leveling….It may be perspective and I could agree with that if the angle was more pronounced, shot from a more acute angle. But, it appears to me that it’s not level and I believe it detracts from the image.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Ron, The image as presented is level ๐Ÿ™‚ I will let you know how I did and how I know that.

      with love, artie

  • PhilA

    #3 From the horizon it looks level. The waves at an angle look like perspective. Yes?

  • Jake

    Hi Artie,
    1. I love image #1, so no I do not think that the image needs to include the bird’s eye to be successful.
    2. I really like both images, to me it is like comparing apples and oranges. Image #1 is a beautiful clean tight and graphic detail shot whereas image #2 is a beautiful bird in the landscape shot.
    3. Yes, I definitely think that image #2 needs to be levelled. I would try levelling it to make the waves horizontal.
    4. By moving the shadow slider to -5 I think you were trying to darken the bird to increase the contrast with the still water and darken the mountains behind to make them pop out of the sky(without losing details in the highlights as Todd said).
    5. Perhaps when you were using AF surround the AF system was trying to lock onto the contrasty water patterns behind the bird.


  • Question #1…I don’t think the eye is necessary. I think the triangle pattern down the beak, neck and body create a circular pattern that the eye travels around.
    Question #2…I prefer #1. To me, #3 is just an average shot.
    Question #3…I would have used Lightroom crop tool with the level to adjust. I think the bird would be level if the surf was level.
    Question #4…I agree with Todd’s comment. Increase contrast without increasing highlights.
    Question #5…Don’t have an answer for that one.

  • Donnette Largay

    I like first image, but would do a tighter crop at the top. Bring down to where the pelicanโ€™s lower bill line exit top right. Brings focus back to tip of bill.

  • todd bendt


    1. No, the photo has plenty of interest…it’s colorful, contrasty, sharp and it shows a behavior that
    keeps the viewer engaged.
    2. The pelican for the reasons above and it’s more energetic than the peaceful sunset photo.
    3. I think you need to level based on the bird not the surf.
    4. Increase contrast without increasing the highlights?
    5. The movement of the waves could have cause the AF to change the focus?


  • #1 – The eye missing is the beginning of what makes this image so intriguing.

    #2 – I love the super tight of the Pelican. I love the diagonal of the head
    and that ‘pulling’ of that one feather is awesome.

    #3 – When it comes to straightening an image, I’ll just use the crop tool
    and rotate it that way. I don’t use the ruler anymore.