- Bosque Report/IPTs and Otherwise
- The 600II/2X II TC/1D X Combo for Flight and Action
- The Animated GIF
- The Animated GIF MP-4 Photoshop Video Tutorial
- BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition
- 2014 Tanzania Summer Safari
- Flight Plan
- Used Canon 800mm f/5/6L IS Lens for Sale
- The 2014 Bosque IPTS Announced
- Affiliate Links
- IPT INFO
This image was created on November 27 on the BAA Bosque IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode.
Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the breast of the young bird active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
With the 1D X the responsiveness of AF with the 2X III TC and an f/4 Series II super-telephoto lens is quite amazing. I lucked out here with the pleasing arrangement of the three supporting actors….
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Bosque Report/IPTs and Otherwise
As blog subscribers and regular readers already know, Bosque was–despite the total lack of the hoped for south winds, and the absence of the much sought-after fire-in-the-mist conditions (note: few folks know what to look for or where to look)–simply superb. When I arrived it was obvious that despite the Federal Government shutdown, the staff and volunteers had done a great job of getting the refuge ready for the wintering geese and cranes, for the Festival of the Cranes, for the Thanksgiving crush of visitors, and for the hordes of photographers traveling to New Mexico to enjoy some great photography.
For me, the best news was that new refuge manager Kevin Cobble and Deputy manager Aaron Mize were anxious to restore Bosque to its former role as one of the Crown Jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System–for both photographers and the general viewing public. See “Attempted Murder” for details on this new stance.
I co-led Denise Ippolito’s A Creative Adventure Workshop (11/21-25) with her. She had a great group of truly nice folks who were truly eager to learn. It was a strange few days at Bosque with no blue skies. The unfortunate seemingly ever-present north winds however are typical. The seemingly endless huge Snow Goose blast-offs provided tons to photograph. And the group was blessed with the amazing snow day when Denise and I stayed at the refuge for nearly 12 hours…. See the full story on the blog in “Beyond Spectacular Part I” and in “Using All the Clubs in your Bag at Bosque: Beyond Spectacular Part II.”
And if you missed it, be sure to see the amazing blast-off 5D Mark III video in the “You Gotta See This: First Ever Published BAA Video & Catching Up” blog post.
This image of a Sandhill Crane carrying a scavenged mouse carcass was created on the snow day on Denise’s workshop after denise alerted the group to the action. I used the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/5000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.
Central sensor Surround/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF on the forward part of the bird’s back was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the new version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Between the end of denise’s group and the start of the Short Version Bosque IPT we spent several days with private client Richard Cornelius. Richard’s longest lens when we began was the relatively new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens. He would have been stuck with only his Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens but for the generosity of Chris Klapheke. Chris was headed home the next day and offered to loan Richard his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR lens (a bargain at half the price at only $ 17,896.95. No strings attached. Worried about damaging the lens Richard did not say yes right off the bat but eventually, with prodding by me, came to his senses. He handled the lens safely and loved using it. Talk about a free upgrade!
This image was created at 8:30am on Day 2 of the Short Version IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering probably -2 stops as framed: 1/3200 sec. at f/14 in Manual mode.
Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the sky just above the goose’s neck active at the moment of exposure. Since I had acquired focus properly and panned with the bird, the sensor below the central sensor took over and AF-tracked the bird accurately. The sharp image above was the result. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
To create this image I looked for a high flying goose in the vicinity of the hazy but quite bright sun. A sort of 11am silhouette. I showed the technique to Richard and others but it was a tough one to pull off. As always, I was looking to create something different. It was great to succeed. Again, with the 1D X the responsiveness of AF with the 2X III TC and an f/4 Series II super-telephoto lens is quite amazing. To see what happens when you do not properly acquire and do not pan along with the subject see the “Near Perfection Equals Total Failure” blog post of December 9, 2013.
To see other images from that morning and learn a ton see the “Multi-Subject Flight Photography Tips and a Primer On Exposing for Whites in Bright Sun” blog post of December 8, 2013.
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The Short Version Bosque IPT
Multiple IPT veteran and dear friend Jim Heupel assisted denise and me on the short version IPT. Newcomers Dax Tobin, Barbara Muench, Carl Meisel (who knew my aunt, my uncle, and my cousin Stanley back in Brooklyn 50 years ago–all were no-relation Meisels and all are long dead, Edith and Ernie from drinking, Stanley from smoking his way to lung cancer), and Carl’s present day friend, the always smiling Howard Fuhr. They joined IPT veterans Hany Aziz and Billy Wingfield. Two others were forced to cancel at the last minute. Dax, Barbara, Carl, and Howard were all eager to learn and all were perfect Happy Campers. Barbara had never photographed birds before; Dax was an experienced sports photographer who had done some birds. Carl and Howard had both been photographing birds for some time. Learning to expose to the right while avoiding significant blinkies on the subject was a welcome revelation for all of the new folks.
The weather was more typical with lots of sun and mostly clear skies. We did have some nice color for the morning fly-in/fly-outs but for the most part the morning NW winds and blue skies hurt us; wind against sun conditions are always difficult. The huge plus was that the north winds helped us at sunset at the crane pools where we had some spectacular opportunities. I will cherish the memory of Richard, Billy, Dax, denise and I sitting at the edge of the pond photographing the incoming cranes against blazingly colorful skies. You can see some of the great images at “The Exact Right Place at the Right Time: Give Me a Good 26 Minutes and 34 Seconds” post. We finished a great workshop off in fitting fashion with a spectacular sunset as detailed in “A Fitting Ending/Short Zoom Lens Tips.”
This image was created on November 28 on the BAA Bosque IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode.
Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the side of the upper breast of the bird active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
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The 600II/2X II TC/1D X Combo for Flight and Action
I have long used one of the 600mm (or 500mm) f/4 L IS lenses with a 2X TC to create portraits of static subjects. Recently, I have begun using the 600mm f/4L IS II with the 2X III TC and the Canon EOS-1D X to create images of birds in flight and in action. This application has become somewhat of a revelation for me, a revelation that crystallized for me when I reviewed the images that I created on the mornings of November 27th and 28th, 2013. On both of these clear mornings more than a few cranes remained in the far part of the crane pool so I replaced the 1.4X III TC with the 2X III and fired away at anything that moved.
I was somewhat astounded by the results. Being limited to Central Sensor (by necessity) Expand AF means that you will often need to execute a central sensor crop (from behind and perhaps from below) when photographing birds in flight. An option–when possible–is to use techniques from APTATS II to move the bird back in the frame. That is what I did here. Please see the animated GIF immediately below.
So why the change? There are several factors. #1 is almost surely the fact that the 2X III (and the 1.4X III) teleconverters actually do a better job of communicating with the Series II Super-telephoto lenses. From an old blog post entitled “Series III EF Teleconverter Misconceptions…” here:
“Extenders EF 1.4X III and EF 2X III have been newly developed in conjunction with the new Series II Image Stabilizer EF super-telephoto lenses. They can also be used with all previously announced extender-compatible EF lenses, but maximum performance is achieved when they are used with the new 300mm, 400mm, 500mm and 600mm lenses. The following sections provide more detailed information.”
The above is from an info-packed article by Chuck Westfall here.
I have learned that the two new TCs each have a micro-computer that will be able to communicate only with the four new super-telephoto lenses and that more accurate focus tracking (and possibly improved speed of initial focusing acquisition) will only be there with the four new lenses. There will be improvement in image quality with all of the older compatible lenses but they will be marginal; again, see more in Chuck’s article here.
Back to the present. Again, it has recently become clear to me that more accurate focus tracking and faster speed of initial focusing acquisition are indeed real. Throw in the powerful battery of the 1D X that is better able to drive the focusing mechanism and you now have a deadly combination for photographing birds in flight and birds and wildlife in action.
#2: By working at f/10, f/11 or f/13 I am able to produce images that are noticeably sharper than the already sharp images created at f/8 (wide open) of at f/9.
#3: Using the pre-focusing and bump the focus techniques detailed in Jim Neiger’s great eGuide, “Flight Plan” has allowed me to considerably increase the percentage of sharp flight and action images created with the 600II/2X II TC/1D X combination. See below for Flight Plan details.
If you were inspired to purchase a 600II, one of the lenses above, or either Series III TC as a result of what you learned here, please consider using one of our product-specific B&H links or starting your Amazon search with one of the logo links here. Many tanks!
The Animated GIF
In the animated GIF above you can see that I moved the bird back in the frame and did some extensive image clean-up. The former using techniques detailed in APTATS II, the latter using a series of Quick Masks (as described in APTATS I) and the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Tool, Content Aware Fill, the Clone Stamp Tool, and my NIK 50-50 pre-set Tonal Contrast/Detail Extractor filter (on the bird only using a Hide-All Layer Mask all as described in detail in our in Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, several different ways to expand canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, image clean-up techniques, Digital Eye Doctor, and tons more.
In retrospect, I believe that I should have moved the tumble-weed to the right rather than eliminating it. What do you think?
The Animated GIF MP-4 Photoshop Video Tutorial: $4.00
Over the past few months I have received many e-mails asking how I create the Animated GIF files that grace many blog posts and Bulletins. Many folks know how to create animated GIFs of poor quality. Yesterday morning I created a new MP-4 Photoshop Tutorial Video that covers how to create a high quality animated GIF and tips on using the Text Tool to type on images. It is available in the BAA Online Store for only $4.00 by clicking here. See here for the current video tutorial library.
Last Year’s Grand Prize winning image by Lou Coetzer
BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition
Time is Running Out! The December 31, 2013 closing deadline is fast approaching.
Learn more and enter the BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition here. Twenty-five great prizes including the $1000 Grand Prize and intense competition. Bring your best.
This Serval image was also created from the the open window of our safari van on the Tanzania Summer Safari last August with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the internal TC in place at 560mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed in Av Mode: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6.
On sensor up and to the right of the central sensor/AI Servo/Surround–Rear Focus AF on the cat’s nose active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
We had two great sessions with these usually nocturnal and secretive cats on last summer’s safari.
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2014 Tanzania Summer Safari
If you are interested in joining us in Tanzania next summer please shoot me an e-mail and I will be glad to forward you the PDF with dates, itinerary, and price.
I can say without a doubt that after spending more than two months (part time) editing Jim Neiger’s great e-Guide, Flight Plan, that my flight photography has improved by leaps and bound whether I am working off a tripod or hand holding. His explanation of the bumping the focus technique finally sunk in. Learning to use this technique regularly is a huge help for any all types of flight photography.
This image was created on December 2 on the BAA Bosque IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop in hazy sun: 1/1600 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.
Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the right side of the goose where the wing meets the body active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The bird was moved down and left in the frame using techniques from APTATS II.
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Great Buy: Used Canon 800mm f/5/6L IS Lens for Sale
Friend and multiple IPT-veteran Monte Brown is offering his lightly used Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens in excellent condition for sale for $9,500. Purchase includes the lens case and hood, the 4th Generation Design Low Foot, the original foot, a LensCoat, the original invoice and the original Canon shipping carton. The lens was purchased new from B&H in April 2009 and was recently underwent a pre-sale clean and check by Canon. The buyer pays insured shipping via UPS Ground to US addresses only. The lens will be shipped only after your check clears.
The Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens sells new for $13,223.00 so you will save a bundle on a great lens. No need to ever use a 2X…
If interested you can contact Monte by phone at 1-765-744-1421 or via e-mail.
This image was created at Bosque del Apache NWR in San Antonio, New Mexico, on our great day in the snow with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (at 200mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body ISO 100. Evaluative metering +2 stops as framed: 1/15 sec. at f/13 in Manual mode with the Hoya 77mm Neutral Density (ND) 0.9 (3-stop) Pro 1 Digital Multi-Coated Glass Filter
Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus/Suround AF as framed active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger version.
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The 2014 Bosque IPTS Announced
Click here for complete details.
Join Denise Ippolito and me for four great days of photography and learning at one of our soul places. Please click on the card to enjoy a larger version.
Here are the basics:
Bosque del Apache 2014 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). NOV 29-DEC 3, 2014. Totaling 4 FULL-DAYS: $1449. Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/29.
Join Denise Ippolito and me for two great days of photography, fun, and learning at one of our soul places. We will surely be taking you out of the box on this workshop. Please click on the card to enjoy a larger version.
Bosque del Apache 2014 A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART “Creative Photography Instructional Photo-Tour.” (IPT). NOV 24-25, 2014. 2-FULL DAYS: $729. Leaders: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/23.
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Many of our great trips are filling up. See especially info on the South Florida, Holland, and Nickerson Beach IPTs. Two great leaders ensure that you will receive individual attention, have all of your questions answered, and learn a ton including how to think like a pro, see the situation, and get the right exposure every time. In addition you will have fun, and make lots of great images. Click here for IPT details and general information.