May 22nd, 2015


  • A Comparison: The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II with TCs versus the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
  • DPP 4 Educational Screen Capture
  • The DPP 4 eGuide
  • The 7D Mark II User’s Guide
  • Used Photography Gear for Sale
  • South Georgia October 2015
  • BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) Info
  • Your Help Needed and Appreciated/Affiliate Stuff


This image was created at Stromness Harbor, South Georgia with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/3200 sec. at f/4.5 in Av mode.

Center Zone/Rear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding) and selected an array of five AF points that resulted in a sharp-on-the-eye image. (See same below in the DPP 4 screen capture.) Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

As regular readers know I have been experimenting more and more with Zone AF when photographing action (other than flight) in recent months and been liking the results. For flight I almost always go with center AF point shutter button Expand AF.

Brown Skua flapping

A Comparison: The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM with TCs versus the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Everyone who visits here even sporadically knows how much I love the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, especially when it is paired with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. This relatively lightweight combination offers great reach, can be used effectively with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, creates high quality image files, focuses to less than one meter (3.2 feet), and offers great focal length versatility. Not to mention that the 100-400 II is a great flight lens whether paired with a 7D II or a 1D X .

But. I still own the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. I travel with it often and use it frequently. The questions are when and why?

When working with tame birds in very low light conditions I will always go with the faster 70-200 II if it is available. Working at f/2.8 saves you two stops of ISO as compared to working at f/5.6. Whatever the camera I would far prefer working at iSO 800 to working with ISO 3200…. And of course working with wider apertures allows for the faster shutter speeds, a huge advantage when photographing birds; note the 1/3200 sec. shutter speed used to create today’s featured image (that with the 1.4X II TC in place….) Even when working with the 70-200 II/1.4X III you still gain one stop of ISO or one stop of shutter speed, take your pick.

The 100-400 II will be at home on the shelf for the upcoming Palouse IPTs while the 70-200 II will be used every day for scenic and Urbex (Barn-ex?) photography. The extra 30mm on the short end comes in plenty handy. Do know that on Wednesday of this week I shipped my Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender to our hotel in eastern Washington where I will use it when I need additional reach, often to create both sharp and pleasingly blurred images of the gorgeous tapestries of farm fields. (See A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by Denise Ippolito and yours truly here.)

Simply put, though there is considerable overlap (don’t forget that you can also go with the 70-200/2X III TC), it pays for me to own both the 100-400mm L IS II and the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.


This is a DPP 4 screen capture showing the edit Image window.

The DPP 4 Screen Capture

Note first the illuminated AF points; Zone AF did a great job here. Next, note that I moved the Shadow slight to +1 while adjusting the Highlight slider to -2. The former to open up the dark tones just a bit, the latter to restore detail to the WHITE in the primaries.

Exposure Question

The WHITEs opened in DPP 4 with RGB values in the mid-240s, about ten points higher than I usually prefer. Why did I push the exposure so far to the right with this image?


You can order your copy of “The Photographers’ Guide to Canon Digital Photo Professional 4.0” (aka the DPP 4 Raw Conversion eGuide) by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris by clicking here.

The DPP 4 eGuide (PDF)

The Ideal Companion to the 7D Mark II User’s Guide

Learn how and why I and many other discerning photographers choose and use only DPP 4 to convert their Canon RAW files in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. The latest version supports all of the newer Canon camera bodies and several older models including the EOS-7D and the EOS-1D Mark IV. A free update that will cover most of the newly added cameras will be sent as soon as I get it from Arash.


You can purchase your copy of the The 7D Mark II User’s Guide in the BAA Online Store here for $59.

7D Mark II User’s Guide

You can purchase your copy right now in the BAA Online Store here for $59. Or call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 and place a phone order. This is the highest priced user’s guide ever, surpassing the 5D II User’s Guide that is priced at $50. Why? I did twice as much work preparing the 7D II Guide. It required many days of writing, many dozens of hours of study and research, not to mention hundreds of hours in the field trying to figure out the best 7D II setting while doing what I love to do best, photographing birds and nature. The camera is quite complex. Many thanks to both Rudy Winston and Chuck Westfall of Canon USA for their help in getting me through the stickiest parts.

The guide contains 23,196 words in 516 paragraphs. There are 24 photos and screen captures interspersed in the main body of the text and a gallery of 23 additional 7D II images that show what the camera is capable of with a variety of lens and lens/TC combinations. We would love your feedback.

The Great Strength of the 7D Mark II User’s Guide

The very great strength of the 7D Mark II User’s Guide is the coverage of the autofocus system. I review in detail all of the items on the five pink AF Menus. Most important of these is the Custom Case setting (at AF 1) that I have developed over time and currently use for all of my bird photography. On the recently concluded Hooptie Deux Spoonbills and more IPT John Johnson of Naples, FL mentioned that he was having trouble producing sharp flight images. I set up my Custom Case on his camera, and within minutes he was amazed at the sharp results that he was getting…. While skill, strength, fine motor control, and superior hand eye coordination are all factors that will influence your success as a flight photographer, you can have all of the preceding in spades but if your camera is not set up properly much of your effort will be in vain….

What Else is in the Guide?

In the 7D Mark II User’s Guide you will learn everything that I know about the important topics listed below, and better yet, I explain the options for each along with my reasons for choosing a specific setting in a specific situation.

Handling the WHITEs
The top LCD and all camera control buttons
7D Mark II drive modes
How to manually select an AF sensor
Choosing an AF Area Selection Mode; how and why (includes extensive detail)
Moving the AF point or Zone
The creation of in-camera Multiple Exposures and in-camera HDR images (includes extensive detail)
Live View Shooting and AF choices (all new in the 7D II)
Menu Item Access
Coverage of almost all Menu Items and Custom Functions including the following: Image Quality, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Lens aberration corrections settings, Highlight Tone Priority, AF Configuration Tool (as above, this includes details on the custom setting that I use), Acceleration/deceleration tracking, Tracking sensitivity, Lens drive when AF impossible, Orientation linked AF point (I love this feature), Highlight alert, Histogram display–do you know how to access both histograms at once?, Auto rotate, Image Jump, LCD Brightness, Info button display options, Custom Shooting Modes set-up, ISO Safety shift, using the Q button, setting up rear focus, and setting up your My Menu feature (among others).

The guide is–of course–written in my informal, easy-to-follow style.

Please note: Some Menu items are not covered in this guide for one of several reasons:

They deal only with the creation of movies (not covered)
They are irrelevant to nature photography.
After spending hours studying the 7D II Instruction Manual and consulting others I have no clue as to the purpose or the reason for the existence of a given feature.

Though I recommend that the irrelevant and confusing items be left at the default settings, I do, in most cases, I refer you to the relevant page in the 7D II Instruction Manual. If you follow up, it just might turn out that you are a lot smarter than me. In those cases I would love to hear from you via e-mail. So far none of the above have prevented me from creating many spectacular images with my 7D II.

Please note that this guide does not contain a table of contents or an index. To search the document for a given topic simply hit Control F to search. When the Find box pops up, simply type the term that you are looking for into the field and hit Next. This will allow you to find what you are looking for quickly and efficiently.

If you purchase the 7D II UG and it helps you to create better images, please feel free to send no more than two 1200 pixel wide or 900 pixel tall sharpened JPEGs to me via e-mail along with your comments. I will be glad to do a short critique if so requested.

Otherwise, feedback via e-mail or blog comment is always appreciated.

Click here and scroll down for a free 7D Mark II User’s Guide AF Point Auto Switching Excerpt.

See the “Many Many Lessons including: why I chose the 300 II/1D X in low light conditions, the 7D II viewfinder level, a short 7D II User’s Guide Viewfinder Display excerpt, adding green (marsh grass) to your images, and why to love hazy sun” blog post here and scroll down for a short excerpt on the 7D II Viewfinder Display.

Used Photography Gear for Sale

There has been lots of action on the Used Photography Gear page here. The following items sold within the past week:

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens sold for $4999 by Jacques Bouvier on May 20, 2015.
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II sold by Carl Zanoni for $1649 on May 19, 2015.
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM sold by Owen Peller for $799 on 5/19/15.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV sold by Gerald Barrack for $1599 in May, 2015.

In addition, a sale is pending on Barbara Garmon’s 7D.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily.

Brand New Listing: this one should sell instantly!

Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Kevin Hice is offering a used Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent plus condition for a lowest-price-ever $4750. The sale includes the LensCoat that has been on it since day one, the lens trunk 300B (with a few insignificant scuffs), the fabric front cover, the rear lens cap, the lens strap, the CD, the original box with everything that came in it, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

This lens is super sharp and great in low light. No scratches or chips on the paint even on the tripod foot.

Please contact Kevin via e-mail or phone at 701 460 6112 (central time).

I own and use the amazing lens often. It is great for hand holding and for flight, with or without either the 1.4X III or the 2X III TC. In all cases it is amazingly sharp in competent hands. Outdoor Photographer editor Rob Sheppard was stunned by the sharpness of my allo-preening Macaroni Penguins image that was created with the 300 II and the 2X III TC.


All of the images on the card were made on South Georgia. This remote wilderness island offers both spectacular scenery and hordes of tame wildlife and birds. From top left clockwise to the center: Southern Elephant Seal, courting King Penguin pair, King Penguin abstract, Grey-headed Albatross, King Penguin rookery on Salisbury Plain, Macaroni Penguin head portrait, King Penguin molting Okum Boy, Macaroni Penguin pair, King Penguin preening, Southern Elephant Seal yawning, the view of Gold Harbour from a Light-mantled Sooty Albatross nest.

Click on the image to see an extra large version.

The Southern Ocean

South Georgia Expedition Voyage

I’ve been blessed. I’ve now made four trips to the Southern Ocean, three expeditions that visited the Falklands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula, and one to the Falklands and South Georgia. Each was a truly amazing experience. South Georgia has been the star of the show each time: rugged snow covered peaks, tame and abundant wildlife including Southern Elephant Seal and Southern Fur Seal, and penguins: more King Penguins than you could ever have dreamed of. Gentoos. And my favorite, the golden-yellow spaghetti-topped Macaronis. With four trips to South Georgi under my belt, I have a pretty good idea about how to make great images at each of the iconic landings. In addition, we should have some pretty good flight photography sessions from the stern of the ship. I would love the chance to share my knowledge with you.

Going Light

On my recent trip, I found myself going with shorter lenses and lighter gear than on any previous Southern Ocean Expedition. In part that was due to the crop factor of the 7D Mark II, in part because going light makes life (and landings!) much easier. I made many landings with just the 7D II and the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. I refined the way that I got my gear safely from ship to shore. Lots more on that here soon.

Cheesemans’ Well Deserved Kudos

I know from personal experience that if you are a photographer who is going to invest in Southern Ocean voyage, you will want to put your money on Cheesemans’. No other tour company goes as far out of their way to ensure making every possible safe landing. And no other tour company will have you spending more time on land. Michael Viljeon from South Africa was aboard the Ortelius on a Southern Oceans voyage that preceded the Cheesemans’ trip that we were both on. As we headed back to Ushuaia, he said, “The folks that ran that first trip were pathetic. Too rough. No landing today. Surf too high today. No landing. Wind wrong direction. No landing. Cheesemans’ routinely and safely gets folks on land in conditions where the leaders of other tour companies do not even bother getting out of their bunks.”

Here, from the” Way to Go CES! (Cheeseman’s Ecology Safaris)” blog post here, is one of my favorite Cheesemans’ stories:

The landing at Bailey Head, Antarctica, was especially rewarding to me as I had been sitting in a zodiac 100 yards off shore on my 2007 trip when the zodiac in front of mine swamped and the captain of the ship called off the landing…. Early that day it looked as if my weather Karma might not be working. Ted’s “Good morning shipmates” was followed by the news that we would not be able to land at Bailey Head that morning as the swell was too big. The beach there is sloped tremendously and the sea strives to pull the zodiacs back into the ocean before folks have gotten off with their gear. Tom Murphy had said to me several days before, “We will get you on the beach at Bailey Head.” Ted concluded his morning greetings by saying, “We are sending out a scout team to see if landing is possible.”

After breakfast I was thrilled to hear Ted’s voice again on the PA, “We will be landing at 8am.” Afterwards folks noted that it was the calmest landing ever at this amazingly beautiful spot. My good weather Karma (courtesy of late-wife Elaine) had come through one last time. Along with St. Andrews Bay, it was one of my two favorite super-great once-in-a-lifetime days of the trip. And we even got to enjoy three additional hours at Hannah Point, Antarctica before calling it a wrap and heading for the feared Drake Passage. All thanks to Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris.

Why Sign Up Through BIRDS AS ART?

If you have been thinking and dreaming of finally visiting South Georgia, this is the trip for you. Quit dreaming and act now. Though I will not be an official leader on this trip, those who have traveled with me know that I cannot help but teach. I will make pre-trip gear recommendations. I will hold informal pre-landing briefings. In the same vein, everyone will receive a free copy of our Antarctica Site Guide once they are paid in full (July 2, 2015). I will be available on the ship to review your images,, answer questions, and conduct informal over-the shoulder Photoshop sessions. And best of all, everyone who signs up under the auspices of BAA are invited to tag along with me on the landings where I will be glad to offer invaluable in-the-field advice. And the same goes for the ship-board birds in flight and marine mammal photography opportunities.

Do join us. To learn how to be part of the BAA group please e-mail me with the words Antarctica/Extended Expedition BAA Info Please cut and pasted into the Subject line.

Important Notes

#1: If you fail to e-mail me as noted directly above, and register directly with CES you MUST let them know that you would like to be part of the BIRDS AS ART group.

#2: Joining the BIRDS AS ART group as above will not cost you one penny.

The Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris South Georgia Expedition Voyage

An in-depth Adventure aboard the Ortelius: October 29 to November 17, 2015

From the CES website:

We are very excited to be able to bring this special in-depth expedition to you. This is a product of years of experience leading voyages to South Georgia and a passion for everything found here. Our itinerary is specifically designed to take advantage of the vibrant early season on South Georgia when snow blankets the mountains and early summer brings special wildlife treats seldom experienced. We will explore vast colonies of King Penguins, elephant seals in their peak of breeding activity, and colonies of Wandering, Gray-headed, Light-mantled, and Black-browed albatross. This cruise allows us many days to explore this truly unique island, the crown jewel of the Antarctic. The landscape filled with expanses of glaciers pouring into the sea provides rare beauty and photogenic impressiveness that words cannot convey. We will enjoy about nine days in the midst of the most beautiful and wildlife-rich island on the planet! Exceptional leadership expertise will enrich your experience throughout the voyage. Our priority on this special expedition is to give you the maximum time possible in the field so you can explore at your own pace during a special time on South Georgia. Come explore South Georgia with us!

I can personally attest to the accuracy of everything above. 🙂

More CES Kudos

From multiple IPT veteran Alan Lillich who (along with wife Pat) was in the BAA group on a 2012 CES voyage with me:

Start with some of the world’s best alpine landscapes, add an overwhelming abundance of tolerant wildlife, and finish with tour operators who put you there and give you the freedom to explore. It doesn’t get any better.


I’d be glad to answer all of your Southern Ocean/Falklands/South Georgia/Antarctica questions. If you would like to join me for an unparalleled wildlife and scenic photography experience, please shoot me an e-mail.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Most BAA IPTs are sold out. There is room on my August Nickerson Beach Skimmer IPT, 3 spots on September’s Bear Catching Salmon IPT, and lots of room on the 2nd Bosque IPT, each of those with two great leaders, Denise Ippolito and yours truly. See complete details by scrolling down here.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. 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 we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. I just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

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

5 comments to BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #475

  • David Peake

    Hi Artie,
    Exposing far to the right gets you better detail and less noise in the shadows which I note are significant on the face and beak.
    You want these to look right after you have opened up the shadows a bit so better exposure here to start with means less work in post and an image easier to optimise.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Are you seeing noise on the face and beak or did you realize that the darkest areas (not really shadows…) were there? artie

      ps: yes, exposing to the right makes your work with the dark tones much easier.

      • David Peake

        It looks like you understood my meaning,somewhat clumsily explained.
        I realised that the face and beak, important areas in the image, are darker than the rest of the image apart from the black on the dorsal wing surface.
        I learnt from an explanation of the zone system that the tones are compressed at the lower end of the curve.
        So moving them to the right during your in camera capture means to start with you will have more detail to work with As you begin to open up the shadows.
        And I think that means you won’t end up with as much noise in the darker areas.
        I am not seeing any noise in the image as it is presented.