Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
September 29th, 2020

Jerking the Lens. Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize to the Rescue!

What’s Up?

We headed over early on Monday morning to Sebastian Inlet with hopes of photographing diving Ospreys and Royal Terns catching fish. There was zero action at the inlet, so I did some of the beach wildflowers: Dune Sunflower and Railroad Vine, a lovely purple morning glory. Then we packed up and drove north in the park to do Wood Storks and terns visiting the cast-netting fisherman. We succeeded. Then I found and photographed some perfect pink Seaside Jackbean blossoms near a small fishing pier.

We wound up staying so long that when we finally got to McDonald’s in Vero Beach, I was too late for Breakfast Burritos!

We will be headed down to the lake here at ILE at about 7:30am this morning, Tuesday 29 SEPT 2020. We head over to DeSoto on Wednesday and will be meeting multiple IPT veteran Bill Schneider for two days of private instruction. We head back home midday on Sunday.

Wanted to Buy

I have someone looking to purchase a used Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens. If you have one that you would like to sell, please get in touch via e-mail.

Topaz Stuff

As I said on Sunday and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop). I amazed myself yesterday by completing this guide in the car on the way to and from Sebastian. Huge thanks to Anita for doing the driving. Please include a copy of your Topaz order when requesting the guide.

Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro back in stock!

We received a dozen Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pros via DHL. We ordered twenty … Anita North has been using one and said, “With my weak fingers, the Levered-Clamp is a Godsend.

Via e-mail From Derek Hallum

Thank you so very much Artie! You and Patrick did a spectacular job with the SONY e-Guide and Video. They helped me tremendously! Much love to you and your family. Sincerely, Derek Hallum

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Available

Save $10 Now

The RawDigger e-Guide and Video is almost finished. It will sell for $51.00. If you are anxious to get started with RawDigger, learn to mega-Expose to the Right, and wind up with the highest quality image files, you can save $10.00 and have a chance to review a pre-publication copy of the guide by sending a PayPal for $41.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net with the words RawDigger e-Guide and Video Pre-publication Copy cut and pasted into the Subject line.

You will of course receive a link for the completed PDF when the guide is finished.

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The BAA Used Gear Page

Right now, the Used Gear page is red hot! It is BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list at the bottom of the page.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save 3% on all orders. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.

114 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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 at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, FL on the morning of 21 September 2020. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 640. Exposure was determined via Zebra evaluation with ISO on the rear dial as detailed in The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide and One Camera Set-up Video. 1/2500sec. at f7.1. ABW at 9:18am in mostly sunny conditions. RawDigger showed that the exposure of the RAW file was perfect.

Center Zone Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and worked well. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Sterna Tern diving

Jerking the Lens

This is another image from our mega-feeding spree day at DeSoto. The tern emerged from the water with a small baitfish. When it dropped the fish, the bird headed down after it. Rapidly! To keep the bird in the frame, I jerked the lens forcefully downward. SONY AF kept up, but jerking the lens down so violently caused motion blur (as expected). Note: a faster shutter speed would have helped somewhat; 1/8000 second would have been much better (at the cost of a much higher ISO).

Before Topaz Sharpen AI came into my life, this would have been an insta-delete. With Sharpen AI I was able to transform it into a respectable keeper. Is the master file a super-sharp family jewel? Absolutely not, but it is more than use-able for a great variety of purposes.

This image was a rather large crop. The master TIF file immediately above represents just a shade more than 40% of the original pixels. I am anxious to get Topaz Gigapixel AI downloaded (we have dreadfully slow internet here at ILE) and running and see how it does with the master TIF file for this image. I will let you know how that goes.

Be sure to click on the image and view the larger version.

Image #2: Topaz Sharpen AI in action

Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize

With the Sandwich Tern image featured in the Late to the Topaz Party … Two Totally Amazing Before and After Screen Captures! blog post here, the Focus setting saved the day because the bird’s head was in front of the plane of focus. With today’s featured image, the Stabilize setting did the trick. The most amazing part of the whole thing is that Auto knew which setting would be best for each image.

I converted the image in Capture One. In Photoshop, I ran Sharpen AI on its own layer and then did some bill clean-up. I finished by selecting the bird’s head and applying a Contrast Mask for a bit of additional sharpening. All but the C-1 conversion (along with tons more) are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail and has helped literally thousands of folks to improve their Photoshop skills.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

San Diego 2021 Brown Pelican IPT

January 12 thru the morning session on January 16, 2021. Four full and one-half day: $1999.00. Deposit: $500.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 7.

Introductory Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins: MON JAN 11, 2021.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and the subject of blinkies. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


san-diego-card-neesie

Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2-hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-brunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due immediately after you sign up. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


san-diego-card-b

Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.

Typos

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

September 27th, 2020

Late to the Topaz Party ... Two Totally Amazing Before and After Screen Captures!

What’s Up?

After nine great days at DeSoto, Anita North and I enjoyed a nice morning with the Mother’s Day crane family on Saturday. With Anita’s help, I spent the afternoon getting acquainted with Topaz Sharpen AI and with Topaz DeNoise AI. In short, I was astounded. As you read on, do understand that I am just scratching the surface with these two amazingly effective plug-ins. I need to learn about the options other than Auto.

As I have said often, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you think like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop). It will take me a few days to put this short guide together. Please include a copy of your Topaz order when requesting the guide.

I learned some neat stuff about the two Topaz plug-ins in Alan Murphy’s recent Image Processing Webinar. Those interested in purchasing that or his previous excellent webinars, can view the options by clicking here.

I was glad to learn that IPT veteran Mark Overgaard sold his second Canon EOS 5D Mark IV body, this one in excellent plus condition with the Really Right Stuff B5D4-L L-plate, for $1379.00 (was $1479.00) the day we dropped the price two days ago. Yesterday, I sold Patty McCulloch’s Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro Lens before it was even listed! That is a neat trick :). I will be posting Patty’s complete listings (including a Canon 600 II) here soon.

We will have Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pros back in stock by Wednesday of this week.

Today is Sunday, 27 September 2020. Anita and I will be heading down to the lake early. L’Shana Tova to all of BAA’s Jewish friends as they bring in the new year. And L’Chaim to all.

Via e-mail From Derek Hallum

Thank you so very much Artie! You and Patrick did a spectacular job with the SONY e-Guide and Video. They helped me tremendously! Much love to you and your family. Sincerely, Derek Hallum

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Available

Save $10 Now

The RawDigger e-Guide and Video is almost finished. It will sell for $51.00. If you are anxious to get started with RawDigger, learn to mega-Expose to the Right, and wind up with the highest quality image files, you can save $10.00 and have a chance to review a pre-publication copy of the guide by sending a PayPal for $41.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net with the words RawDigger e-Guide and Video Pre-publication Copy cut and pasted into the Subject line.

You will of course receive a link for the completed PDF when the guide is finished.

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The BAA Used Gear Page

Right now, the Used Gear page is red hot! It is BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list at the bottom of the page.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save 3% on all orders. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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 at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, FL on the morning of 21 September 2020. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 565mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 640. Exposure was determined via Zebra evaluation with ISO on the rear dial as detailed in The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide and One Camera Set-up Video. 1/2500sec. at f7.1. ABW at 9:12am in mostly sunny conditions. RawDigger showed that the RAW file was marginally over-exposed.

Center Zone Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and worked well. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Sandwich Tern diving

The Situation I

This image was created during the mega-feeding spree at DeSoto. The site that is often the location of such sprees is detailed in the Fort DeSoto Site Guide here. I was somewhat dismayed when I viewed the head of the tern under the Loupe in Capture One. I thought that it was soft because of motion blur. But Topaz Sharpen AI revealed that I was wrong. After first hearing about the amazing Topaz AI Plug-ins from multiple IPT veteran Larry Master and then from good friend Anita North, I finally decided that this was something I needed to get into … So I did. See Image #2 below to learn about the effectiveness of Topaz Sharpen AI.

So why was the head unsharp?

Folks might ask, “If SONY a9 ii AF is so great, why was the head of the Sandwich Tern unsharp?” Consider that the optimized image above was cropped a fair bit from above and from our left. That means that in the original (RAW) file, the bird was farther down in the frame. That indicates that I did not pan quite quickly enough. And because of that, Center Zone Continuous AF had grabbed focus on the bird’s wings and back. With the bird angling slightly toward me, the bird’s head was in front of the plane of focus. In short, as is often the case, operator error was the culprit. Keep reading to learn about Topaz Sharpen AI magic.

Click on the image to view to and be amazed by the larger version.

Image #2: Topaz Sharpen AI in action

Topaz Sharpen AI Magic.

Anita North showed me that there are three sharpening options in Topaz Sharpen AI, Sharpen, Stabilize, and Focus. As I originally thought that the unsharpness of the head was due to motion blur, I first tried Stabilize but that did not do much. In his recent Image Processing Webinar, Alan Murphy stated that Auto is a great place to start with Sharpen AI, and Anita North seconded that. When I hit Auto, the system picked Focus. That was when I realized that the unsharp head was not caused by motion blur, but by the fact that focus was on the bird’s back and wings.

The result, as you can see in the screen capture above, was astounding. The unsharp head was rendered sharp with a single click. No crunchiness or pixilation appeared, and there were no halos. In short, Topaz Sharpen AI is a quite miraculous plug-in.

This image was created at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, FL on the morning of 24 September 2020. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 10000. Exposure was determined via Zebra evaluation with ISO on the rear dial as detailed in The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide and One Camera Set-up Video. 1/2000sec. at f/6.3. ABW at 7:36am on a cloudy dark morning. RawDigger showed that the RAW file was fractionally under-exposed.

Center Zone Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed beautifully. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #3: Great Egret grab shot in the dark

The Situation II

As always, we were at the beach early. It was cloudy and dark. I began trying to create a pleasing blur or two, but when a Caspian Tern began fishing right in front of me, I went to sharp: 1/2000 second at f/6.3 and ISO 10000. What the hay? When the Great Egret in Image #3 flew right to left toward Hidden Lagoon, I figured that the exposure for the large tern would work pretty well for the egret, so I acquired focus and fired off three quick frames, not expecting much. I was surprisingly pleased by the one decent keeper. But even with a close-to-perfect exposure — that thanks to my continuing work with RawDigger, there was more than enough noise to go around at ISO 10000, especially on the bush-background. Enter Topaz DeNoise AI.

If you click on the image to view the larger version, you will be — as I was — astounded.

Image #4: Topaz DeNoise AI in action

The More-Than-Amazing Topaz DeNoise AI

Here, a screen capture is worth well more than a thousand words. With a single click, again on Auto, the background was rendered smooth-as-the-proverbial-baby’s-tush. And the subject was sharpened (without appearing to be overly smoothed). In short, amazing.

Those who would ask “Where is the fine-feather detail?” are missing two important points:

  • 1- We often perceive noise as detail.
  • 2- As I have pointed out about a zillion times in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net, white feathers in soft light almost never show any fine detail — it is simply the nature of the beast.

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPT

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

Bosque del Apache NWR 2020 IPT

NOV 18 (afternoon session) thru the morning session on November 23, 2020. 5 DAYS. Four full and two half days. $1999.00. Deposit: $500.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 6.

Extra Day Options: Please e-mail to learn about the before or after In-the-Field Day options.

The very best news is that the 2020 Festival of the Cranes has been canceled so we will be able to visit on what are usually the perfect dates!

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. In 2018, things had improved dramatically and in 2019 the photography was great. Simply put, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blastoffs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Lunch is included.

To Register

To register, send your $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than two months before the IPT. If you cancel due to COVID 19 concerns, all of your payments will be refunded.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

Typos

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

September 25th, 2020

Roseate Spoonbill with white ruff cropping options. And advancing through a puddle on your knees and your butt.

What Up?

Mornings at DeSoto have continued to be fabulous. The morning of Thursday, 24 September 2020 was blast-off at the beach day. Large flocks of skimmers, Laughing Gulls, and shorebirds (mostly winter plumage Red Knots) took flight in swirling maelstroms every ten minutes or so. In addition. Anita and I had lots of chances on bathing terns and skimmers, diving Brown Pelicans, and more than a few Marbled Godwits. Even though I left my neutral density filters at home :(, the broken clouds allowed me to create some pretty nice pleasing blurs.

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the three crops of the ruffed spoonbill image below is your favorite. And why. Many thanks for that.

Want to be inspired by some great images? See the BAA San Diego Gallery here. Then scroll down for info on the 2021 San Diego IPT.

Via e-mail From Derek Hallum

Thank you so very much Artie! You and Patrick did a spectacular job with the SONY e-Guide and Video. They helped me tremendously! Much love to you and your family. Sincerely, Derek Hallum

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Available

Save $10 Now

The RawDigger e-Guide and Video is almost finished. It will sell for $51.00. If you are anxious to get started with RawDigger, learn to mega-Expose to the Right, and wind up with the highest quality image files, you can save $10.00 and have a chance to review a pre-publication copy of the guide by sending a PayPal for $41.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net with the words RawDigger e-Guide and Video Pre-publication Copy cut and pasted into the Subject line.

You will of course receive a link for the completed PDF when the guide is finished.

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The BAA Used Gear Page

Right now, the Used Gear page is red hot! It is BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list at the bottom of the page.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Price Dropped $100.00 on 9/24!

IPT veteran Mark Overgaard is offering a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV body in excellent plus condition with Really Right Stuff B5D4-L L-plate for only $1379.00 (was $1479.00). This body recently underwent the 18-point Canon Maintenance Service with Canon Professional Services. The sale includes the body cap, one Canon LP-E6N battery, the LC-E6 charger, the unused Canon camera strap, the English Instruction Manual, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Certified bank check or no-fee, near-instant bank transfer with Zelle. Or, PayPal +4%.

Please contact Mark via e-mail or by phone at 831-539-3200 (Pacific time zone).

What can I say? The 5D IV was my favorite ever Canon digital dSLR. I owned and used three of them while my 1DX II sat on the shelf in my garage for the most part. If you have been dreaming of a 5D IV, grab Mark’s camera body right now and save a cool $1120.00! artie

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, but using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save 3% on all orders. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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 18 SEPTEMBER 2020 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the Induro GIT 404l/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 400. The exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel and confirmed as perfect in RawDigger: 1/1000 sec. at f/9. AWB at 5:242Pm on a sunny afternoon.

Tracking Flexible Spot (M) Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly.

Image #1: Roseate Spoonbill with ruff — the full frame original

The Situation

With last week’s heavy rains, there were large rain pools in the picnic area adjacent to the North Beach parking lots. They have since dried up. Photographing the White Ibises and the spoonbills there while feeding was a difficult task at best even though the birds were tame. In late afternoons the spoonbills would take a break from foraging and stand on the limestone road between the big puddles and the Gulf to rest and preen.

Using our best stalking techniques, we were able to approach the spoonies to within about 25 feet. Knowing what I was after, I had mounted the 2X TC on the 600 GM before we literally worked out tails off to get close. It is always a thrill to get close to gorgeous birds in nice light, but the physical price was a high one. We knee-walking and advanced on our butts for about 20 yards. Definitely not fun. For me it was physically taxing because kneeling was a bit too high and sitting was a bit too low. With both of those, the clean green backgrounds were not possible. And the in-between was not comfortable at all. But in the end, it was well worth it.

I made some images with the lens pointed down a bit, and I made some vertical originals, but those did not have enough depth-of-field to cover the bill tip. I was so excited and nervous when the bird that was right down sun angle — the bird with the lovely collar of white feathers around its neck. — looked right down the lens barrel at me for several seconds that I choked just a bit on the image design. But even looking on the back of the camera, I knew that I had gotten something good and that there were several nice crops available.

a7r iv Crop-ability

Sharp a7r iv image files, even those created at 1200mm, can stand up to a variety of large crops. The flattened 8-bit file for the smallest of the lot, Image #4 (below), still comes in at a very handsome 55.1 MBs.

This is the same image cropped to a pano. I used the Induro GIT 404l/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 400. The exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel and confirmed as perfect in RawDigger: 1/1000 sec. at f/9. AWB at 5:242Pm on a sunny afternoon.

Tracking Flexible Spot (M) Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Roseate Spoonbill with ruff — pano crop

The Pano Crop

My first thought was the a boxy (near-square) crop would work well. But when fiddling around with the Crop Tool I came upon a pano crop almost by accident and thought that it looked pretty good.

This is the same image with a boxy crop. I used the Induro GIT 404l/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter,and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 400. The exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel and confirmed as perfect in RawDigger: 1/1000 sec. at f/9. AWB at 5:242Pm on a sunny afternoon.

Tracking Flexible Spot (M) Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #3: Roseate Spoonbill with ruff — boxy crop

The Boxy Crop

I am generally not a big fan of boxy crops, but when the shoe fits, I choose to wear it. While the out-of-camera proportions of 3X2 and 2X3 are my favorites, I am not at all wedded to them. Here, the boxy crop worked quite well with this wonderful subject emphasizing the ruff while including all the pink that I had in the original frame.

This is the same image cropped to a tight vertical. I used the Induro GIT 404l/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 400. The exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel and confirmed as perfect in RawDigger: 1/1000 sec. at f/9. AWB at 5:242Pm on a sunny afternoon.

Tracking Flexible Spot (M) Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly.

Image #4: Roseate Spoonbill with ruff — tight vertical

The 2X3 Vertical Crop

When I viewed this image on the back of the camera for the first time, a tight, 2X3 vertical crop came to mind immediately. This crop emphasizes the ruff to the max at the expense of eliminating all of the pink feathers.

Your Favorite?

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the three crops is your favorite. And why.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

San Diego 2021 Brown Pelican IPT

January 12 thru the morning session on January 16, 2021. Four full and one-half day: $1999.00. Deposit: $500.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 7.

Introductory Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins: MON JAN 11, 2021.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and the subject of blinkies. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


san-diego-card-neesie

Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2-hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-brunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due immediately after you sign up. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


san-diego-card-b

Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.

Typos

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