August 24th, 2016

Serendipitous 1DX Mark II (Dis?) Advantage...

What’s Up?

The colonoscopy went well, clean and green. After not eating for 30 plus hours, breakfast tasted amazingly great. Bummer on no swim on Tuesday but my shoulder is aching anyway and I could use a day off. Lots of work to do today.

More high on life: I spent about an hour on the phone on Monday night catching up with former student Sylma Cortes Vasquez. It was great to learn that after running away from home when she was 17 to escape a very demanding and verbally abusive step-father that she made something of her life. She is a radiation therapist, has a wonderful husband, and three great kids, one a skilled varsity soccer player at Sienna College. I shared the basics of my life over the last 40 years with her. There were big smiles and lots of love all around.


The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 286 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


artci-tern-on-nest-_a0i1636-seahouses-uk

This image was created on the 2015 UK Puffins & Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 200mm) and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6.

Four AF points down from the center AF point/AI Servo Surround/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was on the bird’s eye. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Arctic Tern on nest

Serendipitous 1DX Mark II (Dis?) Advantage…

Sometimes you get lucky.

I was taking advantage of the tameness of the nesting Arctic Terns and the amazing (less than one meter) minimum focusing distance of the 1-4 II and pointing the lens nearly straight down. I knew that I had the right exposure set manually (from photographing other terns in the unchanging light) and carefully selected an AF point that would fall right on the bird’s eye. I checked the in-viewfinder level. As is my wont, I created three images in rapid succession. Working at close range the bird was startled from the sound of the first shutter release–the 1DX II is very loud–and raised its wings for the second image.

As I said, sometimes you get lucky.

1DX (Mark II) AF Guide Offer

Toward the end of my Long Island trip I found myself relying on my 1DX Mark II more and more, for its high frame rate, fast and accurate AF, high ISO performance, and its f/8 AF advantages (as discussed here ad infinitum here in several of the last few blog posts).

The 1DX II is so similar to the original 1DX that I have no plans on doing any type of 1DX Mark II guide. If you use my B&H affiliate link to purchase your Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader and send me your B&H receipt via e-mail I will be glad to have Jim send you the 1DX AF Guide as a thank you once I confirm that I received credit for the sale.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

First-ever BAA Used 100-400II!
Sale Pending 8/24/16

Mike Hansen is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens in excellent plus condition (with just a few small paint chips on the lens foot)for $1599. The glass is flawless. The sale includes the rear lens cap, original tough front lens cover, the original soft carrying/storage case, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at 312-497-9144, central time.

Y’all know how much I use and love my 1-4II for its incredible sharpness (even with the 1.4X TC), it’s amazing versatility, and its hard-to-believe close focus. artie

The Image Optimization

Though there was unexpectedly little whitewash in the vicinity of this nest, I decided to eliminate pretty much all of it. The final image shows what the nest would look like an hour after a good rain. I used several small Quick Masks, each refined by a Regular Layer Mask; the largest one was transformed and warped. The rest was done with the my usual clean-up tools: the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, and the Spot Healing Brush. I enhanced the highlight in the eye just a bit; it is easy to overdo that. Next, after selecting the bird’s head with a Quick Mask and placing it on its own layer, I applied my 25/25 Nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast/Detail Extractor and a 15/65/0 Contrast Mask; see the huge before and after differences there. Noise Reduction via NeatImage was also applied.

You can learn to do pretty much all of the above and lots more in my Digital Basics File. Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Digital Basics is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, the basics of Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur settings that I use to smooth background noise, and tons more.

Image Optimization Question…

Do you think that I overdid the NIK 25/25 on the bird’s black cap? If yes, how could I have reduced the effect during post?


uk-puffins-card-ii-layers

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


uk-puffins-card-iii-layers

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


uk-puffins-card-i

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality 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 of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

This trip has sold out far in advance every year so do not tarry. I hope that you can join me.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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

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

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

Facebook

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

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 🙂

August 23rd, 2016

The Next Frame (or Not?)...

What’s Up?

I am fasting all day on Monday and doing the prep for my routine colonoscopy tomorrow morning. Yuck. I will spend a good deal of time today catching up on e-mails and planning my big South America trip. And an easy 3/4 mile swim of course.

Thanks!

Thanks to the many who responded to my request for help in the form of posting question that they have been dying to ask me, for an Facebook Live interview that I will be doing with Peggy Farren of Understand Photography in conjunction with my visit to Naples, FL to do a program for DPI-SIG on Saturday morning. Details on that will follow on the blog soon. If you would like to chime in with a question or two, click here.

There are lots of excellent questions both there and on my Facebook page. I will make a blog post out of the questions that wind up not being used in the interview.


A Fabulous Weight Gain Program

My dear friend and health advisor, Dr. Cliff Oliver, told me that I should not snack on peanut butter as peanuts and most peanut butters contain aflatoxins. So I switched to organic almond butter, organic cashew butter, and organic sunflower butter. The almond butter was great. The cashew butter was fabulous. And the sunflower butter was amazingly delicious. During my five week Long Island visit I purchased and devoured eight jars of the various nut butters. As snacks… When I left Florida on July 15, I weighed 182 pounds. When I got on the scale on Saturday morning, August 20, I weighed 188 3/4 pounds. You can’t beat that: I gained 6 3/4 pounds in only five weeks. That would represent a weight gain of about 70 pounds in a year!

Not good. 190 has long been my panic weight. I know that if I go beyond that that 264 (the most I have ever weighed, at age 18) would not be far behind. It is good to be home and eating well and normally again. But man, I enjoyed every tablespoon of those yummy nut butters… I do, however, look forward to my pants fitting well again in a few weeks.

E-mails from a former student (from forty years ago!)/More High on Life

#1:

Hi Mr. Morris

Hope all is well. I was wondering if you are the same Mr Morris who taught in Brooklyn New York. It’s Sylma, I was either in your 3rd or 4th grade class. I was Dorothy in the play we did, The Wiz. I moved to Long Island and ended up having Mr. Caliman (your brother in law) in high school. I don’t know if you remember. Please let me know if it’s you. I would continue writing but want to make sure it’s you.

Sincerely, Sylma Vasquez (Cortes)

After I responded to Sylma–I remember her as a wonderful, smart, sweet (and very skinny!) kid, I received #2:

OMG! I’m so happy it’s you!! I am so happy for you!! Mr. (Famous) Bird photographer. Congratulations!

I can call you tomorrow in the afternoon if that’s ok. I work tomorrow 7-3. I’ll tell you about myself though. I am married. It will be 26 years 9/15. I have 3 kids a boy and 2 girls. My sons are 24 (Michael), 20 (Madison), and my daughter is 17 (Rebecca). I am a Radiation Therapist here in Long Island. I live in West Babylon. I read one of your daughters lives in Holbrook.

I actually just googled your name. I always thought of you. I’ve told my husband about you. Your kindness when I was in your class has never been forgotten. It must have been around 1975-76. I think you probably knew my life at home wasn’t good. You were right. I will call you tomorrow then. Yay!! I’m so happy it’s you!!!:))

With so much love,
Sylma

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 285 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


semipalmated-sandpiper-squabblea

This image was created at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Thursday morning past while I was with private client and multiple IPT veteran Elizabeth MacSwann. I sat behind my Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the fast, rugged Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Cloudy WB.

Lower center Zone/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure; the five active AF points were (incorrectly, due to operator error) on the bird’s neck. As sharpest focus was on the neck, past the plane of the eye, I replaced the eye and a few head feathers using source material from a sharp frame in the series. Click on the image to see a larger version.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment = +5.

Semipalmated Sandpiper dispute (both in fresh juvenal plumage).

The Very Next Frame…

Well, this is actually the frame after the very next frame of the “feeding threat display” image featured in yesterday’s blog post here. But “The Very Next Frame” is a much more effective title than “The Frame After The Very Next Frame.”

In any case, the image above was made less than 3 seconds after yesterday’s featured image (8:29:13 versus 8:26:56). Based on what we can see of the out-of-focus wing, I am sure that the second bird in the frame was running away from the attacking bird. When the semi-plovers squabble, they almost always do so facing each other. The semi-plovers fight much more often than the SESAs.

The first frame in the series was the sharpest. Both frames were converted in DPP 4. It was very convenient to copy the recipe from yesterday’s image, paste it into the next two frames, and then batch process the additional files. I grabbed the sharp eye and a few head feathers from the sharpest image using a selection created via Quick Masking and then placed on its own layer. I used the Move Tool (V) to drag that layer onto the second image. I reduced the Opacity of the top layer to about 50% so that it was east to properly place the selection by lining up the eyes on each layer. Next I and then transformed and rotated the selection. Then the selection was refined after adding a Regular Layer Mask. Lastly, NIK Color Efex Pro’s “White Neutralizer” helped with the color balance.

You can learn to do pretty much all of the above and lots more in my Digital Basics File. Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Image Question

Do you like or dislike the out-of-focus wing of the second (combatant) sandpiper? Please let us know why or why not.

Advanced Image Design Question

Why would the image have been better if I had been sitting one yard–even one foot–to my right?

1DX AF Guide Offer

The 1DX II is so similar to the original 1DX that I have no plans on doing any type of 1DX Mark II guide. If you use my B&H affiliate link to purchase your Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader and send me your B&H receipt via e-mail, I will be glad to have Jim send you the 1DX AF Guide as a thank you once I confirm that I received credit for the sale.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall one way or another. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99. Limit 12/Openings: 10)

Join me on the morning of October 2, 2016 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images, especially with a 7D Mark II. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Folks attending the IPT will be in the field early and stay out late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto Short Notice Fall IPT/September 28 (meet & greet at 2pm followed by our afternoon session) through the full day on October 1, 2016. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1549. Limit 10/Openings: 6. Sunday morning ITFW free to IPT registrants.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds in fall. There they join dozens of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With any luck, we should get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher likely. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join me as my guest on the ITFW on the Sunday morning following the workshop. See above for details on that.

On this and all other IPTs you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify and age many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

At brunch (included) we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one? If you opt to bring your laptop, we can take a look at a few of your images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As I already have one signed up for this workshop, it is a go. Hotel info will be e-mailed when you register. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). It is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel so if you are interested it would be a good idea to register now and make your hotel reservations as soon as you hear from us. We can, however, coordinate with local folks who opt to stay at home.

Because of the relatively late date, payment is full is due upon registration either by check or credit card. If the former, please e-mail us immediately so that we can save you a spot. If the latter, please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to register. Your registration fee is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight so please check your plans carefully before committing. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions and gear & clothing advice a fairly soon.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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

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

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

Facebook

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

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 🙂

August 22nd, 2016

Request for Help...

Request for Help…

On Friday, September 9, I will be doing a FaceBook Live interview with Peggy Farren of Understand Photography in conjunction with my visit to Naples, FL to do a program for DPI-SIG on Saturday morning. Details on that will follow on the blog soon.

In the meantime, we need your help. If you have a question or questions about bird photography, about the business of photography, or about me that you have been dying to ask, please leave it or them in a comment below.