Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
June 26th, 2022

On Discovering New Stuff

What’s Up?

I got down to the pier early and was glad I did as there was some nice sunrise silhouette color. And a Little Blue Heron foraged in just the right spots. Next, I created a few Osprey images. Then it clouded over completely, and the wind died to nothing, so I headed home to so some wildflowers in my front yard.

Today is Sunday 26 June 2022. The forecast for this morning if for sunny with increasing cloudiness and a breeze from the northwest. I will be heading down to the lake early to see what’s up. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes one hundred days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906.

Sunrise Silhouette Strategy from the Pier in June

Discovering New Stuff

Though I’ve been photographing at Indian Lake Estates (ILE) for more than two decades, I did not realize that there were some good sunrise silhouette possibilities from the pier during the warmer months when the sun rises north of east. The more you photograph at a given location, the more you will discover and learn.

If I am out on the pier in the vicinity of B, and there is a bird or two in the vicinity of A, I can move east or west as needed to place the bird in the sunrise color (and make some nice images). Even on dead clear days, there may be some nice color just before or after sunrise. And if there are some light clouds on the eastern horizon, or some fog or haze, there can be some very good opportunities. All that I need to do is get down to the lake by 6:15am at the latest.

For more than two decades, I assumed that there simply were very few if any good sunrise situations at ILE. Go figure.

This image was created on 25 June 2022 down by the lake near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Standing on the pier, I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined accurately using Zebra technology. ISO 2000. 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead-solid perfect. AWB at 6:53:06am with some light clouds on the eastern horizon just after sunrise.

Tracking: Zone AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Little Blue Heron adult fishing

What Makes a Good Sunrise Situation on the Pier?

1- First, you need a subject. If there are no birds in the water close to the pier, you will go home empty-handed even with spectacular sunrise color.

2- Mornings with little or no wind will maximize the color (if any).

3- You need at least some sunrise color reflected in the water. As noted above, some light clouds or fog or haze can be your best friends.

4- There is some freshwater vegetation in the area denoted by the A in the diagram above. Sometimes including the vegetation in the frame can be a plus, but it often detracts. With today’s featured images I was glad to have the bird in open water.

This image was created on 25 June 2022 down by the lake near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Standing on the pier, I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined accurately using Zebra technology. ISO 2000. 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead-solid perfect. AWB at 6:53:06am with some light clouds on the eastern horizon just after sunrise.

Tracking: Zone AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Little Blue Heron adult striking

The Gear and How I Used It

Most mornings, I head onto the pier with the handheld 400mm f/2.8 GM lens with the 1.4X TC and an Alpha 1 attached. The 2X TC is in my fanny pack, along with the TC caps, in case I want to go to the bare lens alone. If I see a Green Heron or two on the small pilings to the north of the pier, I will usually bring the tripod along. On some mornings — don’t ask me why, I will bring the 600mm f/4 GM lens along with both TCs and the tripod. I am always happy with my choice. Why? Because happiness itself is a choice. (Byron Katie — www.The Work.com)

Anyhoo, on Saturday morning I mounted the 2X TC as the possibility for some sunrise color existed. There was some very nice color early on, but the sun was a bit too bright, and the bird was fishing in the vegetation. But the time it made its way into clear water, there was just a hint of color left. Resting my left forearm and the pier railing I set the shutter speed at 1/500 second and increased the ISO until I had some Zebras on the water. With my Zebra values set perfectly, this ensures a perfect or dead-solid perfect exposure. In a span of about seven seconds, I created more than 40 images. The herons and egrets will almost always give you a sign that they are about to strike by retracting the feathers on their head and neck. At that point, I hold the shutter button down to take advantage of the a1’s 30 frames per second. So, that is exactly what I did. I kept two of the seven images that showed the splash. The fish was a tiny one.

Click on the image to better see the green eye-AF boxes in action.

Sony Alpha 1 Flight Photography AF Points!

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up Guide and Info Group: $150.00 (or Free)

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up Guide and Info Group is going great guns as more and more folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based answers. As the a1 is becoming more readily available, more and more folks are getting their hands on this amazing body. By June 1, 2022, the group was up to an astounding 124 lucky and blessed folks. (More than a few folks own two or more a1 bodies! Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. The best news is that everyone in the group receives an e-mail that includes a .DAT file with my a1 settings on it, and explicit directions on how to load my settings onto your a1; talk about convenience! I am now offering a .DAT file compatible with firmware update 1.20. Your entry into the group includes a consolidated Sony a1 CAMSETA2 INFO & GUIDE. New a1 folks will now receive six e-mails instead of the previous 28! You will receive new e-mails as they are published. Simply put, this e-mail guide is an incredible resource for anyone with an a1.

All who purchased their Alpha 1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link — B&H or Bedfords — will receive a free Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up Guide and free entry into the Info Updates group after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.). Others can purchase their guide here in the BAA Online Store.

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

You can purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

126 pages, 87 photographs by Joe Przybyla and Arthur Morris.
The PDF for this e-Guide is an electronic download sent via e-mail.

Purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

I had thought about doing a guide to some of the great but little-known photo hotspots around central Florida for about a decade, but those plans never came to fruition. I met Joe online in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net about two years ago. Joe’s photography has improved tremendously over the past few years; he credits the BAA blog, my books and PDFs, and his participation on BPN. The one thing that I learned right from the get-go about Joe is that he is a hard and tenacious worker, always striving to improve his skills and to grow his knowledge base. As he knew of more than a few good spots in central Florida, I broached the idea of us doing a photographic site guide that covered many of the little-known photographic hotspots from Brandon to Lakeland to Joe Overstreet Road to Indian Lake Estates (my Florida home for the past 20 years or so). After more than many, many dozens of hours of effort, The BIRDS AS ART Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide is now a reality. Thanks to Joe’s wife Dottie for her review of our writing. We all learned once again that writing is a process, a back-and-forth process. All thanks to the white pelicans of Lakeland. Here are the locations that are detailed in this e-Guide:

  • Indian Lake Estates: Sandhills Cranes with chicks and colts, lots of vultures, and Ospreys up the kazoo!
  • Gatorland, Kissimmee: Learn to make great images of wading birds in a cluttered rookery.
  • The Brandon Rookery: Great for nesting Wood Storks, Great Egrets, and more.
  • Circle Bar B Reserve, Lakeland: Here you will find a great variety of avian subjects in a great variety of habitats.
  • Lake Morton, Lakeland: There are lots of silly tame birds here including and especially American White Pelican during the colder months.
  • Lake Mirror, Lakeland: Tame Anhingas, Limpkins, and a zillion White Ibises at times.
  • West Lake Parker, Lakeland: Here you will have a chance for two difficult birds, Snail Kite, and Purple Gallinule.
  • Joe Overstreet Road, Kenansville: Crested Caracara, meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrike, and much more on the fenceposts and barbed wire.

Each location includes a map, a detailed description of the best spots, best season, light and time of day instructions, the expected species, and an educational and inspirational gallery that is designed to open your eyes as to the possibilities.

You can purchase a copy here in the BAA Online Store.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

June 25th, 2022

An Early Start. Fun in the Dark. And Two Raw Conversions

Your Favorite?

Which of today’s two featured images do you like best? Why?

July 4th Weekend in Central Florida

If you live or will be in South or Central Florida (or anywhere near Duval county) on the long July 4th weekend and would like to explore the possibility of doing some amazing photography with me on a shared-cost basis, please get in touch with me immediately via e-mail.

What’s Up?

After my sunrise trip to Coleman Landing — see below, I headed down to the lake. I made some decent images of the usual cast of characters: Sandhill Crane, Mottled Duck, Osprey, Limpkin, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and Little Blue Heron.

Today is Saturday 25 June 2022. The forecast for ILE this morning is calling for partly cloudy with an almost imperceptible breeze from the northwest. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took more than an hour to prepare and makes ninety-nine days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906.

This image was created on 24 June 2022 Coleman Landing at Shady Oaks on the south shore of Lake Kissimmee. I used the Induro GIT-304L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/15 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 6:13:25am while facing east.

Tracking: Zone/Bird-Face-Eye Detection AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed well. Click on the image to see a high-res version.

Image #1: Tricolored Heron fishing

Fun in the Dark

I was up very early (as usual) on Saturday morning. The forecast was calling for clear skies with a W/SW wind. At 5:45am, I headed to Coleman Landing because if offers a clear view of the north eastern sky and the sun rising over the lake. Heading east on SR 60, I was pleased to see some haze above the horizon. First, I created some creek/sky scenics with the tripod-mounted 70-200mm f/2.8 II lens. The best of those was less than inspiring. I moved 75 yards to my left, leveled the /Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro and set up for blurs. There was a Great Blue Heron fishing in the marsh but there were no silhouette opportunities as the bird was buried deep in the grasses. I was hoping to have some large wading bird flocks fly by in the pre-dawn color so that I could create some pleasing blurs. Nada on that. There was a small pool of clear water at the bottom of the boat ramp. By luck, a Tricolored Heron flew in and began fishing in the pool. I stayed at 1/15 second, raised the ISO until I had some Zebras on the water, and fired whenever the bird danced in the clear water.

You know that it is dark when you are shooting at 1/15 second at ISO 2000!

The water was white in the raw file. My plan was to process it by juicing up the color and then rendering the bird totally black. Experimenting, I moved the Highlight Slider to the right and liked the resulting funky look with just a bit of revealing light on the bird’s face and belly.

This image was also created on 24 June 2022 Coleman Landing at Shady Oaks on the south shore of Lake Kissimmee. I used the Induro GIT-204L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted BLUBB-supported Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the thumb dial. ISO 1250. 1/320 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be less over-exposed in the R channel. AWB at 6:35:15am on clear morning with a layer of haze on the horizon.

Manual Focus. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Haze-muted sun ball

Two Conversions Needed

In the first conversion, I pulled the Exposure and the Blacks down to dramatize the sky. But I lost the layered effect at the bottom of the frame. So I ran a lighter conversion that revealed the two heavily vegetated islands. I painted a Quick Mask of the bottom of the frame, dragged it atop the first frame using the Move Tool (V), and worked on the edges of the upper trees. I liked the result.

Flight Photography at Jacksonville Till You Can’t Lift Your Lens! with Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Join me on the beach at Huguenot Memorial Park to learn about photographing terns in flight. 8,000 pairs of Royal Terns nest there and there are birds in the air all the time, often carrying all kinds of fish and crabs for their young. Learn about how the relationship between the wind and the sun impacts flight photography and about the best gear for shooting birds in flight. Join me on a workshop at Jacksonville this summer.

Cute & Beautiful: Photographing Chicks in Jacksonville, FL with Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

There is an amazing beach near Jacksonville, FL where 8,000 pairs of Royal Terns and 12,000 pairs of Laughing Gulls (along with a few other species) breed each summer. As this video shows, photographing the chicks is easy in the summer. And there is tons of great flight photography as well. If you want to improve your bird photography skills, consider joining me on an Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT).

Click on the composite image to enjoy the incredible quality of the hi-res JPEG.

Clockwise from upper left clockwise and back around to the center: Royal Tern in flight with squid for chick; Royal Tern chick on beach; Royal Tern in flight with shrimp for young; Royal Tern chick — double overhead wing stretch; Royal Tern landing with greenback for chick; Royal Tern in flight with juvenile mahi mahi for chick; Brown Pelican — large chick preening; Laughing Gull in fresh juvenal plumage; Royal Tern chick begging; Many Royal Terns with many chicks on face of dune.

Jacksonville IPT: 4 FULL DAYS — the afternoon of FRI 15 JULY thru the morning of TUES 19 July 2022: $2099.00 (Limit 6 photographers/Openings: 5)

I first visited the breeding bird colony at Jacksonville in late June 2021. I was astounded. There were many thousands of pairs of Royal Terns nesting along with about 10,000 pairs of Laughing Gulls. In addition to the royals, there were some Sandwich Terns nesting. And there are several dozen pairs of Brown Pelicans nesting on the ground. Flight photography was non-stop astounding. And photographing the tern chicks was relatively easy. Folks could do the whole trip with the Sony 200-600, the Canon 100-500 RF, or the Nikon 500 PF or 200-500 VR. With a TC in your pocket for use on sunny days. Most of the action is within 100 yards of where we park (on the beach). As with all bird photography, there are times when a super-telephoto lens with either TC is the best tool for the job.

Morning sessions will average about 3 1/2 hours, afternoon sessions about 1 1/2 hours. On cloudy mornings with favorable winds, we may opt to stay out for one long session and skip the afternoon, especially when the afternoon forecast is poor. Lunch is included on the first three days of the IPT and will be served at my AirBnB. We will do image review and Photoshop after lunch.

We will be based somewhere west and a bit north of Jacksonville where there are many AirBnB possibilities. The deposit is $599.00. Call Jim at the office any weekday at 863-692-0906 to pay by credit card. Balances must be paid by check.

Click on the composite image to enjoy the incredible quality of the hi-res JPEG.

Clockwise from upper left clockwise and back around to the center: Royal Tern feeding chick; Royal Tern/4-week-old chick; ink-stained Royal Tern in flight with squid for chick; Royal Tern/3-week-old chick begging; Brown Pelican in flight on white sky day; fresh juvenile Laughing Gull on clean beach; Laughing Gulls stealing fish from Royal Tern; tight shot of Royal Tern in flight with fish for young.

What You Will Learn on a Jacksonville IPT

  • 1- First and foremast you will learn to become a better flight photographer. Much better.
  • 2-You will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button.
  • 3- You will learn to work in Manual exposure mode even if you fear it.
  • 4- You will learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography, especially the photography of birds in flight.
  • 5- You will learn several pro secrets (for each system) that will help you to become a better flight photographer.
  • 6- You will learn to zoom out in advance (because the birds are so close!) 🙂
  • 7- You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them.
  • 8- You will learn to spot the good and the great situations.
  • 9- You will learn to understand and predict bird behavior.
  • 10- You will learn to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
  • 11- You will learn to choose the best perspective.
  • 12- You will learn to see and control your backgrounds.
  • 13- You will learn to see and understand the light.
  • 14- You will learn to see and create pleasing blurs in pre-dawn situations.
  • 15- You will learn to be ready for the most likely event.

The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever you are and whenever you photograph.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

June 24th, 2022

Tortoise Day (with lots to learn)!

July 4th Weekend in Central Florida

If you live or will be in Central Florida (or anywhere near Duval county) on the long July 4th weekend and would like to explore the possibility of doing some amazing photography with me on a shared-cost basis, please get in touch with me immediately via e-mail.

What’s Up?

Every day that I head down to the lake I see or learn something new — often both. I’ve seen Purple Gallinule in the marsh almost every day. I’ve seen the young Ospreys in fresh juvenal plumage dive off the pier railings into the lake and come up empty every time. On Thursday morning, I saw one on a power pole with a large, fresh-caught fish. I’ve been seeing a hen Mottled Duck with two tiny ducklings. I’ve studied the patterns of the roosting young Anhingas and the fishing adult green herons on the short pilings. I’ve tried a variety of lighting situations with both species. I’ve worked on my early morning silhouette images made from the pier. And I’ve learned that when the adult Limpkins grab a big snail, they will extract the meat and feed it to their now large chicks while standing in the water. But when the adults and the young are foraging on their own, they will walk to nearest vegetation, place the prey item on a leaf or the stalks in the center of the plants, and work it then to avoid dropping their meal in the water. In many but not all these cases, the additional knowledge leads to better images.

I was glad to learn that the sale of Sandra Calderbank’s Canon Flash/Battery/Macro 30-item Package is now pending.

Be sure to check out Images #1, 1A, 1B, and 1C as there is a ton to learn in today’s post.

Today is Friday 24 June. The forecast was for clear skies with a SW breeze, so I tried something new. More on that tomorrow. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took more than two hours to prepare and makes ninety-eight days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906.

This image was created in the Highlands of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos. I used the Induro GIT-204L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter (at 560mm) and the Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 640: 1/125 second at f/9 (stopped down 1/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 10:44:39 on a cloudy, misty morning.

Image #1: Galapagos Tortoise enjoying a guava fruit brunch

Tortoise Day!

We land early at the town dock, take a bus up to the highlands, photograph for many hours, enjoy a catered lunch, and then spend the afternoon tooling around town. For those who have not had enough photography, there are some good opportunities by the bay. We end with a fine thank you dinner on the main street of Puerto Ayora. Did I mention great shopping?

As we head up the hill by bus, the weather invariably becomes foggy and misty, perfect weather for photographing the ancient and often huge tortoises. In addition, we usually have some good chances on songbirds. These include Galapagos Flycatcher, the rufous-capped race of Yellow Warbler, and several species of Darwin’s finches. Tortoise Day comes smack in the middle of the Photo-cruise and offers a chance to have some laundry done. It is one of the many great highlights of the trip. There is an option to head back to the ship to change and/or nap before dinner.

The tortoises are not tame. In our pre-landing briefing, on the bus en route, and again in the field, we instruct you on how to get close to these amazing animals without disturbing them. As you might expect, low and very slow is the ticket. A pair of light rain pants is a plus.

Image #1A: the Photo Mechanic screen capture for the Galapagos Tortoise enjoying a guava fruit brunch image

Blocked Up Dark Tones

Whether using film or digital, we must always expose to the right without over-exposing the highlights. The result is that the dark tones will be rendered several stops too dark. With film, it is what it is. Your dark tones will be too dark and you just have to live with it. In addition, the colors are muddy. But with digital, it is easy to open up the dark tones and to adjust the color balance as well. The trick is do most of the adjustments during the raw conversion and to be sure to do that judiciously. Remember, the further you expose to the right without over-exposing the highlights, the easier it will be to open up the darker tones. Why? Because you are rendering them as light as possible in the raw file.

Image #1B: the Camera Raw sliders used to convert the Galapagos Tortoise enjoying a guava fruit brunch image

Opening Up the Dark Tones During the Raw Conversion

First, be sure to click on both Image #1 and Image #1A to see how nicely the dark tones were opened up by properly adjusting the sliders in Camera Raw, as in Image #1B. The key adjustments here were reducing to color temperature to eliminate the red cast, moving the Shadow slider to +54, and moving the Black slider to +35. The latter is done by rote while holding down the Alt key until the under-exposure warnings disappear. I moved the Vibrance slider to +20 to bring up the colors of the smashed guava bits.

Compare Image #1 with Image #1B and note the clean-up work done on the face. Most of that involved removing dirt from the fruit. I used my usual cadre of clean-up tools and techniques, the Patch Tool, Content-Aware Fill, the Clone Stamp, and Divide and Conquer. Last was to lighten the white portion of the iris just a bit using Tim Gray Dodge and Burn.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a PayPal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

The techniques mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques — along with my complete digital workflow, Digital Eye Doctor Techniques, and all my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — 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. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: most of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About three years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One and did that for two years. You can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here. Today, I convert my Sony raw files in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Image #1C: The RawDigger screen capture for the Galapagos Tortoise enjoying a guava fruit brunch image

Getting the Right Exposure

Though this image was made a year before I learned about RawDigger, I did a very good job with the exposure. Compare the Photo Mechanic histogram with the RawDigger adapted histogram. Both look pretty darned good. That is often not the case. As seen in the RawDigger screen capture, the exposure here is perfect with the green channel approaching the 16000 line.

What can I say? The combination of Zebras live in the viewfinder (with your camera set up properly) and post-capture study of the raw files in RawDigger makes it pretty much child’s play to come up with perfect exposure after perfect exposure. It would be impossible to overstate how much I have learned by studying RawDigger and how much better my exposures have become since I started with the program almost two years ago. The raw file brightness for today’s featured image is perfect with the G channel almost making the 16000 line. In other words, the raw file brightness is perfect.

RawDigger — not for the faint of heart …

Nothing has ever helped me learn to create perfect exposures to the degree that RawDigger has. I think that many folks are reluctant to learn that most of their images are underexposed by one or more full stops and that highlight warnings in Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, and your in-camera histogram are bogus as they are based on the embedded JPEGs. Only your raw files tell the truth all the time. Heck, I resisted RawDigger for several years … Once you get over that feeling, RawDigger can become your very best exposure friend no matter what system you are using. On the recent IPTs and In-the-Field sessions, we have demonstrated that fact. Convincingly.

The RawDigger Adapted (pink) Histogram

In the RawDigger e-Guide, you will learn exactly how to set up the Adapted “pink” RawDigger Histogram and how to use it to quickly and easily evaluate the exposure or raw file brightness of images from all digital cameras currently in use. RawDigger was especially helpful to me as I have struggled with R5 exposures and learned my new camera body, the Sony Alpha a1.

RawDigger e-Guide with Two Videos

The RawDigger e-Guide with Two Videos

by Arthur Morris with Patrick Sparkman

The RawDigger e-Guide was created only for serious photographers who wish to get the absolute most out of their raw files.

Patrick and I began work on the guide in July 2020. At first, we struggled. We asked questions. We learned about Max-G values. We puzzled as to why the Max G values for different cameras were different. IPT veteran Bart Deamer asked lots of questions that we could not answer. We got help from RawDigger creator Iliah Borg. We learned. In December, Patrick came up with an Adapted Histogram that allows us to evaluate the exposures and raw file brightness for all images created with all digital camera bodies from the last two decades. What we learned each time prompted three complete beginning to end re-writes.

The point of the guide is to teach you to truly expose to the mega-Expose-to-the-Right so that you will minimize noise, maximize image quality, best utilize your camera’s dynamic range, and attain the highest possible level of shadow detail in your RAW files in every situation. In addition, your properly exposed RAW files will contain more tonal information and feature the smoothest possible transitions between tones. And your optimized images will feature rich, accurate color.

We teach you why the GREEN channel is almost always the first to over-expose. We save you money by advising you which version of RawDigger you need. We teach you how to interpret the Max G values for your Canon, Nikon, and SONY camera bodies. It is very likely that the Shock-your-World section will shock you. And lastly — thanks to the technical and practical brilliance of Patrick Sparkman — we teach you a simple way to evaluate your exposures and the raw file brightness quickly and easily the Adapted RawDigger histogram.

The flower video takes you through a session where artie edits a folder of images in Capture One while checking the exposures and Max-G values in RawDigger. The Adapted Histogram video examines a series of recent images with the pink histograms and covers lots of fine points including and especially how to deal with specular highlights. The directions for setting up the Adapted Histogram are in the text.

If we priced this guide based on how much effort we put into it, it would sell it for $999.00. But as this guide will be purchased only by a limited number of serious photographers, we have priced it at $51.00. You can order yours here in the BAA Online Store.

The Galapagos 2023 Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT

As a child, you dreamed of getting to the Galapagos. As a nature photographer, you’ve dreamed of getting to the Galapagos. If you’ve been, you’ve dreamed of getting back — with your mirrorless gear. International travel is now a reality. And you’ve come to realize that life is short. And that a dream deferred is a dream denied.

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

If you want to make your dream to come true, read everything below carefully, and then get in touch.

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: Nazca Booby staring, Sally Lightfoot Crab legs, Blue-footed Booby braking to land, dried mud patterns/Floreana, face of Galapagos Sea-Lion, Sally Lightfoot Crab, Great Frigatebird — large chick, Land Iguana, Magnificent Frigatebird, male in flight with pouch distended.

The Galapagos 2023 Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Archipelago Photographic Experience

August 29 – September 12, 2023, on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $15,999.00 double occupancy. Single cabin: $28,999.00. Strict Limit: 13 photographers (plus the leader)

For this trip to run, I need ten deposit checks in hand by August 30, 2022. If this trip does not run, your deposit will, of course, be refunded in full — no questions asked. Five folks plus the leader are already committed.

If you are considering this trip, be sure to check out the Galapagos Gallery here. Please shoot me an e-mail if you are interested or if you have any questions.

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: Galapagos Sea-Lions squabbling; Blue-footed Booby foot; Blue-footed Booby in flight; seabird chick; Sally Lightfoot Crab; Swallow-tailed Gull in flight; Great Frigatebird head portrait; Galápagos penguin — juvenile; Nazca Booby resting.

The Best

This trip is THE best Galapagos Photo-Cruise in the world. By far. No one offers a trip that visits the top three world-class landings twice each (pending National Park Service approval as below). What does this trip offer? The world’s best Galapagos guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), a great crew, and me, with thirteen Galapagos Photo-cruises under my belt. Pre-trip gear suggestions and advice, and twice-daily, pre-landing, location-specific briefings. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea! Do know that there are one-week Galapagos trips (six full and two half- days on the boat) “from $9995”! Thus, this trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations? And why not visit the three very best spots twice each? Additionally, there are two-week trips for less money where the itineraries include several waste-of-time “tourist landings” that offer little in the way of wildlife and nature photography.

Important notes: approval of the itinerary that allows for our extra visits is customarily approved right by the Galápagos National Park Service just before departure. We have never been turned down before. If by some chance the itinerary change is not approved, each participant will receive a $200 rebate.

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island — including Darwin Bay (almost surely twice!) and Prince Phillips Steps, Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross (almost surely twice!), and Gardner Bay -— each of the preceding locations are world-class wildlife photography destinations that rank right up there with the best of Antarctica, South Georgia, the Falklands, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises and Darwin’s Finches, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour (twice!) for nesting Blue-footed Boobies and both frigatebird species in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas and seabirds (including Red-billed Tropicbird), Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay (for Land Iguanas. Each is spectacular in its own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus lots more.

There will be opportunities to snorkel on sunny middays for those who (like me) who wish to partake. We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast skies, we will often spend 5+ hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip we snorkeled with thousands of dolphins.

Note that some of the walks are on the difficult side. Great images are possible on all landings with a hand-held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80-or 100-400mm lens, a 100-500, or a 200-600 lens. In the past, I have taken a longer lens ashore on most landings as they better fit my style. In 2019 I did the whole trip with my Nikon 500PF and my SONY 100-400. In 2023, it is likely that I will do the whole trip with The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 II (with both TCs) and the 200-600. I just might bring the 400mmm f/2.8 along …

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: Green Iguana – Guayaquil; Waved Albatross clicking display; Galapagos Tortoise eating passionfruit: Red-billed Tropicbird: male frigatebird with pouch distended; cave wall blur; face of Galapagos Sea-Lion with red sand background — Rabida: White-cheeked Pintail; Nazca Boobies calling.

The Logistics & Tentative Itinerary

Please note: All itineraries, routings, and visitor sites on the Galápagos Islands are subject to change by the Galápagos National Park Service to minimize traffic and impact.

SUN August 27, 2023: Arrive in Guayaquil a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat.

MON August 28, 2023: Introductory sessions.

TUES August 29, 2023: We fly to the archipelago (Baltra) and board the Samba. Heck, on some trips, folks make great images from the dock in Baltra while our luggage is being loaded!

TUES September 12, 2023: We disembark the Samba in mid-morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of Wednesday, September 13, 2023, unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the TUES September 12.).

$15,999 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to and from the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top-notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, your non-refundable (except as previously noted) deposit of $7,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $5,000 is not due until 1/15/2023. The final payment of $3,999 per person will be due on 5/15/2023. All payments must be made by checks made out to BIRDS AS ART and mailed to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Deposits are double for single supplements.

Again, this trip needs ten participants registered by August 30, 2022, to run, so please do not book your flights until you learn that we are good to go.

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. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your 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.

Not included: your round-trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and an $800/person cash tip to be shared by the crew and the guide. These folks will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service on the boat is so wonderful that many folks opt to tip extra.

Please note: the current fuel surcharge of $300/person is included in the cost of the trip. If there is a significant increase in the price of diesel fuel in the next 14 months, the cost will be shared on a per/person basis (payable by check after you get home).

Clockwise from upper left corner and back to center: barrel cactus — infrared; Galapagos Storm Petrel — dorsal view; juvenile frigatebird banking; Short-eared Owl withe Wedge-rumped (Galapagos) Petrel; Nazca Booby displaying; immature frigate bird landing; booby sunset silhouette; Marine Iguana; White-cheeked Pintail displaying drake.

The Itinerary

The Logistics

SUN August 27, 2023: Arrive in Guayaquil a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat.

MON August 28, 2023: Introductory sessions.

TUES August 29, 2023: We fly to the archipelago (Baltra) and board the Samba.

On the Boat

Day 1: Tuesday, August 29 — PM North Seymour

Day 2: Wednesday, August 30 — Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, PM Prince Phillips´ Steps

Day 3: Thursday, August 31 — Marchena: AM Playa Negra, PM Navigation to Isabela

Day 4: Friday, September 1 — Isabela: AM Punta Albemarle, PM Punta Vicente Roca

Day 5: Saturday, September 2 — AM Fernandina: Punta Espinoza, PM Isabela: Bahía Urbina

Day 6: Sunday, September 3 — Isabela: AM Elizabeth Bay, PM Punta Moreno

Day 7: Monday, September 4 — Floreana: AM Post Office Bay, PM Punta Cormorant

Day 8: Tuesday, September 5 — Santa Cruz: AM Highlands and Lunch, PM free time in the city with some usually poor internet access.

Day 9: Wednesday, September 6 — Española: AM Gardner Bay, PM Punta Suárez

Day 10: Thursday, September 7 — Española: AM Punta Suarez, PM Navigation to San Cristóbal

Day 11: Friday, September 8 — San Cristóbal. AM Isa Lobos (until 9 am), PM Punta Pitt

Day 12: Saturday, September 9 — AM Santa Fe, PM South Plaza

Day 13: Sunday, September 10 — Genovesa: AM Darwin Bay, Navigation to Santiago

Day 14: Monday, September 11 — AM: James Bay, PM Rábida

Day 15: Tuesday, September 12 — North Seymour from 6 to 9am. We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023: Fly home.

I do hope that you can join us on what will surely be a rich and rewarding photographic voyage.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.