One Piece at a Time « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

One Piece at a Time

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Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaulative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1 set manually. Fill flash at -3 stops with the better beamer.

I created the image above (yeah, I know; it’s pretty bad as is…) this morning at the Cozad Ranch in Linn, TX. Working with the 800 things were tight. I knew that I had at least one good head angle with the whole bird in the frame but the compositions were poor and unbalanced at best. The bird was moving up and down the perch rapidly in search of the almond butter mix on the rear side of the perch. Thinking digitally, knowing that I would need source material for the perch so that I could lose the orange, I created the image below:

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Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaulative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1 set manually. Fill flash at -3 stops with the Better Beamer.

Then I realized that creating a pano that included the entire top of the perch might be the best plan so I created a third image (below).

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Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaulative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1 set manually. Fill flash at -3 stops with the better beamer.

I brought the three images into Photoshop, expanded canvas top and left, brought in the Quick Masked sections from the two source material images, aligned them, adjusted the brightness by pulling the curve up or down as needed, blended the edges, filled in missing background areas, reduced the background noise, cleaned up the perch, and did a bit of Eye Doctor work. Voila: in about fifteen minutes I had the image that I had visualized. In my head ๐Ÿ™‚

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This quasi-panoramic image of a male Golden-fronted Woodpecker was created by compositing three images.

The key to the success of the final image was made possible because I thought to create the source images in the field immediately after viewing the image captures of the bird on the camera’s LCD. By learning to think digitally in the field you can do the very same thing. I used a variety of techniques from Digital Basics and Robert O’Toole’s APTATS I and APTATS II files. See the BAA Store for details on these great educational PDFs.

BTW, apologies to Johnny Cash on the title of this blog-post ๐Ÿ™‚

7 comments to One Piece at a Time

  • This this is 21st century Digital Photography. Anybody new to this game from the traditional film photography days will grasp their breath.
    The entire olden day ethics of photography has changed with Digital Photoshop.
    We are now playing God here in terms of photography.
    Ifham Raji – Sri Lanka

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ifham, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 1: Folks made stitched panorama images with film. 2: I had a friend who used film who could put a cowboy in a wine bottle and owl’s eye’s in a human skull. I am sure that he would not gasp. 3: Ethics are personal. 4: As I have done here, we always let folks know what we have done. 5: And most importantly with this image, there is nothing in the final photograph that was not there at the moment the image was created….

  • avatar Norman

    Hi Art, yes I do have a few other images and can use them as well…

    Thanks….

  • Hi Artie,
    I always learn something from your experience, but I have to ask: why did you use the 800mm if this was a setup and you could control your distance to the subject? Thanks.
    -Bryan

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Bryan, Many folks are asking why I use the 800 in a blind with a feeder set-up. At times it is a bit too much, but for the smaller species it rocks. I have the 400 DO at my side for the larger species if need be. I use both the 800 and the 400 with and without the 1.4 TC. I often use an Extension tube or two with the 800 for small birds, often with the 1.4 TC. The latter combo is great for doing tight head and front end portraits that reveal incredible detail. If the blind is very close to the feeders, it can block the early and late light. When I had only the 500, I used the 2X often…. Lastly, I prefer to work from wide openings in the blind (I often get permission to enlarge them) so that I have the freedom to pan from side to side (especially in low or soft light) and do not have to worry about the flash smacking something. Therefore, it is best not to have the blind right on top of the feeders.

  • avatar Norman

    Nice work Art, love it lots… I too have an image just like this one (no orange) and will probably give this technique a shot…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Norman: do you have other images to use as source material????? (You can only do that in the field at the time that you make the original image.)