Dainty Dancers « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Dainty Dancers

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This Great Egret image was created at Little Estero Lagoon with the hand held Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon 1.4X III TC (at 125mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop off the blue water: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor Rear Focus AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

Dainty Dancers

All Southwest Florida IPTs feature visits to Little Estero Lagoon. We enjoy lots of chances to photograph a variety of herons and egrets at close range with hand held intermediate telephoto zoom lenses. The birds are attracted into photographic range with tossed greenbacks, small baitfish that I catch with a cast net. These sessions are always very popular. The image below was created in early morning light less than a minute before the image above was made. Both images were processed in CS-5 after which a layer of NIK Color Efex Pro’s White Neutralizer was added to sweeten the blues. Both are small crops from vertical original captures.

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This Great Egret image was also created at Little Estero Lagoon with the same hand held Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon 1.4X III TC (at 160mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop off the blue water: 1/2500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode.

Central Sensor Rear Focus AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.

With some images with lots of blue, White Neutralizer really gets the blues to sing; it can turn somewhat boring grey blue water into brilliant sky blue backdrops. See the animated GIF below. A 50% layer of NIK COler Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor was applied to the WHITEs only in each image via the use of a Hide-All mask. Learn to use Hide-All masks in the Layer Masking for Dummies section of Digital Basics, a PDF that includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips and techniques, and free updates for a long as I am still pushing the shutter button. The next update will be no later than this June.

Which Do You Like Best?

Let’s call the top image “Reflections” and the bottom image “Toe Dragger.” Take a moment to let us know which of the two images you like best, and why.

NIK 15% Discount

As regular readers here have seen recently, NIK’s Color Efex Pro has completed streamlined my workflow; you can save 15% on all NIK products by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings. You can download a trial copy that will work for 15 days and allow you to create full sized images.

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NIK Creative Efex Collection

NIK recently announced the availability of a special limited production bundle of 3 of their most popular products, Color Efex Pro 4, Silver Efex Pro 2, and HDR Efex Pro. You can save more than $200 on the bundle which is available only through NIK affiliates. If you would like additional info, please e-mail with the words “Creative Efex Collection” in the Subject line. If you have been on the fence about purchasing the plug-ins mentioned above this is a great chance to save some significant bucks.

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Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click herefor details.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in today’s blog post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins.  Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder (or on a tripod as above) with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Black Rapid RS-7 Strap. This ingeniously designed strap allows you to carry an intermediate telephoto lens bandolier-style while leaving it instantly accessible for flight and action photography. To learn more about this strap click here and scroll down.

14 comments to Dainty Dancers

  • avatar cheapo

    Oh my goodness! The first image put such a huge smile on my face!!! It’s wonderfully characterful of these lovely birds. For the second image, yes I like the increased blue. But personally am far more interested in the natural history of the image, and would even go so far as to say that there seems to be a slight golden tinge to the original which hints at an evening shot. And, as there’s little shadow under the bird, it might seem to confirm that.

  • avatar Chris

    I like the after of toe dragger better than before, though I do like the golden glow on the bird; maybe the two could be combine with a mask? I think I would like that best.

  • I like TD better than Ref because the former has better balance and in the latter I’m almost waiting for the bird to fall over on it’s face! There is such wonderful grace in Toe Dancer. I also like the whiter version after NIK was applied. However, were they mine to edit, on both the TD (either/both versions) and Ref I would have a masked layer revealing the shadow on the farthest wing…that shadow IMO needs to be neutralized to look less like the water. This would also alleviate confusion by prior posting here that there was a “poor cloning mark between the wings” needing attention. Still great captures both. Thanks again, Art, for sharing your photographic genius.

  • avatar Sarah

    I like the second one much better. The lift to the wings is much more graceful and ballet-like. Seeing the foot is also a plus. Ditto the comments above on what is happening between the wings, but I did have to go back and look for it.

  • I like “Toe Dragger” better. In “Reflections” it appears the egret is taking flight (though most gracefully). But in “Toe Dragger” you’ve captured the Henri Cartier-Breson moment – just as the toes leave the water with droplets trailing. While he is taking off in that image too, it really does look more like a dance. Very graceful.

  • In my previous comment I said “the sky is bluer”. I should have said the “water is bluer”. NIK does have the same effect on the sky.

  • I like the Toe-Dragger best because the sky is bluer and the image is brighter. I use the NIK program on many of my images and like it very much. They also have a free download for Iphones that works well to touch up images taken on Iphones. I would be interested to know how the NIK was applied here.

  • avatar Brian Drinkwater

    Toe Dragger is a more dynamic image. I can almost feel the strong wing down beat that is about to happen. That together with the spread of the feet and better water action all adds up. What detracts is the reflection, previously mentioned above, and what looks like a poor cloning mark between the wings which needs attention.

    having said that, I would be a happy guy to approach the quality in both shots. One day who knows!

    Kind Regards

    Brian

    • I believe that area needing cloning is actually just shadow on the back wing and the color of the water was just reflecting back off the shadow-casting wing. (See my fix in my complete posting.)

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    I prefer “Reflections”. Minimum shadow which is difficult in early morning light and cleaner background.

  • avatar Sarah Mayhew

    I prefer the “Toe Dragger”. Much more graceful

  • avatar Ray Rozema

    Addendum: something looks off, in between the wings on the ” Toe Dragger”. In my first comment I meant to say ” you did NOT remove the reflection”
    sorry

  • avatar Ray Rozema

    I like the toe dragger. the subject looks more balanced and graceful. I am little surprised you did remove the reflection in the upper rt corner.

  • avatar Mike

    what happened to the two 1dmkIV with the water damage? did the hair dryer trick fix them or did you have to send them to Canon???