Barnegat Lighthouse in Heaven
This image was created on the first Barnegat Jetty IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Image optimization with NIK Color Efex Pro Detail Extractor (aat 100%) and Tonal Contrast at 50% (all erased from the out-of-focus sand at the bottom of the frame. See the converted image below for comparison.
A New Perspective…
When I am lying on a sandy beach photographing shorebirds with a long lens using either my Panning Ground Pod or my Skimmer II, I often have the opportunity to create the “shorebird in heaven” look. The foreground sand hides the bird’s feet but the out-of-focus sand provides a soft, lovely white border at the bottom of the image that makes it appear that the sandpiper or plover is floating on a cloud.
On the December Barnegat Jetty IPT I was right down at the edge of the water photographing the Long-tailed Ducks that were uncharacteristically close to shore. (See same by scrolling down in BAA Notes 1-5/13 here.) When I was done turned into the north wind to head up the berm to the beach. Since it was low tide a sweet scene appeared before my eyes: Barnegat Lighthouse in Heaven. I set up and called Denise and the group over to share my find. It was all a matter of choosing the right perspective but in this case I had done that by accident.
In “The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World’s Top Shooters,” a cool book of photography tips by Nikon-guy Joe McNally, he writes, “Get your camera in a different place.” Though he happened to be talking about making images from atop the Empire State Building, the same lesson can be applied to nature photography. And if you follow his advice you will often be getting wet, sandy, muddy, too hot, too cold, or too uncomfortable. Or worse.
NIK 15% Discount
As regular readers know, Color Efex Pro has drastically changed my digital workflow and little by little I have begun using Viveza to solve sticky image optimization problems and Silver Efex Pro fo fast, dramatic B&W conversions. You can save 15% on all NIK products (including Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Viveza) 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.
This JPEG represents the converted RAW file for the image that opens this blog post. For me the biggest and most important improvement in the optimized (opening) image is the sky.
Which of the two lighthouse images do you like best, the optimized image (top)or the understated original? And be sure to let us know why.
This Fractalius image was created from an image that I created on the first Barnegat Jetty IPT with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2o0 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the bird’s eye and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
To see the original optimized Harlequin Duck image and some great stuff on image design, Rear Focus, image clean-up, NIK Color Efex Pro, and NIK Viveza, check out the images and the two animated GIFs in Two Drake Harlequin Duck Images; So Many Lessons here.
To create the image above (yes, it is digital art), I ran a tweaked version of Denise Ippolito’s Soft Fix Fractalius pre-set on a layer, added a regular Layer Mask, and revealed the eye.
BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Barnegat Jetty II IPT
We had so much fun at the jetty in the wild weather in December–see the following blog posts here, here, here, and here, that I am flying back to New Jersey for more. Since there were lots of Harlequins, Long-tailed Ducks, and Purple Sandpipers we decided to put together another small group. Do consider joining us. As for me, I can’t wait to get back.
BIRDS AS ART/Barnegat Jetty IPT II, Barnegat Light, NJ: 2 1/2 DAYS. JAN 18 (1:30pm), 19, and 20, 2012: $999. Limit 8/Openings: 6. Includes 5 photo-sessions, both lunches, introductory slide program, image review, sharing, editing, and Photoshop.
Note: On cloudy days we grab a quick lunch and spend most of the day photographing.
Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris for a 2 1/2 Day Instructional Photo-Tour at the infamous Barnegat Jetty in Barnegat Light, New Jersey. You will learn how to get close to the ducks and shorebirds that frequent this famed winter birding and photography hotspot, how to get the right exposure every time, and how to see, understand, and tackle a variety of photographic situations. We should have some excellent chances with Harlequin Duck and Purple Sandpiper, the two headliner species. With any luck we should get to photograph most of these species: Long-tailed Duck (formerly Oldsquaw), Common Loon, Red-throated Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Common Eider, Brant, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover, and Sanderling. Great Black-backed, Herring, and Ring-billed Gulls are also likely. Sunning Harbor Seals are possible. With the right winds we may have some good flight photography with the sea ducks.
Having at least a 500mm f/4 lens with a 1.4X teleconverter is recommended. Participants should be in good physical condition with a good sense of balance. $500 non-refundable credit card deposit by phone: 1-863-692-0906. Weekends OK.
Can’t Make the Whole Thing?
If you can’t make the whole thing, you can join what will likely be a small group as follows: Full Day with lunch: $400. Afternoon (1:30-dusk): $250. Call to arrange: 1-863-692-0906. Weekends OK.
Weekend Creative Nature Photography Seminar, Tampa, FL: February 23 & 24, 2013: $149 Limit: 50/Openings: 15
Join Denise Ippolito and me on the weekend of February 23-24 on the outskirts of Tampa, FL for a great weekend of fun and learning. Learn to improve your photography skills, your skill at designing images in the field, your creative vision, and your image optimization skills. Sunday critiquing session. Click here for additional details and the complete schedule.
Best to register soon as the seminar is filling up nicely.
On all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, or grammatical errors. Just be right.
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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.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gizo GT3532 LS CF Tripod. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. Learn more about this great tripod here.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
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.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.
Delkin Flash Cards. I use and depend on Delkin compact Flash Cards and card readers most every day. Learn more about their great 700X and 1000X cards here or about my favorite Delkin card here.