Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography...

Another Gatorland Short-Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop

Right Now, It’s Just Me!

Saturday March 22, 2014. 7:15am till 10:15am & 4:00pm till dusk. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included. Limit 6/Openings 6. A very small group is again likely: $399.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

Gatorland is so good right now that I am going back this Saturday to try for tiny Great Egret chicks in the nest. Head portraits of this species in full breeding plumage are pretty much guaranteed even with an intermediate zoom lens. Nest building and flight likely. Here’s the story: there about two dozen photographers at Gatorland on Saturday past. Aside from one photographer from Slovakia and another, from the UK, wearing a blue and white checked shirt, nobody had a clue as to how to make a good image…. Most folks just stand in one spot and point and shoot. Without regard for light angle or background. Join me on this, the 2nd Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop and you will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. A big part of the above is that you will learn how and why you must work in Manual mode 90% of the time at Gatorland. That is one of the things that Dana-see her e-mail below, and Chris Billman learned last Saturday.

At lunch we will review my images, take a look at five of your best images from the morning session (for those who opt to bring their laptops), and process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time. Last Saturday all 3 folks had a great time and learned a ton. And the weather for this coming Saturday is looking good.

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. Ask for me if you have any questions.

UK Puffins & Gannet IPT

Details for this great trip have been finalized. Please e-mail me for complete info if you are interested.

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You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

Note: We almost never have Mongoose M3.6 heads in stock. We sell them as fast as we get them. We had three in stock the other day. Now we have none in stock…. The best way to ensure getting one of these great heads for your intermediate or super-telephoto lens is to call Jim now and place your order. You are then ensured of getting one from our next shipment. We will not of course bill your credit card until the item ships or drop-ships.

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This blog post took only 1 1/2 hours to prepare. Enjoy.


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This young Snow Goose was photographed on last year’s Bosque del Apache IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the snow in very soft light at 12:48pm: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Color temperature: 7000.

Central Sensor/Surround/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s rear flank active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography…

The Bad

1-Strive to keep the active AF sensor on the bird’s eye, face, neck, or upper breast.

I did not do too well in that department with the image above.

2-Pan faster to keep the bird well back in the frame.

I did not do too well in that department either with the image above.

The Ugly

The bird is too far forward in the frame and the image is not at all level.

The Good

The sharp calling immature goose. The soft light and the snow. The subject perfectly placed on the wide strip of snow.

3-Be sure to have far focus range set so that your lens does not have to search down to minimum focusing distance.

4-Pre-focus manually with your left hand until the bird is roughly in focus before activating AF; this too will speed up initial focusing acquistion.

Keep or Delete?

As you will see below, this was an easy call for me.


snow-goose-immature-calling-in-flight-in-snow-_y7o7953-bosque-del-apache-nwr-san-antonio-nm

Using techniques from Digital Basics and APTATS I & II enabled me to create a pleasing sale-able image from a less than ideal image capture in less than 8 minutes.

Pretty Good, No?

The Image Optimization

1-convert the image in DPP.
2-level the image
3-fill in the blank canvas using the John Haedo technique.
4-repair the mess along the upper right frame-edge with the Clone Stamp Tool and the Patch Tool
5-move the bird back in the frame four times using techniques from APTATS II, blending the edges via a Regular Layer Mask.
6-use the Spot Healing Brush to eliminate now flake repeats.
7-Use the Patch Tool to eliminate broader repeats in the lower third of the frame.
8-select the bird with the Quick Selection Tool and put it on its own layer.
9-apply a layer of my NIK 50/50 custom pre-set, reduce that to 50% Opacity, and add a small contrast mask.
10-select the face and bill and run a Contrast Mask at 15/65/0 on that layer only and then lighten it is bit.
10-small increase in contrast

Done deal.

The DPP RAW Conversion Guide

After seeing the accurate colors that I get from my DPP RAW conversions, Japan in Winter co-leader Paul McKenzie switched to DPP conversions and Denise Ippolito is considering doing the same. Now that is amazing…. To learn why I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to convert every image that I work on, click here.

Digital Basics

Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Do you have no clue as to how I optimized the images above? Everything above plus tons more is detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, my killer image clean-up techniques, Digital Eye Doctor, creating time-saving actions, and lots more.

APTATS I & II

Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount with phone orders only. Learn advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount with phone orders only. Buy the pair, APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only.

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Flight Plan

5-Get yourself a copy of Jim Neiger’s great eGuide on photographing birds in flight here.


bosque-2014-ipt-card

Join Denise Ippolito and me for four great days of photography and learning at one of our soul places. Please click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

Bosque del Apache 2014 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). NOV 29-DEC 3, 2014. Totaling 4 FULL-DAYS: $1449. Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/29.

There are 8 photographers signed up already!

Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with two of the world’s premier photographic educators at one of their very favorite photography locations on the planet. Top-notch in-the-field and Photoshop instruction. This will make 21 consecutive Novembers at Bosque for artie. This will be denise’s 6th workshop at the refuge. Nobody knows the place better than artie does. Join us to learn to think like a pro, to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather, especially the sky conditions, the light, and the wind direction. Every time we make a move we will let you know why. When you head home being able to apply what you’ve learned on your home turf will prove to be invaluable.

This workshop includes 4 afternoon (11/29 through 12/2), 4 morning (11/30 to 12/3) photography sessions, an inspirational introductory slide program after dinner on your own on Saturday, 11/29, all lunches, and after-lunch digital workflow, Photoshop, and image critiquing sessions.

There is never a strict itinerary on a Bosque IPT as each day is tailored to the local conditions at the time and to the weather. We are totally flexible in order to maximize both the photographic and learning opportunities. We are up early each day leaving the hotel by 5:30 am to be in position for sunrise. We usually photograph until about 10:30am. Then it is back to Socorro for lunch and then a classroom session with the group most days. We head back to the refuge at about 3:30pm each day and photograph until sunset. We will be photographing lots of Snow Geese and lots of Sandhill Cranes with the emphasis on expanding both your technical skills and your creativity.

A $449 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 7/25/2014. If you cancel, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the amount you have paid less a $100 processing fee, only if the trip sells out. 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 print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.


bosque-creative-card-2014-1200-wide

Join Denise Ippolito and me for two great days of photography, fun, and learning at one of our soul places. We will surely be taking you out of the box on this workshop. Please click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

Bosque del Apache 2014 A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART “Creative Photography Instructional Photo-Tour.” (IPT). NOV 24-25, 2014. 2-FULL DAYS: $729. Leaders: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/23.

Get Out of Your Box!

The Creative Bosque IPT is perfect for folks who want to learn to think outside the box, to create new and different images. This workshop is the perfect add-on for folks who are planning on attending the Festival of the Cranes. Learn to unleash your creative juices at the wondrous Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico with two great leaders including the amazingly talented and creative Denise Ippolito. In-the-field instruction will include tips on gear set-up, on creating a variety of pleasing blurs, on getting the right exposure, and on designing pleasing images. And lots more. From vertical pan blurs to subject motion blurs to zoom blurs to multiple exposures we will cover it all. If conditions are perfect, we will not hesitate to take advantage of them to do some traditional bird photography. This workshop will include an inspirational introductory slide program on Sunday evening, 11/23, after dinner on your own, two morning and two afternoon photography sessions, all lunches, a digital workflow and Photoshop session after lunch on Monday, and an image critiquing session after lunch on Tuesday.

A $329 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 7/25/2014. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. 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 print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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3 comments to Universal Advice for Better Flight Photography…

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    ps: folks could post their images before I post mine…. Keep reminding me 🙂

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    That might be a good plan…. I will try to figure out what Forum to do that in….

  • I have a suggestion that might be fun…post an untouched image of yours on BPN and let us process the image the way we think it should, along with what we did and why we did it. Then after a couple of days, you post your final version. Doug