A Beyond Memorable Afternoon: Was It Worth It? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Beyond Memorable Afternoon: Was It Worth It?

The Streak Continues: 176

Not to worry. The streak is alive as of 11:02am eastern time. I got in late last night after the long photo session at Nickerson and did not begin working on this post until 5:15am this morning. It took nearly 6 hours to create. Please use our links when buying new photo gear.

Voting on the amazing Flight Category images will be open until early Tuesday morning. Please click here to vote.

This post marks 176 consecutive days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? April was a record month but May has not been so good. So far…. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, I do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know the tools that you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and visiting the BAA Online store as well.

Enjoy!


y5o0988-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

This image was created yesterday afternoon at Nickerson Beach at 7:34:33pm with the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual Av mode. AWB.

One row down and fours sensors to the right of the Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF as framed 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.

On-camera fill flash with Better Beamer at -1 1/3 stops in ETTL. Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT with the Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack for faster re-charging times.

Original Capture: Common Terns Copulating #1

Note in the optimized version of this image immediately below how the crop from the left and below tightened up the image composition so nicely.

The Morning After

I awoke at 5:09am this morning from the pain in my right shoulder. The weather forecast for Lido Beach was perfect: clear skies with a gentle northeast wind. But after re-trashing my chronically problematic right shoulder yesterday afternoon, I did not even think about going back to Nickerson Beach this morning….


common-terns-copulating-w-skimmer-standing-nearby-_y5o0988-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

The optimized image here was created from the original image that opened this blog post. There are 3 more before and after image pairs below.

Common Terns Copulating #1

The Beyond Memorable Afternoon

Dr. Greg Galbransen had been wanting to do a private session with me at Nickerson Beach for quite some time. With the not-too-great weather forecast for yesterday afternoon and my shoulder already bothering me, I was this close to cancelling. But at lunchtime, sensing his eagerness to improve his photography, we arranged to meet in Point Lookout at 3:45pm and head out to the beach. Greg turned out to be a super-nice guy and I learned many of the details of his totally amazing life. My plan is to write that story today, check the details with Greg later today, and share it with you tomorrow. Trust me, this one will hit you hard and open your eyes. Have you heard the phrase “ordinary people, extraordinary lives”? Greg fits that billing perfectly. Dr. Greg Galbransen is an heroic figure.

Our friendship was pretty much cemented instantly. We started with some resting oystercatchers in full sun but in short order the clouds came and Greg learned the basics of exposure in short order: when the sun is out, the camera’s meter is pretty smart. When the sun is not out, the camera’s meter is pretty dumb. The lighter toned the overall scene the dumber the camera’s meter. From experience I knew that when I was adding 2/3 stop of light to the meter reading off the sand in full sun for the oystercatchers that Greg with his Nikon gear would likely need +1/3 stop. And for photographing the Common Terns in flight when I was reading +2 stops off a grey cloud I advised Greg to add 1 2/3 stops to his reading off that same cloud and set the values manually. Greg was amazed that when he followed my directions to the letter as he did on occasion, his exposures for the terns in flight and for those on the ground were perfect. And yes, he learned a lot about histograms and exposing to the right. At one point the clouds were so thick that I was at ISO 1600 and working at +3 stops off the sky.


y5o0998-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

This image was created yesterday afternoon at Nickerson Beach at 7:34:52pm, 19 seconds after the image above, also with the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual Av mode. AWB.

One row down and two sensors to the left of the Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF as framed 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.

On-camera fill flash with Better Beamer at -1 1/3 stops in ETTL. Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT with the Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack for faster re-charging times.

Original Capture: Common Terns Copulating #2

Note in the optimized version of this image immediately below how the crop and some clean-up work improved the image by eliminating the skimmer butt on the right side of the frame.

The Cloudy Period

While the clouds were thick and the light low, we sat by the colony ropes–this year the ropes are quite far from sparse beach grasses where the tern nests begin. I had left my 600 and my tripod in the car opting to work with my 300 II, almost always with the 2X III TC. That in an effort to keep from damaging my long-injured shoulder. Well, that plan did not work well. I had gotten down flat for the oystercatchers. Getting down was bad. Getting up was worse and I felt the strain on my shoulder. On occasion Greg had to hold my rig so that I was able to get up. My good friend and health guru Dr. Cliff Oliver of San Diego asked me a few weeks ago how many body parts and joints touched the floor when I got up off the ground. I answered, “eight.” He said, “Let me check my chart on that.” A moment later he said jokingly, “Death is imminent.”

Anyhoo, the extended flight photography session also took its toll on my right shoulder. At times I needed to lay back and rest on the sand. I kept saying, We gotta go soon.”


common-terns-copulating-_y5o0998-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

The optimized image here was created from the original image immediately above.

Common Terns Copulating #2

But Then…

But then the sun came out. And the south wind had shifted to the west. Perfecto. I took a walk towards the ocean and sat down not-too–close to a flock of skimmers. When a beach vehicle ran by, the flock flushed, flew a short distance, and landed right in front of me in sweet light. With some difficulty, I got back down on the ground. In a few minutes Greg working with his Nikon 600 VR and the 1.4X TCE was right behind me.


y5o1009-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

This image was created yesterday afternoon at Nickerson Beach at 7:34:54, 2 seconds after the image above, also with the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual Av mode. AWB.

One row down and fours sensors to the right of the Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF as framed 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.

Original Capture: Common Terns Copulating #3

Note in the optimized version of this image immediately below how I softened the look of the tern on the left frame-edge to make it less obtrusive.

The Copulating Terns

I had already marine-crawled–oh, that was not fun–well to my left to get on sun angle for the terns that were landing just behind and to the left of the skimmer flock. The next thing that I knew, a pair began to copulate. In image 1 above, there was a skimmer in the left part of the frame but I made a few images before crawling back to my right. The sun was soft enough so that being well off light angle was not a problem at all. In a short time frame I created images 2 and 3, each with the butt-end of another skimmer included in the original capture.


comon-terns-copulating-_y5o1009-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

The optimized image here was created from the original image immediately above.

Common Terns Copulating #3

The Image Optimizaations

After converting the four images in DPP they were brought into Photoshop to be optimized. I used Edit/Copy recipe to clipboard and then Edit/Paste recipe to conveniently speed up RAW conversion process.

Beach clean-up was done with the usual line-up of tools: the Clone Stamp Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and my beloved Patch Tool. When a bird that I wanted to eliminate–like the forward-facing tern behind the skimmer’s bill in image #1–merged with another bird I used Denise Ippolito’s invaluable Protective Cloning on a Layer techniques to get the job done. I used many small and medium-sized Quick Masks to cover unwanted parts of birds and to move the o-o-f yellow lifeguard tower in image #2. The Quick Masks are of course fine-tuned with Layer Masks. There were a few too bright but not over-exposed WHITEs on the sides of the breasts of some of the terns so I applied a Linear Burn to the whole image (on a new layer via Control J), hid that with an Inverse (Hide-all or Black) Layer Mask, and painted in the effect with a swipe or two of a 10% Opacity Brush. I selected the dark caps of each bird using the Quick Selection Tool, sharpened that layer selectively by applying a Contrast Mask, and then lightened the selection with Curves on a Layer (Control M).

The DPP RAW Conversion Guide

To learn why I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to convert every image that I work on, click here.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s images are detailed in my Digital Basics File–written in my easy-to-follow, easy-to-understand style. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Digital Basics File is 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 and filling in 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. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-221-2372 on Tuesday to order.


y5o1031-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

This image was created yesterday afternoon at Nickerson Beach at 7:35:08pm, 14 seconds after the image above, also with the hand held Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual Av mode. AWB.

One row down and one sensor to the left of the Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF as framed 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.

Original Capture: Common Terns Copulating #4

Note in the optimized version of this image immediately below that the crop from below and from the left tidied things up. I used the Clone Stamp Tool to get rid of the o-o-f tern in flight and the intruding tern on the right frame-edge.

The Final Move

To create this image I moved painfully once again to my right to get the offending skimmer butt out of the frame. Moments after this image two skimmers landed right in front of the pair. Surprisingly, they kept on copulating for another minute or so. I thank them for their cooperation. With many species or individual pairs copulations may last only a few seconds or less.


common-terns-copulating-_y5o1031-nickerson-beach-lido-beach-long-island-ny

The optimized image here was created from the original image immediately above.

Common Terns Copulating #4

Was It Worth It?

In a word, “Yes.” Not so much for the images but for the experience. Working with a bright student who is seriously interested in learning is always rewarding. Hearing Greg’s story in person–I had read a bit about it on line–was both wonderful and horrible. And I love when a not-so-great photo session turns spectacular at the very end of the day. Well, not actually the end of the day but that will be another blog post.

I created 775 images yesterday afternoon but have not yet finished editing them. Perhaps there will be a few that make an already memorable afternoon even more memorable. Or not.

As for the right shoulder. The pain is the pain. It is what it is. I love that it reminds me of how good I usually feel and about how lucky I have been to travel and photograph as much as I have for the past 3 decades. The shoulder is about as bad as it has been but I have always been able to re-hab it and am confident that it will be fine in a while. PMA = positive mental attitude. When I get back to Florida it is likely that I will undergo Prolozone therapy as soon as possible.

Your Favorite?

Please take a moment to select your favorite image here. And be sure to let us know why you made your choice.

nickerson-card

Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT: 3-Full Days/July 15-17, 2014: $1199. Introductory meet and greet: 8pm, Monday, July 14, 2014. Co-leaders Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito

Greg Gulbransen is very much looking to this IPT. Join us on Long Island, NY next summer to photograph Black Skimmers, Common Terns with chicks, American Oystercatcher families, and possibly some just-hatched Black Skimmer chicks. Things are looking great. The opportunities will include chances to photograph a variety of breeding behaviors including courtship feeding, display flight and combat, and copulations. Car-pooling is recommended; if we opt to return to the beach before 5pm there is a $30/vehicle parking fee that is not included so it is best to share that expense. Parking in the morning is free.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. 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.”) Though we prefer a check, 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

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advise, usually sells in no time flat as did Dennis Cassidy’s 500 II recently on the blog. Larry Master’s 400 DO and his 800 f/5.6 sold within a week. From Larry via e-mail: Thanks for helping me sell the lenses so quickly!

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART friend Kitto Kono sold her Nikon 500 to a Blog subscriber in less than a week. Janet Horton’s 7D sold this week after a $100 price reduction. Denise Ippolito’s 100-400 and her 100 macro sold in one day. Peter Kes sold his 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and his 400 DO through BAA in ten days. In the past two months we have sold a Canon 800, a Canon 500 II, 3 400 DO lenses, a Nikon 500mm, and lots more. If you are interested in using our services, please e-mail.

Used Photography Gear Page

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that there is a link to the Used Photography Gear page on the yellow tool bar at the top of each blog page. Folks looking to buy (or to sell) can click on that tab or here. I will on occasion continue to list new gear and great buys in blog posts and in Bulletins and may on rare occasion share all the listings with you on the blog. I will strive to keep the listings current. Great news for Kitty Kono and her Nikon 400mm f/2.8: it sold recently! That made her 2 for 2 on selling her older Nikon super-telephotos with BAA.

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

….. …..

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. ๐Ÿ™‚

12 comments to A Beyond Memorable Afternoon: Was It Worth It?

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    You are welcome. If I were you, I would have been in my doctor’s office already. One more thing my wife and I need to learn from you is your excellent attitude. We are no pro or master or anything, but we enjoy photograhing birds, love outdoor, and appreciate this wonderful world we live in. Hope you get well very soon.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks again. I have an appointment in Bradenton, FL on Thursday afternoon. I should be getting several prolozone injections, spending some time in a hyperbaric chamber to reduce inflammation, and taking an ozone steam sauna. With all due respect to the many MDs in my client base, you might guess that I am not a fan of Western medicine’s cut em and drug philosophy. Those who would like to read the story of my return to good health under the guidance of Dr. Cliff Oliver are invited to shoot me an e-mail with the words Health Basics File cut and pasted into the Subject line. It has changed a few lives at least for the better ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    Your pictures have been inspiring me and my wife. We learned a lot from you. Thank you for sharing your experience, stories, and photographic skills. Even with shoulder problem, you still got great pictures. I am blown away. What an awesome photographer you are!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Nick and Mrs. Nick. Thanks for your more than kind words. artie

  • Thanks for the great blog post. I like image #3 best. I think it’s the wing position, and the birds look most comfortable in that image compared to the rest, if it matters ๐Ÿ™‚

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thank you sir. I will let all know which one I like best in a few days. And why. artie

  • Hi Artie, another great blog post and I agree with Kevin, I love coming here each day and reading the stories, learning and having that personal connection with you and your experiences. It makes it really interesting and engaging. ๐Ÿ™‚ I particularly liked this blog post about how you went through explaining your day and then how that altered your mindset and your process in the editing stage.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks for your more than kind words Kevin. Greg is reviewing the article as I type. You enjoy the weekend too. later and love, artie

  • avatar Kevin Hice

    Good afternoon just reading the blog. Looking forward to seeing more of Dr Greg’s story. Thats what I like about your blogs. The personal stories as much as I have learned about photography. Your positive mental attitude teaches me so much and gives me time to reflect how fortunate I am in many ways. Family, health and friends. How lucky we are to live in this country on this Memorial Day weekend. Artie you are a class act Have a great memorial day weekend with family and friends.