The 600II/1D X Combo Still Works Well & Midair Pelican Miracle Ballet in the Fog « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The 600II/1D X Combo Still Works Well & Midair Pelican Miracle Ballet in the Fog

What’s Up?

More spoonbills. Tons of pelican flight. Tons of fog. Tons of learning about exposure. Lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s. A great Photoshop session. And an hour of fine land-based photography at a local rookery.

This blog post took 2 hours to prepare and was published at 3:50am from my hotel room in Brandon, FL.

Not Too Late!

It’s not too late to join us for some great in-the-field instruction at Fort DeSoto: 2 photo sessions and a working lunch. This coming Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Scroll down for details.

Hooptie Spoonbill Mini-IPT

The Hooptie Roseate Spoonbill Mini-IPT announced yesterday signed up two folks. There are just four slots left. Scroll down for details.

South Georgia October 2015

Do consider joining me in South Georgia next October for the trip of a lifetime. Click here for complete details.

Save $242

Register before the end of the month for the South Georgia trip and receive a $242 discount on your return airfare. Please e-mail for details.

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This image was created on the foggy morning of February 24, 2015 at Alafia Banks, FL with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the white sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.

Central AF point (manual selection)/AI Servo Shutter Button AF as originally framed fell on the diamond on the bird’s neck and was of course 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.

The Situation: Lucky, Lucky!

It began as a warm, still, foggy morning so I wore my lightweight waders, my surf booties, and a lightweight sun protection blouse. After a few hours, some sea fog rolled in on a southwest wind and I became chilled. I kept threatening to switch to my thick neoprene waders and finally did. After I changed and got back off the Hooptie Deux to join the group in the water I picked a spot, planted my tripod in the bottom, and set my exposure to 2 1/3 stops off the white sky. A moment after being ready a pelican flew in from right to left. Just as I acquired focus the bird extended its neck, raised its head, and shook it. I fired off two frames. The first frame, today’s featured image, had the most pleasing wing position and the sharpest face. so violently did the pelican shake its head that even at 1/2500 the second image in the series suffered from motion blur.

I knew that I had nailed the focus and knew that the exposure was right so I was elated even before I looked at the two images on the rear LCD.

Talk about lucky. Step up to the plate and hit a grand slam on the first pitch. You gotta love it. I had seen this behavior before many times but had never photographed it. It is good to know that an old, slow dog can find a bone once in a while….


This JPEG represents the RAW file as it came out of the camera.

The Image Optimization

After converting the image in DPP 4, I brought it into Photoshop and did a Levels adjustment. That alone resulted in a dramatic improvement. Next I used a Quick Mask refined with a Layer Mask to eliminate the bits of sky from the upper right corner. Then I moved the bird down in the frame a bit, cropped from the bottom, ran my NIK 50-50 recipe on the bird only, applied a contrast mask to the bird’s face, and replaced the closed eye using a refined Quick Mask. The eye was borrowed from another pelican image. Learn advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Layer Masking and how to move a bird in the frame I used a technique from APTATS II. The rest is detailed in Digital Basics.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize both of today’s images is covered in detail 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, details on using all of my image clean-up tools, 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, Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur (background noise reduction) settings as taught to me by Denise Ippolito, and tons more.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. 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 863-692-0906 weekdays to order.


You can order your copy of “The Photographers’ Guide to Canon Digital Photo Professional 4.0” (aka the DPP 4 Raw Conversion eGuide) by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris by clicking here.

The DPP 4 eGuide (PDF)

Learn how and why I and many other discerning photographers choose and use only DPP 4 to convert their Canon RAW files in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. The latest version supports all of the newer Canon camera bodies and several older models including the EOS-7D and the EOS-1D Mark IV.


The Fort DeSoto Add-on Mini IPT will give us lots of chances to photograph a wide variety of species. Many of the birds at DeSoto are silly-tame.

Fort DeSoto Add-on Mini IPT: $349. Two shooting sessions: the afternoon of THUR FEB 26 and the morning of Friday FEB 27, 2015. Limit 12 photographers. One great leader: Arthur Morris.

Shorebirds, wading birds, terns, pelicans, gulls and more. Includes lunch on Friday and a small group image sharing and Photoshop session on Friday. Payment in full with a credit card for this one-day IPT is due upon registration. Or bring cash. You must call Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 to sign up.


Images courtesy of and copyright Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

The Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Mini IPT. 1 1/2 DAYs: $1250. SAT MAR 7 (full day) and SUN Morning MAR 8, 2015. Working lunch on Saturday included. Strict Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 4

Meet and greet on the evening of FRI MAR 6. Two great leaders: Captain James Shadle (Nikon) and Canon Explorer of Light Arthur Morris.

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in early March is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage….

Weather permitting there will be three boat trips: 2 mornings and 1 afternoons. Mornings at Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography with the birds likely carrying nesting material), cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White in breeding plumage. Many of the White Ibises will be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition we will get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. The afternoon trip will be either to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and more or to a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes one working lunch.

Important Notes

We stay in Brandon, FL for this IPT. From our hotel it is only about 20 minutes to the dock. The plan is for all sessions to be by boat. For the Alafia Banks segments, Captain Shadle provides light weight chest waders as much of the photography will be done while we are standing in fairly shallow water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with balance problems. Note however that some folks may opt to stay on the boat. They always have lots of good chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

This mini Hooptie IPT represents an incredible opportunity. It may fill quickly. We hope that you can join us. Scroll down for registration info.


All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks early in the season. Images copyright Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Hooptie Mini-IPT Registration Info

Payment in full for this short notice trip is of course due upon registration. Call the office at 863-692-0906 to arrange to send us a check for payment in full (preferred) or to put the whole thing on a credit card. If by check, it should be made out to “Arthur Morris” and be mailed to BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. If you cancel and 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.

However you arrange for payment, please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with the paperwork. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.


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2 comments to The 600II/1D X Combo Still Works Well & Midair Pelican Miracle Ballet in the Fog

  • avatar Max Warner

    Great shot, as always.

    Any news about Canon’s Mark II 400 mm DO lens?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      They are very hard to come by…. Lou Newman on the current IPT has one and loves it. Did you order one using my B&H link?