Two Puzzling Mysteries… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Puzzling Mysteries...

What’s Up?

Kudos to the Wisconsin Badgers. I am rooting for them to upset undefeated Kentucky in the Men’s NCAA Final Four. It would seem that the winner of that game would be the likely national champion, Coach K and Duke notwithstanding…. Can Notre Dame stop the Lady Huskies juggernaut? All in all, great stuff. The jubilation of the winners and the tears of the losers are quite point/counterpoint. I get a tremendous amount of pleasure watching the handshake lines….

This blog post took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare and was published from my home at ILE at 12:01am on Monday. While I slept.


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Puzzling Mystery #1

I was getting ready for my Sunday swim. I was putting on the snorkeling cap that I wear to keep body heat in; it is black with ear flaps. The pool is about 75 degrees right now. Suddenly I remembered, “I need to put in my ear plugs.” Those help me avoid getting water in my ears. I walked into my office (aka man cave) which is adjacent to the pool deck. The plastic box with the earplugs was right where it was supposed to be. I took the two wax plugs out, shaped them, and inserted one into each ear.

I walked back out to the pool expecting to see the cap either on the table or atop my fins and snorkel that lay on the deck next to the pool. Not there. I went back into my office thinking that I might have placed the cap on my desk. Not there. I walked back into the bathroom to see if the cap was on the counter. I had gone there to apply anti-fog spray to my goggles. Not there. I checked my bed. Not there. I went out to the laundry room as that is where the cap was when I first grabbed it. Not there.

As my #1 rule for good living is “If you can’t find something, go back to the first place you looked and you will generally find it within two feet of that spot.” Not there. Then I looked again in all of the locations mentioned above. Still no cap. I was beginning to think that I was nuts. I knew that I had had the cap out on the deck as when I started to put the cap on it made me realize that I needed to put my ear plugs in. I searched the whole house again. No luck.

Finally I found my snorkeling cap. Where was it?


This image was created at Alafia Banks with the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X . ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

One AF point to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Puzzling Mystery #2

Why in the world would someone intentionally frame an image with the pelican so low in the frame? Can you come up with the number one reason? Or was this possibly simply a bad framing error?

Before and After

The animated GIF above compares the converted TIFF with the optimized image file. How many differences can you list? There are at least five


Clockwise from upper left to center: Snowy Egrets/breeding plumage pair, American Alligator with egret feather on head, Cattle Egret in breeding plumage (with fill flash), large Snowy Egret chicks, displaying gator, Wood Stork in flight carrying nesting material (fill flash), begging Snowy Egret chick, another Cattle Egret in breeding plumage (with fill flash), and Great Egret chick.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice Spoonbill and Wading Bird Chicks IPT: May 4-6, 2015. TWO FULL and TWO 1/2 DAYS: $1099. Limit 8/Openings 5.

St. Augustine in early May is a bird photographer’s paradise. With any luck we should have chicks of all sizes in the nests ranging from newly hatched Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons to nearly fledged Great Egrets. More than a few pairs of Roseate Spoonbills have nested at the Alligator Farm for the past several years. Photographing the spoonbill chicks in the nest is a huge challenge…. With any luck we will encounter a few Snowy and Cattle Egrets in stunning breeding plumage. We should have lots of flight photography ops especially late in the day. We will enjoy extra early entry on our three mornigs. Folks who will need a photographer’s pass ($89.95 includes full season early entry and late stay and submission fees for up to 5 photos in their annual contest; this works out to cheaper than four separate entry tickets). We will have those ready for pick-up on the first afternoon.


Clockwise from upper left: flash-as-main light Great Egret chick begging, breeding plumage Cattle Egret w/fill flash, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret chick in nest begging, Cattle Egrets copulating, Wood Stork with nesting material, another Wood Stork with nesting material, and breeding plumage Snowy Egret displaying.

What You Will Learn

On this IPT you will the learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure and how to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure. You will learn to understand and predict bird behavior and to see and understand the light. You will learn to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system and how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). Most importantly, you will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective. Rookeries are crowded, cluttered, white-washed places. Most folks who visit have no clue as to the difference of an image with tons of distractions and one with a clean line of sight and the best possible distant background. Join me and I will teach you to see like a pro.

I will be bringing my flash to the Alligator Farm (gasp!) I have not used flash for at least a year. I will be teaching you how to use flash as fill and how to use flash as main light. In addition, I will be reviewing the flash flight techniques that I developed at St. Augustine more than a few years ago.


Clockwise from upper left: gator back, Great Egret returning to mate (with fill flash), Roseate Spoonbill with bill open, Roseate Spoonbill chick begging, Roseate Spoonbill 11am silhouette, large Great Egret chicks in nest, and bill of Roseate Spoonbill.

Whats the Rest of the Deal?

Afternoon session on Monday, May 4. Then two full days with a morning and afternoon session each day, May 5 & 6. Then our last morning on May 7. At lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday (included) we will review my images; folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one? If you opt to bring your laptop, we can take a look at five of your best images from the morning or another session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot. Your balance–$600, payable only by check, is due immediately. Please include a separate check for $89.95 so that we can purchase your pass in advance. Please click here to read our cancellation policy before committing. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork linked to here and get it to us. You can register by calling Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 and arranging for your deposit of $499. Balances are payable only by check. I hope to see you there.


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29 comments to Two Puzzling Mysteries…

  • avatar Jordan

    The bird took the cap. You tried to get the bird sharp but DOF left the cap blurred on the right side of the image.

  • avatar Warren Robb

    1. The cap was on your head.
    2. You were anticipating a display move from the bird that didn’t happen in this frame.


  • avatar Jeff R

    Hi Artie, I lean towards the cap being on your head, but we just had 35-50 mph winds here in the Chicago area, so maybe it blew off the deck. Were you leaving room on the pelican shot for a head throw that didn’t come?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Jeff,

      How do you know that it did not come ?



      • avatar Jeff R

        I hope it did come, because I like before and after photos of bird behaviors. Also, I hope I didn’t imply that the winds in Chicago blew the hat away. It was just that March winds can be strong and maybe you had some strong winds too.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Note: I was NOT leaving room for the magazine title. My decision was not a mistake. I did have a reason. And it was a good one. Nobody has gotten it so far. Someone was close but that comment seems to have disappeared, just like my snorkeling cap 🙂 a

    ps: I do not like the composition as is.

  • avatar Kathy Graff

    I agree with the #1 answer: it was on your head all along. But there is another possibility: don’t know if it ever gets windy in FL but here in WI it does (like last evening, for instance) it blew off the table and far enough away that you didn’t immediately see it.

    The Brown Pelican photo: I think you framed it to avoid stuff below the bird that would have been distracting (as some others have said) and then, later, when you reviewed the image, you decided that you liked all of that space above the bird (for reasons mentioned by others perhaps).

    Changes to the original image: removed the little tiny twig growing out of the limb the bird was standing on; you removed many of the bright globs of sky in the background; moved the black point to add color and contrast to the image; undoubtedly other changes that I haven’t mentioned (I just do very basic editing to my images since I don’t use photoshop or DPP– yet).

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Composition–Pelican low to allow space at top for a magazine masthead?

    • avatar Elinor Osborn

      Or–Maybe there was stuff below the pelican that was not photographable so you chose to use the better background at the top and crop later.

      • avatar Elinor Osborn

        The more I think about this, the more I like the composition as is. I like:
        –the spacing on both sides of the bird, more room in front than behind
        –the bird in the lower half rather than in the middle
        –the bird more on my eye level than if it were higher in the frame
        –the trees at the top with sky showing through making it clear that the bird is up high in the trees. Without those trees, I wouldn’t be sure where the bird is and the photo doesn’t have the same impact for me

  • avatar Alex Furman


    Mistery#1: The cap was in your head.
    Mystery#2: As all beginners do, you used the central focusing point
    on the bird´s eye.



    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Alex, Thanks for commenting. No-go on the beginner mistake. I intentionally chose the AF point one to the left of center…. The active AF point was on the base of the green bill pouch just below the eye….

      See you at the Snow Monkey Park 🙂 a

  • avatar Pat Dunnuck

    The three things Doug mentioned plus the little “grass” at the bottom right & of course, the image optimization!

    Cap blew into the pool …

  • It was on your head…however…do not think it was there all the time. I am convinced inanimate objects frequently and for no good explanation, go on short vacations then reappear. It is obvious that is what happened here.

  • avatar Gary Axten

    A few years ago the answer might have been to make a magazine front cover, leaving space for titles etc.

  • avatar TREVOR GUY

    On your head,of course! Happens to me all the time…called senior moments!

  • avatar Karl Günter Wünsch

    I like your optimization – with one addition. I would take an adjustment brush and remove the distracting diagonal darkened area sticking out from the head of the pelican towards the top right hand corner of the frame…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I thought of doing that but decided against it as it is pretty blurred… artie ps: still a good suggestion.

  • On your head of course! LOL! Join the club.

  • avatar wtlloyd

    Framed low to avoid the open, highlighty areas in the background. But to me, I like that the pelican seems to be at equal height – eye level, making eye to eye contact.

    And, cap on head, of course!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      By putting the bird down in the frame I actually included MORE of the light BKGR areas (not less…) See you in Edinburgh!

  • Well, I think I found three, unless you count them as a group of one…

    1. The tiny branch sticking up from the bottom is gone.
    2. The highlight to the left of the pelican is gone.
    3. The bigger highlight on the right, going up the limb is gone.


  • I agree … I know the experience well???!!!

    What often happens to me is I won’t find what I am looking for … Only to go back later to find it where I had looked … GHOSTS ???!!!

    C …

  • avatar Don

    The cap was on your head….