The Amazing Answer to the Red Regurgitant Mystery… And Used Nikon D4 dSLR for sale « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Amazing Answer to the Red Regurgitant Mystery...

What’s Up?

I added about 50 images to the Southern Ocean Photography Guide, ordered some warm clothing for my upcoming Japan trip, and answered another zillion e-mails. Swim, core exercises, ice bath, and three healthy meals made for a perfect day.

Today’s blog post took nearly three hours to assemble, from soup to nuts.


The Streak

In spite of having been buried by travel, teaching, the exhibit, and several major writing projects for the last two months, today’s blog post marks 86 days in a row with a new educational blog post. Again, please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. πŸ™‚


B&H was the primary sponsor of my solo, career retrospective, 67-image exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Thank them (and me, for the work I do on the blog) by clicking on the logo link above to shop for camera bodies and lenses.

Selling Your Used 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 advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the yellow-orange tab on the right side of the menu bar above.

Douglas Bolt sold his Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom lens for Canon in like-new condition for $699, Diane Miller sold her 300mm f/2.8L IS lens, the old three, for $2899, and Roberta Olenick sold her Canon EOS-1D Mark IV camera body in excellent condition for $1279 USD, all within the last week. I learned last Wednesday that the sale of IPT veteran Brent Bridges’ 300mm f/2.8L IS lens for $4599 is pending. And I learned last Thursay that Mark Hodsgon’s 70-200mm f/4L IS lens became pending on the day that it was listed. More recently Walt Thomas sold his used Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens in mint condition for $749 and just yesterday Erik Hagstrom sold his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and Bill Condon sold his Canon 500mm f/4L IS USM lens in like-new, near-mint condition for the full asking price, $4199, in one day after getting three offers.

When I sent a follow-up e-mail asking that Bill check the listing, he sent this lovely e-mail in reply:

Artie, the listing was more than perfect. I had three offers in the first 36 hours and my lens was sold for asking price on the second day! I am grateful for your help: your added words gave true legitimacy to the value of my lens. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Bill

After all the work that I have put into the Used Gear Sales Page, I know how to price the stuff fairly so that it will sell fairly quickly. And for items that I am not familiar with I have taught myself how to come up with solid prices…

New Listing

Nikon D4 dSLR Professional Camera Body

Sash Dias is offering a used Nikon D4 body in excellent condition for $2399; the body is pristine except for a small rub mark near the mic button. It is a Nikon USA body, has been babied for its entire life, and has less than 30,000 actuations. The sale includes the Nikon D4 body, the front body cap, the original battery and battery charger and insured shipping via USPS Priority Mail. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Sash by e-mailΒ­Β­Β­ or by phone at 508-439-1097 (Eastern time).

New Nikon Gear

Click here for a link to slew of new Nikon stuff.


Nikon’s two new flagship bodies are available for pre-order now; if you want and need one of these, please use one of the two product specific links below to support my efforts here on the BAA Blog.

Nikon’s Two New Flagship DSLRs

About ten days ago Nikon introduced two flagship camera bodies, the Nikon D5 DSLR Camera (Dual CompactFlash) and the Nikon D5 DSLR Camera (Dual XQD). XQD is a new, faster type of card.

Canon EOS-1D X II

As for me, I can’t wait for the 1D X II to be announced…


This is the original image (see photo next) from which this tight crop was created was made on the first morning of the 2015 San Diego IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III with the rugged Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/18 in Manual mode was less than ideal.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as originally 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.

Tight crop of Heermann’s Gull with some sort of immature lobster as prey

The Amazing Answer to the Red Regurgitant Mystery…

I was “down in the hole” on the cliffs in late morning doing tight bill shots of the pelicans when I saw a winter adult Heermann’s Gull land on the sandstone ridge well above me and well to my right. Bummer. I screamed to the nearby group members as I snapped off two quick ones and then scrambled into position for a better shot but the gull had already removed the claws.

If anyone know the species of the prey item please leave a comment. Would it be properly classed a larvae or as an immature or as a baby? Or is it fully grown? I did some surfing and thought that it was a California Spiny Lobster until I got to the part about “no large claws on its legs.” (David Policansky, are you there?)

In any case, it was pretty neat. Several of the folks on the IPT were in perfect position. If anyone got anything great please shoot me a 1200 wide sharpened JPEG via e-mail.

Image Question

Why were the exposure setting less than ideal?


This JPEG represents the original capture.

Critique Please

In the follow-up to the hugely popular and somewhat controversial blog post here, Brendan left a comment that I have paraphrased here: One instructional thing I would love to see on this blog is a basic lesson on how to look critically look at one’s photos. About eight years ago I began saving series of similar images from which I planned to do an Evaluating Your Images guide. At some point, I lost that file. I started a new one and eventually lost that one too. πŸ™

In the meantime we can start by looking at today’s featured image. It is sharp and it is well exposed and the bird is placed nicely back in the frame. Were it not for the baby lobster (or whatever it is) this photograph would have been deleted instantly for several reasons.

Please, please, pretty please leave a comment and let us know the major problems in this image. There are at least three major problems but two of those are closely related. Those problems are very common ones… (Folks have been getting lazy about leaving comments and keeping the blog interactive.)

BirdPhotographer’s.Net (BPN)

The very best way to learn to evaluate your images is to plunk down your forty bucks and join BPN. You post your images and have them critiqued by many of our fine moderators and lots of skilled members, and in turn, you get to learn a ton by commenting on the images of others. And best of all, it ain’t just birds! There are image critique forums that cover other areas. These include Wildlife, Macro and Flora, Landscapes, Cityscapes and Travel, Out Of The Box, In Camera and Post Processing Techniques, Framing Your Images With Words, and Story Sequences. In addition, beginning nature photographers can receive extra help in the Eager to Learn Forum. You can click here to access any of the aforementioned forums in addition to the Photography Discussion (and other) forums. If you join and post an image please e-mail me the link and I will be glad to stop by and comment.


This is a DPP 4 Screen Capture for today’s featured image.

DPP 4 Screen Capture

The important thing to note here is that I used Click White Balance on the very white tail tip to eliminate the warm reddish cast that you can see in the JPEG that represents the original capture (today’s 2nd photo).

AF Question

Why was I limited to only the center AF point? I hear this about six times a day on most IPTs: My camera is broken; I can’t move my AF point!”


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 DPP IV Guide is the ideal companion to the 7D Mark II User’s Guide, a runaway best seller.

The DPP 4 eGuide (PDF) Updated for 1D Mark IV and the original 7D

The DPP 4 eGuide was recently updated to include the luminance and chrominance noise reduction values for both the 1D Mark IV and the original 7D. If you purchased your copy from BAA please e-mail Jim and request the DPP 4 1D IV/7D update. Please be sure to cut and paste page 1 of the guide into your e-mail as proof of purchase.

2017 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) JAN 11 thru and including the morning session on JAN 15: 4 1/2 days: $1999.

(Limit: 10/openings 8)

Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Tuesday 1/10/17.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well.

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication.

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?

For complete 2017 San Diego ITP info please click here.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. We sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. I just learned that my account was suspended during my absence; it should be up and running by Monday at the latest.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right πŸ™‚

46 comments to The Amazing Answer to the Red Regurgitant Mystery… And Used Nikon D4 dSLR for sale

  • avatar Dario A

    Obviously you couldn’t use more AF points because your lens+extender combination resulted in a f8 aperture.

  • That is a Red Pelagic Crab. Full grown. We have thousands of them in the water and on the beach in Monterey Ca. I have shots of a Heerman’s Gull with one also

    I do not feel qualified to comment on your work other than to say it is a great shot.

  • You as so full of energy, that is so admirable. I would surmise that your swimming & ice baths are truly life savers.
    Good for you. Jeff A.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Jeff, I am trying. And having a ball a the same time. And the pool was up over 75 degrees today! Downright balmy. artie

      ps: I sleep much, much better with the ice baths but it is prtty much impossible to take them while traveling….

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie,
    After reading all the comments again I was unclear what the amazing answer to the red on the rocks was. Does the gull regurgitate the red crab ?
    We have a red lobster in a gulls bill but not a very clear explanation as to how the red
    Gets on the Rock and what causes it to be there. Perhaps one of the readers could enlighten me.
    On the exposure question I think a faster shutter may have been more ideal but, If something happens…. Your Push the button…. Advice aplies.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi David, Yup, I did not spell it out. The gulls eat the little buggers and then regurgitate pellets with some of the hard parts… Thus the red stuff all over the rocks along with the whitewash.

      Good on the shutter speed; see my explanation elsewhere in the comments.


  • avatar Brendan

    Oh – also, with a wider aperture, could you have moved focus point to the eye?

  • avatar Brendan

    Thanks for this!

    I dunno – the picture looks lovely to me. I am not sure why such a narrow aperture was used with a relatively slow shutter speed. I would guess with a wider aperture the ocean/horizon would be more pleasantly blurred and the shutter speed could be much faster. Maybe with the faster shutter speed you would pull out more feather detail? Though I doubt there is much movement blur – looks sharp to me.

    I would like to see the birds feet, though that’s minor.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Brendan, Finally someone is on the right track. There was no reason to be at 1/160 at f/18 in this situation, other than the fact that I was doing something else where I needed lots of d-o-f and followed my old rule: shoot first and ask questions later lest you miss everything. It is sharp, very sharp.

      As for the AF point, you need to go back and read the whole thing and the comments more carefully πŸ™‚


  • avatar Kent Downing

    Hi Artie,
    Your hint: problem is shutter or aperture.
    I’ll add this comment. Image displays Specular Highlights off the water, most likely from using f18. I’d modify exposure settings and reduce the aperture to avoid this condition. See you in the Southern Ocean later this year. Cheers Kent

  • avatar Kent Downing

    Hi Artie –
    Specular Highlights off the water. Should of used a lower f stop. See you in the Southern Oceans in 2016. Cheers Kent

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      See you in Stanley! That specular highlight would likely have been there wide open… Or maybe not πŸ™‚ a

      • avatar Kent Downing

        I’d still go for a combination of lower numbered aperture, and increased shutter speed as it would still offer plenty DOF, increased contrast and safety should any type of subject movement be encountered. Ie: feather movement from wind, etc. It would also assist with any additional shake introduced by the photographer – especially given the image is captured with the 1.4x TC and hand-held. (Thanks to the 4 stop IS). Would be interested to see the meta data. Also, adding to others comments, I would prefer a horizontal base/bottom for the tan colored rock-sand that the bird is perched upon. Thanks for exercise and teaching Artie !!!

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    I see three issues. Head angle is not ideal, horizon cuts right above the gull’s head, and the horizon is not level. The cropped image is very nice.

  • avatar graham hedrick

    Bring on the Canon 1Dx II!

  • avatar Joe Subolefsky

    The birds is angled away from the focus plane. Feet not visible enough. More obviously the head angle and the horizon line near the head.

    Looks like the light was coming just over your left shoulder? Dang shame the gull did not give you a little turn to its right.

    Could you have stood a little taller to place more of the blue water behind the head and make the feet more visible?

  • avatar Mike Moore

    I am grasping here a little since the image looks great to me, but is the initial image maybe a tad underexposed? Could the histogram have been shifted a little more to the right? On my monitor the blacks look a little blocked up in the original image. I also agree that the horizon could have been higher.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Mike, The RGB #s for the WHITE of the tail tips were in the low 230s just where I like them. And one look at the histogram shows that the BLACKs were not anywhere near being underexposed. They look fine to my eye on my monitor. artie

      • avatar Mike Moore

        I am using my work monitor which is not calibrated and doesn’t have a great color space. However, you mentioned there is an exposure problem and that is all I could think of. Looking forward to the correct answer.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          The exposure is perfect. The problem has to do with the shutter speed or the aperture… Which one was not ideal?


          ps: no excuses on using a bad monitor πŸ™‚

  • avatar Mike Brock

    Your unidentified red lobster is a Pelagic Red Crab, Pleuroncodes planipes

  • avatar Jon

    The position of the head and alignment of the body and head are not ideal as mentioned. Ideally the feet would be visible and I guess the big splodge of gubbins is not ideal. I would have moved the focus cluster to the bird’ eye, (though your image appears to be perfectly sharp to me).
    On a slightly different aspect I would as a question about the histogram. It is well to the right and as far as I can determine you have nothing to address the left hand side. I usually slide the left hand gamma slider to the point just before the blacks start clipping.
    Am I right in assuming you don’t do this and if so why not – do you foresee problems?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      First off only the center AF point was available and, the image is quite sharp on the eye.

      If my BLACKs and dark tones look fine, then I rarely doing anything with the BLACK point if that is what you are referring to. artie

  • Why were you limited to the center AF Point…you were at F18.
    The limit is F8.


  • avatar Warren Jacobi

    The bright red crustacean in the gull picture is a Red tuna crab (Pleuroncodes planipes – also known as tuna crab, pelagic red crab and langostilla in Spanish). While the name says “crab” they are actually a species of lobster. During El Nino years they sometimes show up in large numbers along the San Diego coastline – mostly from Ocean Beach to La Jolla – right where you were photographing. When an El Nino occurs, many food sources for gulls disappear and gulls being opportunists eat many of the little guys.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Warren, Thanks a stack. I am always amazed by the fact that as a collective group the folks who read the blog regularly know just about everything about everything!


  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Why was I limited to only the center AF point? The 1-4 limits the AF point to the center when an extender is used.
    major problems in this image– the head hits the horizon.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I am here but I am not good with crustaceans; fish are my thing. But I have friends who do know crustaceans at least reasonably well and I can ask them if you can send me a small JPEG of the tight shot.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    Feet cut off; head angled away; horizon chopping through top of had in awkward spot

  • The horizon is so close to the bird’s head it tends to draw my eye away from the focal point of the image which is the prey. If you could have moved a higher position to get all water behind the bird it would be a better image. Also the bird is sort of on the far side of the rock causing it’s body to be slightly tilted away and hiding it’s feet.

  • avatar Richard Curtin

    Just guessing, but the entire bird is slightly facing away.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi Again Bob and Joel,

    There is another alignment or orientation issue here besides the head angle. What is it?


  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi Bob and Joel,

    Why is the placement of the horizon distracting?


  • avatar Bob Handin

    For me the most distracting thing is the placement of the horizon with the light sky. Looks much better in the crop. Head angle is also not “perfect”. Bird looking slightly away from camera.

  • avatar Mark A Jordan

    Hello. All what Joel said and that you do not see the entire feet. (claws).

  • avatar Joel Eade

    I see two things that might be bugging you about this image. The head angle is not ideal and the placement of the horizon is not ideal.