Home Sweet Home and Worth a Try… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Home Sweet Home and Worth a Try...

What’s Up?

I took another 4 hour jet lag nap late on Monday afternoon. I got into bed at 1am and was wide awake at 2am. I read for a bit, dropped the book, and slept like a baby until just before 7am. Not bad. On Tuesday afternoon I took yet another 4 hour jet lag nap… I am up and working feeling great and then wham, just gotta sleep. If I set an alarm for 30 minutes I wake up feeling like a zombie and get right back to sleep.

Eight of the ten items that were listed in the Everybody’s Doing It blog post here sold within two days; the Used Photo Gear page is on fire! We need some Nikon folks to take advantage of some of the great buys on Nikkor bodies and lenses. There are still lots of great buys available; you can see all of the listings here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the yellow/orange menu bar at the top of each blog post page.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 119 days in a row with a new educational blog post. This post took me about 90 minutes to assemble including the time spent on the image optimization. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only.


This image was created at Indian Lake Estates on the morning of March 1, 2016 from the driver’s seat of my Sequoia with the BLUBB-supported Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Av mode. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. This is a small crop from the left and below. The selected AF point was squarely on the base of the bill. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Sandhill Crane chick head portrait

Home Sweet Home

Indian Lake Estates can be mighty fine for bird photography in late winter and early spring. I got down to the lake for the first time this year on February 28 only to be greeted by two very cooperative Sandhill Crane chicks that were well less than a week old. I photographed them again the next morning. Other subjects included Great and Cattle Egrets and Limpkin. What fun.


BLUBB is an acronym for Big Lens Ultimate BeanBag. There are lots of similar knock-off beanbag-type supports that cost half as much as the BLUBB but as all things BIRDS AS ART, you get exactly what you pay for. Only the BLUBB offers the support and stability that you need to work at 1200mm from your vehicle. Only the BLUBB has a layer of heavy duty cotton duck fabric sewn on top to eliminate scratchy nylon noise. And only with the BLUBB are the inner surfaces of the bag, the surfaces that are placed over the door-frame or car window, covered with a large piece of Toughtek non-slip fabric sewn in place to help keep the bag from slipping, especially in vehicles where the driver’s window angles downward to the right. Learn more about the only beanbag to use with your big lens by clicking here.

Worth a Try…

Confronted with the mess in the lower right corner I circled it with a Patch Tool selection and then hit Edit > FIll > Content Aware. For the most part it did a very good job. At times, as with today’s featured image, Content Aware fill works just fine. At other times, the results can be horrific. But when confronted with a rather complex repair job as in the lower right corner of this image, it is always worth a try.

Careful folks might note that after I created the animated GIF I noted that there was a pretty ugly horizontal line left by Content Aware Fill. I re-worked the original with a few swipes of the Patch Tool. The improved optimized image is represented by the JPEG that opens this blog post; the “original” version in the animated GIF features the ugly lower right corner. I opted not to re-do the animated GIF so that folks could see the improvement.

The Image Optimization

The lower right corner clean-up and some of the bill clean-up was via Content Aware Fill. The rest of the clean-up was with the Patch Tool and the Spot Healing Brush. I got so tired of reducing the opacity of a layer of my NIK Color EFEX Pro 50/50 recipe that I created a 25/25 recipe. I applied that to today’s image and reduced the opacity by about 50 %. I finished the image off with a Contrast Mask of the face; with mega mega-pixel 5DS R images I have upped my traditional settings from 15/65/0 to 20/80/0 with excellent results.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s featured image 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, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, Content Aware Fill, using Gaussian Blurs, Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur settings that I use to smooth background noise, Divide and Conquer, protective cloning on a layer, and tons more.


Subject and focal lengths clockwise from upper left around to center.

Palouse Falls: 11mm; homemade kiddie race car: 105mm; barn siding pan blur: 798mm; Rolling fields diorama: 110mm; Crayola drums: 343 mm; Hay barn interior: 19mm; vintage gas station: 40mm; Dilapidated farm building: 13mm; Denise’s tree Infrared: 20mm.

Images and card design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

The Palouse ~ A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 3-7, 2016/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12/Openings: 6

The Palouse ~ A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)/Eastern Washington State. June 10-14, 2016/5 Full Days: $1699/Limit 12/Openings: 2

Double Header!

Maximize both your travel dollars and your learning experience by signing up for both IPTs.


Images and card design by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure.

The Palouse IPTs

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will likely enjoy spectacular sunrises and possibly a nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. We will take you to some really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join us for this trip. Two great leaders: Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

After 6 days of back-breaking scouting work in early June 2014 we found all of the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and views. On three additional scouting days in 2015 we discovered several more truly amazing locations. We will teach you what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time.

What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, our newfound but very extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions when possible. There will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before each workshop begins.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills. You will learn to get the right exposure every time. You will learn to develop your creative eye. You will learn the basics of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. You will learn a variety of in-camera creative techniques. Most importantly you will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images. Do see both of our blogs for lots more on that in the coming weeks. You will learn how the quality and direction of light combine to determine the success of your images. And–please don’t gasp–we will be working quite a bit with sidelight when creating landscapes. Lastly, we will be doing some infrared photography.

To Sign Up

A non-refundable $699 deposit is due now. The balance will be due on February 15, 2016. 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. Whether or not your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

With the spectacular success that we enjoyed in 2015 it seems quite likely that both of these will fill up soon. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining us. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours or send us a check to leave a deposit; the latter is preferred. If by check, please make out to “Arthur Morris” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via e-mail: artie or denise.

Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options. You can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links πŸ™‚

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 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.


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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™‚

11 comments to Home Sweet Home and Worth a Try…

  • avatar Tim Harding

    You’ve listed your default contrast mask as 1/65/0, but I think it should be 15/65/0. I use it often from your Digital. Basics file.

  • avatar Ar

    LOL, our crane family enjoys walking the sidewalks in the neighborhood and comes up the driveway looking for handouts. They like the house across the street because there’s a bird feeder in the front yard where they “dine” regularly.

  • avatar Wtlloyd

    Love my BLUBB! But the price increase in Pinto beans, over the years, is scandalous!

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Did you not clone out the nare (nostril)?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You got me there. Careless. Many thanks. a

      ps: I have replaced the opening image with a corrected version.

  • avatar James Saxon

    Was in Florida last week and stopped at a McDonalds not far from Viera Wetlands. A sandhill crane was walking around the parking lot and when my wife got out of the car the crane walked right up to her as if he wanted her to feed him/her. She could have touched the crane it was so close. I photograph them at Bosque but have never seen one as tame as this one. Gut feeling, folks are feeding the bird at McDonalds.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I have heard that they like Breakfast Burritos… There was once a Franklin’s Gull on Long Island that ate only cinnamon raisin bagels from McDonald’s. a

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    That Sandhill Crane chick is just too cute! I know you are using a lot of lens, but the parents don’t mind the interaction?

    We have one astray Sandhill Crane in Tiverton, RI, and it certainly isn’t as friendly as the ones you have in your neighborhood, but I am quite obsessed with it! Putting a lot of the Nickerson IPT knowledge to good use.

    As always, thanks for sharing.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks on all counts. I made this image from the car after the family walked right up to me. Today I got out of the car and sat and they came right up to me. it’ nice work if you can get it.

      later and love, artie

      ps: do consider the San Diego IPT πŸ™‚

  • Love my BLUBB. I’ve had it for 10 years now. The only other piece of photography equipment I’m still using for that length of time is the original Wimberley head (that’s going bye bye for a Mongoose one of these days). When I’m home, I leave my BLUBB filled. It’s great when I need something
    with a little weight in a pinch. When I go out, even if I don’t think I’ll need it, I’ll still throw it in with the rest of my gear, just in case.

    Even after all of these years the BLUBB looks just as good as the day I got it. It’s one tough sucker.