Big-Stick-Tossing Skimmer + Why LensAlign/Focus Tune? + More Amazing 5DS R Image Quality + Too Much Image Clean-up for You? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Big-Stick-Tossing Skimmer + Why LensAlign/Focus Tune? + More Amazing 5DS R Image Quality + Too Much Image Clean-up for You?

What’s Up?

I worked on the images for this blog post on Tuesday evening and am working on the blog post itself early on Wednesday morning on the way back to ILE. Lou Newman’s exhibit opening was great fun. And he had lots of great new images. Several folks photographed my Pribilofs’ pants and promised to send a few images. Time will tell. Our morning boat trip to some of the rookery islands in Sarasota Bay was cancelled due to lightning and related nasty weather.

Tuesday was my best day since the surgery and last night I had my best night’s sleep in ages. Things are starting to look very good…

The Streak

Todayโ€™s blog post marks 181 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always-โ€“and folks have been doing a really great job recentlyโ€“-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. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created on a beach west of Sarasota, FL with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 640. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/1000 sec. at f/4. (Should haven been +2 stops.) Color temperature: Daylight.

I selected a single AF point one row down and one to the left of the center AF point (Manual selection)/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF as originally framed. (The optimized image above is about 75% of the original frame.) That point was active at the moment of exposure. It fell on a spot just below the bottom of the rear cap. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Black Skimmer playing with fat stick

LensAlign/Focus Tune

At times I micro-adjust every lens/camera/teleconverter that I own and at times I get lazy. When I purchased my second 5DS R, I did not consistently use one or the other on the same lens; I am often working with the 600 II on a tripod and the 100-400 II on my shoulder. Toward the end of the Namibia trip I noticed that the body I was using with the 600 II rental lens was severely back-focused with the 2X III TC: I micro-adjusted it. It needed -18 to be sharp. After that, all of the images I made with that combo were tack sharp. I will be sharing many of those with you here in the coming weeks.

The whole experience led me to realize that I need to quit being lazy and spend the time micro-adjusting (MA-ing) everything that I own. I am keeping the vertical battery grip on the 5DS R that I use with the 600II and using my other 5DS R for the rest of the lenses. Things will get more complicated when I get my Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader; I ordered it from B&H on the first day it was announced.

So far I have fine-tuned only the 600 II with the one 5DS R. Today I will MA the 600 II with the TCs. I hope. And I will continue to work on the new LensAlign/Focus Tune tutorial. See the results with the micro-adjusted 600II/5DS R combo below. Learn more about LensAlign/Focus Tune here.


This is an unsharpened tight face crop of today’s featured image

Can Your Camera Do This?

I was thrilled to see that the -3 adjustment for my 600 II/5DS R combo was spot on. I should have mentioned above that MA-ing is more important for folks using high resolution camera bodies than it is for folks using lower resolution bodies; the 5DS R sees your focusing errors in greater detail.

Above, you can get an idea of the incredible fine detail that is possible in a sharply focused MA-ed 5DS R image. Can your camera do that? (Do, however, note the slight motion blur on the stick.)

Image Clean-up/Animated GIF

In the animated GIF above you can compare the before and after versions of today’s featured image. I hated the dark brown blob in the upper right of the original; once I eliminated that, I could not stop myself.

After converting the image in DPP 4, I brought the TIFF into Photoshop CC and used my usual cadre of clean-up tools: the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, the Clone Stamp, and Content Aware Fill. I used a fairly large Quick Mask refined by a Layer Mask to cover the offending large brown blob. Not also that I eliminated the BLUE color cast with a Hue/Saturation adjustment (SAT: -90) of the BLUE channel only.

Too Much Clean-up For You?

Is the image clean-up here too much for you? It was just the right amount for me. Either way, be sure to keep the blog interactive by letting us know your reasons.

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, the use of Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, 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 at times to smooth background noise, and tons more.


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. Please call Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-221-2372 to take advantage of this special offer. You can find the same deal in the BAA Online Store here.


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)

The RAW file for today’s image was of course converted in DPP 4. 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 into your e-mail as proof of purchase.

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

15 comments to Big-Stick-Tossing Skimmer + Why LensAlign/Focus Tune? + More Amazing 5DS R Image Quality + Too Much Image Clean-up for You?

  • avatar Gary Axten

    The tidied image is much better. It’s not so different to removing trash before taking a landscape image. If you could, you’d remove the twigs before, as you can’t you take them out digitally. I don’t have a problem with that.

    Does the micro adjustment only apply to one camera+lens combo? If so what’s the best option for people with only one camera?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Gary, Agree.

      You are confused. With Canon, you can micro adjust (MA) one body with all of your lenses and do a seperate MA for each lens TC combination. As long as you pick Adjust by Lens. Not only does the camera remember each setting but it will recognize the individual lens or TC that you MAed for by serial #. So if you use a different 1.4X TC for example it will not apply the MA.

      Confused more?


      • avatar Gary Axten

        Confused no more. ๐Ÿ™‚ Many thanks for the clarification, that’s definitely something I need to do when I get a new camera body.

  • Good morning Guru. Hope you are fine.

    May I know how does the 5DS R compare against 1Dx noise wise?

    Thanks in advance.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Most would give the edge to the 1DX and surely to the 1D X II. Mine is coming today… a

  • avatar David Peake

    I like what you have done with the image.
    I can see how it would be hard to know where to stop the clean up process once begun.
    Personally I prefer some context to my images, and I haven’t learned to be this proficient with image manipulation software yet.
    But … Tight, clean, graphic images are arresting, no question about that.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey David, I far prefer “image optimization software” to “image manipulation software.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    In the optimized image, I really like the blades of grass on the right. It gives the image a sense of place. I think the image is very nice. However, I couldn’t really tell what the bird had in its mouth: doesn’t look like a stick.

    In the converted TIFF image, I like seeing the debris around the bird. This is telling me the bird is on a beach and there’s a lot of organic materials and debris around. So maybe that’s where the bird got this object. On this image I would definitely take out the yellowish horizontal line behind the bird, as well as the large dark matter in the upper right.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Should have used “big fat piece of wood.” In general, I am not a big fan of debris ๐Ÿ™‚


  • avatar Hugh

    Hi Artie, I do find the overall tone of the background in the optimized image a bit too bright and distracting, however it does make the black on the skimmer ‘pop’. Having said that, the color of the original image does look muted and definitely needs a boost to improve contrast. Perhaps something a tone in between the original and optimized? Loving these 5DS R images! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Based on the optimized image, maybe get rid of that little vertical twig on the right hand side?

    I would’ve said the horizontal twig underneath the tail, but seeing you kept it when it would’ve been easy to remove with the other debris attached to it, I assume you kept it there for a reason…maybe to break up the white and/or an anchor?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Doug, I left both the vertical twig on the right and the horizontal one on the left as a short of “in-focus elements” frame. Both contrast nicely with the o-o-f beach vegetation on the right. Had I removed both of those the image would have likely been too sterile even for me. a

  • avatar Jon

    Good neat job on tidy up but I don’t see anything at all wrong with the original. For me the “offending” items look perfectly natural and non competing for attention, I would have left the image as original, I think it retains “credibility”.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. For me, the original is cluttered and messy. Does the clean-up work make me incredible of un-credible? a