High-key, Pano-cropped, Scratching Marbled Godwit Image: Turning Grey Water to Blue. And Scratching Bird Photo Tips… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

High-key, Pano-cropped, Scratching Marbled Godwit Image: Turning Grey Water to Blue. And Scratching Bird Photo Tips...

What’s Up?

On Monday, I stock-piled two more future blog posts and did some serious work on my upcoming 9+ week trip to South America that will include two trips to the Falklands, the Cheesemans’ last South Georgia voyage, a week or more at Torres del Paine, and a few weeks of bird photography R&R. A swim, some stretching, and an afternoon trip to town rounded out my day.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 306 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really 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. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created at Fort DeSoto with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the EOS-1DX (now replaced by the fast, rugged Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader.) ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as originally framed: 1/500 sec. at f/9.

Center AF point (by neccessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell just on the end of the bird’s toe. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -3.

Marbled Godwit scratching

High-key, Pano-cropped, Scratching Marbled Godwit Image: Turning Grey Water to Blue

With the ISO at 1600, you know that the original capture featured bland, light grey water. I did some work on the Adjust image colors tab in DPP 4 and followed that up with a layer of Selective Color Adjustments in Photoshop. But only an Average Blur Color Balance adjustment brought the blue in the water to life. For this image I was surely seated. I am much better able to frame and follow action while seated as compared to being flat down on the ground. And the long focal length greatly reduces the angle of declination to the bird and makes it look as if I were really low.

Learn how to make an Average Blur Color Balance Adjustment (and tons more) in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes what used to be 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, the basics of Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, and tons more.

Scratching Bird Photo Tips…

1-Get low.
2-As always, work in manual mode.
3-Try to use a shutter speed of at least 1/500 sec. if you want everything sharp.
4-If you want to try for a blurred foot and a sharp eye, you can work between 1/125 and 1/320 second (or even a bit slower).
5-Be even more aware of head angle than you usually are. Birds will very often turn the heads away from the plane of their bodies when scratching. Fire only when the bird’s head is at least square to the imaging sensor as it is in today’s featured image. Moving to the side to get squarer to the bill can sometimes help a bit but don’t overdo it…


Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall one way or another. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99

Join me on the morning of October 2, 2016 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.


Folks attending the IPT will be in the field early and stay out late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto Short Notice Fall IPT/September 28 (meet & greet at 2pm followed by our afternoon session) through the full day on October 1, 2016. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1549. Limit 10/Openings: 6. Sunday morning ITFW free to IPT registrants.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds in fall. There they join dozens of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With any luck, we should get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher likely. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join me as my guest on the ITFW on the Sunday morning following the workshop. See above for details on that.

On this and all other IPTs you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify and age many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

At brunch (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 a few of your images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As I already have one signed up for this workshop, it is a go. Hotel info will be e-mailed when you register. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). It is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel so if you are interested it would be a good idea to register now and make your hotel reservations as soon as you hear from us. We can, however, coordinate with local folks who opt to stay at home.

Because of the relatively late date, payment is full is due upon registration either by check or credit card. If the former, please e-mail us immediately so that we can save you a spot. If the latter, please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to register. Your registration fee is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight so please check your plans carefully before committing. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions and gear & clothing advice a fairly soon.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

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 New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, 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, and for everything else in the new store, 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 those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!


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

13 comments to High-key, Pano-cropped, Scratching Marbled Godwit Image: Turning Grey Water to Blue. And Scratching Bird Photo Tips…

  • avatar Krishna Prasad

    Awesome Image. Thank you for the great Information.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Wonderful image, Artie, and thanks for the tips. I was watching marbled godwits in southern California a couple days ago, sans camera….I look forward to spending some time with you next month in South Georgia and the Falklands.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I am ordering some new dry bags today!


      • avatar David Peake

        Dry bags…. me too.
        Gear Question. I still need to organise what filters to bring for South Georgia trip.
        Ideally what should I include in my kit for this?
        David Peake.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Hey David,

          To be honest, I cannot recall ever using and filters on South Georgia. Not many blur opps and it is often dark. i may bring the Singh-ray 77mm warming polarizer and the 77mm 3-stop ND for zoom blurs… Serious landscape folks may wish to bring split NDs but with all the extra stuff you need that does not include me 🙂


      • avatar David Policansky

        Thanks, Artie. Where do you get your dry bags?

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          I am working on that now. But, you can find the main link on the Beach Stuff tab above. I will add specific product info this afternoon. I need to talk to the MFR before I place my Amazon order.


  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    Took me a second or two to figure out the Marbled Godwit was scratching his neck. Thank you for sharing your tips.

    Do you have a blog on cleaning your equipment? I know I heard you say use old tee shirts to clean lens… What liquid solution do you use? Sorry to side track…

    Have a great day

  • avatar Stu

    Thanks very much for the scratching bird photo tips.
    Also, bon voyage.