Bringing Those Sweet Sky Blue Tones To Life With White Neutralizer… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bringing Those Sweet Sky Blue Tones To Life With White Neutralizer...

What’s Up?

On the morning of Day 3 of the DeSoto Fall IPT we absolutely killed. We had a feeding spree with eight totally tame Roseate Spoonbills, several Great and Snowy Egrets, a gorgeous Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two, Tricolored and a Little Blue Heron, a dark morph Reddish Egret, and several dozen winter Laughing Gulls all catching shrimp and small pipefish in just a few inches of water. I am hoping that the action is repeated for the Sunday morning In-the-Field get-together. Time will tell…

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA 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: 324!

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, 324 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 on the second full day of the DeSoto Fall IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/9 was a bit too much for my taste as the WHITEs came into DPP 4 with the RGB values in the high 240s and low 250s. Daylight WB.

Upper Zone/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The system performed perfectly by activating two AF points one of which was right on the subject’s eye. Just another reason to love the 5D Mark IV.

LensAlign FocusTune AF micro-adjustment: -5.

Great Egret juvenile head and shoulders portrait

A Bad Morning at Black Rock…

After a great first full day, the morning of our second full day was shaping up to be a big dud. The spot where we had had a great morning the day before was pretty much dead. Carlotta Grenier set up by a small pool and got some great stuff on Black-bellied Plover and Willets with nice reflections. But the rest of the group and I were sucking dirty pond water. So off we went to my back-up spot. Not a bird. On the way out of the park we spotted and off-angle to the light Roseate Spoonbill but it did not like us and flew as we tried to get into position. My second back-up spot was also dead. And my third as well. Not a bird. So we tried a fifth location but the tide was still too low and the light too harsh. As we pulled into the very last chance spot I saw a spoonbill about fifty yards to our left in the shade of some trees. I alerted the group and got everyone into position as the bird approached us and walking into the sun that was now just a bit muted by a light cloud. We had about ten minutes with the bird and everyone was thrilled.

Then we spent almost an hour with the beautiful tame young Great Egret that is featured above. We went over exposure and AF fine points. We shot the bird in the sun against sweet blue water backgrounds and in the shade against lovely green grass. The bird was 100% oblivious to humans. Finally the group tired of the situation and we headed back to the vehicles. Carlotta needed help with her Mongoose so we helped her and then talked for about 30 minutes on a variety of tripod, tripod head, and gear and gear clean-up topics. Then we headed back to the hotel for quick showers and another great lunch at the Neptune Grill in Gulfport.

By absolutely refusing to give up we turned what was looking like a very poor morning into a joyous celebration with high fives all around.

Upper Zone AF…

Upper Zone AF for vertical head and shoulders portraits (as above) with the 5D Mark IV is deadly accurate and a much better choice than 65-point Automatic Selection.

White Neutralizer

When you have some sweet sky blue tones in your image it is almost always worth seeing if the White Neutralizer filter in NIK Color Efex Pro can bring them to life. It will come in to Photoshop on it’s own layer and you can modify it by reducing the opacity of the layer or adding a Regular Layer Mask and then fine-tuning things. I used the former approach here to the tune of about 75%. This technique usually works well with a variety of sky blue tones.

Your Call…

Do you think that the BLUEs are lovely or that I have over-done it a bit. Do feel free to let us know your thoughts.

The Fort DeSoto Site Guide

You can get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide here. Fort DeSoto is about the only bird photography hotspot that I know of that has the potential to offer great opportunities to every day of the year. The big attractions here are shorebirds, all the large wading birds (including Roseate Spoonbill at various seasons), many species of terns, and gulls. In the spring photograph the breeding behaviors of Royal & Sandwich Terns and Laughing Gull. Flight photography can be good when feeding sprees occur just off of the beach. These feature terns and gulls and Brown Pelican. Spring and fall migration can be excellent for all manner of warblers, vireos, gnatcatchers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and orioles in some of the wooded areas. The Skyway Bridge Piers and environs are also covered in this Site Guide. By purchasing the guide you will know exactly where to be on what tide and what wind. Why waste your time searching for the birds when you can just show up and act like a DeSoto veteran? And yes, all of my back-up sites are detailed in the guide.

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 🙂

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