Studio (?) Surfbird/Streak Record Broken! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Studio (?) Surfbird/Streak Record Broken!

What’s Up?

I am somewhere in South America, most likely Lima, Peru. I hope that you are well. Jim and Jen are at the office most days to help you with your mail order needs and Instructional Photo-Tour sign-ups. I still need folks for San Diego, Japan, Galapagos, the Palouse, and the Bear Boat (Grizzly Cubs) trips. Among others 🙂 Please e-mail for couples and discount info for all of the above. Click here for complete IPT info.

I will have relatively decent internet access for all but 22 OCT thru 11 NOV while I am on the Sea Spirit. Best and great picture making, artie

As shorebirds are my favorite family, I chose one to celebrate breaking the old record. It required quite an effort and it sure feels good. I hope that you are enjoying the blog and life.

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. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 367/The New Record!

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, 367 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 LaJolla, CA in 2016 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 mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed with a blue water background: 1/200 sec. at f/9 was very bright (because I had mis-dialed in the shutter speed) but without blinkies.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the side of the bird’s breast just forward of the greater coverts. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Surfbird molting into breeding plumage

Studio (?) Surfbird

Buddy Patrick Patrick Sparkman and I decided to head to La Jolla for a rare afternoon shoot. As we made our way down the hill we decided to climb down on the cliffs just below the Bridge and Shuffleboard building. There were a few female and young California Sea Lions, but not much in the way of birds, not even gulls. But down we went. After perhaps a minute of staring the Pacific, two handsome Surfbirds landed right in front of us; Surfbird is neither a common bird or an easy photographic subject at this or any location. They were so close that we had to back up a bit. I was working with the 500 II and the 2X III, Patrick with the 600 II and the 2X III. Both of us were using our 5DS R bodies.

The breaking wave background gave this image the studio look. We enjoyed about two minutes with the birds before a big wave sent them off the rocks headed for points unknown. It was great while it lasted.

Working in Manual Mode

With the waves breaking off and on behind the birds it was 100% mandatory to be working in Manual mode (which I do 90% of the time anyway). Why? With the greenish blue Pacific on a a cloudy day as background the EC was about plus one or two thirds. When a wave would break the EC on the analog scale would jump up to close to plus two. I chose to set my exposure to +2/3 off the green blue water in Manual mode and go with that. To learn more on this topic, do a search for “working in Manual mode” in the little white search box on the top right of each blog post page. There are three or four such posts.

Image Question

Do you like the motion-blurred foot? Why or why not? See Tips on Creating Moderate Shutter Speed Blurs in the blog post here.

The Image Optimization

I used a series of warped Quick Masks to eliminate the gull bolus on the rock in front of the bird. My regular clean-up tools, the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and the Clone Stamp Tool were used to clean up the rock. Once again I ran a layer of Nik Color Efex Pro White Neutralizer to eliminate the somewhat sickly greenish/yellow color cast. I erased the effect from the bird to maintain its warm look by adding a Regular Layer Mask.

You can learn to do pretty much all of the above and lots more in my Digital Basics File. Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Digital Basics 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, 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, the Surface Blur settings that I use on occasion to smooth background noise, and tons more.


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

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?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//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. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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 please remember that I am 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, 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 🙂

4 comments to Studio (?) Surfbird/Streak Record Broken!