It Took Me Months to Figure This One Out … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

It Took Me Months to Figure This One Out ...

What’s Up?

I am somewhere in South America. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ Please e-mail for couples and discount info for all of the above. Click here for complete IPT info.

Mazel tovs are in order on 400 days in a row with a new educational blog post ๐Ÿ™‚ I will have intermittent internet access for the rest of my South American adventure. I get back home late on December 25, 2016. Best and great picture making, artie

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: 400!

Todayโ€™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, 400 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. 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 La Jolla, CA with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop in cloudy dark conditions: 1/500 sec. at f/4. Daylight WB.

One AF point to the left and four rows up from the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point just missed the bird’s eye.

Double-crested Cormorant in daisies

It Took Me Months to Figure This One Out …

The BLACKS in this image gave me fits. I tried and tried to eliminate a strong greenish color cast but failed every time. Until sitting in the library on the Sea Spirit after dinner on Friday November 4th. I selected the BLACKs via Select > Color Range and then tried de-saturating the GREENs and the YELLOWs. No luck. But when I tried de-saturating the CYAN channel, it was bingo time. Actually, before you try de-saturating the various color channels you should move the Saturation slider all the way to the right to 100%. With the GREENs and YELLOWs there was no change. But when I did the same thing with the CYAN channel the BLACKS turned a bright CYAN and I knew that I had solved the problem.

I did lots of vegetation and daisy painting using a variety of small Quick Masks that were refined with Regular Layer Masks, refined by warping, or both.

Everything above plus tons more is of course detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete (former PC) 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.

Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.

Does Anything About This Image Bug You?

Though I love almost everything about today’s featured image one thing bugs the heck out of me. If you think that you know what it is please leave a comment.

The San Diego Site Guide

If you would love to learn all the great spots in and around San Diego and La Jolla, get yourself a copy of the BAA San Diego Site guide here. It is the next best thing to being on an IPT.


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 6)

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

17 comments to It Took Me Months to Figure This One Out …

  • avatar Sara Harrell

    Hi yah Artie!

    The wing does not bother me, and I do like the oof vegetation with the exception of the brightness of the vegetation specifically over the black breast. This creates competition for my eye between the bright spot and the eye of the bird. The bright spot (small cluster actually) is so close in proximity to the bird’s eye my eye has a hard time landing on the eye of the bird _and staying there_ to enjoy the bird. I’d be curious to see that cluster on the breast ‘toned down’ and see if it does anything for both of us.

    Maybe I see things differently…

    It is a beautiful image, and I also congratulate you on your streak.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      None of the things that bug you (or those that bug everyone else) bug me ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the streak congrats. I will reveal all in a blog post soon.


  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I have no idea what’s bugging you about this image unless it’s the bird’s right wing. For my taste, there’s too much OOF foreground vegetation, as some others have said, but if that were bugging you you’d just reduce it, so I can’t believe it’s that. Congratulations on thanks for 400 blog posts in a row.

  • avatar Jim Amato

    Reduce the amount of foreground vegetation.
    Have the eye be more, bright, prominent?
    The eye needs to be the feature item.

  • avatar Aubrey

    Thanks for the 400 in a row.
    The missing catch light in the eye bugs me!

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Congratulations on 400, and thanks for all the effort it has taken you to get there.
    Be safe and healthy.

  • avatar Geoff

    One thing that bugs me a tiny, tiny bit is the right wing showing. Doesn’t show enough of it so it just distracts from the nice line of the breast.

  • I would like to see more of this beautiful bird and less of the foreground foliage

    Best and love



  • Hmm. I love oof foreground elements in an image, and this one is no different. Beautiful image Artie. I’d say if the DCC’s head was turned the other way, so you’d be able to shift the perspective a little to your right. Cormorants make that “7” position very well.

  • avatar Tony

    The neck of the Comorant is twisted.

  • avatar Mike Ross

    I agree with Jack re the bird being too centered in the frame. Also, I would have reduced the vegetation by cropping a little from the bottom and adding canvas, if necessary, at the top. Thank you again for the blog. I learn something almost everyday.

  • I have a picture of a loon feeding a fish to it’s chick, where the black neck of the loon had lots of green, to the point it looked un-natural. I just tried your CYAN adjustment, and “POOF” the green is gone, and the loon looks normal again.


    My thoughts about that green showing are, is that supposed to be there? Similar to the throat of a ruby throated hummingbird, when the light hits the feathers just right, the color changes drastically. Is this something that the black feathers of the loon are supposed to do, and is it natural? Or, is it some other artifact of the digital capture?

  • avatar Warren H

    Congrats on 400 in a row.

    I do see how you might not like the rear wing showing, but that doesn’t bother me. Too me, it provides interest and makes me stop, look and think. I think really good photos should make people want to stop and look more…

    I don’t like the real dark vegetation in lower right. I would have been tempted to crop a little from the bottom right which would do several things:

    1. Make bird a little large in frame
    2. Shift bird to right side of frame and give a little more space on left to look into
    3. Remove some of the distracting dark vegetation and flowers from bottom right
    4. Reduce amount of foreground vegetation
    5. The diagonal of the vegetation would intersect more at the lower right corner. (I think you like line intersecting at corners…)

    Just a thought…

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Is it the far wing showing just a bit and drawing attention with a “what’s that” question?

  • avatar PKUK

    Would your “bug” be the vestige of right wing breaking the line of the neck/breast?

  • avatar Jack Goodman

    Artie, If the cormorant were off center and not in the middle of the image, I think it might improve the photograph. And maybe there is just a little too much out of focus foreground.


  • avatar Stu

    Congratulations on — and thanks for — the high quality 400-day streak.
    Best wishes.