Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures: Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures: Part I

What’s Up?

On Wednesday I started the day with an hour long walk with Jim down to the lake and back. I continued with about five hours all told of my core, shoulder and hip flexor exercises and stretching and enjoyed another 1/2 mile swim. I have come to realize that if I do not use it I will lose it …

Please call or e-mail for San Diego IPT late registration info.

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: 412!

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, 412 days in a row with a new educational blog post. 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 of course appreciate your business.


This image was created at Pucasana, Peru from a small skiff with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop as framed: 1/500 sec. at f/8.

Two AF points 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 was just below the base of the bill; it is likely that the upper assist point saved the day. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Inca Tern head and shoulders portrait

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures Part I

Ever since I saw some excellent Inca Tern head portraits on BirdPhotographers.Net several years ago I dreamed of getting to Lima … My “tour organizer” (more on him at some point …) assured me that getting close to this species would be easy to do at Pucusana. We made the 1 1/2 hour drive but when we exited the vehicles there were no terns on the cliffs. After a phone call our guide arranged for us to rent a small fishing boat to visit the terns on the rocks. The first problem was that the vehicle would not start. After an hour delay with got to the small boat. After a short ride we found lots of terns but none of them were anywhere near close enough for head shots. Though we were in a relatively small harbor and it was mercifully cloudy, it was also choppy and the photography was quite difficult.

Out of desperation I set up the 400 DO II with the 2X III TC and had the boat driver get us as close to the rocks as he dared. Most of the backgrounds–whitewash-covered rocks were horrific–but at one point we got relatively close and a nice brown background popped into the viewfinder for a few seconds. But making a sharp image at 800mm hand held from a rocking skiff required some skill and lots of luck. I fired off a very few frames during a lull in the wave action. And got very lucky. Desperate times do often call for desperate measures. During my 10 1/2 week trip, I did not use the 400 DO II a lot, but it did–often in combination with the 2X III TC–help me get through some desperate times …

The Image Optimization

After lightening this image considerably during the RAW conversion in DPP 4 (see the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide) I brought the image into Photoshop. Aside from the minimal bill clean-up, I did not do much additional clean-up work on this image. After completing the Eye Doctor work, I selected the bird and then feathered (2 pixels) and saved the selection. I put the selection on its own layer and applied my NIK Color Efex Pro 25/25 recipe. The big deal in the before and after animated GIF is the incredible NeatImage noise reduction. Check out both the eye and the background. Then note how beautifully the fine feather detail has been preserved. You can learn to apply Neat Image noise reduction in The Professional Photographers Guide to Post Processing.

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. I am working on an all new Current Workflow e-guide that better reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow. It will include a section on ACR conversions and a simplified method of apply Neat Image noise reduction.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

I will be offering small group (Limit 3) Photoshop sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning if necessary. Details on that TBA.

Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.

We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

The group will be staying at the Red Roof Inn, St. Petersburg: 4999 34th St. North, St Petersburg, FL 33714. The place is clean and quite inexpensive. Please e-mail for room block information. And please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.

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

Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of April 22, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of April 22, 2017 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.

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 🙂

14 comments to Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures: Part I

  • avatar David Peake

    Wow Artie. I love this image.

  • avatar Peter Noyes

    Artie, would THE PROFESSIONAL-POST-PROCESSING GUIDE be helpful to those of using Nikon equipment?
    I wish you, your family and your loved ones a very Happy and Healthful 2017.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes Peter. NeatImage is a Photoshop plug-in so you would simply bring your converted NEF file into Photoshop as a TIFF and get to work.

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    That, to me, is one of those images that you go “WOOOWWW”. Love it! I had not consider doing EYE doctoring in NIK. I gota try it now. Thanks for the suggestion. Glad you are back safe and sound. Sounds like it was a wonderful trip. Happy New Year Artie!

    Sorry for being unclear. All the Eye Doctor work was was in Photoshop.

    Thanks and ditto on the 2017 good wishes.

    later and love, artie

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry for being unclear. All the Eye Doctor was was in Photoshop.

      Thanks and ditto on the 2017 good wishes.

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Jay Gould

    The streak is very impressive!

    The amount of time you spend on personal fitness is more than impressive; it is flat out wonderful and sets an example for all of us.

    Later and Love, Jay

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. After the trip I realized that I needed to do some work or get ready for the wheelchair 🙂


  • avatar Mark Harrington

    Typo: “tow” instead of “two” in second paragraph.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for catching my towing typo.

      Did you get the bear boat confirmation letter that I sent?

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Charles Thompson

    The Inca Tern is one of your most memorable images. The colors and shading from head to wing and across the breast is a tour de force displaying every skill that makes great photography in one convenient location.

    Glad you are home safe and sound.


  • avatar Glen Fox

    Gorgeous image of a beautiful bird. Persistence, skill, and a bit of luck all came together for the critical moment and you nailed the image. Here is where you really appreciate being able to use ISO 3200 and skillfully use tools like Neat Image. ALL VERY IMPRESSIVE!