Amazing DPP 4 Color, Tonality, and Noise Save … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Amazing DPP 4 Color, Tonality, and Noise Save ...

What’s Up?

By the time that you read this, I should be home in my own bed. Likely in a jet-lag coma for a few days.

The Travel Story — Almost Complete

Left the lodge in Hokkaido, Japan at 8:45am on Tuesday 28 FEB which was 6:45pm on Monday 27 FEB in Florida. 45 minute van ride. 90 minute flight to Tokyo Haneda. 1 1/2 hour bus ride to Tokyo Narita. 10 1/2 hour flight to LAX. Clear customs. Flight to Phoenix delayed. They reroute me to Dallas: 2 1/2 hour flight. I lose my first class seat for the LAX to DFW leg. Then I fly to Orlando. The DFW/MCO leg was 3 hours. My two checked bags did not make my flight to Orlando. Jim picks me up at MCO right on time at 10:30pm. I actually got to Orlando 1 1/2 hours earlier with the re-routed flights as I did not need to make an extra stop in Phoenix. I went to the American Airlines office to file a delayed baggage report. They are supposed to be delivered to my home at Indian Lake Estates on WED 1 MAR. Assuming that that happens, I actually came out a bit ahead by getting back earlier.

We got back to ILE at 12:30pm, 29 3/4 hours door-to-door if my math is correct. And because of the dateline all of the travel was done on Tuesday 28 FEB!

Thanks a stack as always to my right hand man Jim Litzenberg for picking me up so late. He is a great blessing. More on the flights and the rest of the travel experience in a bit.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of 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: 474!

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, 474 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–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 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 on the Japan in Winter IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 286mm) and my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400: 1/30 second at f/5.6 in Manual mode was a big underexposure. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +1.

Center AF point AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point and the four assist points all totally missed the subject as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below.

Red-crowned Crane flight blur

Why the Big Underexposure?

It was cloudy-dark and snowing lightly. The time of sunset had past about 20 minutes ago so it was getting darker by the moment. But there were lots of birds still taking off and most were passing right in front of a stand of trees to our left. You are much better doing blurs against darker backgrounds than against the relatively light sky as the resulting images will be much more dramatic. I was at +2 1/3 stops off the snow one minute and then one and one-half stops under the next. It was difficult to keep up with the gathering darkness.

Panning Speed …

When trying to create pleasing blurs it is important to try to match the speed of the bird in flight with your panning rate. At 1/30 sec., if you pan perfectly with the bird as I did when creating today’s featured image, you can often render the bird’s head and neck relatively sharply. With shutter speeds slower than 1/30 sec. it is much more difficult to do.

When I am reviewing a series of pleasing blurs the first thing that I do is look at the head. Many times there is just too much blur for the image to succeed. But there are some instances where a well-blurred head can be successful. But at least trying for a sharp head is — as far as I am concerned — the best way to go.

The DPP 4 Screen Capture for today’s featured image

The DPP 4 Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image

First, note that the selected AF point was nowhere near the bird. In spite of that, the AF system continued to track the flying bird perfectly. That due in part to my Custom AF Case settings as detailed in the various Camera User’s and the 1D X AF Guides. I plan on doing at least a 5D Mark IV guide as soon as I finish up two other big publication projects.

Next note the Brightness adjustment of +1.50 stops. Though you cannot see it on the screen capture, I used Arash’s noise reduction values for ISO 800 rather than for ISO 400 to help with the noise resulting from the underexposure (as detailed in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly).

Now note the nearly perfect RGB values for the brightest WHITEs: R = 224, G = 226, B = 226. As you can see in the screen capture, I used click White Balance; I put the eyedropper on the brightest WHITEs and then left-clicked. Still the WHITEs were a bit too BLUE so I went to the Fine Tune control and pulled the dot a bit away from BLUE. I was quite happy with the results.

Something New and Astounding!

I love experimenting in Photoshop and DPP 4. Here I came up with something totally new, at least for me. To increase the contrast and to darken the BLACKs I move the Shadow slider to -4! It worked to perfection. I tried -5 but it was a bit too much. I plan on trying that with properly exposed images of the cranes in good light; it may save me lots of work in Photoshop.

This image was created on the Japan in Winter IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 286mm) and my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400: 1/30 second at f/5.6 in Manual mode was an almost two stop underexposure. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +1.

Center AF point AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point and the four assist points all totally missed the subject as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below.

Red-crowned Crane flight blur: this is the optimized image file

The Image Optimization and the Optimized Image

After converting the image in DPP 4 (Command +D) and brining it into Photoshop (Control + Command + P) I did not do very much as far as image optimization goes. After selecting the tiny, very black region right around the eye with a Quick Mask of the area and then putting it on its own layer (Command +J), I used my NIK Color Efex Pro 50/50 filter to brighten it just a bit. That and a tiny crop from the upper and lower left was about it.

I was thrilled with the color, contrast, and look of the optimized image, with the rich BLACKs and REDs, and with the lack of noise in the image. I did not run any NeatImage on this photo.


Learn the secrets of creating contest winning images in our “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs.”

A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

In A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by Denise Ippolito and yours truly, we discuss just about every technique ever used by mankind to create pleasingly blurred images. Ninety-nine point nine percent of pleasing blurs are not happy accidents. You can learn pretty much everything that there is to know about creating them in this instructive, well written, easy to follow guide. Pleasing blurs are consistently honored in the major natural history photographic competitions …


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 Sunday, April 23, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of Sunday April 23, 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 :).

3 comments to Amazing DPP 4 Color, Tonality, and Noise Save …

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    nice image. I also really love the left wing tip blur – nice movement!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi Joel,

    Thanks. No problems at all with NeatImage 🙂


  • avatar Joel Eade

    Very pleasing blur, love the left wing tip. With this type of image the underexposure did not hurt you in terms of noise either:) Although the 5MKIV @ ISO 400 is very clean, on a different type of the image the underexposure could have been a problem.