Fill Flash at +1 (ETTL) … Too Much Bill Clean-up? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Fill Flash at +1 (ETTL) ... Too Much Bill Clean-up?

What’s Up?

Monday was work, work, work, a nice meditation walk, and a swim. After dinner I squeezed in some core and shoulder exercises. BAU = business as usual 🙂 And loving it.

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: 12!

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, 12 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.

Gatorland In-the Field Instructional Meet-Up Sessions

Join us in Kissimmee, FL this coming weekend to photograph Great (with chicks in the nest) and Snowy Egrets in breeding plumage, Cattle Egret and Tricolored Heron in breeding plumage, Wood Stork, American Alligator (captive), and more. We should get to make lots of head portraits of all the bird species and to photograph them building nests, displaying, copulating, and flying. Learn to see, find, and make the shot in cluttered settings. Learn exposure and how to handle WHITEs. Learn fill flash and flash as main light. All of the birds are free and wild.

Debra Lucas has signed up for all day SAT; she will be driving down from AL.

This Coming Weekend’s Schedule

  • Saturday April 1, morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $100. Lunch and Image Review: $75. Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $100.
  • Sunday morning April 2, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $75.

Next Weekend’s Schedule

  • Saturday April 8, morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $100. Lunch and Image Review: $75. Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $100.
  • Sunday morning, April 9, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $75.

Cheap Canon lens rentals available: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, or 200-400.

To pay for one or more sessions in full via credit card, call Jim or Jen in the office weekdays at 863-692-0906. You will be responsible for the cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s pass or passes. Please shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions

Selling Your Used Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Gerry Keshka

Hi Artie, I wanted to share how much I appreciate your Used Gear “service.” You have posted how you help sellers, but the other side of the equations is how much this service helps buyers. I have purchased three lenses (Canon 200-400, 500 f4 II, and 70-200 F2.8) all lovely experiences and I saved almost $5K over retail. Each of the sellers was delightful, willing to help me assess if the purchase was right for me by sharing their experience with the lens. Each lens was in the condition advertised (or better), and typically included several “add-ons” that would have cost several hundred dollars.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Sandra Calderbank

Hi Artie, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you. I have sold two camera bodies on your BAA used gear site. Your friendly expertise and knowledgeable, trustworthy buyers have made this an extremely satisfying experience. Selling on BAA Used Gear page is the best transaction experience I have ever encountered. Thank you for all you do for our photography community. Sincerely, Sandra

Recent Successful Used Gear Sales

  • The sale of David R. Gibson’s Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens in excellent plus condition for $749 is pending.
  • Mike Kaplan sold a Canon EOS 7D Mark II in near-mint condition for $925 to a buyer who contacted him on day one when the body was listed in early March.
  • Sue Sanborn sold her Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in near-mint condition for $4100 in early March. The value of this great lens has plummeted after the introduction of the 400mm f/4 IS DO II.
  • Sandra Calderbank sold her used Canon EOS 7D Mark II in excellent plus condition with less than 20,000 shutter actuations for $948 in early March.
  • Mike Pace sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS lens in very good condition for $4699 CAD to a Canadian only days after it was listed in early March.
  • Kenton Gomez sold his Canon EF 500mm f4L IS II lens in excellent plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $7349 in early March, 2017.
  • Multiple IPT veteran Jake Levin sold his Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS lens in very good-plus condition for the very sporting price of $2199 USD to a Canadian buyer less than a week after it was listed.
  • Owen Peller sold his Canon EF 400m f/4 IS DO telephoto lens — the “old 400 DO,– in like-new condition for $2,299 in early MAR, 2017.
  • Brian Patteson sold his Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM super telephoto lens in near-mint condition for $4099 in early February.
  • IPT veteran Dick Evans sold his NIKKOR AF-S 70-200 f2.8G ED VRII Lens in like-new condition to a local camera store and kindly sent me a check for the 2 1/2% of the original listed price.
  • Steve Traudt is sold a Canon 500mm f4/L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens in excellent condition for $3550 in mid-February, 2017.
  • James P. Nelson sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM zoom lens in excellent condition for $899 in early February 2017.
  • Dow Morris sold his Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS USM lens in like-new condition for $579 a few days after it was listed in early February 2017.
  • James P. Nelson sold his Canon EF 100-400 zoom 1:4.5 – 5.6 L IS telephoto lens in excellent plus condition for a very low $549 in early February.
  • Robert Blanke sold his Canon EOS 7D Mark II body in like-new condition for $949.00 in early February 2017 just two days after it was listed.
  • Robert Blanke sold his Canon EOS-1D X body with the Canon GPS receiver in like-new condition for $2499.00 within hours of it being listed.

New Listings

Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens

Multiple IPT veteran and good friend Doug Holstein is offering a Canon 500mm f4L IS USM Super Telephoto lens and a 1.4X II teleconverter, both in in excellent condition for the great low price of $3699. The lens hood has a single small paint chip on the bottom. Cleaned and checked by Canon 3 months ago; unused since then. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, and the front lens cover. Also included is a Kirk Enterprise LP 29 lens plate. Insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Doug via e-mail or by phone at 828-295-4561 (Eastern time).

The old five is a fairly lightweight super-telephoto lens that work well with both TCs. It is fast and sharp. I used mine as my workhorse lens (along with the old 600mm f/4) for almost ten years to photograph birds and wildlife all over the world. Both have been replaced for me by their far more costly version II counterparts. The 500 f/4s have long been the world’s most popular super-telephoto lenses for wildlife and sports. With the 1.4X TC as a valuable extra, Doug’s lens should sell quickly. artie

Canon EOS 1D-X Professional Camera Body

BAA friend John Armitage is offering a used EOS 1D-X Professional Camera Body in excellent plus condition for the record low BAA price of $2348. The sale includes an extra LP-E4N battery, two Delkin Devices CF 700X UDMA-6 16-GB cards, the front cap, the wide neck strap, the interface and stereo AV cables with cable protector, the EOS Digital Solutions and Software Instruction Manual disks, the printed Instruction Manual, the Quick Reference Manual, and the Wired LAN Instruction Manual. System Status shows <45,000 shutter release cycles. There are a few very small scratches on the bottom of the camera. The body has just been cleaned and checked by Canon. Also included is insured ground shipping by via major carrier. Your camera will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Please contact John via e-mail or by phone at 970-250-6080.

Two 1D X bodies served me well as my workhorse dSLRs since their introduction in March 2012. I always appreciated their ruggedness, the great AF system, and the powerful battery that drove AF quickly even with the 2X III TC in place. artie

This image was created at Gatorland on the Saturday March 25 afternoon meet-up session with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. AWB.

“Fill” flash (ETTL at +1) with the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT with a Better Beamer on the Mongoose Integrated Flash Arm via the Canon OC-E3 Off Camera Shoe Cord (2′).

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -5.

One AF point to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Surround/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the base of the upper mandible about 1/2 inch to the left of the chick’s eye. If I had selected the AF point one to the right of the center AF point the selected point would have been dead center on the eye. Not sure if that would have been better as f/11 covered the eye nicely. Don’t ask me how I wound up in Surround 🙂 I do know that the chicks rarely stay still for a second and rarely give you a clear chance. Best advice: fire when you acquire focus and pray.

Image #1: Great Egret chick. This is the converted TIFF.

Why “Fill” Flash at +1 (ETTL)?

This image was created at 4:30pm. The nest was gently backlit. To ensure that the chicks feathers would be rendered bright white, I dialed the flash up to +1. They had looked a bit dingy on a test exposure with the flash at zero. Some might call this flash as main light since I was effectively lighting the shaded side of the bird. I would not argue with them.

To learn everything you wanted to know about flash but were afraid to ask, see the Flash Simplified section in The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II: 916 pages, 900 + images, on CD only). We cover fill flash, flash as main light, and Manual flash.

Image Optimization Question?

How would you optimize the TIFF file above? Read on to see what I did.

Image #2/the Optimized Image: Cattle Egret, breeding plumage, horizontal head portrait

The Image Optimization

After converting the RAW file in DPP 4 I brought it into Photoshop and executed a crop from the right and from below to tighten things up and to minimize the light-tone sticks in the lower right corner. Then I did a rough selection of the bird with the Quick Selection Tool, put that on its own layer, applied my NIK 30-30 recipe (Tonal Contrast & Detail Extractor), and reduced the opacity to 60%. Some of the grayer areas of the bird’s plumage were too dingy so I added a Regular Layer Mask and painted those areas away with a 40% brush. Next I used the Clone Stamp Tool and the Patch Tool to eliminate the hotspot on the leaf on the upper left frame edge. Then I reduced the YELLOW saturation about 10% to tone down the greens. Next to last was the bill clean-up. It would have been unrealistic to do a perfect clean-up job so I left the white crud above and below the nares.

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 applying Neat Image noise reduction. Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here.

Too Much or Too Little?

Was the bill clean-up too much, too little, or just right for you?

Image Optimization Question

Would you have done anything else? Or done anything differently?


Images and card copyright Arthur Morris/BEARS AS ART 🙂

2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPTs: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings 3.

Join me in spectacular Katmai National Park, AK for six days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears. Mid-July is prime time for making images of small, football-sized cubs. The cubs, and these dates, are so popular that I had to reserve them three years in advance to secure them. There are lots of bears each year in June, but the mothers only rarely risk bringing their tiny cubs out in the open in fear of predation by rival bears. In addition to making portraits of both adults and cubs, we hope to photograph frolicking and squabbling youngsters and tender nursing scenes. At this time of year, the bears are either grazing in luxuriant grass or clamming. There will also be some two- and three-year old cubs to add to the fun. And we will get to photograph it all.

We will live on our tour operator’s luxurious new boat. At 78 feet long its 24 foot beam makes it quite spacious as well. And the food is great. We will likely spend most of our time at famed Geographic Harbor as that is where the bears are generally concentrated in summer. On the odd chance that we do need to relocate to another location we can do so quickly and easily without having to venture into any potentially rough seas. We land via a 25 foot skiff that has lots of room for as much gear as we can carry.

Aside from the bears we should get to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin and should get nice stuff on Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Harbor Seal, and Steller’s Sea Lion as well. A variety of tundra-nesting shorebirds including Western Sandpiper and both yellowlegs are also possible. Halibut fishing (license required/not included) is optional.

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 17 to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of July 18. Again, with air travel in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter) subject to possible delays, being on Kodiak on July 16 is a much better plan.

Barring any delays, we will get to photograph bears on our first afternoon and then again every day for the next five days after that, all weather permitting of course. On our last morning on the boat, July 24, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will have the opportunity to do so. The group will return to Kodiak via float plane from late morning through midday. Most folks will then fly to Anchorage and to continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

What’s included? 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. National Park and guide fees. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional nature photographer; I will constantly let you know what I am thinking, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and informal Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). Your lodging and meals on Kodiak. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat and then back to Kodiak as above. The cost of a round trip last year was $550. The suggested crew tip of $200.

Have you ever walked with the bears?

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 5 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….), it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “BIRDS AS ART” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

Your deposit is due when you sign up. That leaves a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on September 15, 2016. The final payment of $2000 is due on February 15, 2017. I hope that you can join me for what will be a wondrously exciting trip.

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 :).

11 comments to Fill Flash at +1 (ETTL) … Too Much Bill Clean-up?

  • avatar Andy

    The clean version is beautiful, but nothing on the original bothers me.

  • avatar Gary

    Original for me. Don’t think you should adjust nature too much, plus if you look carefully you can see the same repeated dark cloned areas running up from the tip of the bill…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts but they are not my thoughts 🙂 Do you ever remove a distracting element from any of your images? As far as the repeating patterns, they are always easy to spot when folks tell you what they have done. In any case, I am not seeing the dark cloned areas that you speak of. And I did not do any cloning “up from the tip of the bill.”


  • avatar Pat Dunnuck

    I agree with Jon…leave it more natural!

    PS what is your 30-30 recipe?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I disagree with Jon and you. From the blog post: (NIK 30-30 recipe : Tonal Contrast & Detail Extractor). Learn how to create these recipes in Digital Basics 🙂


  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Beautiful feathers. Original bill doesn’t bother me, just seems natural. Darkening that leaf ( I think you meant upper left) and the crop are the most important changes to my eye.
    I’m coming to SW Fla next week and will use your guide there. Wish I could come up to Gatorland for your workshops but am with friends who are not photographers and do not want to travel that far.

  • Lovely image; the contrast between the blurred feathers in the foreground and the sharp ones above is particularly intriguing.

    On clean-up: lower mandible is fine but much done on the upper one is a bit obvious (where does one stop ? )

    The light areas on the right could be gently darkened (d & b)

    All the best, John

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi John,

      All clean-ups are “obvious” when you see the original. On many occasions I asked what was done in Photoshop and nobody knows anything 🙂 Do you ever remove any distracting elements from an image?

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Jon

    Hi Artie, this is as far as I can determine purely a matter of opinion. The cleaned up version looks very neat indeed, so well done, I think you did a good job.
    Coming back to the original I think this is how it was so why is there a need to change it for “the better”. Whilst the cleaned up version looks very clean I think one has to ask oneself when was the last time one saw one so clean. Also what is wrong with the original, I think the flakes of keratinous debris are something to be expected, why would a bill on a bird such as that be so clean and not have any debris. A further point which many people will realise, though perhaps some would not, is that if this cleaning up was performed on an image then the image would be ineligible to many photographic competitions.
    In conclusion the cleaned up looks very clean but for me too clean, it immediately makes me that it has been cleaned up…. but neat job!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      After a hard rain even the chicks can be immaculate. Thanks for sharing your opinion. As far as the major contests go, I stress that point here often.