Not Your Everyday Gatorland Image … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Not Your Everyday Gatorland Image ...

What’s Up?

On Tuesday morning I went down to the lake just as the sun broke through the fog. It was so, so beautiful. There was zero wind and the blue water was like a mirror. There were no birds in the perfect spot — most of them are in one of three big fields — but I did get one nice frame of Limpkin …

I learned that John Armitage’s 1D-X sold in less than a day for the record low BAA price of $2348. The rest of the day was BAU = business as usual 🙂


Thanks to all who commented on the last two blogs posts, here and here. Your taking the time to make the blog interactive is always greatly appreciated. On Tuesday evening I replied to all of the many comments individually. If you check them out you will find out that the learning never stops.

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.

This image was created at Gatorland on my Sunday busman’s holiday on March 26, 2017. I used the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 312mm) and my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 2000. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/5.6 in Tv mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

Center AF point/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the branch in the middle of the frame. Click on the image for a larger version.

Black Vulture silhouette

Not Your Everyday Gatorland Image …

When you think of nature photography at Gatorland you think of displaying Great Egrets, tight head shots of Cattle Egret (and all the rest!) a variety of chicks in the nest, and a nice gator image or two. But there are lots of other opportunities for those who keep their eyes open. I have probably walked by this image a dozen times or more but on the morning of Sunday, 26 MAR I finally had my eyes open and saw this for the first time.

When I want a minimum safe shutter speed — in this case 1/60 sec. — I turn to Tv mode. I have ISO Safety Shift set on all my cameras. Once I enter the exposure compensation: + 2 1/3 stops for this image, the camera sets the needed ISO. Using ISO Safety Shift functions exactly the same as if I had set Auto ISO. See my comments on the original image capture below.

To learn the exact location of the vulture perch tree you will need to keep your eyes wide open or join me on a Gatorland weekend meet-up session 🙂

This is the converted TIFF for today’s featured image.

The Image Optimization

During the RAW conversion in DPP 4 I brightened the image 2/3 of a stop, moved the Shadow slider 2 clicks to the left to make the BLACKs blacker, and increased the Contrast by moving the slider to +1. All of these moves were done to create the stark silhouette look. Once I had the image in Photoshop, the big problem was the lower left, especially the intruding stump of a dead tree. I used the Clone Stamp Tool to eliminate that and the palm fronds as well. I decided to leave the bunch of leaves in the lower left corner to balance the motif. (Thanks to the late, great German nature photographer Fritz Pölking for the word “motif.”)

To add some extra room above the birds I used one of the simpler APTATS II tutorials. That took all of 20 seconds. Notice that two of the birds in the original were without heads. To remedy that situation, I grabbed two different heads (one at a time) via small Quick Masks and moved them roughly into position. Then I used the Warp command under Transform to re-shape them a bit. I added a Regular Layer mask to fine-tune the Quick Masks and after flattening that layer, I tidied things up with the Clone Stamp Tool with the hardness raised to 85% to yield clean, sharp edges.

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.

Image Design Question

What would you have done with the lower left corner? Would you have left the cluster of leaves?


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6).
All who register will be urged to take advantage of the two day Gannet Add-on so please do not buy your flights until making your decision. See below for details.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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 :).

16 comments to Not Your Everyday Gatorland Image …

  • avatar Ryan Sanderson

    I find the leaves in the lower left corner distracting but given the aspect ratio of this image, the tree and the birds would seem a bit unbalanced if it were removed.

    I’d consider a different crop of the photo. I would crop in from the left with about as much open space left to the left of the far edge of the branch as is left on the right side of the image.

  • I would have left the leaves on the left of the image. Nice Image Artie.

    I would not have touched birds, hey I would not have processed the image in the first place. Interesting in the way you have transformed the image. I like it.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • avatar Ron Gates

    I don’t believe it balances anything. Perhaps if it were larger in the frame but as it is, I’d remove it. Nice image though.

  • avatar Mike H

    I think the leaves on the left are too small in the frame – enough to distract but not enough to balance the weight on the right.
    Ideally I would have been removed the OOF stump and left the foliage along full lower left edge but I realise that would be tricky.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. And disagree on the leaves. See my reply below to Eleanor on the stump.


  • avatar Glen

    How about reversing the image from positive to negative in PS?

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    I’d probably take out the leaves on the left as they grab my eye and are not the subject.
    Ideally I would like to leave the palm fronds minus the stump sticking up. (And also take out the far left leaves.) But I’m sure it would be impossible to get that stump out of the palm fronds. They are too fine to do that– at least for me.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your input. I could have eliminated the stump and then used one of the palm fronds to fill in. With a warped Quick Mask …


  • avatar Andy

    I definitely would have left the lower left foliage. I agree that it adds balance.

  • Nice silhouette image. I think just leaving the leaves in the left lower corner works well to balance it. Looks like the vultures have done a good balancing job also with their positions on the tree.

  • That big leaf sticking up annoys me. I would’ve tried to remove it and
    see what I had left….maybe cropping out the tree on the very left
    edge since it seems to be a different type of tree compared to the others.