Laughing/Braking Gannet Before Dive Watercolor … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Laughing/Braking Gannet Before Dive Watercolor ...

Stuff

After three perfect photography days my weather karma got too good. We were somewhat cursed with clear blue skies and uncooperative wind directions, but the day was saved when I arranged for a late stay on Farnes with one of the captains. We wound up enjoying an extra 90 minutes of puffins and Razorbills in sweet light. It is early on Sunday morning, July 10 and — despite the partly sunny conditions at 6:00am, it is looking as if we will once again enjoy completely cloudy bright skies. Today is our last full day boat trip.

I had been eating too much until last night when the group enjoyed huge portions of take out fish and chips and I dined on a can of tuna 🙁

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 21 days in a row with a new educational blog post 🙂

Via e-Mail from Warren Hatch

Hi Artie, I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for everything you’ve done to help my photography. The lessons I’ve learned from The Art of Bird Photography I and II, through your daily blogs, and on a pair of IPTs (spaced 20 years apart), have been invaluable. They’ve influenced my shooting profoundly and I know I am a better photographer as a result. This week one of my images won an Audubon award (People’s Choice in the 2017 photography competition). Your inspiration and teachings played as large a part in the formation of the image as my hitting the shutter button. At a minimum, the official scorer should show you with an assist. So, thanks! Hopefully it won’t take another 20 years before I capture something special again. Kind Regards, Warren

Booking.Com

I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.




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.

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ORIG-gannet-P3A0219-Bass-Rock,-Scotland

This image was created on the fabulous gannet boat trip morning on Day 4 of the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens (at 169mm) and my favorite birds-in-flight camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the gray sky: 1/2000 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: zero.

Center AF point/Manual selection/AI Servo/Exand/Shutter button AF and was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on gannet’s tail yet the bird’s is relatively sharp as the AF system was tracking properly. Does that make a lot of sense to me? No. But it is what it is …

The original of the Northern Gannet braking before dive image

The Original Laughing/Braking Northern Gannet Before Dive

There are so many gannets in the air that isolating a single bird is quite difficult. And the boat is rocking so keep the horizon level is another challenge. But when I saw the original image above, I knew just what I wanted to do with it.

Northern-Gannet-brakng-watercolor-_P3A0219-Bass-Rock,-Scotland

This image was created on the fabulous gannet boat trip morning on Day 4 of the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens (at 169mm) and my favorite birds-in-flight camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the gray sky: 1/2000 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: zero.

Center AF point/Manual selection/AI Servo/Exand/Shutter button AF and was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on gannet’s tail yet the bird’s is relatively sharp as the AF system was tracking properly. Does that make a lot of sense to me? No. But it is what it is …

Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a spectacular larger (and inexplicably sharper) version.

Northern Gannet braking before dive

The 70-200mm f/4 Advantage …

There are several big advantages that come with using the 70-200mm f/4L IS on the gannet boat or whenever you have non-stop, point blank flight photography action:

  • 1-It’s light weight makes it much easier to hand hold than all but some of the micro-four thirds gear. Comparing it with the 70/200 f/2.8L IS lens with a 1DX II as far as weight is a joke. To quote Peter Kes, everyone using heavier combos were knackered after only 30 minutes of frantic photography. Most of them simply had to take a rest. First-timer Chris Loffredo took my advice and rented a 70-200mm f/4 just for the trip and was thrilled that he did.
  • 2-The smaller, lighter f/4 version enjoys a full stop more of light than the 100-400 II.
  • 3-Again as compared to the 100-400 II, many of my best images were created at focal lengths of between 70 and 99mm.
  • 4-The zooming is amazing as just a single small twist of the wrist covers the full zoom range of from 70-200mm.
  • 5-AF with this little-bitty lens and the 5D IV is lightning fast.

The Image Optimization for the Laughing/Braking Northern Gannet Before Dive Watercolor image…

After converting the RAW file in DPP 4 (which automatically corrects the f/4 vignetting) I brought the image into Photoshop and leveled it. Next I used John Haedo Content Aware Fill to fill in the long skinny triangles. I did need to use the Clone Stamp and Patch Tools to fill in a few weird areas. Then I carefully selected the bird using a new Lasso Tool trick that I will share here soon. After feathering the edges of the selection six pixels, I saved it and then placed it on its own layer and applied my NIK 30/30 recipe. I added a Regular Layer Mask and painted away the bird’s belly and breast at 100% as those areas looked a bit grungy. Then I used another new trick that I will share with y’all here soon to quickly select only the head. Once that was done I applied a Contrast Mask, added a Regular Layer Mask, lightened the image with Curves on a Layer, and then painted away the sharp edges with a 50% opacity brush. I achieved the watercolor look with the far shoreline by putting the whole image on a new layer and applying a 70% Gaussian Blur. Then I added a Regular Layer Mask and painted away the bird and the sky at 100%. Voila. I should have made an MP4 video of this one ..

Everything above plus tons and tons more is detailed in the new BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. Just so you know, the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.






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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.

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Typos

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3 comments to Laughing/Braking Gannet Before Dive Watercolor …

  • Nicely done Artie. Funny enough the horizon from the original image doesn’t bug me – perhaps because I don’t know which is the actual horizon (as there are two barriers in the bg)
    Love the tones in this most of all.

  • avatar John Haedo

    Enjoying your new workflow guide with its cool content aware fill technique 🙂 and eagerly awaiting your revised LensAlign tutorial. ALWAYS learning something from your blogs.
    Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Dear Artie, I love today’s optimized image. The strip of green adds some colour to the image and also brings some context. If there was one thing that bugs me it would be that the tip of the farthest right toe of the right foot seems to be touching the tip of the upper mandible. Great image, enjoy the rest of the trip.
    Jake