Black Skimmer Editing Practice. And Really Important Stuff. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Black Skimmer Editing Practice. And Really Important Stuff.

Really Important Stuff, All Unsolicited

Via e-mail from Jim Miller

I can’t stop thinking about how much fun the DeSoto Fall IPT was, and how much I learned. There were so many things that suddenly made perfect sense after I had been confused for so long. Thank you very much for the wonderful trip, and for being a great teacher. As I worked through the raw files last week, I realized what a fantastic lens the 600 IS is. Thanks for the rental! Maybe some day I will be able to afford one. Some images for critique are attached.

By the way, the plant we were looking at along the sidewalk in Gulfport is Blue Porterweed. It is worth a few minutes on the internet to read about it: native of Florida and the Caribbean, used for medicine in The Bahamas, etc. We have it in a large pot in the front yard and it takes a lot of water, but it blooms Spring through Fall. Thank you again, Artie. It was really wonderful to be with you and learn from you.

Via e-mail from Lee Sommie

I want to thank you for making the Fall 2017 Ft. DeSoto IPT such a fun and educational experience for me. I truly did not want the adventure to end. I now look through the viewfinder with an artist’s mindset. And the real bonus was making new friends with fellow students. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife photography. I had a great time with you and look forward to more adventures on future IPTs.

Followed by this one

BTW. I downloaded Photo Mechanic and started using it in my workflow. Since I like using Lightroom for my adjustments, I found a way to incorporate Photo Mechanic and Lightroom together. Lightroom was driving me crazy with how slow it is to import and preview photos. I was impressed with how fast you could preview photos and start editing your photos on the DeSoto Fall IPT. Life is too short to wait for applications to import and preview photos and Photo Mechanic solves that problem.

Thanks again for everything Artie. Your knowledge keeps on giving well after the IPT!

Via e-mail from Muhammad Arif

I had a great time at Fort De Soto. Thank you for all the instruction, for your help and pointers; my photography has already improved tremendously and I’ve never made such good bird photos before. I wish I could’ve joined you on Monday and Tuesday morning as well but work got in the way. It was also nice to meet everyone on the IPT; sorry that I missed you Ray. Thanks again for everything and I hope to join you at a future IPT sometime again.


I visited the Social Security office in Winter Haven to start collecting on my money. I had been drawing my SS on my late-wife Elaine’s money. Next was a visit with my chiropractor friend Dr. Scott Pancake for an Atlas Orthogonal treatment. Too soon to tell but you will hear from me soon. Scott advised two days of rest, i.e., no swimming, no exercises.

I am still looking for a few more folks for San Diego #2. If you are considering this trip and might be interested in adding on a free day of instruction before the IPT begins please shoot me an e-mail.

Great Response

After downloading the RAW file, lots of folks have been sending me JPEgs of their version of yesterday’s featured image. If you would like to take a crack at it, see yesterday’s blog post here. I will publish my version on Friday.

The Streak

Today makes eighty-two days in a row with a new educational blog post! This blog post took less than an hour to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.


2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 3 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT #2: Sunday, JAN 28 thru and including a morning session on Wednesday, JAN 31, 2018: 3 1/2 days: $1699. Limit: 8: Openings: 7

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Saturday, Jan 27, 2018.

San Diego IPT #2: Shorter and Less Expensive!

Please remember: I go with one.

Click here for details.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

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.


All four of these images were created on the early morning of Sunday, October 15 well before the sun came onto the birds. I used the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) and my favorite skimmer photography camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. The ISOs ranged from 800 to 1250. All at Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/320 sec. at f/6.3 (except for the last image at f/7.1) in Tv mode. AWB.

One AF point to the right of the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell somewhere on the bird face below the eye in each image. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

FocusTune/LensAlign Micro Adjustment: -5.

Black Skimmer at water’s edge (four ways)

Black Skimmer Editing Practice

Click on the composite above to view the images larger. Which is the strongest image? Why? Which is the weakest image? Why? What do you think of the two images with the breaking wave included?

For those not blessed with eagle eyes here are the file numbers from left to right, top row first, then the bottom row.

  • _P3A3247 (at 7:50am)
  • _P3A3248 (five seconds after 3247)
  • _P3A3256 (40 seconds after 3248)
  • _P3A3270 (4 1/2 minutes after 3256)

Note: I have a 100% best by far choice; I will share it with you here soon.

High Level Exposure Question

Considering that the exposure compensation for each image was +2 stops, why is _P3A3270 considerably brighter than _P3A3256? Please note that it has nothing to do with the fact that the light has increased; remember that I was in an automatic exposure mode, Tv …

More 100-400 II Versatility

On both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning I never took the 500 f/4L IS II out of my Sequoia. What fun to walk around with a lightweight lens that is great for flight photography; being able to zoom out on close-flying pelicans and gulls can be a huge plus. Once the sun came over the dunes I added the 1.4X III TC for additional reach. We saw yesterday that the 1-4 can be used at the wide end to create scenic-type images (without having to run back to the car for a shorter lens). It’s focal length range (with or without the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III) is fantastic. And its amazing close focus (down to less than one meter) make this the most versatile lens you will ever own. Lastly, as we saw the other day, you can add a few extension tubes and use the 1-4II to photograph very small flowers.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

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.

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.


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 :).

17 comments to Black Skimmer Editing Practice. And Really Important Stuff.

  • avatar MR

    Hi Art,
    Sorry if I’m wrong, but going clockwise from top left it looks like 3270 comes before 3256. This is not how you have them listed. This leaves me a bit confused as to which picture your exposure question is referring to. 3247 & 3270 are my picks.

    All the best wishes.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      My bad on the clockwise business. To keep the time order correct I switched it to this “For those not blessed with eagle eyes here are the file numbers from left to right, top row first, then the bottom row.” Good catch!


      ps: The EXP question was still OK …

  • avatar Adam

    Art, I’m not sure where you are headed with the exposure question? As you indicated you were operating in evaluative metering mode. While it integrates information from all of the zones there is some bias towards the active af point. In the left image, I suspect your af point was on the white aspect of the bird and as it moved through the frame in the right image, the active af point might have landed on the black. Recognizing that the metering wants to create an average exposure representing a mid tone gray (18%) the differences in perceived tone at the active af point could easily account for the exposure differences.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Adam, You are on the right track but … Answer on Saturday.

      with love, artie

      ps: in Evaluative metering the exact location of the AF point has little to no affect on the exposure …

  • avatar Greg

    My personal favourite is 3270 because the background is clean and the little wavelets around the bird’s feet add a touch of extra sparkle. 3248 is less interesting and the other two have lines breaking up the background.

    Even though the light was relatively constant, the background tonality changed momentarily because of the way the water behaved.
    In 3270 the background is brighter because of reflection off a flatter water surface making the meter underexpose slightly – making the bird itself actually a little darker.
    In 3256 the breaking wave has created a shadow making the meter increase the exposure – and making the bird a little lighter.
    In auto mode when the light is changeable (or constant) and what is in the frame does not change tonally, all is well.
    If the tonality in the frame changes (subject size in the frame or the background tonality) even though the light may be constant, the meter will be erratic.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Greg,

      Good on 3270 🙂 But you missed the point on my exposure question.

      with love artie

      ps: reading more carefully one of your comments on exposure is actually the correct answer. But it is drowned out by other misconceptions …

      • avatar Greg

        OK, I will whittle it down to saying that although the light didn’t increase/stayed constant, the very bright reflection off the water behind the bird has pushed that area closer to clipping and as that area is relatively large, the frame overall looks brighter. However being in auto mode has fooled the meter into reducing the exposure overall, making the bird a little darker.
        Looking at the bird’s shadow, the bird is virtually backlit so +2EV may not be enough to perfectly expose the bird so the very wide dynamic range is a sticky problem. Underexpose the bird and correctly exposed background or correctly expose the bird and risk blowing out the background?

        For the bird, I would also say that 3270 is the best as in that frame the wings and tail are more neatly folded whereas in the other three frames they look a little ‘scrappy’ with a misplaced tail feather.

      • avatar Greg

        As your ISO was changing, the light must have been changing.
        In 3270, comparing with the other frame and judging by the harder shadow, the sun came out. So although tonality was constant, the light became more intense and the dynamic range/contrast increased.
        So, higher contrast conspires to fool the meter – so that +2EV (set for duller conditions in the other frame) may not have been quite enough.

        3270 is also best for me as the wings and tail feathers are more neatly folded.
        The other frames show a misplaced tail feather and a more ‘scrappy’ appearance.

        • avatar Greg

          Artie, please delete my second reply and keep the third. It was sent by mistake and shows what how naughty your question is!

  • avatar Jake Levin

    3270 does it for me. With 3256 the breaking wave is cutting behind the head, and the other breaking wave just doesn’t seem preferable to the clean backgrounds on the other two. Of the two without the background wave, 3270 has the bubbles in the foreground from the approaching water, which I like, and the water behind the bird doesn’t look “wavy” until you look above the skimmer’s head, so there’s nothing to compete or distract from the main subject.

    A stab at the exposure question: Krishna’s answer would have been mine as well–changing background tonality–but since the fail horn has sounded on that attempt, I’m going to have to admit I don’t know!

  • I like the breaking waves in the scene, I find the ones without somewhat bland. My favorite is _P3A3247, I like the legs, they clearly show that it is a shore bird in the surf. My least favorite is _P3A3256, the lower angle causes the bright line of the breaking wave to intersect the top of the head, which I find distracting. I believe that the angle of the camera to the water caused the metering system to go 1/3 stop darker on _P3A3270.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Keith. I agree that 3247 is stronger than 3256.

      More to follow …

      with love, artie

  • The Answer to the question is because of the TV mode. As the background is changing because of the waves the camera is change the Aperture and hence the _P3A3270 considerably brighter than _P3A3256. If you were in Manual Mode, if the light does not change the Exposure for the black birds will remain the same irrespective of the background.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Your answer to the question is wrong; the background tonality was pretty much consistent 🙂 Note also what when working in manual mode you need to continuously adjust your settings as the light and/or the background changes …

      • My Understanding is that for the given light when working in manual mode the exposure for subject does not change. The exposure for the bird is the same even when the background is changing. I might be missing something. Eager to know.

      • avatar Greg

        Artie, is that right? Did you slip this in as a teaser? I am with Krishna on this one. Constant light + manual mode, once the correct exposure for the subject is set, no need to change anything?

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Sorry Greg, I am somewhat confused by your comment.

          ps: slip what in?

          With love, artie