Why your silhouettes should look washed out on the LCD on the back of your camera body … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Why your silhouettes should look washed out on the LCD on the back of your camera body ...


I woke early on Tuesday, answered some e-mails, and started packing. Then a short swim (48 lengths, a bit more than a half mile), lunch, and off to the airport to catch the 3:15 Southwest nonstop flight to Islip. I head into the city tomorrow to see a new musical, A Bronx Tale. Then back to Long Island to visit my younger sister Arna whose health has been failing for too long. No swimming for me till I get back to ILE and 25 NOV.

Do consider joining me on the Early Winter DeSoto IPT. Details below.

The Streak

Today makes one hundred ten days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 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 480 … Good health and good internet connections willing.

Everybody’s Doing It…

Everybody’s buying and selling used gear on the BAA Used Gear Page. Sales of lenses especially have been picking up recently. 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 charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They recently folded. And eBay fees are now in the 13% range. 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 yellow-orange menu bar at the top of each blog post.


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.

This image was created at Fort DeSoto Park on the early morning of Saturday, November 11, 2017 with the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and my favorite sunrise silhouette photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/200 second at f/7.1 (should have been f/6..3). K8000 just as the sun barely rose over a cloud …

Two AF points up from the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was placed on the center of the base of the the bird’s bill (as originally framed). This is a small crop from the top and the left to tighten things up.

LensAlign/FocusTune Micro-adjustment: -1.

Great Blue Heron sunrise silhouette

Many of your silhouettes should look washed out on the rear LCD …

Yes, it is true, many of your silhouettes should look washed out on the rear LCD . Why? If you properly expose to the right your image files will be larger and of higher quality. A simple Levels adjustment — setting the BLACK and WHITE points and adjusting the mid-tones — should take you less than 30 seconds at most.

Scroll down to see the before and after animated GIF.

Anything Bug You?

There is one thing in this image that bothers me. Can you figure out what it is? Does anything about it bug you?

The Before and After Animated GIF

The before image here represents the converted TIF file that looked pretty much the same as the RAW file — way too light and washed out. The funny thing is that when I am looking through the viewfinder I am actually visualizing what the optimized image will look like. Remember that you can always set a warmer Kelvin during the RAW conversion.

As is always the case, the posterization is a result of creating the animated GIF file.

Digital Basics II

You can learn to make a Levels Adjustment in Photoshop in The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) here. In addition you will learn exactly how I optimize each and every image that you see here on the blog.

So what is included in DB II?

  • Photo Mechanic basics including ingesting and detailed editing (choosing your keepers) instructions
  • My filing system
  • Why RAW capture/JPEGs OK for some
  • Simple DPP 4 conversions
  • ACR RAW conversions (for Photoshop and Lightroom users)
  • Stuff you need to know before optimizing your images in Photoshop
  • Keyboard shortcuts and creating personalized keyboard shortcuts
  • My Photoshop workspace
  • A great tip on working large
  • Making selections
  • The Quick Selection Tool
  • The Magic Wand Tool
  • The Lasso Tool
  • Making Color Range selections
  • Quick Masking techniques
  • Layer Masking for dummies
  • Cropping fine points
  • Dust spotting
  • Adding canvas
  • Filling in canvas
  • Leveling an image
  • Using the Ruler Tool
  • The image rotation shortcut
  • John Haedo Content Aware Fill
  • Dealing with whites
  • Making a Color Range Selection for the Bright Whites
  • Restoring Detail in the Whites
  • Dealing With Image Tonality
  • Making Levels adjustments
  • Making Curves adjustments
  • Tim Grey Dodge and Burn
  • Denise Ippolito Brush Opacity Magic
  • Image Clean-up Techniques
  • The Patch Tool
  • Nik Color Efex Pro
  • The Spot Healing Brush
  • My NIK 25/25, 30/30, and 50/50 Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast recipes
  • Making Color Balance adjustments
  • Making Hue-Saturation adjustments
  • Making Selective Color adjustments
  • A Selective Color Trick for super-saturated reds
  • The Average Blur Color Balance technique
  • The RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing technique
  • Digital Eye Doctor techniques
  • Selective Sharpening via Contrast Mask
  • Fast and Dirty NeatImage Noise Reduction (only for folks who own Neat Image and The Professional Post-Processing Guide)
  • Saving your master file
  • Sharpening basics
  • Sharpening for prints
  • Creating JPEGs

Recent Fort DeSoto Images

From bottom left clockwise back to center: Great Egret, blasting sunrise highlights; Black Skimmer, winter plumage in pre-dawn light; Roseate Spoonbill foraging; Brown Pelican, juvenile landing; hybrid heron X egret; American Oystercatcher feeding; Royal Tern, worn juvenile; Great Blue Heron from below.

Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT. 3 1/2 days: $1599

Saturday DEC 2 (afternoon session) through the full day on Tuesday DEC 5, 2017. Meet and Greet Introduction on SAT DEC 2, 2017

With no water in Estero Lagoon, Corkscrew Swamp and Anhinga Trail total busts for many years, and Ding Darling NWR managed into oblivion, Fort DeSoto has emerged as the premier bird photography location in the state. Join me in early winter to escape the cold weather and photograph lots of tame terns, gulls, herons, egrets (including Reddish Egret), shorebirds (including and especially Marbled Godwit), Osprey, and Brown Pelican. Long-billed Curlew, Wood Stork, and Roseate Spoonbill all range somewhere between likely and possible.

Learn to get the right exposure every time, to approach free and wild (and often tame!) birds, and to design a pleasing image. And learn the location of my new Fort DeSoto hotspot along with my favorite sunset location (sky conditions permitting). To register call Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 or shoot me an e-mail.

DeSoto IPT Details

This IPT will include four 3 hour afternoon sessions, three 3 1/2 hour morning sessions, three lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

Because of the narrow time frame, your $499 non-refundable deposit can be paid not by credit card. Call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906 to register. Your balance must be paid by check once you sign up. The balance check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART) should me mailed to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your balance check. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Canon lens rentals are available on a limited basis: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, and 200-400 f/4 with Internal TC.

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.


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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 Why your silhouettes should look washed out on the LCD on the back of your camera body …

  • avatar Arrow Myers

    Didn’t comment on the Godwit before, but I have to say I like image#2 the most.

  • avatar John Haedo

    DBII has an intriguing content aware fill technique. Guess I have to update. 🙂
    Stay well, Artie!

  • avatar Guido Bee

    I’d say the funny shapes in the upper right, but they don’t bother me too much.

    It is not them.

    With regard to the Bosque, it is my guess that any management will not be successful at a time when the budgets are so severely cut. When I was doing water management in NM for a County, there was a discussion concerning the planting of the corn on the Bosque property that was done by some of the local farmers. The refuge management claimed they did not have the dollars to buy the corn seed or the fertilizer to plant the “north loop” as had customarily been done. The farmers used to do the planting and the cutting for free, but the seed and fertilizer was provided by the government. That had been the deal for years. The particular year that I was there for that discussion, the funding somehow appeared and the planting was done.
    Since that time, probably nearly 10 years ago, I have not been able to follow what the current history has been. In the 10+ years I was in NM, there was a fair amount of seasonal variation in the numbers of birds there. With any warming of temperatures there is a potential that migrating fowl do not have to go so far south to find suitable winter sites. Not much local management can do about those either. Just my $0.02 worth.
    All the best, and I continue to enjoy and learn from your blog and your efforts. Thanks again.

    Your understanding as to what has transpired is somewhat incorrect. The short story is that the really good farmers got screwed (but not in the manner that you described). My understanding is that this year they finally grew corn but that it is all pretty much in bad places as far as bird photography is concerned, at least with regards to light angle. In other words, the photographers and other visitors are always north of the corn, looking south. Can you confirm that?

    Thanks for your kind words.

    with love, artie

    • avatar Guido Bee

      During the times I visited the Bosque the corn was always planted at the upper end of the North Loop. From the road I’d say it was generally looking North into the corn. Since the birds are there in the winter the setting sun was generally behind most of the photographers and coming over their left shoulders (from the SW).
      One of the practices with the corn that I did not mention was that they (I think this was the farmers) would selectively cut swaths of corn for the cranes and geese to feed on. Some weeks later they would cut another swath, and so on through the season. The birds, given the choice of in or out of the standing corn, would generally feed on the cut areas; few would go into the standing corn. Also, the standing corn is where the coyotes would come from. At the end of the season (maybe March or so, I am not sure) the remainder of the standing corn would be burned to incentivize the birds to go back north.
      What was in the “deal” for the farmers was that by providing feed (the corn) at the bosque, there would be less loss to the farmers from the birds eating their (farmers’) crops. More or less quoting the farmers at the meeting, they stated that they accept a certain amount of loss from birds, but that they felt it was worth their (farmers’) investment in time, etc. in planting at the refuge. They expressed the opinion that it would not be worth their while if they had to absorb the costs of the corn seed or the fertilizer.
      That’s how I recall it.
      All the best. Enjoy NY, and have a great Thanksgiving.

      • avatar Guido Bee

        Looking once more at what you wrote about sun angles, I recall that there was some corn planted “inside” the north loop, but not so much. If what you were referring to was this area, then you would be shooting into the sun in the PM: not good. My reference to “inside the loop” would be on the left side as you drove around (it is one-way on that part of the road), and it would be north of the pond area with the big walkway out over the water / pond (the road is two-way from there to the gate).
        If there was corn planted on the inside when I was there I may not have even noticed it because it was so bad (shooting into the light) that I would not have spent any time looking at it, though I do recall shooting a few shots there once, with predictable results.
        Sorry the place is not what it once was. I visited several times before 2009, and then each year from ’09-’12, and that is what my experience was / when. I always had a good time there, even if I was late in the season (the birds can sometimes be gone by late Feb). It was about a 2 hour drive from where I was living then. It can be a great place, let’s hope it is again.

  • avatar Noel Heustis

    Although it doesn’t bug me, the head is angled slightly away from us…still just a gorgeous shot!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Noel, Actually, the head angle was better than I thought and better than it looked in the light version …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    I instantly saw that grumpy person in the top right without even a microsecond blink. It’s kind of cool!


  • avatar Adam

    Agree with Ron, the two posterizing spots to the right of the head.

    Not what bugged me 🙂

    BTW what specifically are the problems at Bosque with respect to management?

    An uncaring anti-photographer attitude has prevailed since Refuge Manager Phil Norton was re-assigned more than a decade ago. Phil, an amazingly skilled and creative and effective administrator, was replaced by a series of incompetent, uninspired folks. Phil would have found a work-around to avoid closing the North Railroad Pond. One year I wrote a check for $10,000 to start the fund-raising needed to replace the flight deck with an earthen structure. Those plans fell through and my check was returned. For years I attempted to work with management to improve the photographic conditions at the refuge. Sometimes things got better, but more often my suggestions found their way to the reject pile 🙂

    Lastly, and this is telling, about eight years ago I organized a volunteer “Open Windows” Bosque Clean-up Crew to do some of the work that always had been done by the refuge staff. After several years the main core of folks quit citing the fact that they were receiving no support from management …

    with love, artie

    ps: all of the Bosque stuff represents only the tip of the iceberg.

  • Artie: I suspect the two dark spots behind the head (which remind me of tree rings) might be what bothers you.

  • avatar steve white

    Off topic-but, what happened to your Thanksgiving in Bosque trips. I know you were in South Ga one year, but I thought it was a tradition for you. Just curious.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Bosque has gotten worse and worse for the past decade, mostly due to inept, uncaring, incompetent management that could care less about the thousands of nature photographers who visit annually.

      If you go LMK how you did.

      with love, artie