Red, White, and Blue (and Grey): Could This Be a Perfect Photograph? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Red, White, and Blue (and Grey): Could This Be a Perfect Photograph?


Friend Anita North — visiting from Toronto — and I, got up really early to search for a tall skinny perch tree to plant in the lake. A few that we had spotted previously did not work. We wound up checking out a badly burned wood lot and some looked decent. As I walked around with the hand saw and work gloves I spotted the perfect perch. Lying on the ground. No sawing required. We got it in my SUV, headed down to the lake, and had it planted in short order. With fast and amazing results.

I was glad to learn that the sale of Mike Newman’s Canon 600mm f/4L IS II lens is pending.

The rest of the day was filled with UFC stuff on Tivo, several of the good college games, and packing for my busman’s holiday trip to DeSoto. I swam 1/2 mile late in the day; the pool was down 5 degrees in one day from 83 to 78. And yes, lots of cobra push-ups.

Amazing 5D Mark IV Sale!

5D Mark IV Still on Sale!

Right now you can purchase a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with the BG-E20 Battery Grip for the crazy low price of $3199. I am not sure how long this Black Friday sale will last …

Blog regular Bill Hill was so excited when he read of this sale that he forgot to use my affiliate link. 🙂 He wrote, “I still think the 5D Mark IV sale is is too good to be true. I will believe it when it arrives. Thanks for the heads up.

Note: Bill went for the one with the free battery grip and the free Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer.

The Streak

Today makes one hundred twenty-eight 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.


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. Those might include system, camera body, accessory, and lens choices and decisions.

This image was created down by the lake by my home at ILE on the morning of Friday, December 1, 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 crane photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering + 2/3 stop as framed: 1/1600 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AWB on a clear sunny day at 8:34am.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

Left Large Zone/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system selected an l-shaped array of AF points the fell on the bird’s neck well below and behind the bird’s eye as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below.

Sandhill Crane, adult head portrait

Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Could This Be a Perfect Photograph?

All that I did with this image after the RAW conversion in DPP 4 was to clean a few specks off the bill. For me, the composition is dead-solid perfect, as are the head and bill angles. (Note that the head is turned about 1/2 degree toward us.) And as the bird was feeding in the water, the bill was as close to immaculate as you are gonna get. The bird itself was a gorgeous individual with a bright red crown and a pristine, pearly white cheek patch. I had many similar images but for whatever reason or reasons, this one seemed most alive.

Image Question?

Is this a perfect image? Why or why not? Please note that it would like have zero chance to do anything in any major international contest.

This is the DPP 4 Screen Capture for today’s featured image

The DPP 4 Screen Capture

Note that with the AF points a bit on this side of the plane of the crane’s eyes that stopping down from f/5.6 to f/7.1 paid big dividends not only in terms of the sharp eye but in sharpening up the feathers of the crown and on the back of the head. (See the tight face crop below for evidence of that).

DPP 4 Tips

#1: This is a repeat tip: you can bring really warm WHITEs a bit closer to neutral by moving the Color fine-tune dot toward BLUE and away from RED while still retaining the look of early morning light. Note that after the adjustment the RGB values for the brightest WHITEs still show a bit more RED: 239, 238, 235.

#2: This is a brand new tip. With the WHITEs fairly bright, I opted to move the Highlight slider only 1/2 stop to the left to -0.5 to retain the bright WHITEs while restoring a bit of feather detail. (I would usually go -1 by rote …)

This is a tight crop of the face and crown of today’s featured image

A Tight Crop

Note the incredible detail in the crown and in the grey feathers of the rear crown. 5D IV image quality is superb.

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 the morning session on Wednesday, JAN 31, 2018 and a free morning session the day before the IPT starts: 3 1/2 days (+1/2!): $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.

Join me in San Diego near the end of January to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include four 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, three 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo 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.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 11/1/2016. 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. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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.


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 :).

13 comments to Red, White, and Blue (and Grey): Could This Be a Perfect Photograph?

  • avatar Poojan Gohil

    Details here are just amazing.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Adam and David, It is my favorite Osprey body but it is also my favorite crane body; I fixed the typo 🙂

    with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. It’s a wonderful image and I can’t see how you could have made it better. Technical question: Why did you use your favorite camera body for osprey photography for this particular subject? 🙂

  • avatar Jake Levin

    Pretty damn near perfect if you ask me. I’m a sucker for tack sharp head shots. Why wouldn’t it be worth anything in a contest? Are they looking for action shots instead of portraits?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Too simple. Fifteen years ago it might have had a chance but not today with everyone traveling internationally and so many great photographers creating dramatic imagery (not all of which is somehow contrived) 🙂

      with love, a

  • avatar Adam

    Yes, it’s pretty darn near perfect. I love my 5dmkIV too but I think you have a typo in the caption when you describe it as your favorite “Osprey” camera?

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Beautiful bird and wonderful sharpness technique. I am always amazed at the detail in the iris of birds that you are able to achieve. You have a typo in the caption where you describe the 5DIV as your favorite “grackle” camera. Maybe cut and pasted from your prior grackle image.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. Sharpness due to micro-adjustment and superb sharpness techniques 🙂

      And thanks for catching the typo.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Anthony

    I was surprised ec was +2/3 given the whites on the subject. I guess the blue background was really bright!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Anthony, There is never a reason to guess with digital exposure. Keep going lighter till you see a very few blinkies and then got down one click and you will always have a great exposure. Learn tons more in the section on Exposure Simplified in ABP II.

      with love, artie

      ps: someone wrote me recently that ABP II is the greatest compilation of information on digital nature photography ever assembled. I agree 🙂

  • avatar Joe Randle

    This photo… Sandhill Crane, adult head portrait… has real life character and is a winner in my books… Sorry I have no prize for you Artie except… “KUDOS TO YOU”

    Enjoy Your Day…