The Make the Best Image Challenge: cropping and clean-up (if needed) « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Make the Best Image Challenge: cropping and clean-up (if needed)


Sunday dawned clear and cold –48 degrees, with a strong northwest wind that made photography just about impossible. I got lots of work done on the 5D Mark IV User’s Guide and watched lots of UFC on TIVO and lots of NFL football. I swam my easy 3/4 mile with the pool down to 76 degrees and the air temperature at 55 degrees in the shade.

I went down to the lake but there was nothing on the perch. I was about to give up without even turning on a camera. But then I spotted a group of four cooperative Sandhill Cranes so I got out of my Sequoia, got low, and started making some dime-a-dozen (for ILE of course) head and head and shoulders silhouettes. Dime-a-dozen or not, some of them were exquisite.

Right now it looks as if only two folks are signed up for San Diego #2 with more interested; San Diego #1 has been sold out for some time. IPT #2 represents an amazing opportunity to enjoy some great bird photography with the spectacular breeding plumage Pacific race of Brown Pelican and to learn from possibly the finest bird photography teacher to ever walk on the planet (he said with all modesty …) This IPT is the first to offer a free morning session the day before the IPT starts. I hope that you can join me.


If you have sent me a FB friends request that has gone unrequited, it is because I am up to the 5,000 limit on my personal FB page. You are invited to click here and then Like and Follow the identical content. πŸ™‚

The Streak

Today makes one hundred thirty-six days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took less than an hour to prepare; I dreamed up the concept last night. 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 at Fort DeSoto on the late morning of Monday, December 4, 2017 while seated with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 300mm) and my favorite flight photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2000 sec. at f6/3 in Manual mode. AWB. 11:35am on a cloudy day.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: extrapolated to -4.

Center point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure as framed. The selected AF point was on the sky in front of the bird’s face and a bit above its eye.

Sandwich Tern braking to land

The Make the Best Image Challenge: cropping and clean-up (if needed)

If you would like to take part in the challenge please read the directions that follow carefully and then shoot me an e-mail by clicking on the following link only: e-mail.

When you receive the e-mail, open the image in Photoshop and optimize it to create what you think is the best possible image. If you would delete this image, please leave a comment and state why. When you open the image it should be 1200 pixels wide. If you think that the image needs to be cropped, be sure to hit Clear once you have activated the Crop Tool to avoid unintentionally changing the pixel dimensions. Once you have made your perfect crop, feel free to clean things up as needed using the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and/or Content Aware Fill. You may also adjust the tonality and the contrast. Sharpen (but do not over-sharpen) the JPG. Save your Best Image as is without resizing it as follows: YourName.JPG (using your real name). Then shoot me an e-mail with the image attached. Have fun. The single best version will be published here soon along with my optimized version.

Before you begin, ask yourself, “What is the neatest part of the image?” and then see if you can come up with a way to feature that part.

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. πŸ™‚ 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.

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 is payable only by check. 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 πŸ™‚

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 :).

4 comments to The Make the Best Image Challenge: cropping and clean-up (if needed)

  • avatar LabbΓ© Suzanne

    Hello Artie, I made some disastrous versions that I have deleted. I would like to remove the tern that is under the beautiful one that lands. I would like to make all others more diffuse. I have made few attempts but none do justice to this wonderful tern. I can not wait to see your result(s). Thank you very much for this exercice.

  • avatar john farnsworth

    While I would not have had the moral fortitude to delete the image, I would not opt to invest the time necessary to salvage it. This is the heartbreak of bird photography, that we come out with so many almost-great images that are seriously flawed. Given the choice between spending a hour in photoshop creating an image that misrepresents the reality I shot, or spending an extra hour outdoors with the birds, I would go with the later option.

    I say this without judgement, and look forward to seeing salvaged images from those who take up the challenge. Prove me wrong!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The detail in the wings and the light and the wing position made it impossible for me to delete this one. What I did in PS however, took less than two minutes. Right now I have another version in mind …

      with love, artie