The Elusive Head Throw. And What Makes a Good Critique. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Elusive Head Throw. And What Makes a Good Critique.


There was some nice action down at the lake early on Wednesday despite the clear skies and brisk wind from the west/northwest. I photographed the two species of vultures, a female Anhinga on The Perch, and lots of forage Cattle Egrets; beats nothing all to pieces.

It is still cool in central Florida. Yesterday I put a pair of socks on and then pulled my neoprene ankle-high snorkeling socks over them and my feet stayed pretty warm. Today I tried the same thing up top: I put on an orange woolen watch cap and pulled my neoprene snorkeling hat over that. Despite the pool being just a bit over 70 degrees I was able to do my slow half mile — 44 lengths, in relative comfort.

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.

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$300 off on the Canon 100-400 II!

Brand New Listing

Canon EF 100mm f2.8/L IS USM macro Lens

Mike Newman, fresh off the sale of his near-mint 600 II, is offering his Canon EF 100mm f2.8/L IS USM macro lens in like-new condition for only $599. The sale includes the lens hood, the front and rear lens caps, the warranty card, the original product box (with the bar code removed), and insured shipping via the US Postal Service to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Photos are available upon request.

Please contact Mike via e-mail or by phone at (706) 829-8060 (Eastern time).

Both Denise Ippolito and I love this lens for flowers and more. She uses it hand held almost all the time; I am on a tripod about 75% of the time. Different strokes. It is a lightweight super sharp lens. At the MFD of 12 inches it offers true macro at 1:1 magnification. Note: the tripod ring is not included with this lens even when you buy a new one; you can go with the Canon Tripod Mount Ring D for IS 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens or the far less expensive Vello Tripod Collar D (Black) for Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens. artie


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. 🙂

The Streak

Today makes one hundred thirty-nine 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.

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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 La Jolla, CA in 2017 with the hand held the Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens (at 119.5mm) and the Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera body) outfitted with the Fujifilm VPB-XT2 Vertical Power Booster Grip. ISO 800. Pattern metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

Shutter Button Continuous Autofocus. Additional AF information is unavailable.

Brown Pelican, Pacific race head throw

The Elusive Head Throw

One of my first BBC honored images was a full bird vertical Brown Pelican head throw from La Jolla. About a zillion years ago, on Fuji Velvia 50 pushed one stop to ISO 100. I’ve been trying for nearly two decades to create one half as good with digital capture. I am still working on it. 🙂

A Good Critique

A good critique includes both positives and negatives, what you like and what you don’t like. And why. Comments on image quality, impact, the quality of the light, sharpness, image design, color and contrast, are all fair game. And the same goes for suggestions for improvement either in the field or at the computer. That said, if you can do your critiques honestly while being gentle, you will soon become a master at evaluating images.

Your Critique Needed

Please let me know what you think of today’s featured image, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You most honest response is appreciated.

Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Joel Williams is offering a Fujifilm X-T2 camera in near-mint condition for only $1099. Included in the sale are the Metal Hand Grip for the X-T2 (a $109 value), two extra Fujifilm batteries (both items also in near-mint condition), the original boxes and everything that came in them, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. The items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Joel via e-mail.

The XT-2 is currently Fuji’s flagship digital camera body. I had a chance to test this camera for about six weeks and enjoyed its small size and light weight a ton. I made more than a few excellent images with my Fujifilm gear. If you click on Postlist 2017 on the orange/yellow menu bar and do a page search for XT-2 you can find nearly a dozen blog posts featuring images from this great little camera body. In addition to being decent for birds, nature, and wildlife the Fuji gear (including many of the lenses listed below) will make a superb travel/landscape rig. artie

Fuji X-T2 VPB Vertical Power Booster Grip

Joel Williams is also offering a Fuji X-T2 VPB Vertical Power Booster Grip in near-mint condition for $189. Learn more here. This item sells new for $329. The price includes insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. The items will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Joel via e-mail.

This grip holds two batteries for a total of three at the same time. I used and enjoyed it with my XT-2. artie

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Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. with love, artie


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.

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9 comments to The Elusive Head Throw. And What Makes a Good Critique.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Image conveys place very well – i.e cliff-top looking down. However I’d like to see it with more of the colours in your San Diego featured images and a nice clean background bokeh. (Notwithstanding my earlier comment on location. Having seen a clean background – I could change my mind!)

  • Hi Artie,

    I agree with you on the good Critique. I will follow the same from now.

    Coming to today’s image.

    What I like
    I like the clean background (Your speciality), nice edge at the bottom of the image.

    What I don’t like
    I wish I could see the birds eye in the image some where. May be it is not possible in the head throws. I do wish image more contrast and punch to it.

    Having said that I would have loved to take this image. So congratulations and thanks for sharing it

  • avatar Don M.

    Thanks Artie!

    Disagreement is good. If we agree on everything, I will never develop my own creative style.

    Best wishes,


  • My only comment has to do with possible crops.

    Since the head throw is the object, I’d try a vertical
    crop on the head only…no body. Then to make the
    colors pop just a little more, darken the ocean a little

    My reason for the crop is to make the viewer do a
    double take on what they’re looking at. Depending
    on how close the crop, it could possibly look like the
    petal of a flower.


  • avatar Ron Gates

    I don’t have a problem with the rock beneath the bird. I’m not sure how you could crop that out. I’ve been to LaJolla and this truly represents the location. I realize the difficulty of catching a head throw perfectly and this one is about as close to that as possible. I think…if I had a choice…I’d like to see this more from the side so that I could see the rest of the head that is hidden here.

  • avatar Warren H


    This isn’t my favorite image of yours. I really like the head throw ant timing of the shot ant the abstractness of the throat and under bill and the vertical composition. however, the image lacks color and contrast for my personal taste. Also, most of the image is abstract (without a lot of detail) but the rock at the bottom has a lot of sharp detail that is distracting to me. I also usually like the bottom “anchor”, but here it is just distracting and not adding to the image.

    I believe a crop with color and contrast adjustments could make an interesting abstract image.

  • avatar Don M.

    Hi Artie,

    Here are my comments. The image strongly favours a vertical format which you have chosen. The key subject element is aligned with the right third of the image to maximize compositional strength. You have enough ground to properly anchor the image and further strengthen the composition.

    I find the colour renditions are accurate without seeming manipulated or exaggerated. The lighting is soft and uniform throughout the image.

    The image is slightly abstract, so depending on your audience, they may not appreciate the uniqueness of the moment. It might be best with a series of other images that tell a broader story.

    Slightly more ground might have increased compositional strength. Exposure seems okay although our styles are different; I expose my images slightly less than you. Highlights might have enhanced the image, but we have to shoot with the light we are given. In the absence of highlights, a slightly lighter exposure might have been acceptable.

    As for image clarity or sharpness, it seems fine but I am unable to assess with my monitor.

    How did I do?


    P.S. It’s four degrees below zero this morning and I’m off to find some brave birds.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You did well. I am not saying that I agree but that does not matter 🙂 Good luck. It was freezing here today also: 42 degrees!

      with love, artie