A Perfect Dramatic Fire in the Mist Image. Made With Lots Of Skill, Vision, and Creativity. And Even More Luck! … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Perfect Dramatic Fire in the Mist Image. Made With Lots Of Skill, Vision, and Creativity. And Even More Luck! ...


I have been extremely lucky with the weather during my time in Phoenix with some nice sunrises and lots of cloudy mornings. I have stayed in most afternoons to nap and do my exercises. This morning took the cake … Read more below.

My physical therapist had a cancellation an hour after my 2:30pm appointment and invited me to stay for a double header. So I did. At this point I am not sure if I will have time to go out on Friday morning …

Thanks to all who left comments on yesterday’s boring in the fog hen image. I liked it too.

The Streak

Today makes one hundred sixty-five days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about an hour to prepare including the time spent optimizing the image. 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 and my continuing insanity 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 questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.


This image was created on morning of Thursday, January 11 at the Gilbert Water Ranch in Phoenix, AZ. I used 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 the blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. ISO 320. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/6400 sec. at f/10. K 6000 at 8:03am shooting into backlit ground fog, aka, fire in the mist.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -3.

Center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/rear button AF on the avocet and release. Click here to see the last version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see the spectacular larger version.

American Coot taking off with avocet and assorted waterfowl

A Perfect Dramatic Fire in the Mist Image. Made With Lots Of Skill, Vision, and Creativity. And Even More Luck! …

When I walked to my car in driveway in the dark at 6:00am on Thursday morning, the first thing that I noticed was that it was drenched with dew. In the cool of early morning, the humidity in Phoenix was near 100% after the rare big rain that ended 24 hours earlier. The temperature was 48 degrees. I knew then that fire in the mist conditions were possible and I knew just where to find them. I was with old friend Jack Jordan who traveled with me to the Galapagos back in 2008. When we got to the pond that I had in mimd, the expected fog was in place. And there were lots of geese, shorebirds, ducks, a few herons and egrets, and the ever-present American Coots. Finally the sun began to peek through the light clouds and the mist and lit up the fog from behind. We went to work and kept working until it became too bright to shoot.

I had just rear focused on the avocet when all hell broke loose so I pressed the shutter and held it down for a 5-frame burst. I got fabulously lucky with this single image as the flying coot with outstretched wings was right on the plane of focus … You might say that the subject flew itself into perfect focus.

Your Thoughts?

Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts on this image, the good and the bad.


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

Click on the image to enlarge it to better read the fine print.

The DPP 4 Screen Capture

The The DPP 4 Screen Capture above shows the image out of camera before any adjustment were made. Note the perfect histogram. Note that because the images on the rear LCD looked too, too yellow that I went from 7500K to 6000K. Note also that no AF point is illuminated in red; this indicates that AF was not active at the moment of exposure. Why not? I was using rear focus and release to re-compose to the right.

RGB Values Questions

Note that with the Eyedropper (I) on the brightest highlights that the RGB values show as 255, 255, 255. This indicates that the highlights are completely without detail and is usually something that we strive to avoid at all costs?

  • 1-Where did I place the cursor?
  • 2-Why weren’t the 255, 255, 255 RGB values a death knell for this image?

The Image Optimization

After loading my 1DX II ISO 400 DPP 4 recipe the first thing that I did in DPP 4 was to move the Color fine-tune box to the lower right corner toward orange and red so that the colors looked the way I saw them in the field. Next I did something that I rarely do in DPP 4: I moved the Contrast slider to +2. The rest was straightforward.

Once I had the TIFF in Photoshop I leveled it using the Ruler Tool (my shortcut R) along the bottom of the dark at the top and then it Command +/, my shortcut for Image > Rotate > Arbitrary. Then I used John Heado Content Aware fill to fill in the skinny triangles. I used Content Aware Fill (Shift + Delete), the Patch Tool (my keyboard shortcut P), and the SPot Healing Brush (J) for some minor background clean-up. Next I went into picture-within-thepicture thinking mode and executed what I consider a perfect or close to perfect 3X2 crop. I finished off with a Levels adjustment to deepen the BLACKs.


The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac or PC/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop workflow that will make it easy for you to make your images better in Photoshop (rather than worse). That true whether you convert your images in DPP 4 or ACR. See the blog post here to learn lots more and to read a free excerpt.

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

Your guessed it, everything mentioned above (and tons more) is covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Do note that you will find the RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing tutorial only in the new e-guide. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

The two most recent and many of the older MP4 Photoshop Tutorial videos releases go hand and hand with the information in DB II):

  • The Wingtip Repairs MP4 Video here.
  • The MP4 Crow Cleanup Video here.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

Help Support the Blog

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. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

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 :).

27 comments to A Perfect Dramatic Fire in the Mist Image. Made With Lots Of Skill, Vision, and Creativity. And Even More Luck! …

  • avatar Ed

    Sheer genius. You have just elevated the American coot to levels it never thought it would see. Nice optimization. Great idea to start with. I thought, like Jake, that somewhere in btwn is better, but I’ve been back and forth several times today and I really prefer the bight oranges and yellows. Keep it up.

  • This is a rare art Guru and I love it.

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    I like your post work Artie. You made it look like it looked in real life. Perfect! That’s the goal!

    Your eye dropper was on the splash made by the landing bird. Who cares if a couple splashes are blown out.

  • avatar Stephen Schumacher

    Love the optimized image, just curious as to the thought process of having the ISO at 320?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I knew I was getting close to maxing out the shutter speed and I did not want a smaller aperture so there was only one thing left to do 🙂

      Thanks Stephen.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Been wondering what optical “value” is represented in DPP sliders. Brightness I assume is F stops but what about shadow and highlight?

    Somehow I don’t fully enjoy viewing this photo, although mentally I understand it’s excellent, quite unusual and unique.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for commenting JDW. No clue as to the answer to your DPP question …

      with love, arite

    • avatar Anthony Ardito

      “Brightness” is like “Exposure” in Adobe Lightroom. The DPP4 Shadows and highlights sliders are further down on the screen which is why you don’t see them on Artie’s screen shot. Those sliders are right below Gamma Adjustment, which is the last menu item on Artie’s screenie.

  • avatar Jake

    Stunning! I love the optimized image. I would think your cursor was on the splash just to the left of the right most bird, the fact that this area was blown out didn’t matter because you were not bothered about retrieving detail in such a small part of the frame (that isn’t important to the overall image). I agree with Landon that I might prefer an optimized image somewhere in between the original and your edit, in terms of colour intensity. Beautiful lighting conditions, ‘Fire in the Mist’ came into my head straight away.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. Specular highlights need to live in all their brightness. If you try to tone them down you turn the image to mud 🙂

      Thanks, but I am sticking with my perception of the colors. See my reply to Maggi and others on that 🙂

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: I love the color of the optimized image.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Dr. Fish, Me too 🙂 Folks who have not seen a fire in the mist sunrise cannot imagine the rich colors and the excitement 🙂 Many thanks.


  • avatar James Saxon

    Love the rich color in this image. Reminds me of a Bosque image you made a few years earlier.

  • I can appreciate both the original image and the reworked one. I would prefer something in between. I love your work that looks as close to “as captured” Artie.

    I also want to note that I appreciate the step by step of your editing and thought process that comes through on the blog..


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The optimized image was very close to reality. Fire in the mist can be astounding. The best part for me was that I saw it coming 🙂

      with love, artie

  • avatar Michael Quigley

    I like the orange better. Ill be there in March Artie, maybe Ill get some of that fire. Too bad you didn’t get to Zanjero Park to see the owls.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


      Thanks. Assuming that by “orange” you mean the optimized version, me too, but only by 1000 miles! I am coming back to PHX in late February so I might just go see the owls sitting in the mesquite trees!

      with love, artie

  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Hi Artie, Why no exposure compensation on this one?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      We only add or subtract light when we need to move the histogram either left or right. Here at zero the histogram was perfect with no EC. It happens on occasion 🙂

      with love, artie

      ps: in this situation the light was so bright that I could not read the EC through the viewfinder so I simply kept checking the histogram. When there were blinkies I raised the shutter speed. That’s how I got to 1/64000 sec.!

      with love, artie

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    I prefer the colouring of the original, the excellent optimised image is just too ‘yellow’ for my personal taste.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for commenting. The scene in life was much more like the optimized version than the K6000 RAW file … Folks think that by working at K7500 the colors are always juiced up but sometimes K7500 is the correct WB in these conditions.

      with love, artie

  • Sweeeeet!

    Reminds me of those Bosque mornings.


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