Auto Tone and Auto Color Tips. Is There Any Reason to Prefer H over V? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Auto Tone and Auto Color Tips. Is There Any Reason to Prefer H over V?


The hernia repair is healing nicely and the shoulder is doing quite well. But … Your get well wishes have been appreciated. I have been resting and napping a lot and continue to watch lots of NBA and NHL playoff games.


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Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog 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 went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Canon Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Charlie Curry is offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II in near-mint condition for only $849; shutter count only 11,386. The sale includes a RRS L plate (B7D2-L) in like-new condition, the original box and everything that came in it: the front lens cap, the strap, the original battery, the manual, USB cable, DVD’s, and insured ground shipping to US addresses only by UPS.

Please contact Charlie via e-mail or by phone at 407-448-7797 (Eastern time.)

Both Patrick Sparkman and I used and loved the 7D Mark II until about two years ago when we both committed to using full frame Canon bodies. We both made some truly great images with it. Two of my three 2016 Nature’s Best honored entries were created with the 7D II, one still, and one video. One thing is for sure: the 7D Mark II is the greatest value ever in a digital camera body. With a new one going for $1349 you can save a cool $500 by grabbing Charlie’s body (not to mention the RRS L-plate). artie

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

BAA Record-Low, Shock-the-world Price Reduced $395!

Greg Morris is offering a barely used EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens in mint to like-new condition with extras for the BAA record low price of $8,999.00 (was $9394.00). The sale includes the LensCoat that has protected this lens since day one, a RRS stuff foot (installed), the original foot, the lens trunk, the original box and everything that came in it: front cover, rear cap, manuals, & the rest, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your personal of certified check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Greg via e-mail or by phone at 1-580-678-5929 (Central time).

WMD: Weapon of Mass Destruction!

The 600 II is the state of the art super-telephoto for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports. When I could get it to my location, it was my go-to weapon. It is fast and sharp and deadly alone or with either TC. With a new one going for $11,499, you can save a cool $2,500.00 by grabbing Greg’s might-as-well-be-new lens right now. artie

Nikon D850s Right Now!

D850s are at least 3 weeks back-ordered at B&H. I have helped several folks get a D850 in the past few days. Steve Elkins — see item next — has several on hand right now waiting for your phone call. From blog regular Gloria Matyszyk: My camera has shipped! Thanks for this great photography company connection!

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Patrick Sparkman saved $350 on a recent purchase!


Several folks on the DeSoto IPT used the Booking.Com link below, got great rates, and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. 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 photographers 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 the 3rd afternoon the 2018 Gatorland IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 400. Matrix metering at zero: 1/60 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. SUNNY WB at 4:56pm in the shade on a clear day.

One to the right and three rows up from the center AF point d-25//Shutter Button/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was right on the stork’s eye.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +4.

Image #1: Wood Stork head portrait vertical

Vary Your Image Designs

As mentioned here previously, this handsome bird stood on the railing at Gatorland while dozens of folks (aka: gator tourists) walked by it on the boardwalk within a yard. I had lots of chances to create both horizontal and vertical tight head portraits. Note that I went with different AF modes for each orientation. I tried doing some verticals of the back of the bird’s head when it faced away from me but none of those worked. I made about 40 horizontals and 25 verticals and wound up keeping only one of each. Head angle was the decisive factor in deciding keep or delete.

Auto Tone and Auto Color Tips

The RAW conversions were straightforward and both images are full frame. Working on separate layers I added one each of Image > Auto Tone and Image Auto Color. I reduced the former to about 40% opacity and the latter to about 80% opacity; in combination they really improved the color and contrast of the images. Thanks to Denise Ippolito for opening my eyes to Auto Tone and Auto Color.


This image was created on the 3rd afternoon the 2018 Gatorland IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 400. Matrix metering at zero: 1/60 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. SUNNY WB at 4:54pm in the shade on a clear day.

One up and one to the right of the center AF point/Group (grp)/Shutter Button/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the base of the bird’s bill right on the same plane as the bird’s eye.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +4.

Image #2: Wood Stork head portrait horizontal

Any Reason for H over V?

Which of today’s super-tight Wood Stork head portraits do you prefer? Why? If you have any reasons for preferring a horizontal here as opposed to vertical, do speak up. What might you have done during post-processing to improve image #2 just a bit compositionally?


The Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide

Please click here to purchase.

The Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide: $30.00 (or free — see below for details on that).

by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART and Patrick Sparkman

There is lots of misinformation out there on the Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune feature. Much of that involves vast over-simplifications. Patrick Sparkman and I developed a way of using the Automatic Fine-tune feature effectively with the D5, D500, the D7500, and the D850. Patrick, however, was on a roll and perfected a method for using the Focus Peaking feature available only on the D850 to quickly and accurately micro-adjust all lenses and TC-Es with your D-850. If you own a D850 you should be using D850 Focus Peaking AF Fine-tune rather than Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune. It is faster and easier and more accurate. While there is some halfway decent info online with regards to Nikon Automatic Fine-tune feature, I have never seen a word about using the amazing D850 Focus Peaking capabilities to determine an accurate AF Fine-tune value. You can thank Patrick Sparkman for rectifying that situation.

With both Nikon Automatic AF Fine-tune and D850 Focus Peaking AF Fine-tune, the use of a LensAlign Mark II unit is recommended as best by far for accurate results and thus, this guide is written reflecting that. Taping a sheet of newsprint on a wall or using the FoCal kit does not assure you of the True Parallel Alignment (TPA) that is guaranteed when you set up your LensAlign properly. Without TPA your results will be off anywhere from a little to a lot. You can purchase the LensAlign Mark II alone here. Or you can purchase the LensAlign/FocusTune combo here. If you do not own either of those we suggest that you decide which to purchase after reading this guide through once. That said, we recommend the LensAlign/FocusTune combo for reasons that will become obvious as you make your way though the guide.

Do understand that much of the set-up information included in the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide is by necessity a duplication of information included in The LensAlign/FocusTune Micro-Adjusting Tutorial e-Guide.

Please click here to purchase.

If you have spent $2,000+ on Nikon gear (correctly) using my affiliate links, shoot me a copy of your receipt via e-mail so that I can send you your free PDF.

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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. 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 …

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Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store đŸ™‚

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.

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7 comments to Auto Tone and Auto Color Tips. Is There Any Reason to Prefer H over V?

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    The vertical is my favorite because vertical mirrors the long neck and long bill.

  • Hi Artie,

    I prefer the horizontal version. While both photos are super-tight, the horizontal version has that space to the left that gives the image room to breath. It’s more pleasing to the eye, my eye anyway. I might be happier if the bill wasn’t cut off in both of them but in the horizontal version, it’s much less noticeable and isn’t bothersome at all. I think the horizontal composition is spot on. I don’t mind how close the top of the head is to the edge, in fact, I like it. If there were more room up there, the missing bill tip would bother me. I did mess around with seeing what the horizontal version would look like in a square 1×1 style crop. I liked it that way too, but not as much as your original.

    Here in Chattanooga, there is an area near a dam where you can get crazy close photos of Great Blue Heron like you have done with this Gatorland Wood Stork. I enjoy trying to get the perfect image in terms of composition, color, light, and exposure there. Sometimes I’ll make a close photo of just their feathers, especially if they have their neck down so the neck feathers are close to the breast, wing, and shoulder feathers. There’s no such thing as too close.

    I like this style of bird photography.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I often do that–vary between landscape and portrait orientation–if I can get close enough. Recently in the Galapagos I did that with a couple of very cooperative brown pelicans. Sometimes I like both versions and don’t have a preference, and I think that’s the case with yours; I do like both. I think in image 2 I’d have slightly reduced the space to the right and slightly increased the space to the left and above the bird’s head.

  • avatar frank sheets

    Hi Artie,

    I prefer the portrait. The landscape version imo is just too tight in the frame, especially the top of the birds head. Perhaps just a passage in my photography when I am preferring having subjects somewhat back in the frame with more background so I could be biased. Considering these are full frame, perhaps I might have considered getting rid fo the 1.4x for a few shots, especially considering when using a mega pixel camera like the 850 you can crop to taste. Re #2, could have added canvas to set the bird back in the frame a bit and given more head room. Appreciate the auto tips. I have not tried these and will give it a try. And thanks to Denise for turning you on to the options.

    Have a great day Artie.


  • avatar Warren H

    What might you have done during post-processing to improve image #2 just a bit compositionally?

    I might have given a little more space above the head. Also, I like the color and contrast of the first image a little better.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Warren, Agree that #2 needs more room above. As far as color and contrast, it is virtually impossible to get a perfect match — but they both look a lot better than either the RAW or the converted TIFFs.

      thanks with love, artie

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