Bempton Cliffs Part III: An Exposure Maxim. And Out of the Darkness With a Curves Adjustment! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bempton Cliffs Part III: An Exposure Maxim. And Out of the Darkness With a Curves Adjustment!

Stuff

I got a lot more work done on Tuesday on my 2017 taxes; the end is in sight …

Details for the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT will be announced here soon. We will be visiting Seahouses for the puffins and other seabirds and both Bempton Cliffs and Dunbar (two boat trips) for the gannets. If you are interested in the pre-publication details, please shoot me an e-mail. Limit: 10 photographers.

News on the Galapagos Front/Limit 12/Openings: 3

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for a couple or for two same-sex roommates, and for a male single. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



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.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Pierre Williot

I would encourage anyone who wants to sell some of their photographic equipment to contact Art. High-end photographic equipment can be difficult to sell. Art, with is widely read daily posts, will allow you to sell your equipment fairly easily for a reasonable price and commission. Please, seriously consider the price that he suggests as it can be hard to face the reality of the actual value of well loved equipment! Art is well aware of the current market for second-hand photographic equipment.

Used Gear Page News

After a month or so in the summer doldrums, sales on the Used Gear page have been red hot for the past two weeks:

Anthony Ardito sold his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens in like-new condition for $999.00 in mid-August.
I sold my Canon 100-400 L IS II in very good plus (almost excellent) condition and in perfect working order for $1399.00 in late August.
Anthony Ardito sold a Canon EOS-1DX Mark II body (with extras) in like-new condition (less than 41,000 actuations)for $3,999.00 in late August.
Roger Williams sold a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens in like-new condition (but for a single faint scratch on the front element)for the “it’s-your-lucky-day” price of only $899.00 a week after it was listed.
Dane Johnson sold a Canon EOS 40D kit with the body converted to Deep Infrared by Life Pixel in near-mint condition for $549.00 in August, 2918 on the first day it was listed.
Jamie Baker sold his Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III in near-mint condition for $299.00 in late August.
John Lowin sold a (men’s extra large) Xtrahand Magnum vest by Vested Interest for $229.00 within a day or two of listing it in late August, 2018.
Anthony Ardito sold his Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens in like-new condition for BAA record-low by far price of $449.00, his Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $1,499.00, his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $1,099.00, his Canon Speedlite (flash) 600EX-RT flash in like-new condition for $399.00, his Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens (for Canon mount) in near-mint condition for $250.00, and his Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF mount in like new condition for $399.00, all with a day or two of their being listed.
Pierre Williot sold his Canon EOS-1DX Mark II in mint condition with less than 75,000 actuations (rated to 400,000) for $4,199.00 in late August.
Todd Koudelka sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (“the “old five”) in very good plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $3199.00.
Pierre Williot sold his canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens (the original 600 IS) in very good to excellent condition for $3999.00 in mid-August.
Todd Koudelka sold a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in near-mint condition (but for a few tiny, barely visible scratches) for the BAA record-low-by-far of $2249.00 (was $2449.00) in early August.
Ron Gates requested that the listing for his Canon 70-200mm lens be removed and kindly sent me a check for 4% of the original asking price.
Julie Brown sold her Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS lens (the original version) in excellent condition for $2099 in early August.

You can see all the listings here.

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. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

Via e-mail from Anthony Ardito

FYI, I got a D850 & a 200-500 from Bedfords using your BIRDSASART code at checkout. Plus, Steve Elkins gave me a discount and some nice XQD freebies. I have to thank you for that!

Booking.Com

Several folks on the UK IPT used the Booking.Com link below for there Edinburgh hotels, 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.

gannet-PM-scrn-capt

This image was created on June 28, 2018 at Bempton Cliffs, UK with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 500mm) and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering +1 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Natural Auto WB at 8:07am on a cloudy morning.

Center group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The upper point in the array was on the landing bird’s head.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Photo Mechanic screen capture
Northern Gannet landing on cliff edge, Bempton Cliffs, England, UK
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Into the Darkness

Even though I added 1 2/3 stops to the exposure reading off the grey sky and even though the histogram does not look too, too bad — there is data in the fifth-most box on the right, the image was still well underexposed.

The Lesson

An Exposure Maxim

When it is cloudy, most folks (including those with 35 years of experience, 17 years with digital), will tend to underexpose every image … Chew on that for a while: when working in the field on cloudy days, add more like than you think you need and then check for blinkies …

Forgot to Mention

I forgot to mention: in a typical weather year cloudy mornings (and even cloudy days) are the norm along the northeast coast of England; the photographic conditions at Bempton Cliffs and at the Farne Islands and in Dunbar are usually ideal.

Curves-gannet-landing

The Curves Adjustment in Photoshop

The Curves Adjustment

When I first started in Photoshop I remember reading about making Curves adjustments. I was clueless. Then Ellen Anon, a fine photographer who used to co-lead IPTs with me, tried to teach me Curves. I was still clueless. But I persisted by asking questions and she persisted by answering them. Till I finally got it. Thank you Ellen Anon.

With today’s featured image, the WHITEs — after the RAW conversion were pretty good with RGB values in the mid 230s. And the BLACKs looked black. The problem was with the light tones of the underwing, they were simply too dark. Since the highlights were fine, I placed three points on the upper right of the Curves line (just as Ellen taught me); this is where the lightest tones reside. Placing these three points pinned the curve — no matter what I did with the rest of the curve the highlights would not be affected.

Similarly, since I was happy with the dark tones, I placed three points on the lower left of the Curves line (just as Ellen taught me); this is where the darkest tones reside. Placing these three points pinned the curve — no matter what I did with the rest of the curve the dark tones would not be affected.

Note: when you place the locking points on the Curve line try to put them exactly on the line. If you miss by a bit you can use the up and down arrow keys to place the point right on the line. Hint: the numbers in the Output and Input boxes on the lower left of the Curves dialogue box will be identical when the locking point is right on the line.

Once I pinned the highlights and the darker tones, I simply placed a point on the center of the curves line and pulled the curve up (to taste) to lighten the underwings and the somewhat shadowed areas. (Note: light has direction even on cloudy days …)

Northern-Gannet-landing-by-mate-_MAI7953-Bmpton-Cliffs,-UK

This image was created on June 28, 2018 at Bempton Cliffs, UK with the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 500mm) and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering +1 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Natural Auto WB at 8:07am on a cloudy morning.

Center group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The upper point in the array was on the landing bird’s head.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

The optimized version
Northern Gannet landing on cliff edge, Bempton Cliffs, England, UK
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Optimized Version

Above is the optimized version of today’s featured image. I lowered the Color Temperature a bit to make the background more BLUE, set the WHITE and BLACK points, and opened up the shadows a bit during the RAW conversion. Once I brought the TIFF into Photoshop I executed my planned crop. I did a bit of cleanup on the grass using both the Patch Tool and Content Aware Fill. I used the latter to eliminate the head of the bird that remained in the lower right corner.

As the image was quite noisy (due to the underexposure), I made a careful selection of the two gannets, feathered the selection one pixel, and saved the selection as “birds.” First I ran my 30-30 NIK Color EFEX Pro recipe on the birds only on their own layer. Then I merged that layer and made a copy of the whole image. I used the advanced NeatImage techniques detailed only in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly to apply some noise reduction to the subject and lots more noise reduction to the background.

DBII-cover

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

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.

Though I have become more proficient converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw, I continue to optimize my Canon image in DPP 4. You can learn how and why I converted (and still convert) nearly all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. And, yes, I still have many Canon images to work on. 🙂 The RAW conversions for all three of today’s featured images was straightforward once I entered my camera/ISO specific recipes (as detailed in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide). 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 (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The 2018 Fort DeSoto Fall Weekend IPT/September 23-24, 2018: 2 FULL DAYS: $949. Limit 8/Openings 7.

If you would like to combine the above with the 3 1/2 Fall Fort DeSoto IPT, please e-mail for the substantial discount information.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

Payment in full is due now. Credits cards are OK. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please remember that we will meet early on Saturday morning. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in late September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. I really love it when I am leaving the beach at 9:30am on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving ….

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my 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.

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Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

6 comments to Bempton Cliffs Part III: An Exposure Maxim. And Out of the Darkness With a Curves Adjustment!

  • Very Interesting Observation. I agree that placing 3 points at each end of the Curves line by the whites and backs will pin them. It makes perfect sense.

    Thanks for sharing the info.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. You say the whites and the blacks were correctly exposed, but the undersides of the wings were too dark. If you added more light in the field, why wouldn’t you blow the whites?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The WHITEs were only fine after I set the WHITE point while doing the conversion. And I may have increased the exposure a bit as well.

      Does that make sense?

      with love, artie

      • avatar Sheila D David

        Hi, Artie, and thanks. I’m sure it does make sense. But I thought from what you wrote that the whites and blacks were fine, which is why you pinned the curve in those regions (and I’ve done similar). When you say “I may have increased the exposure a bit as well,” that does puzzle me. For me, exposure relates to the camera’s settings and can’t be changed after the photo has been taken. Of course you can compensate for an exposure you’re not happy with in post.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Hi Sheila,

          You can increase the exposure after the fact in all RAW converters by moving the Brightness (or Exposure) slider … Other than that it is just a matter of semantics 🙂

          with love, artie

          • avatar David Policansky

            Artie: Forgive this error; for some reason I thought I’d typed in my name in my reply above above but my lovely wife, Sheila David, became–spuriously–the author of my reply. In any case, thanks for your reply.

            David

            No worries Dr. Fish; she sounded just like you!

            with love, artie