A Pretty Bad Original (showing some interesting behavior). Crow Lessons. And a Post-processing Question … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Pretty Bad Original (showing some interesting behavior). Crow Lessons. And a Post-processing Question ...

Stuff

I had 34 species on Wednesday and 35 on Tuesday on my birding walk/drive-arounds. Highlights on Tuesday included a fly-by grey ghost — a male Northern Harrier, and a young Cooper’s Hawk. I had seen harriers at ILE but never a male. The Falklands trip is now full; whew! Blog regular Steve Rentmeesters fill the last slot yesterday. Oh what a trip it will be. I was glad to learn yesterday that the sales of several of Brooke Miller’s item are either complete or pending; details to follow when the smoke clears.

Six folks are committed to San Diego so there are just two openings left. Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; there is cheap shared Airbnb lodging for a female or two available. Do consider joining us on that one or on another IPT — especially the Spoonbill Boat IPT. You can see all the current offerings by clicking here. It was great to see that at least three folks joined BPN yesterday after reading the blog post 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 here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

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.

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.

Fish-Crows-with-egg-PhMech-scrn-capt

This image was created at Alafia Banks on the morning of Friday, February 20, 2018 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 my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at about +1 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3. AUTO0 WB at 9:47am on a cloudy bright day.

Nikon Focus Peaking AF fine-tune was a very significant +15. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) Shutter Button AF as originally framed. The array covered the second (from our left) crow.

Photo Mechanic screen capture of the original

The Pretty Bad Original

Though the histogram was pretty much perfect with lots of room on the left side where the dark tones reside, note that the crows were pretty much rendered as silhouettes in the RAW (NEF) file. So what was pretty bad? The whole scene was a sloppy mess; the image was severely tilted; and I would have liked to have been a lot closer. But sometimes when we photograph very interesting behavior we simply need to do our best with the post-processing and strive to create the best possible image. That is what I did here.

A Lesson

A zillion years ago I was standing near the surf on a sunny afternoon trying for some flight images on a Long Island beach with my old toy lens in my hands, the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM in my hands. It was so long I cannot remember whether I was using film or digital capture. Anywho (as my late Dad used to say often), I see a crow flying right at me from west to east. I was confused as it looked as if it were holding a ping pong ball in its bill. Who wants a photo of a crow with a ping pong ball in its beak? I thought. As the bird got closer and closer, I noted that the alleged ping ping ball was actually buff-colored, not white, and that it had lots of blackish smudges on it. The ping pong ball was a Common Tern egg. In those days when you could still sell nature stock, that would have been a somewhat valuable photograph. But he who hesitates is lost; I never even raised my camera.

Rule

If you see something interesting happen, push the shutter button. You can always delete it if it turns out to be a ping pong ball. 🙂 This rule goes double for crows with eggs!

Fish-Crows-predating-spoonbill-egg-_DSC4786--Alafia-Banks,-Tampa-Bay,-FL

This image was created at Alafia Banks on the morning of Friday, February 20, 2018 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 my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at about +1 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3. AUTO0 WB at 9:47am on a cloudy bright day.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune was a very significant +15. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) Shutter Button AF as originally framed. The array covered the second (from our left) crow.

Fish Crows eating wading bird egg

The Post-Processing

I selected today’s featured image out of a series of eight as I like the raised foot of the crow eating the egg while his friends waited nearby. During the RAW conversion in Camera Raw I opened up the BLACKs by moving the Shadow Slider to the right (be careful not to over-do this slider) and darkened the too-WHITE (somewhat dirty, muddy) sand by moving the Highlight slider to the left. Once I brought the image into Photoshop I leveled it using the Ruler Tool and executed a bit of a pano crop. I did a bit of beach clean-up by eliminating the most egregious distracting elements using as always the Spot Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, and Content Aware Fill. (Note that i rarely use the Clone Stamp Tool except to Divide and Conquer …) Most importantly I selected the four crows with the Quick Selection Tool and applied a layer of my NIK Color EFEX Pro 40/40 Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast recipe to further open up the BLACKs. Compare the BLACKs of the crows plumage in the NEF file with those in the optimized file.

In Retrospect

I lightened the background mangroves. In retrospect, I am wondering if darkening them might have been a better choice. What do you think?

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 — including all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — 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 old Canon images 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 sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

Hooptie-card-2017-images

From left to to right clockwise back to the center: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill downstroke, Brown Pelican sunrise silhouette, Double-crested Cormorant pre-dawn blur, Roeseate Spoonbill flapping after bath, Brown Pelican taking flight, Roseate Spoonbill taking flight, Reddish Egret white morph breeding plumage in flight, and Reddish Egret dark morph breeding plumage in flight.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks on the February 2018 trip.

You can click on each card to enjoy a larger version.

2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — FEB 16 thru 19, 2019: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 3.

3 1/2 days on the boat including four morning photo sessions and three afternoon sessions via customized pontoon boat.

Price per day Reduced from the 2018 rates! Please e-mail for details on IPT veteran and couples’ discounts. Pro-rated options may be available …

We will be leaving the dock very early for the morning sessions (weather permitting) in hopes of photographing the pre-dawn American Crow and White Ibis blast-offs. All sessions are planned for the Alafia Banks Roseate Spoonbill Rookery. We might consider other options in the unlikely event of horrific weather. There will be lots of opportunities for flight photography of several species including and especially Roseate Spoonbill. Also likely for flight photography are nesting Brown Pelican, both morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White and Glossy Ibises, and Double Crested Cormorant. We should have some good chances with birds carrying nesting material. This IPT includes all boat and guide fees, in the field instruction, chest waders (feel free to bring your own of course to assure a perfect fit), and three working lunches on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. For the most part we will be standing in mid-calf to knee high water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with mobility or balance problems. Note however that some folks opt to stay on the boat to photograph. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

spoonbill-card

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks

The Timing and Tides are Perfect!

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumage spoonbills … The 2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT represents an incredible opportunity to photograph Florida’s most wanted species. I do hope that you can join us. There will be a meet and greet at 7:00pm sharp on the evening of Friday February 15, 2019. All of the images on the card were made on the Hooptie Duex during the last two weeks of February, prime time for the spoonies in mega-breeding plumage. Many folks have written expressing interest so please do not tarry.

Please e-mail to hold your spot. Then you may either secure your spot by calling Jim or Jennifer at the office at 863-692-0906 and leaving the $500 deposit on credit card or sending your check for payment in full to us as follows with the check made out to:

BIRDS AS ART and sent here via US mail:

BIRDS AS ART
PO BOX 7245
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

If you call to leave your deposit you will be asked to mail your check for the balance no later than December 15, 2018.


hooptie-card-shadle-aa

Images courtesy of our guide; copyright 2017 Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Everybody Loves Spoonbills!

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage…. with long telephoto lenses. A 500 or 600 with a 1.4X TC is perfect for this trip.

Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography often with the birds likely carrying nesting material), Double-crested Cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White) in breeding plumage. Some of the White Ibises may be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition we may get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips will most likely be back to Alafia Banks for the spoonbills with an option to visit a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an extensive image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes lunches on the full days with small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

Help Support the Blog

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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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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 :).

5 comments to A Pretty Bad Original (showing some interesting behavior). Crow Lessons. And a Post-processing Question …