On Creativity and Seeing & Refining Your Vision. A breeze-driven, focus-stacking opportunity realized! And why f/16? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

On Creativity and Seeing & Refining Your Vision. A breeze-driven, focus-stacking opportunity realized! And why f/16?

From Multiple IPT veteran Jim Dolgin via e-mail

“I get everything from Bedfords. They’re the best!”

Bedfords Update

Amazingly, Bedfords has Canon R5s and R6s and RF 100-500s in stock as I type. Steve Elkins also has a nice variety of other zoom and shorter lenses on hand. As detailed below, be sure to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout to save 3% and enjoy free second-day air Fed-Ex. I learned recently of one guy who has been waiting to get his RF 100-500 from B&H since July!

What’s Up?

The Barred Owl paid another visit to my driveway on Tuesday afternoon, but the photo opps were not as good as they had been on Monday. I was glad to learn that multiple IPT veteran Jim Dolgin sold his Sony a9 the first day it was listed.

Please take a moment to leave a comment letting us know which of today’s two featured images you think is the strongest. And why. Thanks with love for that.

Today is Thursday 4 November. I am headed back to Lakeland to do some bird photography. Both of the locations I will be visiting this morning and lots more are detailed in the BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide that I did with Joe Przybyla.

Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post about two hours to prepare.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the links on the blog (including the logo-link immediately above). My link works with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

Diehard Nikon Folks

Z9 Pre-orders…

Diehard Nikon folks might wish to pre-order their Nikon Z9 from Bedfords by clicking here. It appears that Nikon may finally have a mirrorless body that works well for bird photography. For those who can lift it … Your best chances of getting what will be a hard-to-get-your-hands-on battery is to pre-order now at Bedfords, use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout to save 3%, and e-mail Steve Elkins as below to make sure that you get on the list. I heard from a guy yesterday who ordered a Canon 100-500 RF lens from B&H in July and still has not gotten it. Heck, Bedfords has shipped many dozens (if not hundreds) since then. There are times when the B&H wait lists can be endless …

Please Remember Also

Please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

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.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPT. Monday 17 January thru the morning session on Friday 21 January 2022. Four full and one-half day: $2999.00. Deposit: $899.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 7

Two folks are signed up for the San Diego IPT. Click here and scroll down for the complete details.

This image was created on 2 November 2021 at Circle B Bar Preserve in Lakeland, FL. While standing, I used the I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber tripod/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3(stopped down 1/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 9:19am on a sunny morning.

Manual Focus with focus peeking. Click on the image to view a higher-res version.

Image #1: Backlit blade of grass with dew drops

On Creativity and Seeing

Look Around. See What Catches Your Interest …

On the way back to the car at Circle B Bar Reserve on Tuesday morning, after a less-than-fabulous morning of bird photography, I noted a single blade of grass with two backlit dew drops hanging from it. All I had with me was the big lens with the teleconverter. I set up the tripod right at the lens’s MFD (minimum focusing distance) to fill the frame as much as possible.

The short vignette above reveals an important concept that I often visit when attempting to teach creativity to nature, wildlife, and even bird photographers:

Take a walk in nature (usually with at least some photography gear aboard). Look around. Look for something that piques your interest, something that grabs your eye. It might be a splash of color, the quality of the light, a killer background — go find a subject!, a bird’s beauty, plumage or pose, or, as with today’s featured images, a backlit dewdrop or two …

Once you’ve found something of interest, ask yourself “What gear do I have that will enable me to create what I see as a pleasing image.” You do — of course — have to consider the best perspective, the framing, and the lighting, possibly along with dozens of other factors.

Whatever you like to photograph, make it a habit to look around and see what grabs you. This practice will enable you to grow as a photographer and to become more creative.

This image, of the same blade of grass, was also created on 2 November 2021 at Circle B Bar Preserve in Lakeland, FL. Crouching behind the lowered Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber tripod topped with a Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro, I focused manually using the rear screen with focus peaking. I was using the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens with the Metabones Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter (Fifth Generation) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/50 sec. at f/16 (stopped down 4 1/3 stops) in Manual mode. Manual Focus with Focus Peaking as detailed in the SONY Alpha a1 Info and Updates group e-mails. AWB at 9:30am on a sunny morning.

Click on the image to enjoy the larger, hi-res version.

Image #2: Backlit blade of grass with dew drop

On Refining Your Vision …

When I finished creating Image #1 above, I realized that if I could get a lot closer with much greater magnification, there might be a more dramatic image at hand. Since I was near the parking lot, I walked to my SUV and switched out the big lens for my Canon 180 macro lens with the Metabones Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter. Changing out the lens took about ten minutes in all. When I got back to the single blade of grass, I was glad to see that the situation was intact.

Again, I set up very close to the MFD, this time with the macro lens, and got back to work. A slight breeze came up; every time the blade of grass shifted in response to the moving air, the focus was thrown off a bit. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Why?

Image #2 is a focus stacked composite of the two darkest images. In one image, the large, thin expanse of the darker green portion of the blade of grass was sharply focused, but the single dew drop was beyond the plane of focus (even at f/16). In the next frame, the blade of grass had shifted and the dew drop, and the curved, lighter green area of the blade of grass were sharper and better covered by the very limited depth-of field.

So I processed both images with the same settings. Then I selected and feathered the sharper dew drop and the long thing triangle of lighter green, placed then on a separate layer, and used the Move Tool (V) to put that layer roughly into place atop the image where the darker green portion of the blade of grass was sharpest. Then I used the arrow keys to refine placement of the sharp drop and added a Regular Layer Mask to clean up a few edges. Voila!

Why f/16?

Why did I opt to work at f/16?

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. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

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

Everything mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are 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. 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.

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. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.


Feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment regarding any typos or errors in this blog post.

6 comments to On Creativity and Seeing & Refining Your Vision. A breeze-driven, focus-stacking opportunity realized! And why f/16?

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