A Short Pick-the-Best-Image Video. Seeing the Shot in Difficult Situations. Big Improvements are Best Made During the Raw Conversion. And How I Did Just That! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Short Pick-the-Best-Image Video. Seeing the Shot in Difficult Situations. Big Improvements are Best Made During the Raw Conversion. And How I Did Just That!

Picking Your Keepers: A Third Resting Brown Pelican Image Edit

Before you scroll down, watch the less-than 3-minute video and see if you can choose what I thought was the best of the five images. Then keep reading.

What’s Up?

Again. Not much. On Tuesday I finished the second edit of my October 2021 image folder. I began with 1774 raw files and got that down to 503 after deleting 1271. And the truth be told, things would be better if I cut the 503 by at least another 200 …

Today is Wednesday 10 November. I will be heading to Sebastian Inlet early on Thursday. If you would like to join me there, please get in touch asap via e-mail: $400 for three plus hours of in-the-field instruction with tame Wood Storks along with some terns, gulls, shorebirds, herons and egrets as back-up subjects (if need be). There is an option for a working lunch with image review and/or a (weather dependent) afternoon session as well. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about three hours to prepare (including the time creating the new YouTube video above).

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 β€” a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head β€” 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.

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 on items priced at $1,000 or more. 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 is $1000 (or less for a $50 flat-fee). If you are interested, please scroll down here to read the terms. Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice only to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past years, we have sold many hundreds of items. Do know that prices for used gear only go in one direction. Down. 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.

If you would like to learn about selling your used gear on the BAA Used Gear Page, click here.

New Bedfords BAA Discount Info

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy free Overnight Fed-Ex Air shipping for orders over $1,000.00 and free Second Day Fed-Ex Air shipping for orders under $1,000.00.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy free Fed-Ex Air shipping as above, 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 qualify for the free Fed-Ex 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 a 1, 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.

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 πŸ™‚

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 β€” I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) β€” 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.

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.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA on 4 January 2020 while scouting for the 2020 San Diego IPT>. I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 430mm) and the original AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera Body ISO 1250. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/500 sec. at f/6.3 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that this image was about 1/3 stop under; that info helps me to correctly adjust the Exposure slider during the raw conversion in ACR. AWB at 3:53pm on a sunny afternoon.

Flexible Spot: M/ AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and worked just fine. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the hi-res version.

Image #1: Brown Pelican resting on branch

And the Winner Was!

I thought that the fifth image was the strongest because the bird gave us a good look at its face in that one. I liked the one where we saw a bit of the red bill pouch, but we could not see either eye well. Which one did you choose?

Note that I executed a small crop from the left and from below and that I eliminated one of the nubs on the perch, the large one on the left just below the bird.

The Situation

I take pride in my ability to find a good image in seemingly impossible situations. At first glance, there seemed to be no chance to get a lens on this bird as there was a huge bush between where I stood on the sidewalk and the perched pelican. But with the lovely distant background — the dark water in the cove below, I was determined to find a way. By carefully examining the intervening greenery I was able to spot a small opening in the vegetation. With room for one person. By hand holding and getting as tall as possible, I was able to get a clear shot.

In situations like this on an IPT, I do my best to give everyone a chance to get the shot. When the bird is resting or sleeping, that is easy to do. By joining an IPT, you can learn to spot good, excellent, and great situations. And tons more ..

The ACR screen capture for the Brown Pelican resting on branch image

Big Improvements Begin During the Raw Conversion

Whether you do your raw conversions in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), in Capture One, in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 4, in Lightroom (again with ACR), or elsewhere, you can make dramatic improvements in your image during this process. No matter the program you use, the sliders are quite similar. It is best to make as many improvements as possible before the raw file is converted.

I was fine with the As Shot White Balance. Then, guided by the evaluation of the raw file in RawDigger, I began by moving the Exposure slider to the right to +0.35. Of note is that I had to move the Black slider to the right to open up the darker tones. With most images we need to move the Black slider to the left. Then I darkened the green water by (atypically) moving the Shadow slider to the left. But for increasing the Saturation to =5, the rest is pretty much by the book.

Remember that except for the Black and White sliders, most of the sliders are moved to your taste for each individual image and that you will be using different values for all except for images created in the same light in a given situation. For those you can hit Control + left click and select Apply Previous Settings from the dropdown menu.

You can learn the basics of making ACR raw conversions (and tons more) in BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent 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: 6

If you missed the San Diego: A Bird Photographer’s Paradise video on YouTube, be sure to check it out video here.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or (relatively) healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. (Or two seconds with SONY zebras…) And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure is one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five three hour morning photo sessions, four one and one-half afternoon photo sessions, four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy day occasions, we may — at my discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

An $899 deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due right after you sign up.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


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 A Short Pick-the-Best-Image Video. Seeing the Shot in Difficult Situations. Big Improvements are Best Made During the Raw Conversion. And How I Did Just That!

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