Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
September 28th, 2022

Any Port in a Storm -- Tripod on Railing Tips

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 below, but for the Color Mixer stuff, and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques — along with my complete digital workflow, Digital Eye Doctor Techniques, and all 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. 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: most 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 three years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One and did that for two years. 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. Today, I convert my Sony raw files in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw.

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

What’s Up?

I walked early and then spent a wonderful hour at Vulture Trees. On the way back to my car on my rope flow walk, I noted several White Waterlilies in bloom. So I grabbed the incredibly versatile Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens and a tripod and went to work producing today’s featured image. I got in both of my swims in a gentle rain.

Today is Wednesday 28 September 2022. It was already raining hard here at 4:00am and Hurricane Ian is headed right at ILE. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes one hundred eighty-seven days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Any Port in a Storm — Tripod on Railing Tips

This image was created on 27 September 2022 from the pier at the lake near my home in Indian Lake Estates, FL. I used the Robus RC-5558 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 238mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras. ISO 1000: 1/125 sec. at f/.8 (stopped down two stops) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:29:25am on a still, cloudy morning.

Manual Focus with Focus Peaking worked just fine, thank you very much. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: The original converted straight up

The Optimization Plans

I knew right out of the box that the image was too warm. The plethora of black and brown spots and blemishes on the lily pads and the flower itself were distracting. I did not like the stick (?) just breaking the surface in the lower right corner, nor did I like the tiny green bits on the heart-shaped lily pad in the center of the frame. I was unsure as to whether I should lose the copulating insects on the yellow in the lower left corner. I liked the overall image design, but envisioned a small crop to tighten things up.

This image was created on 27 September 2022 from the pier at the lake near my home in Indian Lake Estates, FL. I used the Robus RC-5558 Vantage Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 238mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras. ISO 1000: 1/125 sec. at f/.8 (stopped down two stops) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:29:25am on a still, cloudy morning.

Manual Focus with Focus Peaking worked just fine, thank you very much. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1A: The optimized White Waterlily image

30-Minutes of Clean-up Work!

I knew that the image was too warm, so I used Click White Balance on the brightest Whites of the flower. That lowered the Color Temperature from 5650 to a much more pleasing 5150. I set the White (+7) and Black (+28!) points, pulled down the Highlights (-49), left the Shadow slider at 0, and went with the rest of my standard adjustments. Last before converting the image was some work on the Color Mixer (HSL) tab adjusting the Saturation and Luminance sliders on the Red, Orange, and Yellow sliders. After the raw conversion I ran Topaz DeNoise with the Low Light setting. Next came a solid half-hour of work doing the image cleanup on its own layer. All the black, brown, and white spots were evicted using the Patch Tool, Content-Aware Fill, and the Spot-Healing Brush. In addition, several small Quick Masks, each refined with the Transform Tool and a Regular Layer Mask, were used to remove blemishes that merged with the bugs or with the edges of the lily pads. The final touch was a layer of Auto Tone at reduced opacity.

For me, it was time well spent.

Image Questions

1- Would you have left the copulating bugs or eliminated them? I am still not sure if I should have nixed them.

2- If you have any idea what the red object is, please leave a comment.

Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Iphone image of tripod on railing set-up

Tripod on Railing Set-up

After roughly framing the image with my handheld rig, I knew that I needed to be on the tripod, and that I needed to get the lens out over the railing and pointing down at the blossom. I placed the lens on the boardwalk so that I could position the tripod properly. I pulled out the stop tabs on the two rear legs and pulled the legs out. Then the tripod was placed on the pier railing and positioned so that the bottom of the forward-facing leg was pressed against the deck of the boardwalk. Though the two rear legs were up in the air, the tripod was perfectly level. Next was to mount the lens and adjust the Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro so that the lens was pointed at the scene with the head firmly locked down.

Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Iphone image of the Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro set-up

The Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro set-up

First note that I use a Wimberley P-10 Plate mounted in reverse on the 70-200 II. This is best for virtually all 70-200 and 100-400 lenses. Mounting the plate in reverse with the anti-twist nubs at the front of the lens allows you to properly balance the lens when teleconverters are added. Using expensive replacement feet with such lenses is insane for three reasons:

1- On average, they cost twice as much as a P-20 Plate.

2- They do not get you any lower.

3- They are not removable thus adding extra weight when you are handholding. Except when doing quasi-macro as above, or when creating landscapes, lenses in this class are most deadly when handheld.

The first step was to loosen the black lever and turn the black housing so that the slot that allows you to point the lens down was lined up with the forward-facing leg of the tripod. Next was to mount the lens while checking on the relative balance. The most important piece to this puzzle is to tighten the silver knob. If you attempt to frame the image and tighten the black lever the lens will move if you have failed to tighten the silver knob.

That done, you can frame the image perfectly and lock the rig in place by tightening the black lever. I first made a series of images with the blossom and the red whatever it is on the same plane. To move them to opposite corners of the frame, I simply loosened the tripod collar and turned the lens counterclockwise in the mount.

With only a slight breeze, 1/125 second produced sharp images and allowed me to work at f/8 at ISO 800.

As noted here previously, I pride myself in my ability to come up with in-the-field solutions to a great variety of unique problems that we encounter often when photographing nature. Consider joining me on an IPT to see just how that works.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

September 27th, 2022

Over-exposed? Or Not? Best-ever TV Sunning Image

Change Your Life

Consider changing your life and becoming a much better bird photographer by joining me on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). DeSoto, San Diego, Homer, and the yet-to-be announced July 2024 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime, all offer the opportunity for you to improve your skills both in the field and at the computer and to make some astounding images as well. Click here and see which IPT might be best for you.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All the images on this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall. 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 Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tours

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #2

3 1/2 Days: 7 October through the morning session on Monday 10 October 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings three.

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #3

3 1/2 Days: Monday 31 October through the morning session on Thursday 3 November 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings: 5.

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 any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much 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. And we will 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 this IPT, all will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button. Everyone will learn 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). The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever and whenever you photograph.

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

These IPTs 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 Gulfport AirBnB information. If you register soon and would like to share an AirBnB with me, shoot me an e-mail. Other possibilities including taking a cab to and from the airport to our AirBnB and riding with me. This saves you both gas and the cost of a rental car.

A $600 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check two months before the trip. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six folks, so please check your plans carefully before committing. 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 shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

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.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously, folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving. The length of cloudy morning sessions will often be extended. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Spoonbills at DeSoto

Over the past years, Roseate Spoonbills have become regular visitors to Fort DeSoto Park. I know when and where to find them and can teach you to approach them successfully. Do consider joining me on one of the DeSoto IPTs.

What’s Up?

I slept late and skipped my morning walks, but spent a pleasant 45 minutes at the Vulture Trees. I did my easy 48-length morning swim after 1pm. My planned afternoon 40-length swim was cancelled by a nonstop deluge accompanied by thunder and lightning from 4:30 till after 7:00pm. Today is definitely Tuesday 27 September 2022. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare makes one hundred eighty-six days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Over-exposed? Or Not? Best-yet TV Sunning Image

This image was created on 26 September 2022 down by the lake near my home at ILE. Standing at full height, I used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 840mm), and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/2000 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect plus. AWB at 8:38:08am on sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Turkey Vulture — adult sunning

Not Bad

I have spent lots of time at the Vulture Trees in the past few weeks, not to mention the last two plus decades. Today’s wing spread/facing/sunning image is the best of that ilk I have made. The sweet early morning light and the perfectly lit underwings along with a handsome adult vulture are all big plusses. As is the perfect wingspread pose. And I almost forgot, the bird was on my very favorite perch, the tip-top perch.

Image #1A: The a7INFO screen capture for the Turkey Vulture — adult sunning image

Sony a1 Firmware Update v.1.31

More than a week ago, I updated both of my a1 bodies to firmware v1.31 and then spent some quality time at the Vulture Trees. I felt that firmware update 1.30 noticeably improved Bird-Eye autofocus. According to Sony, the latest firmware update, v1.31, offers two benefits and improvements: It improves the accuracy of the Eye AF feature and improves the operational stability of the camera. With several addition sessions with the new firmware, I can firmly stand that improvement in Bird-Eye AF with v1.31is quite significant.

When you point a long lens at a bird, the a1’s AF system searches for the eye before you press or half-press the shutter button! When an eye is detected, a tiny green square lights up and tracks it. With v1.31, the system picked up the bird’s eye more quickly, and once you half-pressed the shutter button the eye tracking clearly seemed to be stickier.

No matter how great the eye tracking of your mirrorless camera body, two things will always be true:

1- When the bird turns its head away or buries it in its feathers while preening, the AF system will obviously quit tracking the eye. With v1.31, the AF system picked the eye up very quickly once it re-appeared.

2- Strong folks with excellent hand-eye coordination, fine motor control, fast reflexes, and great stamina will always get better results than the rest of us. They are better equipped to take advantage of the amazing new AF technologies that are available to us.

I am positive that Bird-eye AF for flight photography will be improved, the question is, “By how much?” With the first DeSoto IPT cancelled by Hurricane Ian, it will be another two weeks before I can answer that question. There is lots of good flight photography at DeSoto.

Image #1B: The RawDigger screen capture for the Turkey Vulture — adult sunning image

Over-exposed? Or Not?

The OvExp/UnExp Stats show 4001 over-exposed pixels out of 41 million. If my math is correct, that is 0.001% OvExp. Click on the screen capture to enlarge it and see if you can spot the red OvExp warnings. Where are they?

That said, would you have subtracted 1/3-stop of light from the exposure? Why or why not?

Ho Hum, Another Perfect Exposure

What can I say? The combination of Zebras live in the viewfinder (with your camera set up properly) and post-capture study of the raw files in RawDigger makes it pretty much child’s play to come up with perfect exposure after perfect exposure. It would be impossible to overstate how much I have learned by studying RawDigger and how much better my exposures have become since I started with the program almost two years ago. The raw file brightness for today’s featured image is dead solid perfect plus a tiny bit with the G channel climbing up the 16000 line (as discussed immediately above).

RawDigger — not for the faint of heart …

Nothing has ever helped me learn to create perfect exposures to the degree that RawDigger has. I think that many folks are reluctant to learn that most of their images are underexposed by one or more full stops and that highlight warnings in Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, and your in-camera histogram are bogus as they are based on the embedded JPEGs. Only your raw files tell the truth all the time. Heck, I resisted RawDigger for several years … Once you get over that feeling, RawDigger can become your very best exposure friend no matter what system you are using. On the recent IPTs and In-the-Field sessions, we have demonstrated that fact. Convincingly.

The RawDigger Adapted (pink) Histogram

In the RawDigger e-Guide, you will learn exactly how to set up the Adapted “pink” RawDigger Histogram and how to use it to quickly and easily evaluate the exposure or raw file brightness of images from all digital cameras currently in use. RawDigger was especially helpful to me as I have struggled with R5 exposures and learned my new camera body, the Sony Alpha a1.

RawDigger e-Guide with Two Videos

The RawDigger e-Guide with Two Videos

by Arthur Morris with Patrick Sparkman

The RawDigger e-Guide was created only for serious photographers who wish to get the absolute most out of their raw files.

Patrick and I began work on the guide in July 2020. At first, we struggled. We asked questions. We learned about Max-G values. We puzzled as to why the Max G values for different cameras were different. IPT veteran Bart Deamer asked lots of questions that we could not answer. We got help from RawDigger creator Iliah Borg. We learned. In December, Patrick came up with an Adapted Histogram that allows us to evaluate the exposures and raw file brightness for all images created with all digital camera bodies from the last two decades. What we learned each time prompted three complete beginning to end re-writes.

The point of the guide is to teach you to truly expose to the mega-Expose-to-the-Right so that you will minimize noise, maximize image quality, best utilize your camera’s dynamic range, and attain the highest possible level of shadow detail in your RAW files in every situation. In addition, your properly exposed RAW files will contain more tonal information and feature the smoothest possible transitions between tones. And your optimized images will feature rich, accurate color.

We teach you why the GREEN channel is almost always the first to over-expose. We save you money by advising you which version of RawDigger you need. We teach you how to interpret the Max G values for your Canon, Nikon, and SONY camera bodies. It is very likely that the Shock-your-World section will shock you. And lastly — thanks to the technical and practical brilliance of Patrick Sparkman — we teach you a simple way to evaluate your exposures and the raw file brightness quickly and easily the Adapted RawDigger histogram.

The flower video takes you through a session where artie edits a folder of images in Capture One while checking the exposures and Max-G values in RawDigger. The Adapted Histogram video examines a series of recent images with the pink histograms and covers lots of fine points including and especially how to deal with specular highlights. The directions for setting up the Adapted Histogram are in the text.

If we priced this guide based on how much effort we put into it, it would sell it for $999.00. But as this guide will be purchased only by a limited number of serious photographers, we have priced it at $51.00. You can order yours here in the BAA Online Store.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

September 26th, 2022

Your Image Optimization Skills Matter!

Change Your Life

Consider changing your life and becoming a much better bird photographer by joining me on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). DeSoto, San Diego, Homer, and the yet-to-be announced July 2024 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime all offer the opportunity for you to improve your skills both in the field and at the computer and to make some astounding images as well. Click here and see which IPT might be best for you.

What’s Up?

As usual, I walked/rope flowed 2.8 miles on Sunday morning and then headed home. Again I did my easy 48-length morning swim and a 40-length swim at 5:00pm after dinner for a total of one mile. With Hurricane Ian looking as if it were going to make a direct hit on first DeSoto IPT, both participants opted to re-schedule. And best of all, the AirBnB folks offered me a full refund! I was glad to learn that IPT veteran Dane Johnson’s Canon 100-400 II sold for the asking price just after being listed last week.

Today is Monday 26 September 2022. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took almost three hours to prepare makes one hundred eighty-five days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

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 earn 3% cash back 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.

Brand-New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

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 getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists 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 Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂



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. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

Your Image Optimization Skills Matter!

This image was created on 18 October 2021 on a BAA In-the-Field Session at Sebastian Inlet, FL. Standing at full height, I used the handheld Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 640. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect (plus a bit). AWB at 9:17:14am on mostly sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Mullet school under attack from below

Blastoff!

Schools of baitfish are often herded to the surface by larger predatorial fish. At times, large schools of the smaller fish will break the surface in fear of their lives. Such blastoffs leave them open to attacks from above by the master of the air and sea, the Osprey. When conditions are right, October offers some fabulous photography at Sebastian Inlet as large schools of migratory fish are heading south. I will be visiting Sebastian more than ever this October.

BAA In-the-Field (ITF) Diving Osprey Sessions

You do, however, need to know when to stay home. One of the beauties of scheduling and ITF session with me is that we can decide whether (weather) or not to go. If the morning forecast is for sunny with a brisk NW wind, you can re-schedule or opt for a refund.

The cost of three hours of intense and personalized photographic instruction is $300.00. In addition to the Ospreys, Brown Pelicans, several species of terns, and Laughing Gulls often get in on the fishing action. Backup subjects include several species of shorebirds, herons, and egrets, and especially, Wood Stork.

At present, the following dates are available:

OCT 13-19, OCT 27 & 29-31, and NOV 4-12 (All 2022, of course.). Afternoon sessions may be added on for $200.00. Multiple day inquires are available for those coming from out of town. Fly to Orlando and grab a motel in Vero Beach.

Contact me via e-mail to arrange your dates.

This image was created on 18 October 2021 on a BAA In-the-Field Session at Sebastian Inlet, FL. Standing at full height, I used the handheld Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 640. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect (plus a bit). AWB at 9:17:55am on mostly sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #2: a Photo Mechanic screen capture of the Osprey emerging with a Mullet in its talons image

A Rare Sidelit Flight Image

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When shooting flight, I strive to point my shadow at the bird, usually not being more the 15 – 20° off sun angle a. But when spectacular action occurs right in front of you, albeit 70-80° off sun angle, what’s a photographer to do? Frame, acquire, focus, and shoot. The exposures that I set for Images #1 and #2 were perfect for the birds, but when the sunlit fish made their way into the frame, their bright sides were of course overexposed. That is where your image optimization skills pay off big time. Your handling of the raw conversion in such situations is the basis for the success of the image. I thought that I might have to do two different raw conversions for each of the two images — one normal one and one to save the blown highlights and then combine them and paint in the saved highlights. But by carefully handling the Whites, Highlights, and Shadows sliders, I avoided the extra work. And was happy with the resulting image below.

Note the red over-exposure warning on the cheek of the fish. RawDigger and Photo Mechanic rarely agree, but it this case, both were accurate.

This image was created on 18 October 2021 on a BAA In-the-Field Session at Sebastian Inlet, FL. Standing at full height, I used the handheld Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 640. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect (plus a bit). AWB at 9:17:55am on mostly sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #3: Osprey emerging with a Mullet in its talons

Balancing the Color

I hated the color in the raw file as captured and as seen in Image #2, above. There was a CYAN color cast and the BLUEs were off as well. Some work on the Color Mixer tab during the raw conversion paved the road to success. To deal with the heavy shadows, I relied on Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, lightening the shadowed areas in 20 or 30% increments. Next was some Eye Doctor work. Though they are the same “image,” Images #2 and #3 are vastly different, a no contest if you would. Note also that I added a bit of canvas below (using Content-Aware Crop) and removed the white latch on the Osprey’s left wing. Everything above as noted in BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II). Details below.

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 above– but for the Color Mixer stuff, and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques — along with my complete digital workflow, Digital Eye Doctor Techniques, and all 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. 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: most 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 three years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One and did that for two years. 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. Today, I convert my Sony raw files in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw.

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

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.