ILE: My Home Turf (and and news of an amazing sighting…) « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

ILE: My Home Turf (and and news of an amazing sighting...)

I wake up at my home-office at Indian Lake Estates (ILE), Florida about half of each year.   (Don’t ask me where the estates are….)    In any case, ILE consists of 450 modest homes on 4,000 acres surrounded by 17,000 protected acres on the Lake Wales Ridge.  My late masseuse, John Lynott, told me that he saw a Florida Panther in the yard of the local church about 20 years ago, and there are Panther Crossing signs on SR 60 that I travel regularly.   On some mornings and even more rarely, on some afternoons, I do get out for an hour to photograph.  The tame Sandhill Cranes make good subjects year round, and in early spring there are always some chicks about.  In several months they grow to handsome colts.   The current issue of My Big Backyard (i.e., Ranger Rick for younger children), featured my image a large chick taking a sip of water and a spread of baby sandhill images inside.  Do not laugh: they pay very well. 

On the morning of March 15 I created two images that I liked; each required some special handling in Photoshop.  The first image was of a displaying Boat-tailed Grackle.  I photographed it from my vehicle near a golf course pond with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-50D on the BLUBB (the BAA Big Lens Ultimate BeanBag).   I began photographing the  bird from a spot just off sun angle when I noticed that if I moved forward a few yards I would be able to separate the three twigs and later, clone out the two distracting ones.  I moved the car forward right to sun angle; fortunately the vehicle did not fall into the pond.  The problem was that the very best pose was created right off the bat.  The solution:  I borrowed the foot from a later frame using a Quick Mask, covered the merged twigs with the borrowed foot, rotated and scaled the selection, and finally erased the two extra twigs with the Clone Stamp.

Here is the final image:

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I liked this pose best because of the wonderully flared tail. BTW, ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1000 at f/8.

I found an Osprey sitting on a low post with some dried moss for its nest.  Lens and set-up same as above.  ISO 400.  Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/8.  With the 50D you need to be more careful about burning the whites in bright sun than with the MIII bodies. 

When I viewed the image on my laptop (where I optimize all of  my images) I was dismayed to see a large nail in the post.  Using the Clone Stamp, the Patch Tool, and a series of Quick Masks, I eliminated the nail and shorted a single long stem of grass that had inesected with the bird’s body.  

Here is the image out of the camera:

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Here is a close-up of the offending area.
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Here is that same section after I cleaned it up.

All of the techniques that I used for the cleanup (as well as our coplete digital workflow and dozens of great Photoshop tips) are described in detail in our Digital Basics File.  You can learn more here:  

Finally, here is the final image:

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Here is that same section after I cleaned it up.

Notice the perfect look-back head angle.

Oh, by the way, when Jim, Jim Litzenberg,  my right hand man, came back from his morning walk (except in summer, I walk in the afternoons), he told me that he had seen a Florida Panther just two blocks from home….   All  of you who have dealt with Jim on the phone know that he is personable, efficient, helpful, and friendly.  If you would like to meet him, click here:

Lastly, here is a killer image of me in action created by Jory Griesman, click here:

10 comments to ILE: My Home Turf (and and news of an amazing sighting…)

  • Hello !!!! 🙂
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you!

  • avatar Flpantherlady

    What outstanding pictures! I will be visiting Biscayne Ntnl Park in a couple of days, hope I can catch some stunning shots like these. I truly wish you luck on coming across the ever-elusive Florida Panther, I would love to see a dedicated photographer get some great shots of one. I still haven’t given up hope, and I guess I never will. Good luck!

  • avatar RaiulBaztepo

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  • Yep, I’m getting the compression too. I like reading your updates this way rather than waiting for your email updates, but I hope you get the compression issue resolved, it really distracts from the images!

    -Dave Shaw

  • avatar wtlloyd

    Yes, I am on Firefox, and the heads are showing some squish/compression as well….not sure if this is a browser thing, or relates to the screen resolution being used?
    Congrats on the blog, Artie!

  • Beautiful birds here as usual. But I’m wondering why their heads and necks are squished sideways. The rest of the body is ok. Actually I think it is squished as well. Is it my browser doing this?

  • Great blog. I recently changed my site to a WP blog and I’m amazed at the power, flexibility and ease of maintenance. This should free up time for you to do more shooting and writing. A big plus is that it will be much, much easier for you update from on the road so we can vicariously travel with you. Thanks for all your energy, enthusiasm and effort to bring the world of bird photography to the rest of us.