First Day Homer Favorite « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

First Day Homer Favorite

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This image was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm) and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/7.1 set manually.

First Day Homer Favorite

Yesterday, Thursday, March 18, was a between-the-IPTs optional day. We had two full boats with two folks from Robert’s just concluded IPT and eight of the ten folks from the jointly-led IPT that starts today. Yesterday was typical Homer: we started with snow and ended with clear skies and sun with pretty much everything else in between. Today was supposed to dawn clear but the weatherman forgot to look out the window so our 8am start was delayed until 10am. About half of the group hung out in the lobby and enjoyed a 30 minutes session with Robert and I as we discussed many fine points of Bald Eagle photography most having to do with autofocus and exposure.

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This JPEG represents the original capture with no adjustments at all. I included it here so that you could see the crop and see what I did during the image optimization. As you can see, the image was originally a bit underexposed; even pros make exposure mistakes when the light is changing constantly:). Some of what I did with this image was done in ACR prior to the RAW conversion when I lightened the exposure a bit and then used the Recovery slider to bring the brightest Whites to 236 or below. Then I used the Fill Light Slider sparingly to brighten the image a bit more. All that plus my default settings.

Once I brought the image into Photoshop I did a bit of bill clean up, ran a Linear Burn on the head and bill and then reduced the opacity of that layer, and ran a contrast mask on the face to sharpen it. I used a Quick Mask with a Layer Mask added to cover one relatively large white discoloration at the base of the bill. I also did a bit of Eye Doctor work on the pupil, applied my standard Selective Color action to deepen the Blacks, and ran my standard Curves adjustment at 50% opacity to further increase the pop. Everything above is of course detailed in the fantastic MAR 2011 Digital Basics Update.

The image above is my favorite from our two boat trips yesterday. It was made just as the bird was beginning a dive and just as the sun broke through. I have tons of work to do and e-mails to answer so this will be it for now. I will be back asap 🙂

Thanks to all who have begun reading and making comments 🙂

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–depending on the situation–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

14 comments to First Day Homer Favorite

  • I am not too sure which photo it was, but you made an adjustment to either under or over expose to the camera because of the dark or light colour wings – Does Canon not have a camera out now, so that you can set the exposure to just the one square in the viewfinder, so you can get an accurate reading of the dark wings say, then the camera will make the automatic ISO reading, to get the exposure that you want. This way, all the work is done by the camera once the shooter aims at the area he/she wants metered , and the camera makes the automatic ISO reading to get the histogram exposured properly.

    Just a comment with the eagle that you rebuilt – because of clipping – You did a really nice job, I try to take wildlife photos, and expanding into birdlife, but if I get a photo with the tail clipped or some part of the animal clipped, that photo is toast. That’s why it is more important to have extra space around the shot to try and aviod clipping. If you don’t get some clipped photos, you really not challenging your skills. – at least that’s what I think

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ken, There is no camera that gets the right exposure all or even most of the time. Folks need to learn their cameras, learn exposure theory, learn digital exposure, learn to evaluate and adjust the histogram, and learn to check for flashing highlights. We teach you all of those things in the original ABP (soft cover) and in ABP II(916 pages on CD only). Again, I would love to re-write the two books for you here but they total more than 1,100 pages…. You are lucky that today there are such fabulous teaching resources available. You do however need to purchase them and then study them. You are looking for easy answers across the board: the only answer is to work and study hard… You can save $10 by purchasing the two-book combo here.

      Thanks for the advise about leaving extra space.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Monte, M. Bruce, and KD. I could go for a bit more off the top and a bit more on the bottom but I would not care to go square with this one.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Don, Thanks for stopping by. Lots of folks on BPN did not like the position of the near-wing. I loved it 🙂 To find out why, click here and scroll down. The boat is where the boat is. And yes, I have a few more eagle images….

  • Rob / DM Images

    Artie- I think it would really awesome to see a shot with your photographers in the boat with the eagles they are photographing somewhere in the frame. That way we could all see how close these birds are and get a better feel for the overall environment on these amazing trips.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I will see what I can do Rob. Most of the time we keep the boats well away from each other… You may just have to get an idea from the short focal lengths that we are using….

  • Cody Covey

    Hey Artie,
    I have a gear question. Do you have any worries of a 32 gig card dying on you? I have been using 4GB cards pretty much because I read that most people worry of having a bigger card die and losing 400+ images.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Since 2001 I have never lost a single image due to a faulty Delkin e-film Pro flash card. I did lose a card with images on it. The more cards you use the more chance of losing one and the more chance of failure. I use only 32-gb and I have never had to change a card in the field (except once in Greece when I forgot to format the card so that does not count 🙂

  • Monte Brown


    Fabulous looks like an incoming fighter jet. very sharp and perfect exposure.


  • Artie,

    Your work has been a great inspiration to me! This Bald Eagle shot is absolutely amazing!

    Happy shooting!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Joey. We will have more coming soon! This morning was sunny and killer-great!

  • M. Bruce

    What an amazing and even more importantly, unusual capture! I might move the crop a bit too but hey, if it were my shot I would be completely thrilled!

  • Artie, a fine image…so much impact. Its very very rare that I dont agree with your comp/crops. I think your choice of placement of the subject in the frame is pretty much flawess most of the times. I’ve learnt tons from that. However, here I am going to disagree a bit 🙂

    IMO, since the bird is diving, it’d benefit from having a little more space below and little less on the right. Wouldn’t it have stronger impact if the eagle’s line of sight were to be in the closer to the lower right corner? That would mean a squarish crop, though. Let us know what you think.

  • Don Nelson

    I’m personally not a fan of the wing angle (WA, particularly the bird’s right wing; the birds left wing looks fine) although the HA looks good.
    Moving the boat to the right a few feet would have helped ;-)unlikely eh?
    The linear burn (or maybe just staying at 236) makes the whites especially good on this image.
    I’m certain this was an exciting dive to capture. Any other images?
    Looking forward to seeing more images!
    Best regards