Three of a Kind « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Three of a Kind

This Snow Monkey image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, 1.4X III TC, and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/60 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Three of a Kind

The night before we hiked up the big hill to the Monkey Park I was in bed dreaming fitfully of the location. When we finally made it–and we all had our doubts–see here, we were all somewhat disappointed…. A single man made pool no more than eight meters long was surrounded by dozens of tourists most photographing with their cell phones. Though the monkeys at Jigokudani Yaenkoen are free and wild, the place strikes you at first as nothing more than a glorified zoo. The animals in this troop are attracted by both the hot spring pools and multiple daily feedings. But as the hours passed and we got to witness a wide range of natural monkey behavior we realized how special the place it. You can learn more about the park here.

In that first hour it seemed close to impossible to create a good image. But the crowds of tourists dispersed and we began to find the clean backgrounds and the best angles and to take advantage of dozens of great opportunities. By the end of the second hour we all realized that the place was magical. The family group in the image above was sitting atop a food storage box. They sat for more than 30 minutes until, you guessed it, one of the rangers came by with a bucket of food. He who giveth….

The youngster here had a nose covered with dried momma’s milk that was cleaned up with the Patch Tool and Spot Healing Brush, all as described in detail in our Digital Basics File. Every Snow Monkey image that I have processed so far has benefited from the application of Detail Extractor (and at times, a small dose of Tonal Contrast), both from NIK’s Color Efex Pro. I will be sharing some striking before and after images with you soon.

Best Part?

Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know what you think makes this image so strong. Hint: it was the hardest thing to get….

My Comments on Your Comments

Learn why I was unlucky with the Sandhill Crane taking flight image and read my comments on your comments by clicking here.


Color Efex Pro 4 is now an integral part of my workflow. I bring every image into Color Efex Pro after I finish my background clean-up. You can save 15% on all NIK products by clicking here and entering BAA in the Promo Code box at check-out. Then hit Apply to see your savings. You can download a trial copy that will work for 15 days and allow you to create full sized images.

B&H Specials

Save up to $350 on Canon lens and camera body bundles (including two of my favorites–the EOS-7D and the EOS-5D MII) and earn free contest entries by clicking here. Offers expire March 3, 2012.

Earn Free Contest Entries and Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

More and more folks are earning multiple contest entries with their B & H purchases. See here for details on that. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here to visit the competition home page.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that Tim used to create the image in today’s blog post. 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 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens. The 300 f/2.8 L IS II with the 1.4X III TC is a killer flight combination.
1.4X III TC. The new Series III 1.4X was designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂 And you will love them in mega-cold weather….
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine. Also available for the 7D and the Mark III here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

18 comments to Three of a Kind

  • avatar Sandy

    Absolutely wonderful image. I’ve always wanted to see the Snow Monkeys. This is one of the best images I’ve seen of them. I just love it. With all 3 faces bunched close together – the composition is so strong and those eyes just show such incredible emotion.

  • Love the composition and expressions, Artie!

  • avatar Sandy

    Awesome image. In addition to the eyes, the perfect lineup of the family hiarchy,etc. mentioned above, to me it’s also the clean, white background that makes the subjects stand out. I imagine, with the crowd that was there, it was not easy to get the clean white background, which looks like snow. You didn’t mention whether you cleaned it up or not.

  • avatar Robin Sparkman

    This is such a great composition. The papa and mama with the baby in the middle in the shape of a heart. They could not have posed more perfectly.

  • Love the shot. I was most struck by the similarity of all 3 faces looking in the direction of the camera. Very endearing. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Artie ~ I am in love with this image …is there anyway I can purchase a print from you ??? That would be great. Thanks, Francoise

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Francoise, Signed traditional or canvas prints of all BAA images are available. We can have prints of digital images ready to ship in a day or two. Prints of film images take about two weeks. You can find details and prices here.

  • Artie … I agree with many of the previous comments . Most fascinating to me is the saying , ” The Eyes are the Window of the Soul ” … your Image reflects this . In their Life Experience , it is so obvious which is the male , female , & youngster Journey . As so often , You Got It !

  • avatar cheapo

    O.M.G!! As they say. A mesmerizing image! I just sat and looked at them for minutes on end. But now I have to not be all gooey eyed and try to think about the technical aspects of the image. Ok. Vertically you almost have the ‘thirds’ going on. All three faces are pretty much spot on for focus, a real bonus! But the double eye contact just makes the image. And ‘framed by fur’ is exquisite. Aargh, they are so gorgeous! I’ve gone all gooey eyed again!

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    A remarkable image. To me there is a nice flow from one face to the other as you start at the top working your way through the image.

  • avatar Arla

    Powerful, ethereal, heart-warming.
    A sure-fire award winner. Love this!

  • avatar Gerald Kelberg

    Lovely family portrait! What makes it is that you have gotten all the faces on pretty much the same plane, so all three are in focus – not easy I’m sure – plus the composition of the three and the endearing faces.
    Have a great time!

  • Magnificent image ….. they are one of the key reasons I have Japan on my bucket list . Wonderful shot Art !

  • avatar David Policansky

    Great image, Artie. Lots of things make the image, but I like the apparent family grouping. The patriarch is looking at the camera, the matriarch is protecting the child, whose face appears in a nest of fur, also looking at the camera. All three are very close together–huddled for warmth? Also the faces are lined up almost diagonally, which strengthens the image.

    Is that your reflection I see in the young one’s eyes?

    What made the tourists with their cell phones disperse?


  • avatar Loren Charif

    For me, it’s all 3 sets of eyes looking right back at me. I’d prefer a tiny bit more contrast, but it’s a wonderful image as is.

  • avatar Jay

    It is a great image. What makes it strong? The line up of the heads, with size order from largest down to smallest, open eyes, the odd number.

  • avatar Paul Smith

    WOW!! What a powerful image!

  • avatar Geoff

    Great image, love the high key look. But I think the thing that makes this is … eye contact/head angle