Having Fun With a Fun Image or Creating a Photo Illustration? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Having Fun With a Fun Image or Creating a Photo Illustration?

This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the 1.4X III TC (hand held at 115mm), and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/2000 sec. at f/5 in Manual mode.

Having Fun With a Fun Image or Creating a Photo Illustration?

The image above was created from the image below; it took me about 30 minutes in Photoshop. I covered most of the extraneous birds in the front of the frame with several fairly large Quick Masks. Additional clean-up work was done with a series of smaller Quick Masks. Several of the Quick Masks needed to be warped. Most of them had Layer Masks added so that I could fine tune the coverage. In addition I used the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and the Clone Stamp Tool. The basics of quick masking and image clean-up are covered in detail in our Digital Basics File. Advanced Quick Masking is covered in detail in Robert O’Toole’s APTATS I.

What Do You Think?

In addition to removing the extra birds in front of the flock I made two other significant changes to the image. If you can spot them let us know by leaving a comment.

Was I having fun with a fun image or creating a photo illustration?

In your eyes is the optimized image a photograph?

If you had the skills would you have done what I did? Why or why not?

Remember: be nice. 🙂

My Comments on Your Comments.

Still catching up. I finally had some time tonight to comment on the comments at the St. Andrews Bay/Best Day Ever? post here. Stop by and learn which of the five images was my favorite.

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #401 On-line

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #401 is on-line now and can best be viewed in spectacular white on black format by clicking here.

Here are the features:

  • NIK Color Efex Pro

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

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here for details.

Shopper’s Guide

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

And from the BAA On-line Store:

And from the BAA On-line Store:

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

30 comments to Having Fun With a Fun Image or Creating a Photo Illustration?

  • cheapo

    Ooo, I missed this one! Hehe, tis fun indeed! I didn’t look at the comments till after comparing the two images. Spotted the bird removal fore and aft and the crop, but not the green band. Ironically the ‘after effect’ front bird does almost look as if it’s getting ready to grab the first bit of bread that’s out of shot. But the shady snow right there looks slightly odd. 😉

  • Hi Artie, the worked on image looks great, i think it is still a photograph and i would do it too. The panoramic crop looks good to me, perfect for a wall hanging. 🙂

    BTW, now that the 5D MkII prices have started falling, should i pick up one in a month or two, or wait for almost a year and then pick up the 5D MkIII once and for all? I will be using it with the 600mm F4 L IS. I am currently using a Canon 20D.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Life can be short :). Are you planning on a used 5DII? Whatever you do it will be a huge, huge, huge step up from the 20D.

      • Yes Artie,

        I would buy a used one most probably.

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Thanks Angad, If you go for a new camera, either a 5D II or a 5D III, please remember to use one of our affiliate links. Thanks :).

          Where are you from?

          • Now that is a problem, i would have used the link and bought it from B&H, but i stay in India. So shipping + import duty will kill me!! 😛

            You and all other folks wishing to order from overseas are invited to send me an e-mail requesting the B&H Landed Cost Calculator PDF. It explains how you can determine your total costs in your currency to most any location in the world and includes all duties, taxes, VAT, shipping and other charges. With their prices so low it is worth investigating as you might actually save money in the long run.

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Good work all. Yes, I got rid of that last extra swan head and removed the green band. Glad to that you all liked it. Thanks all for the kind words and the additional info.

    Funny thing is that I would consider it a photographic illustration as I did change the natural history a bit. It is so noted in the image caption:

    Whooper Swan flock stampeding after tossed bread EXTRA BIRDS & BAND REMOVED _90Z7831 Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan.tif

    As several folks noted, the important thing here is letting folks–including editors–know what you have done.

    And yes, I used NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 on this image as I do on virtually every image that I process. Here it was as usual Tonal Contrast and Details Extractor on the WHITEs.

  • I got the before and after images mixed up there. You didn’t add canvas to the bottom, just cropped. It’s a good job I am going for an eye test next week!!LOL

  • forgot to say–I’d still call this a photograph. I would do the same optimizing (if I thought ahead enough) because most of my photographs are to hang on the wall.

  • Looks like you removed a head at the back of the flock and cropped top and bottom to give a very nice panorama. And you must have used Nik Detail Extractor or Tonal Contrast or both to get more feather and leg definition and darker legs. (I have to admit that the “darker leg” comment above tipped me off to this.)

  • Hi Artie. You removed the last bird’s head on the extreme right and the green leg ring on one of the birds. You also seem to have added canvas along the bottom. I think it is still a photograph although I do not use Photoshop to help to ‘create’ an image. I don’t see anything wrong with cloning and the like as long as it is done in an honest and open way which you always do.

  • Dan O'Leary

    Love it! How did you get all those birds into the photo studio?!
    Recent favorite of yours for me.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Dan. The swans at this location are fed regularly. Here they were all chasing a single slice of tossed bread.

  • Richard Bohnet

    Hi Artie,

    As mentioned you removed the last swan head, the green tag on the leg. I also see a black spot removed from the snow under the swans about one third from the left. In removing the green tag, it looks like you included some white stripe on the back of the leg (inadvertently?)

    Yes I would do it, and it is a photograph in my opinion.


  • Jon

    Birds front & back removed increased contrast, removed a little green on the leg to right of centre, probably selective colour or similar for pop. All perfectly valid and good in my book you have enhanced the image without really destroying the truthfulness completely. I would not do this for a competition but for web purposes or simply enjoying an image – great stuff. Have changed the colour temp too?

  • Nick Sharp

    Great picture. I think you removed the last bird at the end of the line and add space on top and bottom.

  • Ted Willcox

    You removed the very last bird and cropped the image. Neat!!

  • Joel Eade

    I like the changes, of course it’s still a photograph! Looks like you cropped some from top and bottom. Also, based on your recent blog entries, you may have used Nik Color Efex Pro to enhance contrast, saturation, warmth and darken the blacks. May also have used detail extractor and white neutralizer. Alternatively the selective color may have been used to make some of those adjustments.

  • taylor maxwell

    The beauty of the final is rationale enough for the clean up. Thanks for a beautiful image

  • Jerry Pogue

    Artie, I love all your photo’s’
    I was happy to see that you removed the leg band and the head crossing the back side of the two Swan’s in the rear.
    But! I would have removed the last two Swan’s in the rear to allow for a frame or sized it for a panorama and hung it in my office

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for the suggestion. I tried that crop but like the pano look better.

  • It’s just a cleaned up photo, no problems. I do something similar to my photos, to a much lesser extent since I don’t want to put Photoshop into my workflow – I wouldn’t have the time. I do everything in Lightroom, (mis)using the tools used to remove dust spots as a poor man’s clone stamp tool (indeed, it work quite well in simpler cases).

  • Wow! Wonderful picture, love it. You took out the first two birds and the last bird and the fifth from last. I think this picture has definite commercial possibilities. Hope you enter it in any competition that allows the editing you did. The Oxford English Dictionary calls this a “wedge of swans.” I call it beautiful.

  • I see that the birds in the back were removed and the legs were significantly darkened.



  • Patty Corapi

    Hi Artie. To me it’s still a photo – cleaned up, but still a photograph. Yes, I would do it and I would also be honest and say I did it.

    Changes – you removed the last guy in the congo line and took out the green thing hanging off one of the birdie’s rear about a third from the right.

    Have a wonderful day. I’m off to play with my new to me macro lens.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Have fun. I think that it’s conga line…. Hope that you used our B&H link for the new lens :).

      • Patty Corapi

        The lens was new to me – in other words used – so I didn’t use the link for this purchase, but have in the past and will in the future. Unless I keep finding deals too good to pass up. LOL Congo – conga – maybe that’s why nobody invites me to weddings they’re afraid I’m going to show up with a line of African warriors and a few gorillas.

        Have a wonderful day.