I Suck at Flight Photography. But… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

I Suck at Flight Photography. But...

This image was created with the hand held Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital camera body. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3. Central sensor Surround/Rear Focus AI Servo AF active at the moment of exposure.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

I Suck at Flight Photography. But…

I Suck at Flight Photography. But I am hard-working and determined. On our first afternoon with Osvaldo and Walter we had lots of great chances with Condors in flight. Click here if you missed the info on Osvaldo. Out of about 350 images, I kept 41. Most of the keepers were pretty bad. Tons of the images had the wings cut off, were mis-framed, or plain old not sharp. Heck, you cannot expect the images to be sharp when you cannot keep the active AF sensor anywhere near the bird’s head.

When my flight images are bad, the first place I look is in the mirror; can you say “Operator Error”? Sure, it is easy to blame your gear but the fact is that the gear that I would be complaining about is the same gear that produced the image above….

When Osvaldo saw my optimized Condor image, he said, “That is the finest image of a Condor that I have ever seen. And I have seen lots of great ones on several of the Chilean nature photography sites.” The next day I asked him if he said that to be nice. He assured me that that was not the case and that his original assessment was both accurate and honest. I was flattered and very proud of myself, especially considering how bad I am at flight photography. Sometimes persistence can be a great virtue.

This JPEG represents the original capture. The dark blotches were quite distracting. Note the crop from the right and below for a more pleasing composition–easy to do with the killer 22mp files of the 5D Mark III.

I used a 40% opacity/0% hardness Clone Stamp Tool brush to clean up most of the dark areas. The dark area by the feet was dealt with with Protect and Defend Cloning on a Layer as taught to me by Denise Ippolito. A small bit of NIK Color EfexPro Detail Exractor and Tonal Contrast. All of the above and tons more is covered in detail in the latest update of our Digital Basics File. If I can finish packing tonight I will do my best to create the PDF and get it to Jim before I head off-line for three weeks….

This is a 100% crop of the optimized TIFF.

The 100% crop above gives you an idea of the kind of quality you can expect from sharp RAW files converted with Canon Digital Photo Professional. Once I get into Arash Hazeghi’s NR eGuide I am positive that I will be able to eliminate most or all of the luminance noise in the BLACKs.

The Digital Photo Professional RAW Conversion Guide

The Digital Photo Professional RAW Conversion Guide by Arthur Morris with Arash Hazeghi is complete and available.

I have long resisted doing conversions in Digital Photo Professional (DPP), the software that comes on a CD in the box with your new Canon camera. I tried it a few times, found that the interface was not as user-friendly as with Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), and did not see any great advantages to using it. ACR was fast and the results were excellent.

When I began working with images from my new EOS-1D X, I noticed right off the bat that the colors were off and that the image quality was poor at best. Skilled photographer Arash Hazeghi had been using DPP for quite some time, often touting its benefits in the Avian Forum at Bird Photographer’s.Net. With phone help from Arash, I began converting my 1D X images in DPP explicitly following his instructions. The images looked so good and so clean with accurate color that before long I was converting all my 5D Mark III, 1D Mark IV, and 1D X images in DPP and loving the results.

In this new eGuide (sent via e-mail as a 19-page PDF) I share everything that Arash taught me. I encourage you to give DPP a shot even if like me you tried it before and did not like it…. There is a good reason that Arash has a PhD!

The simplest and fastest way to order your copy of “The Digital Photo Professional RAW Conversion Guide” (DPP RCG) is through the BAA On-line Store by clicking here. Or, you can order your copy by sending a check for $15 made out to “Arthur Morris” to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Be sure to include your e-mail address (written legibly). If you prefer PayPal you can send $15 to us via e-mail; be sure to include the title of the eGuide.

This image of an adult White-tailed Kite was created by Arash Hazeghi with the hand held Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Telephoto lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the unfortunately discontinued EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 640: 1/3200 sec. at f/5.6.

This image was of course converted in DPP and processed further using the techniques detailed in Arash’s new eGuide, “The Professional Photographer’s Guide to Noise Reduction for EOS Cameras.” Note the superb detail and the beautiful smooth virtually noise-less background. If you want to have your socks knocked off, check out the bird’s talons in the HD sized version here.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2012: Arash Hazeghi.

Announcing “The Professional Photographer’s Guide to Noise Reduction for EOS Cameras” by Arash Hazeghi

The Professional Photographer’s Guide to Noise Reduction for EOS Cameras: $35

This 50-page eGuide includes many high-resolution examples, figures, and screen captures.

After learning to do RAW conversions in DPP with the The Digital Photo Professional RAW Conversion Guide, those who wish proceed to the next level, who wish to consistently obtain professional quality images that look impressive in both large prints and digital presentation, are directed to Arash’s advanced eBook, “The Professional Photographer’s Guide to Noise Reduction for EOS Cameras.”

This eGuide, which covers post-conversion noise reduction for EOS cameras, will help you improve the quality of your digital photographs over a wide ISO range. The techniques detailed in this guide approach both luminance noise reduction and sharpening in a scientific manner and are designed to help you produce the highest quality image files, files with maximum fine detail.

These techniques have been developed and refined after many years of dedicated work by Arash. The various steps in processing high-ISO images are explained clearly and in detail with many examples. You will learn to produce clean, noise free images with most modern EOS camera models at ISO 1600 and even at ISO 3200 and beyond with selected models. The 50-page eGuide is available in digital (PDF) format; it is sent via e-mail. It includes many high-resolution examples and figures. To order your copy, click here, send a check for $35 to BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855, or send a PayPal for $35 to us at birdsasart@verizon.net. After purchase, you will receive e-mail instructions for downloading it via YouSendIt.

NYC Seminar Door Prizes!

NYC Seminar Door Prizes!

Wow! We have put together a killer collection of door prizes for the NYC Seminar. If you live in the northeast and are not yet registered click here to join us and have a chance at winning some of the great and valuable loot below.

From ThinkTank: an Airport AirStream™ Rolling Camera Bag; meets all International carry- on regulations. A $324.75 value.
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You might also win a copy of The Art of Bird Photography II by Arthur Morris or a copy of A Guide to Pleasing Blurs by Arthur Morris and Denise Ipplito.

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5 comments to I Suck at Flight Photography. But…

  • avatar David Policansky

    Thanks, Artie. I find flying condors harder to get good photos of than flying hummingbirds. It is a great shot indeed. The Grand Canyon is a wonderful place to see and photograph California condors, and of course it’s just a wonderful place, period.

  • avatar Neill Crawford

    WOW…..!!!! You were right Artie, that HD image of the White-Tailed Kite is stunning…

  • As I told you , it´s the finest image of a Condor that I have ever seen , it has rich details and a very interesting pose of it´s head , we spent a very good time there at The Andes mountains. A big hug. Osvaldo.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks again my friend :). I will be in touch in January about our visit to Torres del Paine next year.

  • avatar Loi Nguyen

    I’d say this is a beautiful capture of a condor with rich details. I have been trying to capture images of the California Condors a few times, but have not been able to achieve such details. Well done!