Two Drake Harlequin Duck Images; So Many Lessons « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Drake Harlequin Duck Images; So Many Lessons

This image was created on the Barnegat Jetty IPT (things are going great) with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the bird’s eye and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Two Drake Harlequin Duck Images; So Many Lessons

This (and a young male harlequin) were the first birds that we encountered on our first afternoon at jetty. A really nice guy named Jim (from 2 hours away in NJ, with Canon gear) was already on the birds so we were very careful as we joined him. He was quite gracious filling us on the on the latest Barnegat info. I spoke very softly. The handsome bird slept peacefully for about five minutes until a second adult male swan up to the rock vocalizing and woke the gorgeous adult above up. It posed for a minute or so and then the original two hopped off the rock into the inlet. Party over.

Note the effective use of rear focus in the image above. I focused on the eye and recomposed placing the bird will on the right side of the image while making sure to get the complete yellow chunk of rock in the frame on the lower left.

This image was also created on the Barnegat Jetty IPT (things are going great) with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR . ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/2o0 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the bird’s eye and re-compose. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

A cloud covered the already somewhat muted sun so I opened up from f/10 to f/8 and dropped the shutter speed from 1/320 to 1/200 sec. and checked the histogram; it was perfect with just a few blinkies on the bright white markings. By living with a few easily recovered highlights I ensured lots of detail in the darker feather tracts. Next I focused on the eye and recomposed, this time with the bird on the left side of the frame giving it room to look and see into its world. Note that with the sleeping bird I placed the subject on the right side of the frame again with lots of room to look and see into its world.

Note the pretty much perfect head angle with the drake’s head turned about 4 degrees towards us.

Image Clean-Up & NIK

Image clean-up as usual with the Spot Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, and a small Quick Mask or too, all as described in detail in Digital Basics, the best $20 you’ll ever spend on photography. Digital Basics is a PDF that is sent via e-mail. It contains my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, all of my customized Keyboard Shortcuts, and free updates.

Tonal Contrast and Detail Extractor on separate layers and then painted in on the bird and the rocks as desired using a Hide-All mask. See “Layer Masking for Dummies” in Digital Basics.


When I compared the two images of the same duck, I noticed that the background of the sleeping duck was much darker than the background of the duck after it woke up. I was puzzled as to how to lighten the background only without doing lots of masking. I asked Denise Ippolito who answered immediately, “Viveza.” Brilliant. Denise has an incredible mind for solving image optimization problems.

I brought the image into Viveza, opened a control point in the upper left part of the image, sized it, and slid the Brightness slider to the right and the Structure slider to the left. Then I duplicated the control point (Control D), re-sized it after moving it to the right, and repeated that process until the entire background was covered nicely. Voila! You can note the lighter softer final version in the animated GIF above.

NIK 15% Discount

As regular readers here know, NIK Color Efex Pro has drastically changed my digital workflow and little by little I have begun using Viveza to solve sticky image optimization problems. You can save 15% on all NIK products (including Color Efex Pro and Viveza) 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.

Suggested Holiday Shopping

Shop Amazon

Consider doing all of your shopping using the search link below. You’ll be getting the same low prices and great service that you are accustomed to and at the same time, supporting my efforts in the Bulletins and on the Blog to bring you great images, timely product news and info, and tons of free educational articles on an almost daily (and sometimes almost back-breaking) basis 🙂 Just type your search in the little white box and hit Go.

Tim Laman’s Amazing Birds of Paradise book

Lens Clens

[Not a valid template]

Great for your all your gear cleaning needs from the front elements of your lenses, filters, the outer surfaces of your lenses and camera bodies, and even your laptop and computers screens.

“The Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds”

Alan Murphy taught the world to create killer images at backyard set-ups in his 106 page eBook, “Guide to Songbird Set-Up Photography.” In his latest effort, “The Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds,” he has out-done himself. As I proofread this new e-Book for readability, I was amazed not only by the images, but by Alan’s innovative and creative techniques. Heck, in many cases, I was stunned by his cleverness. Click on the logo-link below to get your copy. (PayPal payments accepted.)

Buy Now

Weekend Creative Nature Photography Seminar, Tampa, FL: February 23 & 24, 2013: $149 Limit: 50/Openings: 45

Join Denise Ippolito and me on the weekend of February 23-24 on the outskirts of Tampa, FL for a great weekend of fun and learning. Learn to improve your photography skills, your skill at designing images in the field, your creative vision, and your image optimization skills. Sunday critiquing session. Click here for additional details and the complete schedule.

Shopper’s Guide

Thanks a stack to all who have used our B&H affiliate 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.

Shop B&H

B&H Photo Video Pro Audio

photography Pro Audio Computers and Solutions Portable Entertainment Home Entertament photography

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins. We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of the links above. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

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….
Gizo GT3532 LS CF Tripod. This one replaces the GT3530LS Tripod and will last you a lifetime. Learn more about this great tripod here.
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.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.
Delkin Flash Cards. I use and depend on Delkin compact Flash Cards and card readers most every day. Learn more about their great 700X and 1000X cards here or about my favorite Delkin card here.

4 comments to Two Drake Harlequin Duck Images; So Many Lessons

  • Looking very relaxed there Artie!! Noelle and I may head down there in the next few days. Thanks for sharing and very happy you found your card. If you didn’t I was going to take a look for you when we go 🙂


  • avatar Faraaz

    Beautiful images, I love the textures on the rocks. Looks like you got some nice diffused light too!

  • avatar Chris Cooke

    A very happy festive season to you and your family Artie, and may you all have a safe and prosperous New Year.

    Thanks again for the pleasure and help that you selflessly give to so many of us.

    May your God keep you safe and well for 1013

    Chris Cooke and family.

  • I love the resting pose and the crystal clear eye!