Criminal Transformation? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Criminal Transformation?

This is the out of camera original image of a preening Roseate Spoonbill. It was created on the Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux IPT on the Saturday morning Hooptie Deux trip with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 stop as originally framed: 1/1000 sec. at f/10 in Manual Mode.

Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/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.

If you want spoonbills you need to get yourself on the Hooptie Deux. Canon users cannot beat the 600II/2XIII TC combo for reach (with phase detection AF).

The Original Capture

I made this image knowing full well that it would need extensive clean-up. For starters, I would need to lose the White Ibis and the bright out-of-focus yellow leaf between the two birds. That leaf was a real problem with virtually all of the images that I created with this wonderfully cooperative bird. In addition, I should have placed the bird farther back in the frame…. But the exposure was perfect, the image was sharp, and the pose was delectable.

This is the optimized image that was created from the original above.

If you want spoonbills you need to get yourself on the Hooptie Deux. Canon users cannot beat the 600II/2XIII TC combo for reach (with phase detection AF).

The Optimized Image

To create the optimized TIFF immediately above I converted the image in DPP adding just a bit of Contrast +1). In Photoshop I leveled the image using the Ruler Tool and the Straighten command. Then I used an 80% Opacity Clone Stamp Tool to eliminate the White Ibis and the yellow leaf. Additional background clean-up was done with the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and the Clone Stamp Tool. I blackened the BLACKS with a Selective Color Adjustment on a Layer and applied a round of Linear Contrast. Next I used the Quick Selection Tool to work on the face and bill. I lightened it, ran some NIK Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast and Detail Extractor, and applied a Contrast Mask (Unsharp Mask at 15/65/0). Then I moved the bird to our left using the techniques detailed in APTATS II. Lastly I used a small, reduced opacity Clone Stamp Tool to eliminate the pink reflections that touched the bottom frame edge. Did I miss anything?

Most of the rest above is described in detail in Digital Basics which includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips and techniques, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK basics, and free updates. Learn how and why I am converting all of my images in Canon DPP (Digital Photo Professional) in our DPP RAW Conversion Guide here.

Laslty, you can learn everything that I know about the great AF system of the 1D X in our 1D X AF Guide here.

Criminal Transformation?

Take a moment to let us know your thoughts on the extensive image clean-up that we did here. Do remember that when I enter a contest I follow the rules.

Jam Session I: Photoshop Video Tutorial

Jam Session I: Photoshop Video Tutorial: $9

On the first Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux Short Notice IPT we drove from St. Pete to my home in Indian Lake Estates for a chance to photograph Sandhill Crane chicks of various sizes. We succeeded admirably. See “What No Itinerary” here for the whole story.

After our morning photo session the group gathered in my office for a Photoshop session. I worked on one image from the previous morning and on one from that morning, the latter the image above. The session was recorded with Camtasia. We are offering you a chance to join the group and look right over my shoulder as I processed the images above and below. Techniques covered include the following: the RAW conversions in DPP, using Detail Extractor from NIK’s Color Efex Pro to bring up the detail in the ibis’s white feathers, creating and using Layer masks, and using the Quick Selection Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, and Content Aware Fill for image clean-up. Selective sharpening with a Contrast Mask, Background clean-up with a soft Clone Stamp Tool, cloning on a Layer, using Quick Masks, using Select/Color Range to make selections (including the little used Range slider), and lots more.

To order yours through the BAA store, click here. Or call Jim or Jen weekdays between 9am and 5pm (3pm on Fridays) at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Please leave a message in the rare event that we miss your call and we will get back to you. Easiest is to send us a Paypal for $9.00 to with the words “Jam Session I” cut and pasted into the subject line. Sorry, no checks are accepted for the MP4 videos.

Learn more about our MP4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos here. See the whole collection here.

All images courtesy of and copyright 2012: Denise Ippolito. Click for a larger version.

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Swan Island Dahlia Farm Instructional Photo-Tour, September 11-15, 2013: 5 FULL DAYS: $1649

Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm in Canby, Oregon (just south of Portland) for a great learning and photography experience. Swan Island features more than 40 acres with over 350 varieties of dahlias in a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes, making it one of the largest growers in the United States.

Daily Photo Schedule

We will enjoy four morning (7:00am till 10:30am) and five afternoon (3:30pm till 6pm) photography sessions. While we will do most of our photography at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm, we will also visit the Portland Rose Garden and/or the Portland Japanese Garden on this IPT. The in-the-field instruction will include seeing the situation, the use of selective focus, creative use of depth of field, histogram and exposure guidance, designing creative images, choosing your background, isolating your subject, lens options, and the use of reflectors and diffusers. Our field sessions will include challenging photography assignments geared to make you think creatively. Both personalized and small group instruction will be provided. All times are tentative and subject to change based on the weather and on local conditions.

Seminar Morning: Friday, September 13: 8:30am till 12:30pm

Denise will begin by presenting her “Bloomin’ Ideas” program, an overview of the in-the-field and post-processing techniques that she has used and developed over the past few years to create her signature look. Artie will follow with a Photoshop session that will be geared towards all levels. He’ll be sharing some of his favorite techniques and tips while working on images from the first two days of the IPT. Denise will conclude the seminar portion of the IPT with a Photoshop demo; she will share her creative workflow using a variety of Photoshop filters and effects. The entire morning is designed to give you a peek into the minds of two very skilled and creative folks.

The group will have lunch together daily. All are invited to bring their laptops for image sharing. We hope that you can join us for an intense five days of learning and some of the best flower photography to be had in North America.

Deposit Info and Cancellation Policies:

A $449 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. We will be short-handed in the office until January 21 so please leave a message and we will call you back. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail

Tanzania Photo Safari with Todd Gustafson and Arthur Morris

Africa/Tanzania/Serengeti Summer Migration Safari: 12 full and two half-days of photography: $12,999/person double occupancy. Limit: 12/Openings: 1.

Leaders: Todd Gustafson (he does use Nikon gear) and Arthur Morris. Leave the US AUG 3, 2013. Fly home from Arusha, Tanzania on the evening of August 18. Day 1 of the safari is August 5. Our last morning of photography is August 18. We will be visiting Tarangire National Park, Seronera Lodge–aka Leopard City!–twice, an exclusive mobile tented camp in the Serengeti, and at the end, the spectacular wildlife spectacle that is Ngorongoro Crater. Please e-mail for itinerary.

Please click here for complete IPT info.

Announcing the 2013 Bosque IPT/New Dates

BOSQUE del APACHE 2013 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 26-DEC 2, 2013. 7-FULL DAYS: $3399. Co-leader: Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 6:30 pm on 11/25. Limit: 12.

Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks including point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. This will make 19 consecutive Novembers at Bosque for me. Nobody knows the place better than I do. Join us to learn to think like a pro, to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather, especially the sky conditions, the light, and the wind direction. Every time we make a move we will let you know why. When you head home applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable. Includes all lunches and the Thanksgiving Buffet at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque. I hope that you can join me for what will be an unparalleled learning experience.

A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail

EOS-1D X AF Guide

You can learn exactly how I set up and use this camera’s great new AF system in our EOS-1D X AF Guide. And you can learn about our other camera User’s Guides here.

BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #437

>BIRDS AS ART Bulletin #437 is online and can be accessed here.

  • Jam Session: A Brand New MP4 Photoshop Tutorial Video
  • Criminal Transformation?
  • The Fort Desoto/Hooptie Deux–Roseate Spoonbill IPT Report
  • Announcing the 2013 Bosque IPT/New Dates
  • Affiliate Links
  • Alan Murphy’s “Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography”
  • Alan Murphy’s “The Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds”
  • Used Camera Gear
  • IPT Info


On all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. 🙂

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20 comments to Criminal Transformation?

  • Roger Williams

    Artie, why didn’t you simply crop out the ibis rather than using the various PhotoShop tools? In addition to removing the bird, it would have had the effect of moving the Spoonie back in the frame.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Sorry Roger, but your reasoning is incorrect… Think about it. artie

      • Roger Williams

        Would you please expand a bit on your response. My question has two parts. The first is the question of why not crop the unwanted bird from the frame. The “dead space” created by your PhotoShop solution doesn’t add much to the image IMO unless you wanted to retain the original 2×3 size.

        The second question involved the illusion of moving the bird back in the frame since the space at the right would be reduced by cropping.

        I’m learning and would appreciate you thoughts.

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Roger, I like 3X2. I want the bird back in the frame, more to our left. If I crop out the ibis the bird has less room to fly into the frame, and in fact, is more in the center. Just where I do not want it.

          There is no illusion involved. I moved the bird back in the frame….

          I would strongly recommend that you get the two book combo and studying the Composition chapter in ABP and Advanced Composition chapter in ABP II as it seems that you are unaware of the basic principles involved.

  • Artie, you always caption your images with the camera settings and many times give extensive explanations of how you got from RAW capture to final image. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with all your followers.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks John for recognizing that. The important thing is to share the metering pattern and the compensation. Nearly all magazines say something like “1/250 sec. at f/8.” Folks learn absolutely nothing from such info…..

  • As far as criminal or not? Who cares? It’s my image and I can do whatever I want with it. If a UFO appears in it and I feel the need to take it out, I’m taking it out. As long as I’m honest when stating these facts, there should be no problem.

    Of course on the other side of the coin is adding to the image. For that one, I have the same feelings with the exception being if the image was used in a contest. For that I’d say no way. But for situations where it’s for my personal use, if I want to add a UFO and I’m upfront about it, I’m gonna do it.

    As far as the spoonbill…it could be my eyes, but it looks like the reflection just ends in the water with the way it’s cropped (this is the modified version). It just looks strange to me to see that small reflection then water at the bottom.


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Doug, As for your comments on the reflection, see my reply to Mitch below 🙂

      • Sorry about that. Normally I do a print screen and enlarge it in Photoshop to get a closer view, which I obviously didn’t do this time. But I do see it now. These new bifocals of mine are killing me also, its almost like I have to learn to see all over again 🙂


  • Mitch Haimov

    Mornin’, Artie.

    I generally don’t have philosophical problems with your image clean up work; I think staying true to the natural history of the moment is a good guide. I also understand–from an image design perspective–why you chose to remove the portion of the reflection from the bottom of the image. However, I do not care for the resulting mini-reflection as it does not look at all natural to me. Unlike some images, it is easy to see what part of the spoonbill corresponds to each bit of the reflection. You have written elsewhere about how good image doctoring leaves no trace. I see clear evidence of your clone stamp work here in the truncated reflection.

    The other element that detracts from this image for me is the position of the transition from shadowed BG to sunlit BG right along the top of your subject’s head. While I generally prefer the camera-down-in-the-muck, eye-level perspective, I think elevating the tripod a bit would have improved this image by moving that transition up away from the head and surrounding your sunlit subject with a contrasting dark BG. It also would have given you a bit more reflection in the frame without changing the placement of the spoonbill. I don’t know if it would have been enough to make you happy with the reflection leaving the frame, but perhaps.

    As always, thanks for sharing your images and your workflow tips (both in the field and at the computer)!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Mitch, I too will be frank. Your comments on the reflection ending too soon are ridiculous. If you look at the original image you can see that the reflection ends in spots and then continues depending on the texture of the stuff in the water. In addition I see zero Clone Stamp Tool marks anywhere. Your comments clearly fall into the “Everyone’s a Photoshop genius after the facts are revealed category.”

      As for your 2nd paragraph comments, do note that the lighting was even. The lighter stuff at the top are the mangroves. I do agree that getting the tripod just a bit higher would have been a bit better. I actually varied my approach there.

      • Mitch Haimov


        I did not mean to suggest that I see clone stamp artifacts. I meant that the I could detect your doctoring work in what appears to me as an unnaturally small reflection. I certainly make no claims to be a Photoshop expert. I do understand that ripples etc. do cause reflections to start and stop. IMHO does not look like that here. I generally love and am inspired by your work. Just one guy’s opinion, but this image does not seem to be up to your high standards. But we all know what opinions are worth. Thanks for responding.


        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Mitch, With all due respect, had you not seen the original all would have looked perfectly natural. That is what I was referring to when I mention “after the fact experts.” 🙂

  • George Cottay

    Ken Kovak said it for me.

  • harvey Tabin

    You are still a school teacher. Thanks for the corrections. I could never spell very well. I guess am a Mangler.

    I have always appreciated your captures ( photographs ) or whatever. Talent is talent.


  • Hi Artie,

    Frankly, I never have understood the fuss over digitally enhancing a photograph (or an image or a capture….). As I assume most people doing this sort of photography are doing it to create images that are pleasing and wonderful to look at, why leave in the things that are distracting, etc.

    Of course if one is doing journalism or doing a documentary the the “enhancements” are not appropriate. Following the rules of a contest is also necessary.

    So in my opinion the digital work has taken a nice picture of the spoonbill and transformed it into a beautiful rendition of a beautiful bird. What’s wrong with that?


  • harvey Tabin

    I notice that the word photograph is no longer used. In it’s place I have seen the word capture. Do does that mean that you are no longer a photographer? Are you now a capturer?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I use the word photograph often. Same goes for the word image. I consider myself a photographer. If I was a dog catcher I guess that I would consider myself a capturer….

      I fixed two typos in your short comment; are you a word mangler?