A Fly Oh My! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Fly Oh My!

BAA Bulletin #446

BAA Bulletin #446 is on-line and may be accessed here.

The biggest news is the announcement of the South Florida Composite IPT–join us for some or all!

There are of course lots of great images each with our legendary educational captions. Here is a list of the features.

  • Nickerson Baby Beach Nesting Birds IPT Report
  • 2-Day Creative Adventure Nickerson Beach Workshop with Denise Ippolito
  • Announcing the 2014 South Florida Composite IPT
  • On The Road Again
  • Bucket List: the July 2015 Galapagos Photo-Cruise
  • The BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Contest
  • Expanding Your Creative Vision Nature Photography Seminar
  • Shooters Gallery Photography Group, Salem, CT Event
  • Photographic Society of Chattanooga Seminar
  • Affiliate Links
  • IPT Info

The original Flightless Cormorant image was created with the hand held Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the internal TC in place at 519mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/7.1.

Two sensors to the right of the central sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s face active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
With tight head portraits it is imperative to be perfectly square to the subject to avoid depth-of-field problems where the face is sharp and the bill towards the tip not.

A Fly Oh My!

I opened the “Hand Held Photography with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender” blog post the other day, with a very nice head portrait of a yawning Flightless Cormorant. While reviewing my images from that day, I came across the image below. In a playful mood, I placed the fly from the image below on its own layer via a Quick Mask and placed it on its own layer. Then I used the Move Tool (V) to bring the fly into the image above. The tonalities of the background did not quite match so I hit Control M (Curves on a Layer) and used the up and down arrow keys to match the tonality along the border of the layer as closely as possible. Then I added a Regular Layer Mask, hit B, D, X, and refined the mask.

All of the above as detailed in Digital Basics. Digital Basics is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips including Digital Eye Doctor techniques, several different ways of expanding canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, creating and using time-saving Actions, and tons more.

This Flightless Cormorant image was created with the same gear used to create the opening image above. As the bird jerked its head trying to catch the fly during the exposure, the image is unacceptably soft. The somewhat blurred fly at the top center of the frame caught my eye.

Whaddya Think?

Take a moment to leave a comment and let me know what you think of my creation? And of my Photoshop work. Is it wrong to do stuff like this in Photoshop? Be sure to let us know why either way.

IPT Info

There is lots of room on the Bosque IPT and on the Holland tulip trip. Complete details on the late January/early February 2013 Florida Composite IPT will be announced in the next BAA Bulletin. It will give a select few folks the opportunity to spend 10 days with Denise Ippolito and me and will give lots of others a chance to get a taste of a shorter IPT with two great leaders at an attractive price. Info For complete IPT info, please click here.

Bucket List?

If visiting the Galapagos is on your bucket list and you are a happy camper who is serious about joining us on our July 2015 trip, please shoot me an e-mail and ask to be placed on the interested list. There simply is no better Galapagos Photo Tour.

On The Road Again

Please know that I will be traveling to and from the Africa for the Tanzania Photo Safari with Todd Gustafson leaving today, August 1 and back in the office on August 21. I will have extremely limited and very slow at best internet access so please do not e-mail me until I get back. Jim will be in the office every weekday to help you with your mail order purchases and Jen will be here handling IPT registrations. The blog will continue to be active as I have prepared a dozen interesting, brand new educational posts for you in advance for you to enjoy during my absence.

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If you have a gear, image processing, or other question please e-mail me after July 19th. You can reach Jim here via e-mail. You can reach Jennifer here via e-mail. Please type “JIM” or “JEN” respectively at the front of the Subject Line.


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23 comments to A Fly Oh My!

  • avatar Ruth Schueler

    There is an important question that I cannot answer: Do cormorants eat flies? As far as I know cormorants eat fish. What I am trying to say was that the fly was just there, maybe irritating the bird. In this case the picture would give the viewer the wrong impression, that the bird was interested in the fly as food.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I had an important question for you below; perhaps you missed it:

      Do you ever remove even a small distracting element from your images, even a tiny one?

      As far as the birds actually eating the flies, I do not know. But it is obvious by looking at the second image, that they do snap at the flies that are irritating them so the image with the fly added is arguably possible.

      In any case, you are missing the fact that I wanted to make folks smile while being upfront and honest about the image.

      Please do answer my question above. artie

  • avatar Jerry Turner

    Your blog is titled Birds as ART. Art can be defined as the “creativity of man as distinguished from the world of nature” or “the product of imagination and creativity.” If you don’t apply creativity and imagination to your images, you’re creating documentaries, not art. Artists in other fields don’t feel compelled to show everything the exact way it is seen nor to tell the world what he or she changed. Why do so many photographers feel compelled to do so? Just give the world a beautiful image and let it be enjoyed. Why should anyone care if a fly really was above the bill or about to be gobbled if it makes you smile?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I get your point and agree in part. But what I do is also nature photography and I feel an obligation to let folks know if what they are looking at is not what I saw through the viewfinder. I try to be true to the natural history of the moment. If not, I let folks know.

  • avatar Andy McCullough

    It’s well done and I’m sure was fun to create. Seeing I initially viewed the final image and thought that it was ” real” , I must admit I was disappointed after I read the post. It went from absolutely awesome to good work.

  • avatar Mike Ewanus

    Yes, it is wrong.

  • I think you should’ve put the dolphin in there instead 🙂


  • I think the image is fun and no one got hurt! As long as you disclose what you’ve done,there is no harm. It made me smile 🙂

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Mike and agree. Might or might not but there are some slightly darker blotches throughout the BKGR.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Keith, Is that mark intended to be nasty? artie

  • Artie,

    Whew… At least I do not have to try to interpret whether or not you “cut and paste” something into this photo. I was getting flashbacks about the “flying dolphin”! Ha!

    Use of a tool to create an image or piece of art or to alter the content is okay. It’s part of our world. We just need to be honest about what we are representing in our work. A photo of a mountain lion may have been taken in a controlled environment and that’s okay. Just don’t tell people it was not in an enclosure. But you know what really makes this a complicated mess? Intent… if your intent was to invoke an emotion or vision though your medium, then whether you painted, penciled, carved, photographed, digitally created, or what have you…Then really no one should care unless they are trying to push their own ideals onto others? We should go with your saying…Love what is! (and I do not care that you borrowed this saying because you told us you did)

    And your photoshop work looks flawless.Nice work ;>)


  • avatar John Goldman

    It’s your image, you may do whatever you want to it. I can like or dislike it.
    You may not be dishonest and deny any alterations.
    I like what you have done here. I especially like your telling me that you have altered the original capture.

  • I love it! I think it takes a good eye to create a composite image and this example illustrates what is possible when one look at the possibilities based on the set of pictures taken at a given time versus limiting oneself to one shot. It is a way to push creativity one step further. In my opinion, there should be few limits to Art!! Why think only inside the box?

  • avatar George Cottay

    From my perspective, the use of manipulation depends on the intent of the shot. If it is for purposes of photojournalism any change beyond adjusting exposure is always questionable, even a crop. That does not mean that an ethical news shooter will not make changes but rather s/he will be very conservative with the objective of seeing the story as it would have been seen if we were there. On the other extreme, an art photographer will have the objective of presenting his or her vision with highly variable attention to what may have been observed when the shutter is actuated. Since we are talking about “Birds as Art” it seems the changes Artie makes are very restrained.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks George. With most photojournalism, you can get fired for changing a single pixel…

  • avatar Ruth Schueler

    Artie, this is certainly well done, but I do not quite agree, maybe I am old fashioned, but I still am of the opinion all these possibilities with photoshop etc. should only be used to improve te picture, not to change it. On the other hand you also remove objects which like branches or other birds for the sake of a good compsition.
    I photograph is actually a documentation what happened exactly the moment you pressed the shutter, and the fly was not there….

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good for you. What I have done here is chosen to have fun, and to be upfront as to what I did.

      Do you ever remove even a small distracting element from your images, even a tiny one?

  • Artie, Unless the image is intended to be used in journalism, which has specific editing standards, I have no trouble with what you have done so long as you are honest about it (which, obviously, you have been). So far as how well you blended the tonalities, I MIGHT be able to see a difference in tonality around the fly, but that is just as likely to be a result of your question suggesting such a possibility. Regardless, the placement was certainly done very well, and I like the effect.