How Would You Do It? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

How Would You Do It?


This Cheetah image was created on the Serengetti plains near our Mobile Tented Camp at the Mara River, Tanzania with the Todd-Pod mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/5000 sec. at f/4 in Av Mode.

One sensor to the right of the central Sensor AI Servo Surround rear focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial.


As fate would have it, a lark–I believe–flew into the frame just as the shutter opened. To boot, the bird offered up a nice wings full up pose. The problem was that the bird was just a bit too close to the frame edge.


This image was created from the original image above with the Todd-Pod mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the Canon EOS-1D X Digital SLR camera. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/5000 sec. at f/4 in Av Mode.

One sensor to the right of the central Sensor AI Servo Surround rear focus AF active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.


There are many ways to do most tasks in Photoshop. There are many ways to move the bird in the original image away from the frame-edge. How would you move the bird away from the frame edge?

Why did I choose and AF sensor one to the right of the central sensor?

What else did I do during the image optimization process in Photoshop? There were three major changes; you may need to view the larger images to detect the third of those.


Avistar Patagonia. the Bird Photography Workshop

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17 comments to How Would You Do It?

  • avatar Nancy Bell

    The front part of the underwings of a Banded Martin are white. Does anyone else have an idea?

  • avatar Steve

    Nice photo. One thing that I might have done that you didn’t: blurred the grasses far in front of the cheetah. Perhaps behind too. This would remove the strong focal plane effect and leave the cat sitting on an island of sharp grasses. I’ve done this in a couple pictures and the overall effect can be strong. Steve

  • What a cool moment to capture, especially with the cheetah checking out the bird as it flew by him/her. Had the cat not been looking at the bird, I would agree to clone it out, but that’s not the case and it makes for an interesting photo.

    PS technique I would use, but there are many ways to do it – (1) mask the bird, copy to new layer (2) use content aware fill to wipe out bird (3) add new canvas to right side [with content aware fill – can’t remember if you can do that or not], or (4) use content aware fill to add more grass, touch up with healing brush as needed (5) add bird back into completed image (6) re-crop as needed

  • Super image, Art! Regarding the last question, the three major things you did besides move the bird, lighten and/or gave it more contrast, cropped on the bottom and left edge and sharpened, improved the eyes.

  • avatar Geoff

    I don’t use PS so I can’t give my way of moving the bird but whatever you did worked flawlessly. As far as other PS work. You have cropped in from the bottom left, removing a bit of the OOF foreground and moving the cat further left in the frame. You removed a darker grass spot on the far right of frame about halfway up the frame and a few more above the cat’s back. Otherwise increasing the contrast and saturation slightly to give a bit more punch.

    The AF point to the right of centre would have fallen on the cat’s head so you didn’t have to recompose but kept the cat to the left of the frame for better composition.

    Great image.

  • avatar Doug

    Using the FP to the right of center you could focus on the face and take the photo without recomposing. If you used the center or a left FP you’d risk clipping the tail unless you recomposed but then you’d risk losing focus if it decides to move out. Using a FP further right you’d risk crowding the Cheetah against the right of the frame especially if the cat moves out.

    I think the 3 major adjustments include 1) Increasing contrast which darkened the black spots, warmed the overall tone, and sharpened the image. 2) Brought out the eye detail. 3) Cropped some from the left edge.

  • avatar Les Greenberg

    Why not use the content aware move tool?

  • avatar Carol Ryan

    The cheetah is so spectacular that I find the bird distracting. I would crop it out.

    • avatar Herman Hiel

      I second this one.

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Cropping the bird out would destroy the compositional balance. If you wanted to get rid of it you could cover it with a Quick Mask or use the Patch Tool. artie

        ps: I like the bird a lot :).

  • Did you use the patch tool with Content Aware? the bird is so perfectly placed into the background, which looks unchanged, that CA must have blended the grass beautifully.
    One sensor to the right of center would catch the cat’s neck. Since you were using surround, the focus would fasten on the face since that was closest to you.
    1 warmed it up by moving the color temperature in DPP to more yellow?
    2 used Nik detail extractor and contrast to sharpen the cat’s spots?
    3 took out a dark spot just above the cat’s back

    Did you mean “To boot, the bird offered up a nice wings full up pose.”

    Thanks so much for the teaching again. Very helpful

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Did not use CA. Yes obviously to wings up. Thanks for catching my brain typo: fixed it.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    It would be easy to move by selecting the area around the bird, copying to a new layer and moving it. Then clone/heal any problem areas. However, I think it detracts from the image and I would clone it out completely.

  • I would use quick masking techniques to move the bird.Since the background is already blurred, there should be little or no trouble getting the moved item to blend in.

  • avatar Loren Charif

    1. Moving the bird: I would have either placed the bird on its own layer and then moved it left, OR, add canvas to the right side then Content Aware Fill to fill the new, empty space.

    2. I believe you eliminated some canvas on the left side to move everything to the left and to maintain the aspect ratio after adding canvas to the right.

    3. Looks like you used some Detail Extractor

    4. AF sensor one to the right of the central sensor to focus on the closest (right) eye of the Cheetah.

  • avatar Nancy Bell

    A super lovely image of a cheetah in the grasses! For image optimization I believe you sharpened the cheetah and the grasses at the same distance, you lightened the eyes, you added a bit of warmth to the colors and you selected the bird and moved it to its present location and repaired the disturbed areas with various cloning methods. That is the way I would move this bird since the bkgd is simple with very little detail making it easy to blend the changes. Also you do not need any more space to the right and that is what you would get if you added a strip of canvas. You also cropped a bit from the left. It is possible the bird is a pratincole and not a lark.