Keep or Delete? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Keep or Delete?

And The Streak Continues…

I began working on this and the next post at about 4:30am Japan time on Wednesday. That works out to 2:30pm on Tuesday in Florida and New York. Why up so early with nothing to do? We were supposed to leave at 5:30am this morning to photograph the swans and then continue on to Rausu to do the sea eagles. But the roads to both Kussharo and Rausu are closed because of the wonderful snow storm. 🙂

This post marks 82 straight days with a new educational blog post, a record by far that should be extended for at least another day or so, or not. Or more…. It appears that our lodge has great internet. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask that use our B&H and Amazon affiliate links for all of your B&H and Amazon purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store. We sell only what I use and depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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Today’s blog post took 1 1/2 hours to prepare. Enjoy.


This Red-crowned Crane flight image was created at 12:43pm during the Day 4 blizzard on the Japan in Winter IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the white sky: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Color temperature: Custom Pre-set that turned out to be a bit warm.

The sensor below the Central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF just caught the top of the bird’s head and was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Keep or Delete?

It’s a simple question: keep or delete? It was one that is made at least hundreds, sometimes thousands of times each day as we sort through our images. Would you keep or delete the image above? Be sure to let us know why. If the former, how would you go about optimizing it?

Related Questions

Is the image above over-exposed?

Can you age the bird in the photo?

The Answers

I will be back tomorrow with all the answers.

Holland 2014 7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. April 17-April 24, 2014: $4995 Limit: 12/Openings: 5

Act soon: this trip is a go and is filling quickly.

Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus and one of the planet’s premier photographic educators for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2014. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 17, 2014. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Most days we will return to the hotel for lunch, image sharing and a break. On Day 8, April 24, we will enjoy both morning and afternoon photography sessions.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse. In addition we will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and the Anne Frank House in the afternoon; there will be plenty of time for street photography as well. And some great food. On another day we will have a wonderful early dinner at Kinderdijk and then head out with our gear to photograph the windmills and possibly some birds for those who bring their longs lenses. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Edam where we will do some street photography and enjoy a superb dinner. All lodging, ground transportation, entry fees, and meals (from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 7) are included. For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two.

Click here for additional info or to register.


Join me for the 2014 Tanzania Summer Safari!

2014 Tanzania Summer Safari, 14-day African Adventure/leave the US on August 9. Fly home on August 24: $12,999.

Co-leaders Todd Gustafson & Arthur Morris. The limit is 12. Three photographers/van; you get your own row of seats. Our trip is a bit more expensive than the average safari for good reason. It is the best. We have the best driver guides with a total of decades of experience. They have been trained over the years by Todd and by me to drive with photography in mind. We have the best and most knowledgeable leaders. We stay in the best lodges and camps. We hope that you will join us for what will be Todd’s 35th African safari, and my 8th.

If you are seriously interested please e-mail me; I will be glad to send you the illustrated PDF with the complete itinerary and deposit info.

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•Pre-trip consultation and camera equipment advice
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•Specially designed three roof-hatch photo safari vehicles
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•Post-safari image critiques

All-inclusive (double-occupancy) except for your flights to and from Kilamajaro Airport, bar drinks, soda & water (except at the Intimate Tented Camp where everything is free for our entire stay), tips for drivers and camp staff, personal items, and trip insurance.


Breathe deeply, bite the bullet, and live life to its fullest; we all get only one ride on the merry-go-round… Join me on this great trip.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Southern Ocean…

If you would like to explore the possibility of joining me on the Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris Antarctica/The Extended Expedition Voyage< trip: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands: December 13, 2014 to January 10, 2015, click here for additional information and then shoot me an e-mail.

The DPP RAW Conversion Guide

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IPT Info

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14 comments to Keep or Delete?

  • Joel Eade

    Just looking at the image without the histogram one may be tempted to delete it. As you have written, many times a properly exposed image will appear “washed out” prior to optimization. I believe that to be the case here. The histogram looks perfect, nothing clipped and data in the far right side so it’s a keeper unless you are unhappy with the pose. Maybe you have better images already in the can and choose not to spend time on this one due to the pose but I would not delete it based on the exposure alone.

    The image could be optimized in several ways. I might begin with highlight/shadow adjustment followed by a levels adjustment layer and possibly a selective color layer as well to add some blacks to the whites. If needed a touch of Nik Detail extractor on a separate layer can also be used to bring some detail in the whites, adjust the opacity as needed of course.

  • Ted Willcox

    Keep it!! It doesn’t look over exposed. if it was over exposed, I don’t believe you would ask keep or delete. I am looking forward to see the optimized image.

  • Sarah Mayhew

    Knowing your hit rate and the number of photos you take, I would probably delete this image, not because of the exposure, but because of the fact that the crane looks almost headless. I bet you have other images where the head and neck are showing. The wing spread is beautiful though. If for some reason you didn’t have other similar images with head and neck included, I would keep it. Love the softness of the image (would tweek somewhat) and also the trees as a backdrop. What a fabulous place to photograph, wish I could afford a trip there. Love seeing the images from this trip!

  • Hi Artie, my first post after many years of lurking. I did, however, join you and Denise at the Canon sponsored IPT at Anhinga Trail last year and learned so much. Your Red-crowned Cranes in snow series touches a deep chord. I have long admired the Japanese prints of Ohara Koson (aka Shoson) of birds and flowers, especially birds. I wonder if you are familiar with his prints? They were produced in the early to middle 1900s and primarily for a Western market. For me at least, your cranes in snow have the serenity, grace and composition that make his work so special. Search Shoson Cranes Descending or Shoson Cranes Seashore for a few examples. Thanks very much for your great photos and for sharing so freely. Jim Miller

  • If there’s any doubt, then keep it.
    Snow storms and fog greatly diminish contrast, so to me the shot seems properly exposed or close.
    Those conditions can also generate more brightness than perceived.
    You can manipulate until kingdom come, but it all depends on what you want as an end result?
    Do you want it to look as it originally appeared or embellished to look prettier or more appealing…
    or somewhere in between?

  • Certainly a delete! …but only in my own trash box on my computer! As often as you wish : no problem.
    Seriously, I would certainly keep it : a trip to Japan is so expensive! so the pictures are certainly worth keeping. In this particular case, I would do auto-contrast and see what would the result look like. But I like the BG that fits, because of the leaves in the trees, the imagery of a Japanese art work.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • I don’t think it is overexposed, the background would be too dark if you would not have done the 2 1/3 stop extra. It needs more contrast and reduced highlights, increased blacks. Assuming you can get the exposure of the crane right it will be a beautiful picture that I would love to have. Is the crane in its 2nd year?

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Keep or delete is a very personal decision, I think, and for me it’s based in part on what I already have in my folders. Every time I go to Bosque, for example, I delete some old images because I get new ones that are similar but better. I would keep this one because I have no images like it and I love images with a bird and snow. Also it’s a good action shot; it’s sharp. I don’t think it’s overexposed because I can see some detail even in the whites. I’m worse than a novice at PP but I’d use curves to make the dark areas and perhaps the background stand out better. The only thing I can say about the crane is that it seems to have no red cap. That would make me guess that it’s a young one. Or maybe a very old one that’s gone white? 🙂

  • KEEP. With some adjustments in exposure, contrast, blacks I’m sure it be a great-looking image.

  • If I could get the bill the stand out from the black wing, I would keep. But I didn’t succeed in a few minutes of trying.

    Is the image above over-exposed? Not in general for me. I like the background exposure. I’d try Nik detail extractor to get more black into just the bird to get it to stand out from the background. Didn’t really try but selection of the bird may be very difficult. Nik didn’t work in the few minutes I tried it, Neither did just darkening the bill. Tried Levels on the bird a bit also.

    Can you age the bird in the photo? Don’t know enough about cranes to age

    I’ll bet, Artie, that you have a way to optimize this that will work.

  • I’d apply a Shadows/Highlight adjustment before I’s decide.

  • Keep. I’m basing that answer on something similiar that happened
    to you last year, but with two monkees (sorry, don’t know what
    they’re really called). That one was in the fog. With this one
    being in the snow, I’d guess you’d try close to the same steps
    you used last year to recover…setting you white and dark points
    and boosting the contrast, for starters.