Keep It…. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Keep It....

And The Streak Continues…

I began working on this post at about 6:30am Japan time on Wednesday after I finished yesterday’s blog post. That works out to 4:30pm on Tuesday in Florida and New York. We will be having breakfast at 8:00am.

This post marks 83 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 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 It…

Yesterday I posted the image above and asked, “Keep or delete?”

My answer: “Keep it!” See below for the image optimization and the final result.

Related Questions

Is the image above over-exposed?

No, not at all; it is properly exposed. The histogram is well to the right with the bulk of the data in the 5th or rightmost histogram box. There are no blinkies and there were no RGB values above 235 when I brought the image into Photoshop. In fact, I actually lightened the image a bit during the RAW conversion in DPP. Yes, lightened.

Can you age the bird in the photo?

I learned from our guide, Makoto, that birds with red crowns and the primaries outlined in black are 2-year old birds.


This is the “Before” screen capture with the Levels dialogue box open.


The key to bringing both snow and fog images that are properly exposed back to life is to set the white and black points using a Levels adjustment. Most folks simply do not realize that properly exposed digital files made in the aforementioned conditions hold such great potential–do see the optimized image below.


This is the “After” screen capture with the Levels dialogue box open.

The Levels Technique

Grab the Highlight slider, the tiny white triangle on the right, with your cursor. Hold down the ALT key. Move the slider to the left until the first blinkies appear. Then back off slowly until they disappear. Next grab the Shadow slider, the small black triangle on the left, hold down the ALT key, and move the slider to the right until the first splotches appear and then back off slowly until they disappear. You have now set the white and black points. Lastly, you might opt to move the middle tone slider, the grey triangle, a bit to the right to taste to deepen the middle and black tones a bit.


This is the optimized image.

The Optimized Image

Once I set the white and blacks points as described above, I used an Average Blur color correction, upped the Vibrance about 50 points to bring the leaves to life, and ran a contrast mask on the face to sharpen it. All including the Levels adjustments are as described in my Digital Basics File. as detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Digital Basics includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, my killer image clean-up techniques, Digital Eye Doctor, and lots more.

Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount with phone orders only. Learn advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount with phone orders only. by the pair, APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only.


If you’d like to learn from the two folks who created the images in the composite above do consider one of the trips below. Denise Ippolito’s images: Japanese leaf painting, skimmer in flight, curved Keukenhof paths with tulips, copulating terns, & pink dahlia. Artie’s images: Snow Geese snowstorm blur, crane landing silhouettes, Leopard with prey in tree, King Penguin, & vertical tulip.

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours (IPTs)/Two great leaders: Arthur Morris & Denise Ippolito.

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART for the latest images, info, & education
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Denise’s e-books: Bloomin’ Ideas, A Guide to Filters & Effects, The Softer Side of Macro, & more. Free Monthly Creative MiniMag:

Nickerson Baby Beach-nesting Birds IPT, Long Island, NY: 3-Full Days/July 22-24, 2014: $1199.

Black Skimmers, Common Terns with chicks, American Oystercatcher & Piping Plover families; breeding behaviors including courtship feeding, display flight and combat, and copulations. Gulls and shorebirds.

UK Puffins IPT. Early July, 2014.

Details TBA. Please e-mail to be placed on the interested list.

Tanzania Serengeti Summer Safari: Leave US: August 9—return: August 24, 2014: $12,999.

Co-leaders: Arthur Morris & Todd Gustafson. Wildebeest/The Great Migration, cats, elephant, giraffe, zebra, birds & more. Please e-mail for brochure.

Swan Island Dahlia Farm IPT, Canby, OR, September 8-12, 2014: 5 FULL DAYS: $1699.

Leader: Denise Ippolito. 40 acres with 350+dazzling varieties of dahlias in a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes. Sharpen your technical skills and boost your creative juices. Daily assignments, image sharing, and Photoshop sessions.

Bosque del Apache 2014 A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART “Creative Photography Instructional Photo-Tour.” (IPT). NOV 24-25, 2014. 2-FULL DAYS: $729.

Leaders: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/23. This IPT is perfect for folks who want to learn to think outside the box, to create new and different images. Learn to unleash your creative juices at the wondrous Bosque del Apache, NWR in San Antonio, NM.

Bosque del Apache 2014 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). NOV 29-DEC 3, 2014. Totaling 4 FULL-DAYS: $1449

Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito. Introductory Slide program: 7:00pm on Sunday 11/29. Tens of thousand of Snow Geese, 10,000 Sandhill Cranes, ducks, amazing sunrises, sunsets, and blast-offs. Live, eat, and breathe photography with two of the world’s premier photographic educators at one of their very favorite photography locations on the planet.

Antarctica/The Extended Expedition Voyage: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands: December 13, 2014 to January 10, 2015.

Please e-mail for details.

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14 comments to Keep It….

  • Beautifully optimized. So the color correction which also lightened the yellow in the bill was the solution for getting the bill to show more–not darkening it as I was thinking.

  • avatar Bobby Perkins

    “It’s good to know that LR is good for something :). artie”
    Oh Too Funny.

    Awesome capture, and another Great Lesson!, proving definitly a keeper. With what many would call an “over-exposure” yet with your ideal histogram all that detail is there waiting to be restored. I like what the vibrance did for the background too, such a friendlier tool then saturation for a color boost. By the way, the Average Blur color correction you outlined in Digital Basics is just Fantastic & simple. Thank you Artie for the Constant and Never-ending Improvement.

  • avatar Martin Plant

    Wondering why you chose to fix the DR and colour cast issues in Photoshop instead of at the RAW conversion stage?

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Good stuff. I stated in the post before this post I would love to see the optimized image. thanks for showing it looks great!! Ted

  • Love it…it’s all about the histogram. Would you be opposed to deleting the spot of snow between the bird’s eyes?

  • avatar Geoff

    Great work. I had downloaded the original from the post a few days ago, stuck it into LR, hit Auto and it was done!! Came out about the same as your post today. This is a good lesson for people who struggle with exposures and would think this image ruined. But as you point out the histogram tells us that it is perfectly exposed.

  • avatar Giovanni

    Hello Arthur
    I could say no right word ..but also the starter point of the shoot is no bad. For me it could be a particular shoots with a very nice white component and , for this reason, out of the “normal ” shoots

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Conrad. That was the plan from the beginning. Several folks commented that they would have deleted it…. artie

  • avatar Conrad Bester

    WOW, i’m surprised with the optimized result! Well done.