GPS Serendipity, Airport Elimination, and Working In and With the Fog « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

GPS Serendipity, Airport Elimination, and Working In and With the Fog

The Streak Continues: 255

This item was published just after 8:30am from my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. This blog post, which took me 2 hours to prepare, marks 255 consecutive days with a new enjoyable and educational blog post. As always, I would appreciate your using the BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases, our Amazon logo-link for all of your household purchases, and visiting the BAA Online Store for your tripod, tripod head, LensCoat, miscellaneuos, accessories, and eGuide purchases as well.

Coming Soon

The release of the great new eBook, “The Art of Flower Photography” by Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris is imminent. Everything that you wanted to know about how to photograph flowers but were afraid to ask….


This image was created on a very foggy morning on last spring’s Tulips and a Touch of Holland IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (at 125mm) and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III . ISO 100. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/8 sec. at f/32 in Tv mode. AWB. Live View and 2-second timer. At zero I had some significant blinkies in the sky which is exactly what i wanted and needed to assure some detail in the darker tones of the trees. Zero as framed worked out to more than +3 stops off the sky.

Central Sensor/Surround/AI Servo-Rear Focus AF one-third of the way into the frame and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Original Image

GPS Navigation Serendipity

We paid extra freight so that both of the vehicles that we rented for last spring’s Tulips and a Touch of Holland IPT would be equipped with GPS Navigation systems. In English not Dutch. I usually do not have good luck with such devices. Though both spoke English, we did not get off to a very good start… The GPS system in Denise’s vehicle could not find our major hotel. Just for the heck of it we tried to find Keukenhoff Gardens under Attractions. No luck there. Ominous. My GPS got us to the hotel. Great. The next morning we programmed in the Kuekenhoff address. It got us there but opted for the very long route. The 20 minute trip took us twice that. But as we approached a quite lovely yellow pedestrian bridge I noted some nice flower fields off to our left perhaps half a mile down a country lane.

The next morning we decided to get intentionally lost again and check out the fields. There were some very nice tulip fields to our right, and some very nice hyacinth fields on our left. We enjoyed a good session, made some nice images, and headed towards some of the more well known flower fields that turned out to be in spectacular bloom. A few mornings later we opted to split the group in two with most folks heading directly to Kuekenhoff while Mike Gotthelf, one or two others, and I joined by the late-arriving Peter Kes re-visited the newfound fields. We learned upon closer inspection that these new fields actually abutted the Amsterdam airport.

We enjoyed the fog and worked on the left side of the road with the hyacinth fields and the line of trees behind it. If you enlarge the image and check out the areas between the trees you can see lots of telephone poles and airport structures sort of lost in the fog…. As for the fog, I knew that there was a striking, vibrant image waiting to be created from the somewhat flat and boring original image above. My plan was to eliminate all traces of the airport in the background and then to juice up the colors and contrast to give the image some much-needed pop.


The Optimized Image

The Image Optimization

Airport Elimination and Working In and With the Fog

This is the first image that I converted in DPP 4.0. There is a lot to learn and most of what I did was somewhat experimental. I did enjoy working with the new “Adjust image colors” tab that is the equivalent of the HSL tab in Photoshop CS-6. I need to get with Arash, ask some questions, and then incorporate lots of new stuff into the DPP 4.0 RAW Conversion Guide that we are working on.

The first thing that I did after bringing the image into Photoshop was clean up the airport stuff in the background. I began with the Clone Stamp Tool and some Patch Tool work. Once I had cleaned up two or three areas between the trees I used the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select a now clean area, put that selection on a new layer (Ctrl J), moved it into place with the Move Too (V), and fine-tuned the layer with a Regular Layer Mask. Once that clean-up work was done I painted a Quick Mask of the right side of the image at horizon level (Q, B, Q), put that on its own layer (Ctrl J), flipped that horizontally, and covered the intruding tree on the left side of the frame. I used a Regular Layer Mask to fine tune the repair. Then I used the Spot Healing Brush to get rid of a single prominent Dandelion.

Now I was ready for the juicing-up process. I brought the image into NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and applied Tonal Contrast at 100% and Detail Extractor at 35%. Next I boosted the Vibrance about 40 points, put the whole thing on a layer (Ctrl J), and applied Auto Contrast at about 40%. Thanks as always to Denise Ippolito for teaching me that one. Then I lightened the image by pulling up the curve (Ctrl M). Last was my artistic crop from the right and below all the while maintaining the original 3X2 proportions.

Then I named and saved my optimized TIFF file and created the 1200 pixel wide JPEG that you see immediately above.

Of Note

#1: I did not use Levels to totally eliminate the foggy look. By using NIK Tonal Contrast and Auto Contrast at 40% I was able to maintain the foggy look while adding some pop to the image.

#2: the keys to the compositional success of this image are the use of diagonal lines and the compositional balance that came as a result of eliminating the clipped tree on the left and cropping from the bottom and the right.

#3: I am not sure where the thin line in the upper right corner of the JPEG came from. It does not appear in the optimzed TIFF file…. It pretty much disappears into the frame edge when you enlarge the image.

The DPP RAW Conversion Guide

To learn why I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to convert every image that I work on, click here. Coming soon: the DPP 4.0 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi with Arthur Morris.

Digital Basics

Most everything that I did to optimize today’s image above is detailed in my Digital Basics File–written in my easy-to-follow, easy-to-understand style. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Digital Basics File is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, details on using all of my killer clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, Digital Eye Doctor, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, how to create time-saving actions, and lots more.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount with phone orders only. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 weekdays to order.

Used Photography Gear for Sale

The “Old 600” that was featured in yesterday’s blog post sold right then and there. Though have sold a boatload of great gear recently, there are still some great buys available. Click here to see the complete listings. Below are today’s featured items.

Today’s Featured Lenses

Used Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Chris Callahan is offering a used Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM Lens in good to very good condition for $900. There is some wear on the finish. The sale includes the heavy duty fabric carrying case that is moderately worn, the tripod ring (tripod collar), and the rear cap. The seller will pay insured UPS shipping within continental US. The lens will ship after the check clears.

Please contact Chris via e-mail or by phone at 1-850-516-7155 (eastern time).

I have long recommended this lens as the best Canon bird photography starter lens, a clear choice over my old “toy lens,” the 400mm f/5.6L. Why? It is faster at f/4. It has IS. And it autofocuses with a 7D and a 1.4X teleconverter. The 300 f/4 L IS has great close focus making it great for frogs, butterflies, medium-sized and large flowers, and large insects like dragonflies. It is a great flight lens either alone or with the 1.4X TC. And it is deadly sharp. It is great on a tripod with the Mongoose M3.6.

Used Canon EF 100-400 f 4.5-5.6 L IS Lens

Bruce Boswell is offering a used Canon EF 100-400 f 4.5-5.6 L IS lens in very good condition for $999 plus insured shipping via UPS Ground to US Continental addresses only. The tripod and zoom rings have a few minor blemishes. The sale includes: the original case, the front and rear caps, the lens hood, and the lens manual. Your gear will be shipped only after your check clears.

Please contact Bruce via e-mail or by phone at (309) 451-1506 or (309) 530-8493 (cell) (Central).

The 100-400 is a versatile intermediate telephoto zoom lens with 1,000+ uses. This one is priced to sell.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line. Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advise, usually sells in no time flat.


Denise and artie hope that you can join them next spring in Holland and learn to improve both the technical and creative aspects of your flower (and street) photography.

7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT)

Keukenhof—Delft—Amsterdam–Flower Fields—Kinderdijk
April 9 -April 16, 2015: $4995. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings 10. Four more to make the trip a go.

This trip needs 6 registrants to run so please do not purchase your plane tickets until you hear from us that the trip is a go.

Join Denise Ippolito, the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus, for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2015. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 9, 2015. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Our last day, Day 8, April 16 will be a full day of photography.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse and points north. We will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits to the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and/or the Rijk’s Museum. Street photography and sightseeing will be other options. We will spend a half day at Kinderdijk where we will be photographing the windmills and doing some creative photography. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Delft where we will do some street photography and shopping. There is an optional church tower tour/climb. We will also enjoy a superb fine dining experience in a traditional restaurant.

Other than the arrival date: April 9, Day 1, and the date of our last day of photography on April 16, Day 8, there is no set itinerary. We will check the weather and play everything by ear to maximize the photographic opportunities. We will try to do Amsterdam, Delft, and especially Kinderdijik, on cloudy days.

There are several huge pluses to this trip. First off, denise is an amazingly skilled and caring instructor. Both her creativity and her willingness to share and to help beginning and intermediate photographers are unmatched. And though artie has learned a ton about flower photography from denise, their styles and techniques do vary considerably. You will have a chance to be counseled by and to learn from both of them. While denise will hunt you down to help you, artie’s teaching style is more “the closer you stay to me, the more you will learn.” Both leaders consistently inspire the participants. And each other. The sky, of course, is the limit.

You will learn to create tight abstracts, how best to use depth-of-field (or the lack thereof) to improve your flower photography, how to get the right exposure and make sharp images every time, how to see the best shot, and how to choose the best perspective for a given situation. And you will of course learn to create a variety of pleasingly blurred flower images. If you bring a long lens, you will learn to use it effectively for flower photography. Denise’s two favorite flower lenses are the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. Mine are the Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro , the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens ,and the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, all almost always on a tripod. Often with extension tubes and/or either the 1.4X or the 2X (with the 300 II) teleconverters. Denise hand holds a great deal of the time. For flower field blurs denise uses the same lenses mentioned above along with her new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III lens. Artie’s favorite is that same 70-200 often with a 1.4X TC but he uses both the new Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and the 300 II as well. Both of us use and love the Canon EOS 5D Mark IIIfor all of our flower photography. The in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features are a blast.

One of the great advantages of our trip is that we will be staying in a single, strategically located hotel that is quite excellent. Do note that all ground transfers to and from Schipol Airport will be via the free hotel shuttle bus.

What’s included: Eight hotel nights. All ground transportation except for airport transfers as noted above. In-the-field instruction and small group image review and Photoshop sessions. All meals from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 8. There is good food at the hotel and we will be dining there on occasion; whenever you order off the menu be it at the hotel or at another restaurant only the cost of your main course is included. On these occasions the cost of soups, appetizers, salads, sodas and other beverages, alcoholic drinks and wine, bottled water, and desserts are not included. Snacks, personal items, phone calls, etc. are also not included. The cost of bus or train transportation to and from Amsterdam (about $20 US), museum entry, and tower and church entry fees (optional) are likewise not included.

Beware of seemingly longer, slightly less expensive tours that include travel days and days sitting in the hotel doing nothing as part of the tour. In addition, other similar trips have you changing hotels often and needlessly. One final note on other similar trips: the instructors on this trip actually instruct. On other similar trips the instructors, though usually imminently qualified, serve for the most part as van drivers and van door openers.

A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person is required to hold your spot. The second payment of $2,000 due by October 30, 2014. The balance is due on January 15, 2015. Payments in full are of course welcome at any time. All payments including the deposit must be by check made out to “Arthur Morris.” As life has a way of throwing an occasional curve ball our way, you are urged to purchase travel insurance within 15 days of our cashing your check. Artie uses and recommends Travel Insurance Services. All payments are non-refundable unless the trip fills to capacity. In that case, all payments but your deposit will be refunded. If the trip does not run every penny will of course be refunded. Again, please do not purchase your air tickets until you hear from us that the trip is a go. We are very confident that it will.

All checks should be made out to “Arthur Morris” and sent to: Arthur Morris, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Call Jim or Jen in the BAA office with any additional registration questions: 863-692-0906.

For couples or friends signing up at the same time for the tulip trip, a $200/duo discount will be applied to the final payment.

When you send your deposit check, please print, sign, and include the paperwork here.

If you have any questions on the trip please contact artie by e-mail or denise by e-mail.


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10 comments to GPS Serendipity, Airport Elimination, and Working In and With the Fog

  • Don’t know how much time for bird photography you guys will have on the trip, but I could very much recommend checking out the nearby Oostvaardersplassen (and Lepelaarsplassen) between Almere and Lelystad. It is a huge wild area (for the most part inaccessible) with possible sightings of wild deer, highland cattle, red fox, konik horse, white-tailed eagle, all sorts of raptors, egrets, ducks, and so on and so forth.

    It is supposedly famed world wide because it is a unique area that doesn’t have any equals. There are lots of permanent hides and view points from where you can shoot pictures, though not all of them are as suited for photography as others. It is however a fantastic reserve well worth visiting if you are into wildlife and bird photography. Maybe a nice addition to the trip since the OVP lie just about 30 minutes (by car) from Amsterdam?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Mike. Not much time for birds :).

      • Pity! Well maybe worth taking a look yourself one day when not busy on an IPT (which is probably almost never when I look at how many times you guys do IPT’s) :). Awesome stuff and I bet you, as a bird photographer, would love the OVP very much. A documentary was released about a year ago which gives a good impression. I think there is an English version as well but I don’t know this for sure. It’s called “De Nieuwe Wildernis”.

        • My apologies for the double post, but I can’t seem to edit this link to the website of the documentary in my previous post.

          Hope it’s useful for you guys.

          • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

            Thanks again. Do you photograph there often? artie

          • I try to. It’s just around the corner from my house (like five minutes on bike) but I have become a father just 10 months ago which kinda makes the available time to go out and take pictures very, very limited. I have been on a couple of “recon missions” though and have a couple of days planned to go there and take pictures.

            Before my son was born I spent a lot of time in the permanent hide at the Lepelaarsplassen (which is very close to the OVP) to photograph the common kingfisher. I went there for months on end and never got to see one (just bad luck since everyone was getting to photograph it there except me), till I finally got it in front of my lens one day. The hide has an awesome view of the lake and a lot of birds can be seen and photographed from there. I have seen the white-tailed eagle from the hide, a diversity of raptors, the kingfisher, the eurasian bittern and purple heron to name a few.

            In the winter there are also loads of different ducks and geese passing through including some very beautiful ones like the Smew. Also the eurasian spoonbill (which is called Lepelaar like in the name of the location: Lepelaarsplassen) passes through the area every year.

            I have been following your blog for a while now because I love your style and your pictures, and I thought it would be a good idea to share information on this awesome location with you. Seems like a good match with your field of expertise :).

  • avatar Aendru

    In the optimized image, I see a small circle of fog in front of the left most tree?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. That was a careless Clone Stamp stamp that I missed :(….. I shall repair it. artie

  • I know 4.0 doesn’t include the Mark IV. Does that mean it just won’t install? Or does it mean it will install and run, I just might not have access to all the features? Thanks Doug

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      My understanding is that you need to enter a 1D X or 5D III serial number to download DPP 4.0. If someone “loans: you a serial # I have no clue what would happen with a Mark IV image…. I would guess that it simply would not work….