A Whole New World? Soft As a Baby’s Tush, and DPP V3.14.41/EOS-7D Mark II Info « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Whole New World? Soft As a Baby's Tush, and DPP V3.14.41/EOS-7D Mark II Info

The Streak Continues: 305

With any luck I will shoot my 2013 tax return to the experts this afternoon for final review. This blog post, the 305th in a row, took me about 2 1/2 hours to prepare. It was published at about 7:30am from my home in Indian Lake Estates, FL.

To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, tested, and can 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

Scroll down in this blog post for Fort DeSoto IPT Late Registration discount information.


This image was created at Fort DeSoto Park in 2009 with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens and the(long ago) EOS-50D soon to be replaced by the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 500. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/8 in Av mode. (Note: this is the equivalent of my standard, oft-recommended sunny/ISO 400 exposure for bright WHITEs: 1/2000 sec. at f/8)

9-Point AI Servo shutter button AF. Talk about the old days!

A Whole New World May Be Coming….

With the Canon EOS 7D Mark II on the not-too-distant horizon there will be–if the promised improved image quality pans out–lots of folks running around with hand holdable telephoto like the 400mm f/5.6L or the 400 DO lenses making great images with the new 1.6 crop factor camera. Either will give them an effective focal length of 640mm in a relatively light weight package. And both will AF with the 7D II yielding 896mm of reach….

With cameras like the older 40D and the 50D as well as the more recent EOS-7D many folks did not like either the look of the images or the noise that came with the tiny pixels. The best way to reduce the noise at higher ISOs has always been to expose to the right as we espouse here on an almost daily basis. But there is a little known trick–taught to me by Denise Ippolito–that can be used to deal with background noise: Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. Take a good close look at the animated GIF below to see the results…

What are the keys to entry into this new world?

7D II image quality in both sunny and dreary conditions. And its control of noise at all ISOs. See below for EOS-50D background noise on a sunny morning. Don’t ask me why I was at ISO 500; ISO 200 would have been a much better choice….

The EOS-7D Mark II

If you missed all of the excitement over the 7D II announcement, click here, or here, and and here, and here, and here.

To pre-order yours please use our B&H affiliate logo link immediately below.


Soft As a Baby’s Tush

The most important thing to note in the animated GIF above is the background noise. In the “before” image, you do not have to look too closely to see the luminance noise–the background looks to me like blue sandpaper. In the “after” image, the blue background looks as soft as the proverbial baby’s butt. See below to learn how I used Filter > Blur > Surface Blur to smooth away the noise (and learn about the other before and after changes).

The Image Optimization

After converting this 50D image in DPP (see more on DPP below), I brought it into Photoshop CS-6. Then I selected the WHITEs with the Quick Selection Tool, saved the selection, applied a 10% opacity layer of Linear Burn, and followed that with a 15% layer of NIK Color Efex Pro Detail Extractor; the latter two to tone down the WHITEs while bringing up some detail. Next, working very large, I cleaned up the specular highlights on fish with a soft Clone Stamp Tool and a few tiny Quick Masks. Then I sharpened the face and bill with a Contrast Mask. Finally I selected the background with the Magic Wand Tool, placed the selection on a layer (as I always do), and then applied Surface Blur to the layer adjusting the settings as recommended in Digital Basics.

Then I created and sharpened the 1200 pixel wide JPEG that opens this blog post and created two 600 pixel square JPEGs that I used to make the before and after animated GIF. For your education/edification.

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 very soon: The DPP 4.0 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris. The more that I use DPP 4.0 for my RAW conversions the more I learn about it and the more I learn about it the more I am impressed with it. Note: at present, DPP 4.0 will work only with 1D X, 5D III, and 6D images. Scroll down for the latest DPP/7D Mark II info.

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s image is covered in detail 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 (including Surface Blur settings), details on using all of my image 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 tons more.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. 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.

Digital Photo Professional 3.14.41 Updater

The latest version of DPP is V3.14.41; it will support 7D Mark II files. It is currently available for download here. Click on Drivers and Software and then on Software. Then click directly on the Digital Photo Professional 3.14.41 Updater for Windows (or Mac), check the Disclaimer box, and then click on the Download arrow. When the file is downloaded double-click on it and follow the prompts. I just finished updating :).

Note: if you do not already have a previous version of DPP 3.whatever installed you will need to download the entire software suite to install DPP 3.14.41 from scratch.

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 advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. If you are in the market for used gear, click here to see the current listings.

Today’s Featured Lens

Used Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO UMS Lens

Multiple IPT veteran Shelly Goldstein is giving away a Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO UMS lens in very good + condition for $4100. The lens has been protected by a LensCoat since day one thus there are only a few small blemishes on the tripod collar. There are several extras. The sale includes a Really Right Stuff quick release lens plate (MAPR-1b), a LensCoat, the original lens trunk, the original leather front lens cover, the rear dust cap, and insured shipping via Fed Ex Ground to US addresses only. The lens was cleaned and checked by Canon in September 2014.

You can contact Shelly via e-mail or by phone at 646-423-0392 (EST). Your lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

I owned and used and loved my 400 DO for about five years. If you missed my comments on this lightweight–hand holdable for most–telephoto lens (and 14 great images) please see this blog post: The Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO Lens: Fourteen Images that Prove that the Internet Experts are (As Usual) Idiots.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rich with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

First-ever BIRDS AS ART In-the-Field/Meetup Workshop Session (ITF/MWS): $50

Join me on the afternoon of October 10, 2014 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive afternoon workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place at least two weeks before the event.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto Fall IPT/October 11-13, 2014. 3 FULL DAYs: $1099. Limit 8/Openings: 5.

Call 863-692-0906 for DeSoto IPT Late Registration Discount Info

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With any luck, we should get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher likely. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join us on the ITF/MWS on Friday afternoon as my guest. See above for details on that.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

At lunch (included) we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one. If you opt to bring your laptop, we will take a look at five of your best images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

If you decide to register and are traveling to attend this IPT, please make your reservations at the Beachcomber Beach Resort, 6200 Gulf Blvd, St. Petersburg (St. Pete Beach), FL 33706 (727-367-1902) as soon as possible as rooms for the weekend days are scarce: ARR: 10 OCT/DEP 14 OCT. I stayed there on my last DeSoto visit and was quite happy with it. Lodging is tough in Florida at this season…. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). It is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel so if you are interested it would be a good idea to register now and make your hotel reservations as well. We can, however, coordinate easily with local folks who opt to stay at home either by cell phone or e-mail.

Because of the relatively late date, payment is full is due upon registration either by check or credit card. If the former, please e-mail us immediately so that we can save you a spot. If the latter, please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to register . Your registration fee is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight so please check your plans carefully before committing. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, gear advice, and first morning meeting place about one month before this IPT.


BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make the IPT? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.


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9 comments to A Whole New World? Soft As a Baby’s Tush, and DPP V3.14.41/EOS-7D Mark II Info

  • avatar Tim Harding

    Topaz DeNoise works well for me.

  • avatar Brooke

    I’m a bit confused. Is Filter > Blur > Surface Blur in Photoshop CS6 or in Nik?

  • Art,
    When will you be able to provide information on your decision to move to the Mac laptop and how you will continue with Downloaded Pro & Breezebrowser Pro?
    Thank you for your continued generosity with information.
    Best Regards
    Denis n

  • Thank you both so much! I am new to the Nik suite and am having fun experimenting with it and learning from the BAA community. I will certainly give Surface Blur a try. I am using Elements 12, and didn’t even know it was there. Very respectfully, Dan Kehlenbach

  • Hi Artie:
    Thanks for all you do with this blog. I am learning so much from you, particularly Nik techniques (love your previous post on the 50% TC/DE – great results without being over-the-top). I was wondering your thoughts on Nik’s DFine compared to Surface Blur to remove unwanted noise. Thanks for your time. Very respectfully, Dan Kehlenbach

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are welcome Dan. Thanks for your kind words. Don’t forget that I almost always reduce the opacity of my 50/50 layer. I recently created a 25/25 recipe :).

      As for the NR, I am a firm believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So I have never tried DFine….

      I am glad that you are enjoying and learning from the blog. Please remember to use our B&H and Amazon affiliate links. later and love, artie

    • Hi Dan,
      I use and love DFine. I use the default settings and I get good results. I use Surface Blur when DFine doesn’t work.