A Day Late… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Day Late...

The Streak Continues: 354

On Tuesday we enjoyed fire in the mist conditions at sunrise. Learn more below. The crew was thrilled to see this amazing display despite the fact that the birds at the time were scarcer than the proverbial hen’s teeth. By 1:00pm, we had finished shooting all the footage for the 7-segment “Bird Photography” video project that is being created by the Canon Digital Learning Center. Again we worked long and hard. Everyone in the crew was as nice as could be and is incredibly professional. And that goes double for project director/producer Jem Schofield who spent another day trying to get me to behave. It was great also to have Rudy Winston along as the project advisor; his help and guidance were invaluable.

More and more cranes are using the crane pools each day. The birds were right next to the road until a train went by and scared all the birds to the far side of the pond. This blog post, the 354th in a row, took about 2 hours to prepare. It was published from my hotel room in Socorro, NM at 3:51am.

E-mail Problems

After spending more than 1 1/2 hours on the phone with ATT technical help and missing out on an afternoon photography session, I was able to send and receive e-mails. Apple Mail is, however, still acting quite finicky….

Fire in the Mist Fizzles…

Though conditions seemed perfect on Monday morning–it was a toasty 14 degrees at 6:00am yesterday, the mist dissipated as it got closer to sunrise. My prediction was close but no cigar.

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This image was created on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at at 6:54am at Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM. I used the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod), the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (at 219mm), and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II . ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/800 sec. at f/25 in Manual mode.

65-Point Automatic Selection/Rear Focus AF on the catkins lower right, release, and recompose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Fire in the Mist: A Day Late, But Not a Dollar Short

What Can I Say?

In Monday’s blog post I mentioned that conditions looked good for fire in the mist that morning. That prediction was a near miss. Tuesday, the second consecutive 14 degree morning, made me a genius after the fact. There were more than 100 photographers at the refuge. At a minimum, they owned more than half a million dollars of photography gear, that a conservative estimate. There was several who lead photographic tours, and several of those are presenting at the Festival of the Cranes. Guess how many folks were in the right spot for Tuesday morning’s spectacular fire in the mist display? That would be two. Me first, followed by an old student, Carl Kling. I am not sure if Carl figured it out on his own or if he saw me and knew that as usual the best place to be was right next to me. He was smiling.

From where I sit, it is ironic that the Bosque Site Guide explains fire in the mist, when to expect it, and how to get yourself in the right spot. In addition, most folks simply do not understand how to juxtapose themselves to the light in order to maximize their photographic opportunities. The best way to learn to do that is to join me on an IPT.

This morning’s proceedings reminded me of a guy a few years ago who wrote asking about a Bosque IPT. He stated that he would do anything to get some fire in the mist. He considered joining the IPT, but passed on the opportunity explaining that he did not need me to learn to make great images at Bosque. The end result, Denise and our group got some of the best ever fire in the mist stuff on the first IPT morning. The guy? He was in the wrong spot and got nothing.

The Image Optimization

In the original image, there were three flying cranes just right of center. I eliminated two of them along with several blackbirds with the Patch Tool, and used a Quick Mask to move the crane that you see well forward in the frame to improve the compositional balance. As I was not able to match the tonality of the sky perfectly, I added a Regular Layer Mask and, working large, painted away the mismatched sky. Then I selected the duck with its wings raised with the Quick Selection Tool and darkened it by pulling down the curve.

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 the Surface Blur settings as taught to me by Denise Ippolito), 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, Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, 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.

The Bosque Site Guide

All BAA Site Guides are designed so that with a bit of study you can show up at a great place and know exactly where to be at what time on what wind and in what lighting conditions. With a Site Guide on your laptop you will feel like a 20-year veteran even on your first visit. Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. If you plan on visiting the refuge it would be foolish to make the trip without having this guide in hand. Why spend money on gear and travel and then spend days stumbling around in the wrong spots? If you have visited previously, and are still unsure of where you should be at this time of day with that wind, this guide will prove invaluable to you as well.

You can order yours here or check out all of our site guides here.

Canon Telephoto Lens Specifications, Info, and Links; Bookmark This Page!

I have added the 100-400II to the chart here. Bookmark this page and consult it often as it makes comparing different lenses and easy chore. The chart includes weight in both pounds and kilograms, MFDs in feet and inches and in meters, magnification, filter size, and the year of introduction.

IPT Updates

Would you like to visit some of the great bird photography locations on the planet? Would you like to learn from the best? Click here and join us.


Morro Bay offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects in a variety of attractive settings.

2015 Morro Bay 5-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): MAR 14 thru MAR 18, 2015: $1999 (Limit: 8/Openings: 8.)

Meet and Greet after dinner on your own at 8:00pm on MAR 13.

Join me in one of the most beautiful and scenic places on the planet to photograph a large variety of birds of the sea and shore. As above, the star of the show will be Long-billed Curlew. There will be lots of Marbled Godwits and Willets as well as lots of the smaller shorebird species. Black Oystercatcher is likely and we should get to photograph large flocks of Western Sandpipers in flight over the bay. With any luck we should enjoy some great sunrise and sunset photography. There are lots of gulls including Western, California, and Mew. There is one good location where we should get to photograph Western, Clarke’s, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and Common Loon. We may get to photograph some passerines including Anna’s Hummingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow. And we have a chance for several species of raptors. Yikes, I almost forgot California Poppy. And California Ground Squirrel. Sea Otters are also possible.

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, five 2 1/2 hour afternoon sessions, five lunches, after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions, and of course tons of great in-the-field instruction and photographic instruction. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to use at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 12/1//2014. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

See lots more Morro Bay images here.


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11 comments to A Day Late…

  • avatar Charles Horndt

    Artie, Love this Fire in the Mist image! Would have loved to be at Bosque this year for my first time visit and IPT. A couple of questions for you. 1)Do you pack your gimbal head in your carry on and has that ever been an issue with TSA? 2) When using a combo like the 300mm F2.8 with both 1.4x and 2x converters, what are your tips for carrying and quickly changing converters in the field? I know from reading the blog you like to wear a vest, but any other tips would be appreciated. Thank you for your hard work on the blog!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Charles. Join us next year. My Mongoose M3.6 has been around the world several times in my checked bag with never an issue from the TSA. I carry my TCs stacked together around an extension tube. As I am always close to the vehicle at Bosque I generally do not wear my XtraHand Vest. I keep the TCs in a parka pocket. You will need to join us on an IPT to see exactly how I change them out. Or, see the Canon Digital Learning Center Bird Photography videos when they come on line.

      YAW. Please remember to thank us by using our affiliate links for purchases major and minor.

  • avatar Dave Drake

    Artie: We are enjoying your daily posts from Bosque since we have been there the past four days. We tried to connect with you but you were always doing your Canon videos. I received my new 7dMKII (ordered thru your site) about ten days ago and learning about its ins and outs. In your recent post (Fire in the mist) you used manual mode with a -1 1/3 stops, ISO 400, 1/800 sec, and f25. I could not get any display that would allow me to adjust the EV +\- with the shutter speed or aperture changing. What am I missing? My wife and I are signed up for your San Diego IPT in February.

    Thanks for all of the information.

    Dave Drake and Pat Perkins

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I think I know what’s going on.

      #1: there is no EC when you are in Manual mode. I simply look at the analog scale the shows the exposure that you have set relative to the suggested exposure.

      HERE IS THE RUB! I think. On the 7D II the analog exposure scale is on the right side of the viewfinder. Unless you put your eye to the viewfinder just right it is easy to block the analog scale with the viewfinder box….

      Let me know if that is the problem 🙂 Me thinks it is.

      later and love, artie

      ps: see you in San Diego!

  • avatar James Saxon

    Due to my work schedule I have not been able to join an IPT but I use the Bosque Site Guide when I visit the refuge. Could not visit without the information provided. I highly recommend purchasing if you cannot attend an IPT. Thanks Artie for all you do for us and the time spent putting these blog posts together.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Beautiful Image!! Could use a little leveling?

  • avatar Brooke

    For a few moments this morning, I thought I had been propelled into the future, by about 3,000 days. You wrote above, “This blog post, the 3534th in a row, took about 2 hours to prepare.”


  • avatar Ruthie

    Artie, I admire your stamina! It is almost a year that you are blessing us with “the Streak”1
    Thank you!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks and fixed. God forbid! later and love, artie

      Many thanks. A day off is coming soon not that I could not use one today…. later and love, artie