Things were just ducky under the world’s strangest blind… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Things were just ducky under the world's strangest blind...

The Streak Continues: 363

With clear skies and barely any wind Denise Ippolito and I again went a bit out of the traditional Bosque box by starting our day at the Ed Kranepool. I went 16-35 for the goose blast off. That was followed by the best morning of the year for departing Sandhill Crane flight photography as the breeze came up from the north/northeast. I killed at first with the 600 II/1.4X III/7D II combo but ditched the TC after a while as the birds were getting too big in the frame.

I spent pretty much a full day’s work getting images together for the Canon Digital Learning Center bird photography video project. I still have a ton of work to do. They need about seventy 16:9 images. So far I have delivered only 18 :(. Hard work. I stayed in for only the second afternoon of the trip to watch some of the NFL games while optimizing new images for the videos. And for the blog.

Coming soon: a free Bosque Site Guide update for all: The State of the Bosque…. Today’s blog post, the 363rd in a row, took 1 1/2 hours to assemble (including the time for the DPP 4 RAW conversion and the creation of the animated GIF). This blog post was published from my hotel room in Socorro, NM at 3:45am. We will continue our busman’s holiday tomorrow. We meet the 4-Day Bosque IPT group on Saturday afternoon.

Bosque 2015

Denise and I will again be collaborating on two Bosque IPTs in 2015, one before Thanksgiving and one after. Dates and rates will be announced here soon. If you would like to receive early notice, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Bosque 2015” in the Subject Line. We already have several interested folks.

Amazing Black Friday Sale

Save $300 on the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens for APS-C Bodies

In a recent blog post here, I discussed the need for special short zoom and fixed focal length lenses for those who like to go wide with APS-C sensor camera bodies. With their 1.6X crop factors, cameras like the Canon EOS-7D Mark II, the EOS-7D, and the EOS-40 and 50D bodies, make it impossible to go wide and ultra wide. Right now, the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens is on sale for an absolutely silly $299, $300 off the regular price of $599. 17-85mm translates to the equivalent of 27-136mm on a full frame camera, approximating the hugely popular Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens.

I am not sure how long the sale lasts….

Click on the logo link above for more insane Black Friday Specials

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This image was created at 3:54pm on the clear afternoon of November 17, 2014 at Bosque del Apache NWR. I used the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod), the Mongoose M3.6 head, Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop as framed: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode. AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the bird’s neck was active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Northern Shoveler hen

Things were just ducky…

I created this image while one of seven educational segments for a bird photography video was being filmed. The project is sponsored by the Canon Digital Learning Center. The videos should be on the Canon website in about a month. Scroll down to see my very strange blind.


Yours truly on a video set near Ed Kranepool at Bosque del Apache NWR. Image courtesy of and copyright 2014 Tom Debrayanna.

World’s strangest blind…

I created the shoveler image that opened this blog post while on set on the South Loop. I was going through a litany of talking points for one of the seven video segments when this handsome hen swam by so I took a short break and made a few frames.

The segments will include:

Creating Pre-Dawn Blurs
What’s in the Gear Bag (aka The Junk in the Trunk)
Understanding Light, Wind & Perspective
Setting up for Flight
Using Tele-Extenders
AI Servo AF
Exposure Control

Thanks a stack to Tom Debrayanna for sending me a few images for the blog. Like this one, they were all quite well done.

The Image Optimization

First I converted the image in DPP 4. I leveled it by connecting the centers of the pupils with the Ruler Tool and hit Command + Question Mark, my personalized keyboard shortcut for Image > Rotate > Arbitrary. Next was dust spotting and some Eye Doctor work. Note how much better the pupil looks in the optimized image.

With their always-wet heads, images of dabbling ducks are rife with specular highlights on the face and the bill. I almost always opt to clean up such messes as to me, the small to tiny over-exposed highlights are simply butt-ugly. Working large I used the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch Tool. The clean-up work here took me more than twenty minutes.

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 an 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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7 comments to Things were just ducky under the world’s strangest blind…

  • Philip

    I just bought a 7D mk II at B&H! Very happy with it, and played with it taking 2000 photos in two days while staying on Manhattan!

  • Moe Ali

    Nice image of the Shovler Artie. I’m looking forward to watching those educational segments, so definitely point it out when they do come available on-line.

    The guy in the blue stripped touk looks like Rudy Winston from Canon.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Moe. That is Rudy. I will do if they are announced before I head to the Southern Ocean. Otherwise, when I get back in mid-Jan. artie

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie, and thanks. Question: In the lovely optimized image of the northern shoveler hen, why did you not also optimize the reflection? It’s noticeable, for example in the animation, that the bird’s eye changes with the optimization but not the in the reflection.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I would not expect the reflection of the eye and pupil would be as sharp as on the bird but I understand your point 🙂 a

  • Hi Artie. It was nice to finally meet you and Denise at Bosque last week. It was my first trip and although the conditions weren’t the best, it was great!

    I have a few pix of you with the film crew on the first day of your shoot with them when you were set up at the back of a car near the north part of the flight deck parking lot. I can send them to you if you like. Dan Brown

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nice meeting you too. Do send a few sharpened 1200 wide JPEGs if you would. They would be greatly appreciated. arti