Civility and Freedom of Speech on the BIRDS AS ART Blog & Catching up on some old post questions… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Civility and Freedom of Speech on the BIRDS AS ART Blog & Catching up on some old post questions...


Slept well again. Acupuncture, swim, core exercises, and ice bath. And it is looking like early to bed.

This blog post, the 98th in a row, took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare and was published at one minute after midnight on Thursday.

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Civility and Freedom of Speech on the BIRDS AS ART BLOG

As most would surmise, I am pretty proud of the work that I do here on the blog. I enjoy teaching and I enjoy sharing. Though some think not, I am fine if you do not like an image. In fact, there have been a few that I posted recently that I did not think much of. If you don’t like an image, just say so. There is however, no reason to go out of your way to be nasty or to try to be insulting. Those who opt for the latter are in truth only insulting themselves.

It is imperative that folks who opt to leave a comment be civil. Folks who visit and comment regularly would be given a bit of slack, but I cannot even recall a situation where that was necessary. Nasty comments almost always come from folks who are commenting for the first time. It’s good to know that some folks have such miserable lives that they feel the need to take time out of their busy days to be nasty, or as Denise Ippolito calls it, “snarky.”

Folks who comment for the first time have their comments sent to a Moderation page where they might be approved, replied to, trashed, or spammed. The vast majority are approved or replied to. If you are spammed, you will likely be unable to post a comment. Not too long ago a first time poster wrote something to the effect that I should stick to photography, that nobody wanted to read about my grandkids or my health. I thought, it’s my blog. I will write about what I want to write about. I had no qualms about spamming him instantly. If you choose to visit my home, please play nice.

Freedom of speech on the blog? There is none.

A Negative but Civil Comment

A first time poster left this comment at BAA Bulletin #473 here:

In my opinion the photo is not worth optimizing. Sea lions are cute animals, this image, although a great pose, makes them look slimy and not endearing to the viewer. The optimized image, although better, still is not good enough to represent what I think of as an elegant animal.

Though I disagreed in part as I feel that sometimes by trying you can either learn something or surprise yourself by working on a very poor image, I was fine with the fact that the poster did not like the optimized image. Heck, I did not think much of it either.


This in-camera HDR image was created at Morro Bay with the hand held Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens (at 16mm) and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop yielded a base exposure of: 1/100 sec. at f/22 in Av mode. AWB. With the 77mm Singh-Ray warming circular polarizer set to dark.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF one-third of the way up the rock on the right side and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image: Morro Rock with fog.

A Not-too-good Image of Morro Rock

In the blog post here, which featured the in-camera HDR image of Morro Rock, someone who had never commented before left this comment:

“I’d stick to birds if I were you. That is just not a very good shot and just a terrible way to go about it. You clearly know how to use Photoshop so why on earth would you use crappy in-camera HDR. Also even the 7D Mark II APS-C sensor has enough dynamic range to get that shot in one exposure.”

I spammed him for being unnecessarily nasty. Was I being too sensitive?

A comment like this would have worked well for me:

That is just not a very good shot. It would have been better if you had created an HDR from three separate images.


Pretty Bad Morro Rock Image…

This image was created at Morro Bay (while standing) with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm), and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400: Evaluative metering at zero: 1/100 sec. at f/11 in Av mode. Auto WB. (Should have been Shade or at least Cloudy).

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The center AF point fell on a spot at the upper right center right near the edge of the painted nail. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Painted toenail in shade.

Flag-painted Toenail Lessons

In the blog post, which featured images of the flag-painted toes US Air Force retired med-evac technician Chris Billman, another first time poster wrote:

“Really? This is now the Toes as Art blog? Ugh.”

To me it is clear that the poster went out of his way to be nasty. In addition, there was a great sun out/sun in exposure lesson there in addition to the two images. I spammed him too. His comment was OK up till the “Ugh.” Was I being too sensitive?

Several questions from that same blog post:

A: How is your exposure math?

Q: Same toe. Same lens. Same day. Same beach. How many stops difference in the two exposures, the one in the sun and the one in the shade?

A: The exposure for the sunlit image was 1/640 sec. at f/11. The exposure for the shaded image was 1/100 sec. at f/11. Since the aperture was the same all that you needed to do was to determine how many stops between 1/100 sec. and 1/640 sec. The sequence would look like this: 1/100 sec., 1/200 sec (one full stop), 1/400 sec (2 full stops), and 1/800 sec (three full stops). Since we never quite made it to to 1/800 sec (almost), the correct answer is that the difference in stops between 1/100 sec at f/11 and 1/640 sec at f/11 is 2 2/3 stops. Many folks answered this one correctly.

The unspoken lesson here is that the same toe in the shade needs a heck of a lot more light to be properly exposed in the shade than when in the sun, 2 2/3 stops more to be exact.

B: Easy Question

Q: If the recorded focal length (560mm) is the same for both images above, why is the toe considerably larger in the shaded version?

A: I moved the lens closer to the subject. Let of folks got that one right.

C: Another Easy Question

Q: Why was it vitally important that AF be active at the moment of exposure for both images?

A: It would be pretty much impossible to avoid moving while pointing the lens down to photograph your or someone else’s toe; just your breathing alone would be more than enough to throw off accurate focus. Solve problems like this by using AI Servo AF (C for Continuous with Nikon) and having it active at the moment of exposure. It is common knowledge that we must use AI Servo AF to track moving subjects like flying birds; what folks need to realize is that then they are hand holding they are almost always moving, at least a bit.

Your Thoughts?

Feel free to chime in on any of the topics covered here today. Or not. Just be nice ๐Ÿ™‚


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31 comments to Civility and Freedom of Speech on the BIRDS AS ART Blog & Catching up on some old post questions…

  • Henry

    Hi Artie,

    RE: The Morro Rock Image

    I never did like nasty, personalized, attack type criticism. There are polite ways to express an opposing point of view. And there are ways to critique an image to express personal preferences without making comments as to what photography one should stick too. d

    As I looked at the image I wondered if you considered black and white? With the blue sky and white clouds (add red filter in processing using anyone of several black and white software) and the texture on the rocks and the various degrees of lighting on the rocks, this image could be an interesting fine art black and white photo.

  • Denny

    I’ve been visiting for years Artie, but no worries. Just after I posted my comment this afternoon, a brown magpie visited our back yard, and stayed long enough for me to get a couple of snaps. I read they’re supposed to be rare, ever see one?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Then you need to read the comments more carefully ๐Ÿ™‚

      Never heard of a brown magpie? What is the species name? Is it a melanistic bird? a

  • Ken Wood

    Hi Artie,

    I donโ€™t usually get too involved in commenting on blogs (this will be my first) but I saw the opportunity to be negative here so thought I would send in my two cents :).

    -The photo of Morro Rock, though well done, is just uninteresting. Had there been a tiny red-shirted climber halfway up, a flock of birds flying by or a large orangutan in the foreground with arms outstretched about to liberate you from your camera it would have been good. The picture of the toe with the American flag on it is more interesting and I learned about using AI Servo for close up shots with narrow depth of field.

    -I loved your comment about nasty people only insulting themselves. Absolutely true.

    -Freedom of speech is alive and well on your blog. You are free to say whatever you want and readers are free to ignore anything they donโ€™t want to read.

    -I have met you one time. You were in Klamath Falls, Oregon for the Winter Wings Festival a couple of years ago. I walked into the room where you were about to give a Photoshop presentation. You looked up and said โ€œHiโ€. I said โ€œHiโ€ back. It was a magical momentโ€ฆ

    -I enjoy your blog and check in frequently. I have learned tons of stuff (back button focus for one) and have your Digital Basics File and your DPP Raw Conversion Guide. I am continuously gleaning from both.

    Thank you for doing what you do and โ€œYou keep shootingโ€

    Ken Wood

  • Denny

    I suppose all the negative comments get screened out Artie, because I have never seen anything but polite comments and positive critique on here. Hey, if you want to talk about your health, or grandkids, it’s your dime, nobody’s forcing anyone to visit here. I enjoy viewing your images, and reading the metadata you post underneath, it helps, even though I don’t use Canon. Oops! Now I’ve gone and done it, lol. I have a brother living not far from you, he left home here in Canada 55 years ago, and stayed in the US, worked in New York till the last couple years before retirement. I have been threatening to visit for years, but having retired myself after 40 years as an airline pilot, I just cannot face air travel these days; I retired just over 11 years ago and haven’t used a pass since, too much of a hassle. I confine my photo trips to west of Calgary, the prairies and the Rockies, and Dinosaur Valley, a transplanted east coaster, I love it out here.

    You know what they say; Don’t sweat the small stuff!


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Denny,

      You must be new. I have let many in fact most critical comments stand. Only the folks who go out of there way to be nasty get banned and they are very few and far between ๐Ÿ™‚ Two of my best friends use Nikon so no worries there. It sounds as if you have some nice stuff to photograph where you are….. artie

  • Dave Marshall

    Hi Artie
    As A newby in photography and grappling with a 7d mk2 I have learnt more from your blogs than anywhere else. I find your work inspiring!! Please ignore these idiots there are some people who wish to be hated don’t lower to their level!!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No need to grapple; get a copy or our 7D Mark II User’s Guide! I can’t ignore them as I need to keep track of things but no worries, I never take them personally. later and love, artie

  • Jim McGovern

    Artie…I am grateful to you for the sacrifice you make teaching and demonstrating your BAA images. I met you and Denise at the CNPA meeting this winter and thorughly enjoyed the both of you!

    Maintaining this blog must be hard work and is a big commitment for a full-time photographer. Burn-out and fatigue should naturally follow after sustained efforts met with snide remarks and negativity. Just wanted to say thanks and support your efforts. -Jim

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are most welcome. No worries, I do not let the bitter unhappy folks get me down, not one iota. Yes, the blog is hard work but I love it.

  • Bill Richardson

    I thought the “Toes as Art. Ugh” comment was funny, not nasty. However, I definitely share your feelings about the nastiness that pervades the internet. And now politics and society.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I agree that TOES AS ART by itself was funny. The “really?” was not needed :). The “ugh” was nasty. I actually shared a nice e-mail with the guy who posted that originally. artie

  • Completely agree on how you deal with snarksters (Denise would like that word!) ๐Ÿ˜‰ . But being nearly as pedantic as you, I need to correct your usage of the verb “to spam.” It means to send what we used to call “junk mail”. It is not a synonym for “to block,” which is how I think you have meant it above.

    That said, I am sure you understand that a lot of the offenders want to try to take down the famous nature photographer, for the same reason some guys want to flex their beer muscles and challenge a pro athlete to a bar fight. So it could be worse for you! Though I have no idea what happens after hours at a photographers’ convention ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Geoff,

      From the BAA dictionary:

      spam V. to spam: to ban or block after having a comment marked as spam

      I often invent words as needed ๐Ÿ™‚


      ps: yes I am aware of folks who are looking for a fight and who are looking to take pot shots at Mr. Famous Photographer. There was a guy on BPN year ago, a truly great photographer. I mean superb. When it came to my images he just could not control himself. Every image I posted was junk. I told him right on the Forum: “Trashing my images for no reason will not make you a better photographer.” He wound up being banned for life…. And yes, you gotta love it.

  • Hi Artie, Those of us who know you a little, know you are a caring and sensitive guy. Please don’t take the negativity personally. There are a lot of idiots out there. Throw them away!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I try never to take anything personally. the “ugh toe” guy just sent me a very nice e-mail :). artie

  • Sean

    Not intended as snark, but the toe image needs to be inverted… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Why inverted? a

      • Sean

        Well, I guess inverted wasn’t the word I should have used; I should have said flipped. Assuming that Chris wanted it to be an American flag that is. Right now it’s a mirror image of old glory.

  • Keep going Artie! It’s your blog so there is only one freedom…and that is yours. People visit at their own will, they don’t like it they should not return. I have enjoyed your blogs and bulletins for years now and hope to do the same in the years to come!
    Cheers, Willy

  • Andy

    I enjoy the personal aspects of the blog in addition to the photography. It’s a mix of diary and resource. Got to love someone whining about the content of a free blog:)

  • David Peake

    Hi Artie.
    For the short time I’ve been visiting your blog, I have noticed right away that snarky comments get challenged. That’s good for two reasons. One . I feel safe commenting in this environment. Two. I think twice about what I am saying and try to be clear if not concise. My wife is much better at this than I am. But she would use a picture such as this. Artie I noticed you always put people’s comments thru your juicer to find out if they’re bitter or sweet. I agree with you. It’s your house and if we want to visit and be welcomed we should play nice and bring some food. Ie contribute something worthwhile. I really love what you do and thanks once again.

    Kind regards

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Being as pedantic as I am, I will challenge folks who are sloppy with their writing. In the same vein, I will challenge folks who are just looking to take a shot at me or my images if I disagree. On BPN, I will challenge a critique of one of my images if I think that there are factual errors. Both here and there I will challenge presumptive folks, those who want to apply their opinions to everyone else. Like this: “Only images that depict the beauty of the subject are worthwhile. In those situations I always ask, “According to whom?” ๐Ÿ™‚ a

  • Gordon Lindsay

    It takes very little effort to be courteous and polite there’s enough negativity out there why add to it.
    “Do as you would be done unto” is still worth living by.

  • Marvin Falk

    This is a most civil blog and almost all of the comments are positive and supportive. Nasty posts have a way of multiplying out of control if not dealt with promptly. Thank you for attending to this.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Marvin. Over the years I have pretty much learned not to waste my time on piss-fights…. artie