Wind Against Sun Strategy… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Wind Against Sun Strategy...


Friday was another typically busy day of work doing what I love. I had a great swim, did my core exercises, and enjoyed a 59 degree ice bath. Watched lots of NHL and NBA playoffs on Tivo. Answered another ton of e-mails and Saturday morning I will really get started on my Nature Photographer magazine San Diego article. And, I will start packing up my photo gear for the upcoming St. Augustine trip.

This blog post, the 114th in a row, took about 2 hours to prepare. It is scheduled to be published automatically at 1am on Saturday morning.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice Spoonbill and Wading Bird Chicks IPT: May 4-6, 2015. TWO FULL and TWO 1/2 DAYS: $1099. Limit 8/Openings 5.

Enjoy practically private instruction. Please call me on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday at 863-692-0906 for St. Augustine IPT Late Registration Discount info. For complete details see the blog post here and scroll down.

Canon’s Huge Megapixel Bodies

Many of you have read about the two new Canon 50+ megapixel bodies, the Canon EOS 5DS DSLR and the Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR. The two cameras look, sound, and pretty much are quite similar. I have withheld commenting until now because I did not have a good–heck, I did not have any–understanding of the single difference between the two bodies, that being the Low-Pass Filter Effect Cancellation.

If you missed the hugely popular “Canon’s Two New 50+ Megapixel Camera Bodies/You Must Read This Before You Buy,” you can click here to catch up and learn a ton to boot.

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This image was created on the last (very brutal) morning of the DeSoto IPT with the hand held Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the internal TC engaged at 560mm) and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode.

AI Servo Zone/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The system activated three AF points on the bird’s folded wing, slightly beyond the plane of the bird’s eye leaving the eye a bit soft. A bit of Eye Doctor work and a Contrast Mask on the face rectified that problem spectacularly.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron striding

Tough Conditions

Dealing with wind against sun…

The wind was blowing in our faces, sand scouring our eyes. The light was behind us. Most every bird was facing directly away from us into the wind and away from the light. Like butt shots? It would have been a perfect morning for you.

What to do? My first choice is always to look for birds in the shade but the tide was too high for that. I instructed the group to get low, get ahead of the feeding shorebirds, wait for them to approach sun angle, and then make an image when they angled slightly towards us on the light. Foraging birds do not always feed facing directly into the wind. We were doing as well as could be expected, which was not very good when someone called out, “Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.” We followed the same strategy outlined above.

Like all the Willets, dowitchers, and turnstones, this bird was headed from our right to our left, roughly to the south. The wind was roaring from the west. On occasion, the night-heron would ignore the wind and turn slightly toward us. To get low I wound up almost on my back crunched up a bit while making a very few images. Craig Wesson’s image of me that led off yesterday blog post here was made just moments after I created today’s featured image. It is not at all easy to create level verticals while lying on your back in a quasi-sit-up position with a stiff wind in your face. Taking a peek at the in-viewfinder level helps only a bit as it is so sensitive but it will get you in the ballpark. I made only two frames. Amazingly, both were level with the subject sharp and nicely framed.

Beach Clean-up & Moving the Bird in the Frame

Click White Balance in DPP 4 worked perfectly during the RAW conversion.

With the onshore wind the beach was a mess with sea grass. About halfway through the clean-up I almost quit because it was taking me so long. But the cleaned up portion looked so good that I decided to keep on going. I went with my usual cast of cleanup tools: Protective Cloning on a Layer using the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and a series of small Quick Masks refined with Regular Layer Masks. Once the cleanup was complete, I moved the bird up and back in the frame as you can clearly see by viewing the before and after animated GIF above. Then some Eye Doctor work followed by my NIK 50/50 recipe on the bird alone. Last was a Contrast Mask applied only to the dark and middle-toned feathers of the face.

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, 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, the Surface Blur (background noise reduction) settings, 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 either with phone orders or here in the BAA Online Store. For phone orders, call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 weekdays.


You can order your copy of “The Photographers’ Guide to Canon Digital Photo Professional 4.0” (aka the DPP 4 Raw Conversion eGuide) by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris by clicking here.

The DPP 4 eGuide (PDF)

The Ideal Companion to the 7D Mark II User’s Guide

Learn how and why I and many other discerning photographers choose and use only DPP 4 to convert their Canon RAW files in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. The latest version supports all of the newer Canon camera bodies and several older models including the EOS-7D and the EOS-1D Mark IV. A free update that will cover most of the newly added cameras will be sent as soon as I get it from Arash.


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8 comments to Wind Against Sun Strategy…

  • avatar Jeff

    Dear Artie,
    Thanks so much for sharing your adventures and images with us and for the additional gift of your responses to questions. May I ask please about this comment in your description. I have read your guide for the 7 d mark ii.

    AI Servo Zone/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding).

    I have been experimenting with full time back button focus for birds in flight and more static subjects while using AI servo. I don’t understand the advantage you are referring to of shutter button focus over back button when using AI servo mode as it would seem that if one is continuously pressing the back button while tracking a moving (standing or walking perhaps or in flight) bird then with either shutter or back button focus the camera is focused at the moment of shutter release.

    Thanks very much

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Jeff,

      YAW. Thanks for your purchase. Yes, the system will be tracking whether you have AF on the shutter button or on one of the rear buttons. After years of doing flight with rear button focus I simply got tired of doing two things when I could have been doing one. So now I switch back and forth between rear button and shutter button but find myself using shutter button AF probably 80% of the time.

      Let me know if that makes sense. later and love, artie

  • The beautiful colored background with the leg spread is terrific!

  • avatar Craig Wesson

    Great shot Artie. I really got to learn the clean up process.

  • avatar David Peake

    Another wow image . Glad you persevered with it. The way you describe it ,I feel like I was there on the beach watching you in action.

  • Truly a beautiful image. It is amazing to me how a number of small (though time consuming) changes can make such a huge difference in an already good image!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Richard. I agree. Yet from a natural history standpoint the image still shows the same thing, a night-heron walking down the beach on a sunny, windy day…. artie