One Strange Bird! And 5DS R ISO 1600 Neat Image Noise Reduction on the Subject… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

One Strange Bird! And 5DS R ISO 1600 Neat Image Noise Reduction on the Subject...

What’s Up?

Sunday night. All packed and in the limo on the way to the airport hotel. Y’all have fun. I should be online sporadically. The new guide will be announced on Tuesday.

The Streak

Todayโ€™s blog post marks 157 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As I will be making the trip to Namibia on April 11, this streak will likely come to an end soon. As always-โ€“and folks have been doing a really great job recentlyโ€“-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


This image was created on the rainy afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2016 at La Jolla, CA with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/5.6. Color temperature 7500K.

Fill flash at -2 stops with the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT, the Canon OC-E3 Off Camera Shoe Cord, the Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack, the Mongoose Integrated Flash Arm, and a Better Beamer.

I selected the AF point that was four up from the center AF point and used AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed. Should have been five up… AF was active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial.

Pacific race of Brown Pelican with strange sub-adult plumage

One Strange Bird!

I have never seen a pelican with plumage quite like this. In life, the bird was very dark brown, even close to black in spots. I made this image on the day that I created the featured image in the blog post here. Though that photo was one of the very first images that I made on what turned out to be 3 1/2+ week trip, it was my favorite San Diego photo by far. This bird is neat because of its strange plumage. The brown and black plumage does not usually go with the red bill pouch. I am sure that it is a sub-adult bird that is simply outside the lines of what is typically normal.

Before and After Neat Image Animated GIF

I let this animated GIF run for 3 seconds rather than the usual 2 so look carefully at the before and after images to see the gentle but effective NeatImage NR on the subject. You can see the grain disappear from the eye and from the feathers while retaining the detail as the GIF switches from Before to After. I used Arash’s 1D X ISO 1600 noise reduction settings during the RAW conversion in DPP 4. If you look hard at the Before version you will note that the ISO 1600 noise is pretty well controlled, but that what little noise is present is eliminated without destroying the fine detail. See more below.


This is a NeatImage screen capture

A NeatImage Screen Capture

5DS R ISO 1600 Neat Image Noise Reduction on the Subject

The area inside the blue box has been noise reduced. The area outside the box has not been noise reduced. After beginning with Arash’s recommended settings for each slider we teach you to visually inspect the image as you tweak the sliders. The NR here is applied only to the subject which is masked above the background layer. Next, we teach you to apply stronger NR only to the BKGR. The technique and the results are magical. During the process of making the guide more readable and understandable I taught the techniques to Patrick Sparkman. There is no better way to cement and reinforce new knowledge than by teaching it to a friend. His reaction: NeatImage and Arash’s techniques are amazing!

The New Guide and NeatImage

The work on on Arash’s new Post Processing Guide is finished and we will be announcing its publication here very soon. The guide will sell for $48. As above, the guide will teach you–as you can see in today’s featured image, to apply a small but effective amount of NR to the bird (while maintaining fine feather detail) and to apply greater amounts of NR to noisy backgrounds to smooth them out. The key to the success of these methods is a combination of Arash’s cleverly developed and innovative techniques and the great NeatImage plug-in. Arash recommends and uses only the NeatImage plug-in for advanced noise reduction. Both artie and Arash recommend only the Proversion as the Homeversion does not work on 16-bit images. Folks who are good with Layer Masking may wish to get a copy of NeatImage and get a head start on using this great program. If not, the new guide will make it simple for you. Learn more on the effectiveness of NeatImage in the blog post here.


From upper left clockwise to center: Black Skimmer head portrait, American Oystercatcher dining on surf clam flesh, Common Tern at sunset, Common Tern adult swallowing flatfish, Black Skimmer in flight, newborn Common Tern chick, American Oystercatcher with chick, fresh juvenile Common Tern (with fill flash), and Common Terns copulating.

Nickerson Beach Terns/Skimmers/Oystercatchers Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): July 18-22, 2016. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1899

Meet and greet at 3pm on the afternoon of Monday, July 18. Limit 10.

The primary subject species of this IPT will be the nesting Common Terns. The trip is timed so that we will get to photograph tiny chicks as well as fledglings. There will be lots of flight photography including adults flying with baitfish. Creating great images of the chicks being fed is a huge challenge. In addition to the terns we will get to photograph lots of Black Skimmers courting, setting up their nesting territories, and in flight (both singles and large pre-dawn flocks blasting off). Midair battles are guaranteed on sunny afternoons. And with luck, we might even see a few tiny chicks toward the end of the trip. We will also get to photograph the life cycle of American Oystercatcher. This will likely include nests with eggs and tiny chicks, young being fed, and possibly a few fledglings.

Nesting Piping Plover is also possibly. There will be lots of gulls to photograph; most years I am able to find a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls of varying ages in addition to the Herring, Ring-billed, and Great Black-backed Gulls. You will learn to identify and age the various gull species. There will likely be some Willets feeding along the surf and with luck we might get to photograph a handsome juvenile or two. In addition to the locally breeding shorebirds, we will likely get to see some southbound migrant arctic-and sub-arctic breeding shorebird species such as Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, and maybe even Red Knot.


From upper left clockwise to center: Black Skimmers with tiny chick, Common Tern landing with baitfish for young, fledged Common Tern chick in dunes, American Oystercatchers/display flight, adult Common Tern with pipefish for chick, Common Tern fledgling in soft light, American Oystercatcher on nest with eggs, American Oystercatcher 3-egg clutch, battling Black Skimmers.

The IPT Logistics

The tour will begin with a meet and greet on the afternoon of Monday, July 18, 2016. That will be followed by our first shooting session at the beach. From Tuesday through and including all of Friday we will have two photography sessions daily. Our morning sessions will start very early so that we are on the beach well before sunrise. We usually photograph for about four hours. Then we will enjoy a group brunch. We will always have a midday break that will include a nap for me. That followed by our daily afternoon classroom sessions that will include image review, workflow and Photoshop, and a review/critique of five of your trip images. Folks are always invited to bring their laptops to brunch for image sharing. I always have mine with me but heck, I am a big show-off. Afternoon in-the-field sessions generally run from 5pm through sunset.

Breakfasts are grab what you can. Four brunches are included. Dinners (if at all) will be on your own as we will often get back to the hotel at about 9pm. There is a fridge in every room and a supermarket within walking distance of the hotel so nobody should starve. You will learn a ton during the nine shooting sessions, the four in-classroom sessions, and even at lunch. Early morning and late afternoon parking is free. If we want to head back to the beach early we will need to arrange tight carpools and share the $30/vehicle parking fee. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $450 for the whole IPT.

Save a space by calling Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 and arranging to leave your deposit of $599–credit cards are accepted for deposits only. Your balance will be due on April 18, 2016. I hope that you can join me for what will be an exciting and educational IPT.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right ๐Ÿ™‚

13 comments to One Strange Bird! And 5DS R ISO 1600 Neat Image Noise Reduction on the Subject…

  • This is kinda late, so I’m not sure you’ll see this but…
    why the Color temperature of 7500?


  • avatar Neil Caithness

    a, enjoy both Jo-burg and Namibia. I know them both well. Looking forward to the results.

    Best wishes

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Have a great trip and be safe. Enjoy Namibia and good health.

  • avatar Fain Zimmerman

    We are seeing an occasional red-pouched brown pelican showing up on the Texas Gulf Coast. They are eye-catching! I guess there are some migrants that ended up here by mistake. Most of our ordinary brown pelicans have pretty dark plumage. Not sure if that trait is directly related to non red pouch or not. Love your pelicans!

  • avatar Ron Gates

    Is it just me or is the “before” shot of the eye sharper than “after” the noise reduction? I use Nik’s noise reduction and believe it does a very good job but like this example, I see a slight reduction is sharpness with it. Isn’t that an inherent part of noise reduction software?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Oftentimes a properly noise-reduced image may appear a bit less sharp than the original but if you stare at it for a while you realize that all the fine detail is there. a

  • avatar Wtlloyd

    I am generally loathe to venture outside of Lightroom, but I believe I will renew my old Neat Image license AND yes, I’ll be purchasing the guide.
    I want to mention I was in San Diego for a day this last weekend to visit friends and of course, we traipsed over to Balboa Park and saw your exhibit. As I expected, I was familiar with many of the prints, a couple of them I guess I was shooting somewhere along side of you at that time. How come my photos don’t look that good!? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Truly impressive, what a huge amount of work it must have been to assemble that show. Lovely prints!
    My friends with me are not birders or photographers ( creative types, however – a ceramicist and Interior Designer). They were astonished with the amount of detail in the photos and really taken with the beauty of the subjects. We spent 90 minutes scrutinizing everything, they were in no hurry to leave as I’d feared they would be. Your work really opens doors to our world. You deserve to be very proud.
    Very glad I went out of my way to see the show and I recommend making the effort to everyone that possibly can do so.
    See you in a couple days!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill for your incredibly kind words. Denise and I are in J-burg and will see you soon.

      later and love, a

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hey Doug,

    You are right. I have been very blessed. a

  • avatar Rick

    I guess by the time you read this I will be able to say “welcome to Southern Africa” ! I hope you enjoy Namibia.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Rick. On the plane to JFK now. Jet Blue: $9/hour for fast internet… a

  • I’d sure like to see a picture of your passport with all the stamps on it with all of the countries you’ve visited ๐Ÿ™‚