Is This Puffin Real or is it Photoshopped? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Is This Puffin Real or is it Photoshopped?

What’s Up?

After another great morning on Day 2 we got drizzled out on the afternoon landing. The island was closed to protect a record crop of Arctic Tern chicks from the dangers of exposure. We took a nice break and then enjoyed a great image review session; both Denise and I were wowed by the quality over everyone’s photographs. We ended the day with some great Italian food at Insieme in Seahouses. Everyone is looking forward to Day 3.

If you are interested in joining Peter Kes and me for the puffins and gannets in 2017 please scroll down.

Nickerson Beach Terns/Skimmers/Oystercatchers Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): July 18-22, 2016. 4 1/2 DAYS: $1899. Limit 10/Openings 6.

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

Please e-mail for repeat customer or couples discount info, or for info on a 3-day option.

With only four folks signed up, learning situations will abound. The primary subject species on this IPT will be the nesting Common Terns and Black Skimmers. The trip is timed so that we will get to photograph tiny tern 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 will be 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 skimmer 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.

From Tom Pfeifer via e-mail

Hey buddy,

Got to Nickerson yesterday evening. It is rocking with Common Tern chicks close to ropes. Some are still on eggs. Lots of oystercatcher chicks also. The skimmers for now are set back in the colony. At work so I gotta run… Looking forward to seeing you soon! Tom

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, makes-no-sense, 235 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-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.


Like yesterday’s featured image, this one was created on the morning of Day 1 of the 2016 Puffins and Gannets IPT 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 rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 2000. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2000 sec. at f/9. AWB.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point was just left of center on the bird’s belly. Click on the image to see a larger version. Micro-adjustment: +4.

Incoming Atlantic Puffin landing with fish

Is This Puffin Real or is it Photoshopped?

Today’s featured image is another killer landing puffin with fish. Here is the question of the day: is this image real or is it a Photoshop creation? If the latter, please state your evidentiary case clearly. Was the head replaced? Was one wing replaced? Anything else or more than one?

100-400 II/1.4X III/1D X Mark II ISO 3200 Winner…

AF with this relatively slow combination was superb when operator error did not intrude. ISO 2000 noise was visible even though I used Arash’s new numbers for chrominance and luminance. As expected, NeatImage cleaned it up beautifully without destroying the fine feather detail. All as detailed in the Professional Photographers Guide to Post Processing by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. NeatImage really is amazing.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT
Monday July 3 through Monday July 10, 2017: $5999: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 6). Two great leaders: Arthur Morris and BPN co-owner, BPN Photography Gear Forum Moderator, and long-time BAA Webmaster Peter Kes.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12. (We may opt to stay in Edinburgh on the night of July 11.) Price and details should be finalized at least six months before the trip but you will need to be a bit patient. It would be ideal if I can get all the work done by the end of September so that folks can arrange their flights then.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. 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 shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

This trip has sold out far in advance every year so do not tarry. I hope that you can join me.

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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25 comments to Is This Puffin Real or is it Photoshopped?

  • avatar Barrett Pierce


    I regret that I did not see your request for evidence earlier.

    I had no real evidence; just hints. I notice my comment was unclear as to right and left wings from an observer’s stand point versus the bird’s.

    Anyway I looked at the sharpness of the eye, bill tip, wing tips and toes. All are very sharp save the bird’s right wing tip which is the least sharp. I judged the toes on both feet as the sharpest. Even so all six spots are sharper that my skill level-I am fortunate to have one other than the eye very sharp. I then pondered your recent blogs on the thin focal plane with close subjects and long lenses: it seemed difficult to place five points in a narrow focal plane with the bird’s right tip being only slightly out. The bird’s right wing tip (least sharp) seemed to fit with the sharp toes, leaving the bird’s left wing, eye and bill tip all in about the same plane/sharpness.

    Next the bird’s right wing seems to be falling faster than the left wing as evidenced by the more ruffled feathers. The bird’s left wing is more open and should be gaining more lift which should bring the body into a more vertical position as the bird lands. The position of the bird’s left wing seems a little exaggerated versus the body orientation. All of these change as a bird lands, but the feet are in the same plane for a bird preparing to land and the bird is looking to the left while carrying dinner to chicks that are likely located near where it is landing.

    Finally I think I see a stitch going from the bird’s right shoulder down across the breast to a spot beneath the bird’s left wing. Barrett

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      As revealed in a subsequent post, the wings are both from the original frame. Only the head was replaced with the head of the same bird about 1/1000 sec. later…

      Your belated explanation does not make much sense to me and “I think I see” cannot be construed as evidence.

      Lastly, you ignored my request for evidence in the original post: ” If the latter, please state your evidentiary case clearly.”


  • avatar Barrett Pierce

    I think the bird’s head and right wing are cropped onto the body and left wing.

  • avatar David Peake

    No photoshop.
    Very nice image. Seven fish in its beak no less. Maybe 8.

  • avatar Brendan

    Puffin looks great and totally believable to me. I’d guess no photoshop.

    If anything, I wonder about the background. The puffin looks to be banking in air as if about to land, but we don’t see what/where that landing is going to happen. With that posture, I’d expect him/her to be low, near the ground. I wonder if there was a busy/ugly/distracting bit of land or flora in the picture that got photoshopped out.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      There is no grassy background the two leaders put the boys and girls in exactly the right spot…


  • avatar Pierre Williot

    There is something “fishy” about the left shoulder of this Puffin. It looks like there are feathers sticking up on the left side of the head. These should not belong there. Furthermore, the width of the left wing close to the head (between the black feathers close to the body and the white feathers) is much narrower then the similar area on the base of the right wing.
    My guess is that the left wing and the feathers above the left shoulder are from a different picture and were “photoshoped”.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Pretty much every thing that you mention above was in the original image capture…


  • avatar George Cottay

    The image is real. I can see it on the monitor and am not prone to hallucination. If seventy-eleven edits have been made the image is still real. It exists in an objective sense.

  • Hi Art

    Greetings. I do not see anything unreal about it. Looks very natural to me.

  • avatar Mark Harrington

    Unrelated, but can we expect this type of opportunity to photograph puffins on the coastal bear trip?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      We will likely get to photograph perched Horned Puffins with long lenses, and possibly some of both Western species, horned and tufted, in flight from a skiff. But nothing like the above.

      See you then. We still have room for a few more folks.


  • avatar Kerry Morris

    I agree with David.
    I’ve never seen you give a ‘Photoshop’ tutorial, nor any other evidence of photoshopping.
    If you were doing so, you’d probably have much less people following your blog.

    Looks real to me.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are a newbie 🙂 The truth shall be revealed.


    • avatar David Policansky

      Kerry Morris: Artie is a Photoshop wizard. Trust me on this! He has even described to us here how he replaced a wing on a bird and other wizardry. But he also likes to ask us questions and then enjoy our wild imaginations. 🙂 I’m sticking with my answer.

  • The term “photoshopped” is kind of nebulous at best. I can “photoshop” something and just clone out a background element or I can replace a background or I can take multiple images and combine them to create some type of composite image. I guess from an extremely technical perspective, I could actually just be inside of photoshop and be “photoshopping” an image. All of this is kind of tongue and cheek of course.

    My guess is that you did not do a great deal of compositing in this image if any.

  • avatar David Policansky

    It seems to me that you usually haven’t Photoshopped your images when you ask questions like this so i’ll say it’s real. I certainly can’t point to anything unreal. Great image.

  • avatar Phil Frigon

    Wing tip fixed.

  • avatar Donna Bourdon

    Having been on the first Puffin trip with you and Denise, I know the possibilities this spectacular destination offers. I say ….”real/no photoshop” other than NIK detail extractor.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    My guess would be a small crop and possibly levelling. No Photoshop.