Cattle Egret Surprise, Two Great Subject/Background Combos, and An Exposure Question « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Cattle Egret Surprise, Two Great Subject/Background Combos, and An Exposure Question

What’s Up

I spent most of Sunday working on several To Transfer image folders, doing third and fourth edits and creating about 200 new slide show JPEGs. Once I get the files double backed up on the office Drobos, I can get some serious stuff off the laptop in preparation for my four upcoming trips. We keep one set of the Drobo disks at Jennifer’s house, the other in a heavy duty safe in the garage.

I was thrilled to learn on Sunday that multiple IPT veterans Pat and Stokes Fishburne are driving up from Fort Myers on Saturday and will be joining me at Gatorland on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. That leaves me free for Saturday morning. In any case, there is lots of room for you all day on Saturday and on Sunday morning. There is so, so much to learn.

Scroll down for info on the Palouse IPT late registration discount.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major and minor 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. And please remember also 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 of course appreciate your business.

BIRDS AS ART June 3-4 Gatorland In-the Field Instructional Meet-Up Sessions

Last of the Season!

Join me in Kissimmee, FL for all or part of the weekend of June 3-4, 2017. We should get to photograph several species of nesting herons and egrets as well as Wood Stork, American Alligator (captive), and more. We should get to make lots of head portraits of all the bird species and to photograph both small chicks and fledged young. Learn to see, find, and make the shot in cluttered settings. Learn exposure and how to handle WHITEs. All of the birds are free and wild. These inexpensive sessions are designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to see you there.

June 3-4, 2017 Schedule

  • Saturday June 3 Meet-up Morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $99.
  • Lunch and Image Review: $99.
  • Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $99.
  • Sunday June 4 Meet-up Morning, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $90.

Cheap Canon lens rentals available: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, or 200-400.

To pay for one or more sessions in full via credit card, call Jim or Jen in the office weekdays at 863-692-0906. You will be responsible for the cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s pass or passes. Please shoot me an e-mail with questions.

This image was created on the May 14 Gatorland In-the-Field Meet-up session 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 rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

One row up and one to the right of the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was just to the right of the bird’s eye.

Cattle Egret in breeding plumage, squawking

Cattle Egret Surprise

On my mid-May Gatorland visit, I was both pleased and surprised to find several really good looking breeding plumage Cattle Egrets on nests, a full six weeks after the first influx of this handsome species with their cherry and yellow bills and their magenta/purple eye make-up. In prior years, early to mid-May was prime time for the breeding plumage Cattle Egrets so the late March birds were actually the atypical ones.

A Great Combo Either Way …

One of my very favorite situations is to have a shaded subject set against a sunlit background. The opposite, a sunlit subject set against a shaded background (as with today’s featured image) can be pretty nifty as well. In the former situation, you need to guard against underexposing the subject, in the latter, you need to guard against overexposing the subject.

Exposure Question

With the background so black, why did I only need 1/3 stop of underexposure?

Critique Today’s Image

Positives? Negatives? Exposure? Image design? Sharpness? Impact?

The Image Optimization

After converting the image in DPP 4 I brought it into Photoshop and, aside from the bill clean-up seen above in the animated GIF, did not do a whole lot. The only other thing of note was running a 20% Linear Burn on the brightest WHITEs after selecting them with a Color Range Selection. As is usual for the clean-up work I used the Patch Tool, the Clone Stamp (for dividing and conquering), the Spot Healing Brush for the small spots, and again, my new friend, Content Aware Fill (Shift-Delete). I have been using that more and more in recent weeks.

Almost everything above is detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete (former PC) 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, the basics of Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs and Dodge and Burn, a variety of making selections, how to create time-saving actions, and tons more.

I am working on an all new Current Workflow e-guide that better reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow. It will include a section on ACR conversions and a simplified method of applying Neat Image noise reduction. Along with all of the Photoshop stuff from Digital Basics that I still use. Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here.


Palouse 2016 Horizontals Card

Why Different?

Announcing the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour

In what ways will the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour be different from the most other Palouse workshops?

There are so many great locations that a seven-day IPT (as opposed to the typical three- or five-day workshops) will give the group time to visit (and revisit) many of the best spots while allowing you to maximize your air travel dollars. In addition, it will allow us to enjoy a slightly more relaxed pace.

You will be assured of being in the right location for the given weather and sky conditions.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills.

You will learn to design powerful, graphic images.

You will visit all of the iconic locations and a few spectacular ones that are much less frequently visited.

You will learn long lens landscape techniques.

You will learn to master any exposure situation in one minute or less.

You will learn the fine points of Canon in-camera (5D Mark III, 5DS R, and 7D II) HDR techniques.

You will learn to create this look in Photoshop from a single image while winding up with a higher quality image file.

You will be able to share a variety of my exotic Canon lenses including the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens and the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens, aka the “circle lens.”

You will learn to use your longest focal lengths to create rolling field and Urbex abstracts.

You will learn when and how to use a variety of neutral density filters to create pleasing blurs of the Palouse’s gorgeous rolling farmlands.

As always, you will learn to see like a pro. You will learn what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time.

You will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images.

You will learn to use super-wide lenses both for big skies and building interiors.

You will learn when, why, and how to use infrared capture; if you do not own an infrared body, you will get to borrow mine.

You will learn to use both backlight and side-light to create powerful and dramatic landscape images.

You will learn to create the very popular detailed, slightly grungy, slightly over-saturated look in Photoshop.


Palouse 2016 Verticals Card

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour. June 8-14, 2017. Seven full days of photography. Meet and greet at 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 7: $2,499. Limit 10/Openings: 5.

Call 863-692-0906 or e-mail for Late Registration Discount Info

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will enjoy spectacular sunrises and at least one nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. I will bring you to more than a few really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join me for this trip. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

Over the past three years, with the help of my friend Denise Ippolito, we found all the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and vistas. What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, my extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions. As above, there will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before the workshop begins.

To Sign Up

Your non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold your spot. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining this IPT. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours to arrange for the payment of your deposit; if by check, please make out to “BIRDS AS ART” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail: artie.

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. 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. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

Please Remember to use my 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 please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


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

4 comments to Cattle Egret Surprise, Two Great Subject/Background Combos, and An Exposure Question

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Yes, indeed, a superb image! I agree with Andy about the exposure. By the way, I was quite excited to get good opportunities yesterday to photograph a purple gallinule here on Nantucket. The sun was in front of me, behind the bird, but at the right moment clouds came over and provided a bright overcast.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      That is a very lost bird; sometimes praying for clouds is your best hope 🙂

      with love, artie

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    There’s about an equal amount of whites and blacks so 0 would be the exposure but white needs less exposure to keep detail so -1/3. Positives to all other questions except maybe just a hair more background at the top? Looks beautiful to me.

  • avatar Andy

    Pretty shot. Breeding cattle egrets are quite stunning. Love the open bill. The subject is pretty large in the frame, so not much compensation needed.