Magic Spotlight. And making the buildings disappear … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Magic Spotlight. And making the buildings disappear ...


We had a great afternoon on Saturday photographing wind turbines and farm fields, the latter with spectacular blue-black sky backgrounds. We ended the day up on Steptoe Butte where we were greeted by a nice rainbow. And things were looking really good for sunset color right up until the last moment. How did that work out? The sunset fizzled and we got poured on 🙂

For the first three days we had been blessed with lots of beautiful cloudy skies, but on Sunday morning we were hit with the dreaded full sun/bright blue sky combo but I pulled a few magic tricks out of my hat and we had another great morning. Tip: when it is too darned sunny look for subject in the shade … Photos to follow 🙂

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 20 days in a row with a new educational blog post 🙂

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Monday July 3 through Wednesday July 12, 2017: $5999 + $1499: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 5). The (really cheap) two-day Gannet/Bass Rock Add-on is now part of the trip.

Please call 863-692-0906 for info on the substantial Late Registration Discount.

I have finalized the cottage and vehicle rental arrangements. We have room for several additional folks, at least for a couple and single. And I am in position, as noted above, to offer a rather substantial late registration discount. Please call us at 863-692-0906 or get in touch via e-mail. Click here for additional details and the travel plans.

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.

This in-camera Art Vivid JPEG image was created on the second afternoon of the 2017 Palouse IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (at 290m) with my favorite bird photography camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop (Auto Dynamic Range) around a base exposure of 1/250 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. WB: 4500.

Flexi-zone rear focus AF as framed with the square on the upper window (and released). Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Salt Barn spotlit

Magic Light

The Salt Barn is an iconic subject. Even though I had photographed it many times before, I barely had an image that I liked. Until now. We had some nice clouds so I decided to take the group into Idaho. No worries, the spot is only 20 minutes from our hotel. But by the time we arrived the eastern sky had grayed out. We set up, I shared my thoughts on framing, and we made a few images. But then, the sun broke through, lit the barn and the two bright sections just behind it, but left the distant background in shadow.

I had moved right to eliminate the leaves of a large tree that had been creeping into the frame on the left edge and was thrilled with the way that background elements fell into place. The single stand of trees upper left is nicely balanced by the two on the upper right. And the dirt field middle right adds a nice touch of color and balances the barn. All — with just the right amount of sky –combined to create a pleasing image design.

The only two negatives were a low white building behind some of the upper left trees and some power poles and lines in the same area. Read on to see how I dealt with those below.

Image Clean-up and Optimization

I used several techniques to remove the power poles and lines. I divided the power lines using the Clone Stamp Tool and then used the Patch Tool to eliminate the poles. Then I used the Spot Healing Brush to paint away what was left of the power lines. To eliminate the long, low, white building I painted a Quick Mask of the trees on the right of the stand, put that selection on its own layer, moved (V) it to my left to position it over the long, low, white building, and then used the Warp Tool to shape the selection so that it covered the offending building seamlessly after I refined it with a Regular Layer Mask.

Then I saved the in-camera JPEG as a TIFF and created a JPEG for use in today’s blog post.

Most everything above plus tons more 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.

The Curves on a Layer Color Balancing technique will be included for the first time in the 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, DPP 4 BASICS, 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.

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 :).

6 comments to Magic Spotlight. And making the buildings disappear …

  • avatar David Policansky

    The red barn image is stunning.

  • avatar Doug

    Very nice job, Art, removing the large white building. If it were going to be used in a large print, the repeating pattern of trees might be noticed. Red barn image is a beauty.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Doug, That might be true. Or not. If I had not mentioned it, however, I am thinking that maybe only Denise Ippolito might have been the only one to notice it Or perhaps not …

      With love, artie

  • avatar Jim Crane

    Artie, have you driven from Pullman to Lewiston? You have to go down a hill that is about a mile or more switching back. There are turn offs for the view. I think you would like. You have the Snake and Clearwater below and the city of Lewiston and Clarkston. Try if you have time. Jim a

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Not sure but thanks for the suggestion. We still have way to much to do 🙂

      with love, artie