Shrimp Feeding Spree- and Noise Reduction-related Questions « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Shrimp Feeding Spree- and Noise Reduction-related Questions


Early on Friday morning I began micro-adjusting the 500 II with both of my 2X III TCs and all three camera bodies. Next up was a 1-4-1 Work session (The Work of Byron Katie). Then it was back to the micro-adjusting. After lunch I micro-adjusted the 100-400 II with all three camera bodies with only a single 1.4X III TC, my #ii. Each of those needs to be done both tight and wide.

With all of the above, two of the three camera bodies had already been micro-adjusted. Again, the re-checks do not take as long as when working from scratch. When a combo has already been micro-adjusted I simply run an AFC consistency test in FocusTune running the old value. On Friday, all but one of the tests were either perfect or within one. The exception was the 1DX II/100-400 II Tight with the 1.4X III ii; the old value was zero, the new test came up with +3. If you have no clue as to what I am talking about, it will all become clear in the new LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjusting e-Guide. That should be done by early August at the very latest. Or possibly a lot sooner than that.

During all of these micro-adjusting sessions I have been learning a ton and that will continue today as I work on the 70-200 ff/4L IS tight and wide with all three camera bodies and the 1.4X III ii TC. At 6:30pm I finally got into the pool and enjoyed my half-mile swim. And again, I ate well.

Mongoose M3.6 Heads Sold Out

For the first time in months, we had seven Mongoose M3.6 heads in stock last week. They are all gone. Your best bet is to call Jim at 863-692-0906 right now to order yours. We will not bill your card until we receive our next back-order and ship yours.

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 14 days in a row with a new educational blog post πŸ™‚


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

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 the BAA 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.

New Listing

Canon EOS-1D Mark III Professional Digital Camera Body

David R. Gibson (the original owner) is offering a Canon EOS-1D Mark III in near-mint condition but for a few very faint scratches on the rear LCD for only $599. The sale includes the front cap, the Canon LP-E4 Rechargeable Lithium Ion and the charger, the Canon camera body manual & pocket guide, a new Canon Pro Neck Strap 1, a Sandisk 8GB Ultra Compact Flash memory card, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears, unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact David via e-mail or by phone at 1-757-816-2825 (Eastern time).

Two EOS-1D Mark IIIs served as my workhorse camera bodies for more than 2 years. I created thousands of consistently sharp, saleable images with them. B&H currently has a used 1D III in excellent condition (8+) for $799.95; that makes David’s body a superb buy. artie

This image was created on the 2016 Fall Fort DeSoto IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6. Daylight WB.

Right Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system activated a single AF point that fell on squarely on the base of the bird’s bill. This image was cropped from below and from behind. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Snowy Egret with live shrimp

The Situation

For nearly two hours we enjoyed a large feeding spree with a variety of species catching shrimp and small fish. Those included Snowy and Great Egrets, Great Blue, Little Blue, and Tricolored Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and adult and first year Laughing Gulls. As all of the birds were tame I was able to work with the 600 II alone.

Image Questions

#1: This image was created at 8:57am. After looking at the exif data, let us know if it was made in full sun or made in cloudy conditions.

#2: Why is there so much noise in the background at “only” ISO 800?

Please note: the posterization of the background in the After frame resulted from the creation of the animated GIF not from the application of a double dose of NeatImage noise reduction; there is no posterization in the JPEG that opens today’s blog post.

NeatImage Noise Reduction

Learn to use NeatImage (separate purchase required) in The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. The version at this link deals with NeatImage V7.6. The free update that deals with V8.2 will be available early next week. V7.6, used on today’s featured image, is simpler and just as effective as the new V8.2 (but actually costs a bit more than the new version). The strange thing is that the results are identical.

Arash recommends and uses only the NeatImage plug-in for advanced noise reduction to maintain maximum fine detail in his images. Both artie and Arash recommend only the Proversion as the Homeversion does not work on 16-bit images. In this e-Guide you will learn how to run heavy noise reduction on the background and light noise reduction on the subject (so as to maintain fine feather detail).

The Image Optimization

After converting the RAW file in DPP 4 — the exposure was perfect right out of the box, I brought the image into Photoshop. I cleaned up the salt on the base of the upper mandible with a small, transformed Quick Mask that was refined by a Regular Layer Mask. The results were touched up with the Clone Stamp Tool. Then I ran NeatImage on the whole image. Twice! Then I added a Regular Layer Mask and erased the bill with a 50% Opacity brush to restore the lost detail.

Image Question #3

Why didn’t I have to worry about losing detail in the bird’s white feathers when I applied a double dose of NeatImage?

Everything above plus tons more is detailed in the new BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here Juts so you know, the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop workflow that will make it easy for you to make your images better in Photoshop (rather than worse). That true whether you convert your images in DPP 4 or ACR. See the blog post here to learn lots more and to read a free excerpt.

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The Fort DeSoto 2017 Fall IPT/September 22 (afternoon session) through the full day on September 25, 2017. 3 1/2 FULL DAYs: $1649. Limit 8.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join us on the ITF/MWS on the morning of Tuesday, September 26 as my guest. See below for details on that.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Though I have not decided on a hotel yet — I will as soon as there is one sign-up — do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with ten folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, gear advice, and instructions for meeting on the afternoon of Friday, September 22.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rich with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session (ITF/MWS): $99.

Join me on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive afternoon workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tour. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal non-refundable registration fee. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place at least two weeks before the event.


BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make the IPT? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store πŸ™‚

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.

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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 :).

21 comments to Shrimp Feeding Spree- and Noise Reduction-related Questions

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: after a little thought, I think the answers to questions 2 and 3 are related. The lower the light, the more noise there will be (signal/noise ratio gets lower as the signal gets lower) so the relatively dark background is noisy. But the light is stong off the white feathers so there’s almost no noise–and hence detail–to be removed by Neatimage.

  • 1.) I think the subject is in shade and it was cloudy

    2.) Underexposed to protect the highlights and hence there was noise in the shadows

    3.) We always apply different amounts of noise for the bird and the back ground. Bird always in a separate layer apply noise reduction and apply more noise reduction for the background.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Krishna,

      #1 is correct but nobody is giving a satisfactory answer. And, I have been teaching that very principle here for several years πŸ™‚

      #2 is correct in part but there is a better way to explain it that leads to greater understanding ..

      #3: not true. Not always. Here I applied double NR to the whole image and it looks great. The question is why? I think that I know the answer …

      • avatar Greg

        1. OK the penny dropped. How about this? Sunny 16 Rule says at f16 and ISO 800 on a sunny day your shutter speed should be 1/800sec. At 1/1600 that would give you F11. But you were using F5.6. That’s 2 stops difference which means you gave 2 stops more exposure – which in turn, means the light was low.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Getting better. Sunny 16 does not correlate exactly to digital but you are on the right track …

          with love, artie

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Hi! 1 & 2 seem to have been answered. For 3 – I can not see a huge lot of detail in the whites to start with so no harm done with 2x NR?

  • avatar Greg

    1. As you were working with a 600mm at F5.6 and 1/1600sec, the light must have been pretty good? I would say full sun.
    2. The background is very dark and occupies a large proportion of the image area. If you exposed correctly for the bird (no clipping and some reduction to hold feather detail) and the contrast was relatively high, this would leave the darkest tones underexposed. Underexposure increases noise.
    3. You probably masked off the bird and just applied NR to the background?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Greg, Thanks for playing; it is the best way to learn and to exercise those brain cells.

      #1: incorrect.

      #2: ah, finally someone who understands that principle; well done.

      #3: go back and re-read what I wrote πŸ™‚ And then answer the question.

      with love, artie

      • avatar Greg

        1. OK, on second thoughts if you were at ISO 800 at F5.6 perhaps the light was not that great!
        3. Two thoughts on this.
        First, as it was a dull day, the contrast was low so there isn’t that much detail in the feathers to start with?
        Second, the main problem with underexposed shadows is colour noise. The bird is white so noise reduction will not ‘attack’ this part of the image as much as the (dark) remainder?
        Third, although I don’t use Neat Image, some noise reduction software can be targeted at tonal values and frequency. Feathers would qualify as high frequency so Neat Image could be configured to target low frequency (smooth areas) parts of the image – the background.
        PS I still think applying a black mask to the bird and applying NR to the rest would be the way to go!

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          Good on #3. But masking out the bird in this image was not necessary. So why do a lot of extra work?

          with love, artie

          • avatar Greg

            1. OK the penny dropped. How about this? Sunny 16 Rule says at f16 and ISO 800 on a sunny day your shutter speed should be 1/800sec. At 1/1600 that would give you F11. But you were using F5.6. That’s 2 stops difference which means you gave 2 stops more exposure – which in turn, means the light was low.

            Sorry, I put this reply in the wrong place above.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: 1. Cloudy. 1/1600 at f/5.6 at ISO 400 would blow out the whites, by far. But then you ask why so much noise at only ISO 800 so I am confused. But if you were at ISO 800 it must really have been cloudy.

    I can’t see the noise on my phone and don’t know anything about Neatimage so I can’t answer those questions. Great image!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      David, You write, “1/1600 at f/5.6 at ISO 400 would blow out the whites, by far.” How do you know that? #2: I am pretty sure that you know the answer but you likely have been eating to much pasta. #3: You do not need to see the noise in order to answer this rather generic question πŸ™‚

      with love, artie

      • avatar David Policansky

        Artie: when I photograph white birds like snow geese, albatrosses, and egrets in sunlight at ISO 400, I have to use shutter speeds of around 1/5000 at f/5.6 or 6/6.3 not to blow the whites. I’ve learned this from experience. So 1/1600 would be 1.5 or 2 stops overexposed. Could be on the pasta (yum) but I’ll have to think more on questions 2 and 3. Have a wonderful trip to the UK.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          You are in the ballpark now with #1. Remember the Wandering Albatross from the ship …

          with love, artie

          ps: 1/5000 sec at f/5.6 at ISO 400 is the equivalent to 1/2500 at f/8 at ISO 400. Does that sound familiar to you or to anyone ???

  • avatar Warren H

    1 – Cloudy conditions. There is some color cast even though you are using daylight white balance. I would not expect to see that in full sun. Also, if you were at ISO 800 (caption says 400) at 5.6, I would not expect you to be in full sun at almost 9:00 am.

    2 – Due to cloudy conditions, this area was significantly darker that the subject that you exposed for.

    3 – No idea…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Warren, Thanks for trying. It really is the best way to learn.

      1-right answer, weak reason, especially considering the variation in monitors.



      with love, artie

  • 1. Full sun, -1/3 stop.
    2. There will always be more noise in the shadows or dark areas. The exposure is for the bird not the background.
    3. I know nothing about neat image noise reduction.

    Under the image it says ISO 400, your question says ISO 800.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for playing John.

      1- wrong

      2-please explain who this affects things: “The exposure is for the bird not the background.”

      3-the question stands for any type of noise reduction.

      with love, artie