Sandwich Tern Landing Thoughts and Versions … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Sandwich Tern Landing Thoughts and Versions ...

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There was not much going on at the lake on Wednesday morning but I did make some nice images of both a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron hunting in the marsh along the lakeshore. Then I took a walk on a long pier with my 400 DO II/1.4X III/1DX II and made one really good flight image of a fly-by GBH. I got a lot of work done on upcoming travel and lots of upcoming Florida IPTs. I got my last SynVisc shot in the afternoon. Next Tuesday I will be flying to Phoenix, AZ for eight physical therapy sessions with DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) Amy Novotny. Amy, who does some really out of the box alternative stuff, was highly recommended by client-friend Muriel McClellan who — with Amy’s help — avoided knee replacement surgery. And a year later, Muriel is still feeling and doing great.

When I got back from the doctor’s I needed a nap so I took one. Then I went down to the lake for sunset and created 114 images of an Anhinga on the perch in six minutes while working on my bird against the disk of the sun images. I did get a very few good ones. At one point the bird did a prolonged acrobatic stretch and I was 100% sure that I was gonna be famous, but alas, in almost every image the silhouette of the head was cut by the black sky so they were pretty much a no-go.

I got back home at dusk and clicked on the pool lights so that I could swim. But the lights would not turn on so I had dinner, swimless for a day. At 4am the next day, Thursday December 28 I clicked on the pool lights out of curiosity; they came on but would not turn off πŸ™‚ I will take a long swim today.

Big time thanks to the many who commented on yesterday’s Lucky Look-Back and Lots of Questions for You blog post here. I just finished replying all the comments; if we were giving prizes David Peake would have won again! IAC, those interested in learning more might wish to check out what I have to say. Especially Jay! In the same vein, folks might want to revisit their own comments after a day or two to see if I responded with a question. I often do but few folks ever respond. πŸ™‚ I will be doing a follow-up blog post where I will be answering all of my own questions. πŸ™‚

Today makes one hundred fifty-two days in a row with a new educational blog post! This blog post took about 2 hours to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.

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Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Order by 2pm today, Thursday December, 28, 2017

This image was created at Fort DeSoto on the late morning of Monday, December 4, 2017 while seated with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 300mm) and my favorite flight photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2000 sec. at f6/3 in Manual mode. AWB. 11:35am on a cloudy day.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: extrapolated to -4.

Center point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure as framed. The selected AF point was on the sky in front of the bird’s face and a bit above its eye.

The full frame original/Sandwich Tern braking to land

The Make the Best Image Challenge

In the Make the Best Image Challenge blog post here, I ran the image above and the text that follows: If you would like to take part in the challenge please read the directions that follow carefully and then shoot me an e-mail by clicking on the following link only: e-mail.

When you receive the e-mail, open the image in Photoshop and optimize it so as to create what you think is the best possible image. If you would delete this image, please leave a comment and state why. When you open the image it should be 1200 pixels wide. If you think that the image needs to be cropped, be sure to hit Clear once you have activated the Crop Tool to avoid unintentionally changing the pixel dimensions. Once you have made your perfect crop, feel free to clean things up as needed using the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and/or Content Aware Fill. You may also adjust the tonality and the contrast. Sharpen (but do not over-sharpen) the JPG. Save your Best Image as is without resizing it as follows: YourName.JPG (using your real name). Then shoot me an e-mail with the image attached. Have fun. The single best version will be published here soon along with my optimized version.

About a dozen folks gave this a shot. Several worked at removing all the bird on the beach. All but one of those were not good; some butchered the bird’s feet and toes and most made a splotchy, ugly mess of the beach below the subject, rife with telltale Clone Stamp marks. I have opted not to post any of those here to protect the folks who sent them. At times, you can save such messes by running a 70 pixel Gaussian blur on the whole image, adding a Hide-All (Inverse or Black) Mask, and painting in the smooth stuff over the mess with a soft brush. But you need to work large and be very careful near the bird in flight, especially around the feet, so that the Gaussian blur does no spill-over onto the subject. (Scroll down to see the image submitted by Noel Heustis below.)

Image #1: Sandwich Tern braking to land — my first version

My Thoughts and Version I

I am not a big fan of nearly all incoming tern shots where the birds in the flock below are visible. When the subject merges with any of the birds on the beach, I like that a lot less. I decided right off the bat that eliminating all the birds below the subject would require a great deal of time, effort, and skill and knew instantly that I would pass on that. But the light on the wings and the patterns of the feathers were just too, too beautiful so I decided to try something. As I advised the readers to do, I asked myself, β€œWhat is the neatest part of the image?” That answer was easy, “the wings.”

For my first version (Image #2, immediately above), I executed a square crop that eliminate much of the clutter in the lower right corner and along the bottom of the frame. The four tern heads that remained framed the landing bird nicely and the out of focus tern bodies were rather pleasing. The only tern head that bugged me is the one of the Sandwich Tern just in front of and below the subject’s feet. One day I will make a third version that eliminates the Sandwich Tern head …

Image #2: Sandwich Tern braking to land — my second version

My Thoughts and Version II

When I was working on these photo about a month ago, the thought of removing the single problematic head never entered my mind so I decided to execute a tighter square crop to reduce the photo to it’s essence. The result is Image #2, above.

Image #3: Sandwich Tern braking to land — Juan Pablo’s version

Juan Pablo’s Version

Juan Pablo Fernandez de Castro wrote in an e-mail: I wanted to highlight the wings and keep it high key with a clean background. I cropped and rotated to have some more space in front of the bird. I added some canvas to the left upper corner and filled it using Content-Aware fill. I eliminated an o-o-f bird in the right lower corner also using Content-Aware fill. Finally, I lightly sharpened with NIK.

Juan Pablo is the only one, who like I did, thought to reduce the image to its essence with a tight crop. His version is Image #3 above.

Image #4: Sandwich Tern braking to land — Noel Heustis’s version

Noel Heustis’s Version

New BAA friend Noel Heustis sent the best of the get rid of the flock images but there was lots of lumpiness below the tern. I applied a Gaussian blur as noted above and cleaned things up a bit. Noel’s version cleaned up a bit by my de-lumping is Image #4 above. If you tilt your screen back a bit you can see that I left a bit of a mess in the lower right corner, and elsewhere …


Any and all comments are of course welcome. As for me, I like my version II best, with the image reduced to its greatest strength. The superb image quality of a sharp Mark IV image files allows for aggressive cropping if needed. Folks who would like to learn some tricks used to photograph gulls and terns at the beach can check out Tern/Gull Pile Photography Tips/Part I: Flight here and Tern/Gull Pile Photography Tips/Part II: Tight and Static (and Fluffy) here.

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7 comments to Sandwich Tern Landing Thoughts and Versions …

  • avatar Bill Eaton

    Love image II

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I like #2 best also. Exposing terns and gulls properly on cloudy days is a lot easier than on sunny days πŸ™‚

    with love, artie

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    I think Juan Pablo is onto something with the tilt. Half way between yours and Artie’s #2 would be the best, IMO. Great job Juan, way to vision outside the box!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Anthony, Thanks for commenting. I am glad that you like the tilt; I do not πŸ™‚ But he did a great job of getting to the core of the matter.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Noel Heustis

    Artie, Thanks for posting these challenges. I’ve learned a ton every time I’ve tried one. Your efforts at teaching are much appreciated.

  • Very nice images on all version. Very hard to photograph such bright and dark together. Like a wedding photographing shooting a bride and groom. Not an easy combination.

    I like version 2 the best. Next is version 1 for the context of landing in a group but not too much of the group to be distracting. The DOF works to keep the background soft, yet still knowing it is other birds.

    The flow diagonally of #2 feels better to me than the more vertical #3, and Version # 4 doesn’t let me explore the detail of the wings and the feeling of some translucent quality to the wing feathers. Also I see more detail in the head/eye in version # 2.

    Happy New Year!!!