Wow, Wow, Wow! And Leaving the Red Light District. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Wow, Wow, Wow! And Leaving the Red Light District.


On Friday afternoon I met the IPT group and we headed out to Fort DeSoto for a free extra session. Those who crossed the small bay at low tide did well with a dancing Reddish Egret and a nice spoonbill. As my hernia was bothering me I opted to stay back and work with Norm Steffen on exposure and moving the focus points. My shoulder continues to improve just a bit every day.

Wow, Wow, Wow!

Wow, wow, wow! There were five of us in all on the first morning of the DeSoto IPT: friends/clients Anita North and Loren Waxman, newbie and relative beginner Norm Steffen, my friend/assistant Noel Heustis, and yours truly. It was very windy, 25+ mph from the south, and the weather was threatening a bit. We met at my usual favorite spot by 7:00am but I decided to make a wiggle right off the bat so we drove a short way an wound up in bird photography heaven. We started out with some Ruddy Turnstones while teaching Norm about exposure. Then I spotted a flock of Red Knots, some molting into alternate (summer, or breeding) plumage. (Learn more here.) At first we had difficulty getting close but within an hour we had the flock feeding right in front of us with cloudy bright skies. I worked with the 600 alone while Anita went with the Nikon 200-500 with her new D500. Loren used his Canon 600II and his 100-400 II. Norm and Noel used their 100-400 II lenses with their 7D Mark II bodies. After a while, Noel added the 1.4X III TC. There were some fisherman nearby and just when I was about to say, “Five minute warning” Noel called out, “the hybrid is at the bait bucket!” He had told me that the strange bird that we had photographed last year. I had thought then that it was a Great Egret X Reddish Egret hybrid. But after seeing it this year, it almost seems obvious that it is a Great Blue Heron X Reddish Egret hybrid. Or not. You will see the bird and its amazing, sky blue/ultramarine lores in a blog post soon.

I made 484 images for the morning. I kept 76–most of those of Red Knots–and a baker’s dozen of the hybrid heron/egret, most of those head portraits.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight

Geoff Coe left a comment yesterday stating that he had tried the settings in the Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight … (free to some) and Don M asked about that. Here is the info for those who may have missed it:

Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight … an illustrated e-mail: $10. Free with proof of purchase for any BAA Camera Users Guide.

If you previously purchased a camera User’s Guide from BIRDS AS ART, you can get your free copy of the new Canon AF Settings for Birds in Flight e-mail by following these simple directions: Click here. This will open an e-mail to Jim with the subject line filled in. Now simply cut and paste a copy either the receipt you got when you purchased a camera User’s Guide from BAA or cut and paste the cover or the first page of your User’s Guide. Then hit send.

Those who have never purchased a camera User’s Guide from us (could it be?) can click here to order the new information from the BAA Online store for $10.00. Or, you can call Jim or Jen at 863-692-0906 to order. Or, you can send us a Paypal for $10.00 to

With love, artie

The Streak

Today makes two hundred sixty days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took less than an hour to prepare including the time spent on the image optimization. With all of my upcoming free time (or not…), the plan right now is to try to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.


BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Patrick Sparkman saved $350 on a recent purchase!


Several folks on the Gatorland IPT used the Booking.Com link below and got great rates and saved a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. 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.

This image was created on the Saturday, April 14, 2018. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at about zero: 1/800 sec. at f/6.3. AUTO1 WB at 6:36pm on a slightly overcast afternoon.
One AF point down form the center AF point d-9/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was about two inches in front of the flapping bird’s breast. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +4.

The Photo Mechanic Screen Capture for today’s featured image
Click on the image for the larger version so that you can see that the RED channel is toasted.

The Red Light District Situation

It was getting close to sunset. As above, I was taking things on the easy side. I noticed a Red-breasted Merganser feeding frantically in the shallows. In the warm, low light I went to ISO 800 and wound up happy at 1/800 sec. at f/6.3. When I saw that the bird was going to flap after a short bath my instinct was to up the shutter speed to 1/1000 sec. to avoid burning the white flanks but I was not fast enough so I fired off three frames. As expected, the flanks were flashing with blinkies. But the RGB histogram in the screen capture showed that the problem was with the RED channel and to a smaller degree, with the specular highlights on the merganser’s flanks. At dinner I explained to the group that the image optimization would be relatively easy. See below for the details.

This image was created on the Saturday, April 14, 2018. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering about -1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/6.3. AUTO1 WB at 6:36pm on a slightly overcast afternoon.
One AF point down form the center AF point d-9/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was about two inches in front of the flapping bird’s breast. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +4.

Red-breasted Merganser flapping after bath/the optimized version

Leaving the Red Light District

The best place to deal with the overexposed flanks and the too-RED color balance is in the RAW conversion. The As Shot white balance was a very warm 6250K. Simply lowering that to 5100 by moving the color temperature slider to the left was a huge improvement. Then I moved the White slider to -18, the Black slider to -1, and the Highlight slider to -9. Then I set the Clarity slider to +7 and converted the NEF file.

Once I had the TIF in Photoshop I worked large on the (ugly) specular highlights with the Spot Healing Brush eliminating each of them. I still was not thrilled with the color so I put the whole thing on a layer (Command + J), hit Command + U, went to the YELLOW channel, and desaturated it 80 points. Almost there. I merged that layer and again put the whole image on a new layer this time going Image > Adjustments > Selective Color and adding 50 point of CYAN to tone down the remaining REDs in the plumage and especially in the bill. As I liked the warmer eye I simply added a Regular Layer Mask and painted back in (B + D + X) the warm tones of the iris. Then I applied a layer of my new 30/30 + Pro Contrast NIK Color EFEX Pro recipe and reduced the opacity of that layer to 20% as it looked way overdone. Then I ran NeatImage noise reduction on a new layer with the Y slider at 80%. Lastly I executed a 3X2 crop starting from the lower right.


The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

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.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

Your guessed it, everything mentioned above (but for the new NIK recipe) and tons more is covered in detail in the 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. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Do note that you will find the RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing tutorial only in the new e-guide. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

The two most recent and many of the older MP4 Photoshop Tutorial videos releases go hand and hand with the information in DB II):

  • The Wingtip Repairs MP4 Video here.
  • The MP4 Crow Cleanup Video here.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here.

You can learn how and why I converted nearly all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And, yes, I still have many Canon images to work on. 🙂 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.

IPT Stuff

All IPTs include an introductory briefing before the IPT begins so you know what to expect, frequent in-the-field instruction and guidance (priceless), image editing and small group Photoshop instruction during and after lunch. Breakfasts are on your own so that we can get in the field early. Lunches are on me. Dinners are on your own as well so that we can get to bed as the days in spring will be long.

Rides with the leader are available on a limited basis for $50/day.

Registering for an IPT

To register for an IPT call Jim or Jen in the office at 863-692-0906 from Monday morning through Friday lunch with your credit card in hand to leave your $500 non-refundable deposit. Balances may not be paid by credit card so you will be asked to send a check for your balance along with the signed paperwork that you will find here.

Tame birds in breeding plumage and heron and egret chicks are great fun.

Gatorland IPT #2. Sunrise: 6:48am. Sunset: 7:58pm.

3 1/2 DAYs: THURS 26 APR through and including the morning of SUN 29 APR. $1599. Limit 5 photographers.

(2 1/2 DAY option) FRI 27 APR through and including the morning of SUN 29 APR. $1199.

Must purchase Gatorland Photographers Pass. Click here for details. All early entry. Late stays Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Gatorland IPT #2 should have lots of chicks, and lots of birds in breeding plumage. We will get to photograph Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, and Wood Stork. The Cattle Egrets in full breeding plumage will be present in good numbers. Learn my Gatorland strategy, to get the right exposure, flight photography techniques, my secret Gatorland spots, how to see the best situations (nobody is better at that than me), and how to make great images in extremely cluttered situations.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

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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.


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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 :).

3 comments to Wow, Wow, Wow! And Leaving the Red Light District.

  • avatar Noel Heustis

    Artie – thanks for showing how you processed this shot. The final product is beautiful. I’ve watched those mergansers snorkel around out there for hours without seeing one flap like that…he must have known it was you and just wanted to say hi.

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Interesting process in dealing with the bright image. Nice result.
    Good to see you getting good results after your conversion to the dark side.
    I think your blog count should say 260 today (says 206); probably auto-correct at work.
    Hope the hernia and the shoulder get well soon. All the best.