Landing Vulture Flight Plan and Image Optimization « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Landing Vulture Flight Plan and Image Optimization


I am feeling great and thinking about packing for my big 7-week trip to Europe at the end of the month. Please remember that you can help support my efforts here on the blog simply by clicking on the Amazon logo-link on the right for even the smallest purchases; make it a habit!


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Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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 April 28 on the the Gatorland IPT. 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 500. Matrix metering about +2/3 stops off the sky: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3. SUNNY WB at 5:56 PM on a clear afternoon.

Center Group (grp) AF point/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the base of the bird’s near-wing as originally framed.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +4.

Black Vulture on final approach

The Situation

There were lots of vultures flying into roost from our left to our right. The problem was one large tree to our left and a tall zip line tower to our right. The trick was to acquire AF with the bird in front of the large tree and make an image or two when the bird was in the clear space before the tower … Though I succeeded in this case the bird was too far forward in the frame … See below for the original image capture.

The original image capture

Note the zip line wire below the bird.

The Image Optimization

Convert in ACR making sure to eliminate the vignetting using the sliders under the fx (effects) tab. Working in the un-framed view crop from below and the left while expanding canvas right. Dust spot. Eliminate the small branch on the right with a Quick Mask. Fill in the new canvas using John Haedo Content Aware Fill. Eliminate the zip line with Content Aware Fill. Make a careful selection of the bird using the Quick Selection Tool (W) and the plus and minus Lasso Tool (L) to fine tune the difficult spots. Feather and save the selection as bird. Put the selection on its own layer and apply a layer of my 30/30 NIK Color Efex Pro recipe. After merging that layer I loaded the selection and applied some NeatImage noise reduction to the bird alone (y = 55) and lots (y = 95) to the rest of the image using the advanced techniques detailed in The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

Lastly I smoothed the BKGR by applying a Layer of 60 pixel Gaussian Blur and painting it in after setting up a Hide-All (Inverse or Black) Layer Mask making sure to stay well away from the bird.

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

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

Everything mentioned above 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.
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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.

Though I have become more proficient converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw, I continue to optimize my Canon images in DPP 4. You can learn how and why I converted (and still convert) nearly all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. And, yes, I still have many Canon images to work on. 🙂 The RAW conversions for all three of today’s featured images was straightforward once I entered my camera/ISO specific recipes (as detailed in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide). 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.

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5 comments to Landing Vulture Flight Plan and Image Optimization

  • That’s a lot of steps in post, but I certainly can’t argue with the results. Nice work, Artie!

  • Hey Arthur, The image cleaned up nicely. Why are you applying noise reduction when the image was only shot at ISO 500?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks John,

      Good question. Understand that I was actually exposing so as not to burn the silver feet. As a result, the dark tones are right at about 1 2/3 stops underexposed. In addition the D850 has what I call “tiny pixel” noise that I guess is luminance noise. IAC, it cleans up perfectly. I used the advanced technique as the dark green in the tree also showed a bit of that. If I had not cleaned it up it would have been barely visible.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Great to hear you’re feeling good. I really like this one. It almost looks like a bald eagle getting ready to grab a fish. Black vultures can be death to cars, though.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David. Yes, they love those wiper blades …

      with love, artie