Red Light, Blue Sand … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Red Light, Blue Sand ...


I fly to Long Island this afternoon to visit family and do some bird photography. I have one person signed up for pretty much every Long Island session so if you can join us, you will be assured of a very small group … The complete details for both Nickerson and JBWR are below. I was glad to learn that the sale of Todd Koudelka’s Can 5D Mark IV is pending.

Good News on the Galapagos Front

Right now it is looking as if we may be up to nine or ten for the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise … Click here for the complete details and get in touch via e-mail if you would like to join us or if you have any questions.

A Great Discussion

Thanks to the many who re-visited the Would You Remove a Cigarette Butt From an Otherwise Great Image? A Great Quick Mask/Layer Masking Trick. And Lots More … blog post here. If you have not read all the comments and the replies, you might find it quite interesting.

The Podcast YouTube Link

You can view and comment on the podcast on YouTube here.

The Topics

As I mentioned yesterday, I had great fun doing the 100th Understand Photography episode with Peggy Farren in Naples on Friday afternoon past. We talked in depth about my getting fired by Canon as an Explorer of Light, my switch from Canon to Nikon, the pros and cons of each system for bird photographers, the best tripod head for bird photography, and lots more. We did get to include the Long Lens Sharpness Misconceptions and Tips demo.

Long Island Small Group Instruction

I will be returning to my old haunts on Long Island from 15-27 August, prime time for bird photography. The schedules below may be expanded based on demand.

Skimmer Sessions

Join me at Nickerson Beach to photograph Black Skimmers and lots more. Gull predation of young skimmers is likely. With full frame bodies, a minimum of a 500mm lens with TCs is recommended. 400mm OK with crop factor bodies.

Skimmer Morning: Thursday, AUG 16, 2018. 5:30 – 9:00am plus a working brunch: $375/session. Limit 4/Openings 3.
Skimmer Morning: Friday AUG, 17, 2018. 5:30 – 9:00am plus a working brunch: $375/session. Limit 4/Openings 3.
Skimmer Morning: Wednesday, AUG, 22, 2018. 5:30 – 9:00am plus a working brunch: $375/session. Limit 4.

Skimmer Afternoon (usually best for flight): Skimmer Afternoon (usually best for flight): Friday, AUG 17, 2018. 5:00pm till sunset: $250/session. Limit 4/Openings 3.
Skimmer Afternoon (usually best for flight): Tuesday AUG 21, 2018. 5:00pm till sunset: $250/session. Limit 4/Openings 3.
Skimmer Afternoon (usually best for flight): Wednesday AUG 22, 2018. 5:00pm till sunset: $250/session. Limit 4/Openings 3.

Please inquire e-mail for multiple session discounts.

To register, please call Jim or Jen with your credit card in hand: 863-692-0906. I hope that you can join me.


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

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.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Pierre Williot

I would encourage anyone who wants to sell some of their photographic equipment to contact Art. High-end photographic equipment can be difficult to sell. Art, with is widely read daily posts, will allow you to sell your equipment fairly easily for a reasonable price and commission. Please, seriously consider the price that he suggests as it can be hard to face the reality of the actual value of well loved equipment! Art is well aware of the current market for second-hand photographic equipment.

Recent Sales

IPT veteran Bill Wingfield sold a Wimberley V-2 WH-200 Gimbal Head in very good condition for a ridiculously low $299.00 and a Gitzo GT3532LS Carbon Fiber tripod in good condition for only $249.00, both in early August.
IPT veteran Bill Wingfield sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens in excellent to near-mint condition for $1049.00 in late July 2018.
Pierre Williot sold his Canon EOS 5DS R in like-new condition for the BAA record-low-by-far price of $1999.00 (was $2399.00).
Carolyn Peterson sold a Canon GPS receiver GP-E2 for EOS camera bodies in near-mint condition for $149 in mid-July.
BAA-friend “Bug” Bob Allen sold a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Zoom lens in excellent condition for the a BAA record low price of $527.00 in mid-July.
NANPA President Don Carter sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens in excellent condition for the BAA record-low-by-far price of $525 the first day it was listed. Yours truly sold his like-new Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens for $699 in late June.
Ray Maynard sold his Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS lens (the original version) in near-mint condition for the BIRDS AS ART record-low price of $2349.000 and a Canon 2X III teleconverter in near-mint condition for $285.00 both in mid-July.

New Listings

Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender

Mike Diersing is offering a Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM lens with Internal 1.4x Extender in very good-plus condition (the glass is immaculate) for the crazy, BAA record-low-by-far price of $7,199.00. The sale includes a Really Right Stuff LCF-53 lens foot, a Realtree Max-5 LensCoat, the front and rear lens caps, the original tripod and monopod mounts, the lens trunk with keys, the lens strap, the lens manual, and insured ground shipping via FedEx to US addresses only.

Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mike via e-mail.

This is the world’s best lens for a trip to Africa. It kills also in the Galapagos and in South Georgia, the Falklands, and Antarctica. And I use mine a lot at Bosque and other dusty places where the built-in TC helps to keep your sensor clean. And I love it in the Palouse for its versatility. Most recently, I often found myself wishing that I had taken the 200-400 rather than my 500 II on the Bear Boat Cubs IPT. Many nature photographers use it as their workhorse telephoto lens as it offers 884mm at f/8 with an external 1.4X TC added. As you can see below, it is pretty good whenever you are working around relatively tame birds. The lens sells new at B&H right now for $10,999. You can save a near $3,800.00 by grabbing Mike’s lens right now. artie

Deep B&W Infrared Canon EOS 40D Kit with Extras!

Dane Johnson is offering a Canon EOS 40D kit with the body converted to Deep Infrared by Life Pixel in near-mint condition for $549.00. The sale includes the original product box with all that came in it, the manuals, CDs, the camera strap, battery and charger, front cap, the USB and video cables along with a 4GB CF card, four extra batteries, a Delkin Power battery charger, the Canon Ef-D grid focusing screen, a Really Right Stuff B40D-L L-bracket, and a Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens in near-mint condition calibrated to the camera for infrared with the front and rear lens caps and the Canon EW-78BII lens hood. And of course insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only.

Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Dane via e-mail or by phone or text at 1-559-593-0989 (Pacific time).

When I used Canon gear I had a 5D Mark II converted to IR and had great fun with it. If you have been thinking of getting an IR set-up Dane’s gear will save you a good deal of money and the old 28-135 IS is prefect for IR. artie

Great Buy: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM Lens

Todd Koudelka is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (“the “old five”) in very good plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $3199.00. The lens which -functions perfectly — would be excellent but for the fact that Todd used camo tape rather than a LensCoat and when he removed the tape he pulled off some paint. He did paint over the area with the correct Canon paint. The sale includes the lens trunk with key, the rear cap, the front lens cover, the lens strap, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses. Photos of the lens are available upon request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Todd e-mail or by phone at 1-608-577-5375 — 7:00- 9:00 Central time only.

The 500mm f/4 lenses have been the world’s most popular telephoto lenses for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. I owned and used and loved my “old five” for many years. If you don’t have the cash for a 500 II and can handle the additional 1 1/2 pounds, then this is your best super-telephoto option. Most everyone can produce sharp images with this lens and a 1.4X TC. Folks with good to excellent sharpness techniques can do the same with a 2X TC. With the new 500 II selling for $8,999 you can save a bundle by grabbing Todd’s lens at this record-low BAA price. artie

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!

Hard to Find Nikon Stuff Available Now

Steve Elkins has several Nikon D850s in stock right now. In addition, he has a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens and an AF-S 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR lens in stock! E-mail Steve about a special deal on either big Nikon lens. The 180-400, like its Canon counterpart, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM with Internal Extender 1.4x lens — is especially great for trips to Africa, the Southern Ocean, or the Galapagos.


Several folks on the UK IPT used the Booking.Com link below for there Edinburgh hotels, 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 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 August 13, 2015 at Nickerson Beach, Long Island, NY with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the EOS 7D Mark II (now replaced for me by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.) ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:39pm on a clear afternoon.

Black Skimmer, adult lit by the last rays of the setting sun

or, since the 7D mark II is still in production:

Red Light, Blue Sand …

Stuff that is in shadow on a sunny day will often show a blue cast. The light at Nickerson in the late afternoon is gorgeous. As the sun travels at a steep angle (and thus a long way) through the atmosphere the cool blue light is filtered out allowing the warmer red light to predominate. The result is sweet light or butter light. The brightest WHITEs in this image come in with these values: R = 242, G = 212, B = 162, with the REDs predominating. That is why the sunlit sand in the upper background appears pinkish. But the sand just behind the ridge that the bird is standing on is in shadow and thus appears blue. The RGB numbers there are R = 128, G = 136, and B = 138. This is fairly close to neutral but in comparison to the warmly lit sand the shaded sand looks positively blue.

Many folks like to reduce the BLUE in shadowed areas. Do this by selecting the shaded areas, putting them on a layer, and hitting Command + U, Hue Saturation on a layer. Then go to the BLUE channel and reduce the Saturation to taste. This usually will be in the range of -15 to -50 or even higher.

What do you think of my decision to leave the BLUE cast in the shaded sand with this image.

Red Eye Without Flash!

If you look closely you can see some red eye in the skimmer’s eye, similar to what you sometimes get with flash. Red eye results when light bounces off the retina. If you can explain how you can get natural red eye when you are not using flash please leave a comment.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my 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

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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. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

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.

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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 :).

34 comments to Red Light, Blue Sand …

  • avatar Gary Shackelford

    We have all been assuming that the red eye is caused by sunlight illuminating the back of the bird’s eye. Maybe it’s not. The pinpoint of light in the skimmer’s eye might be a catch light from the sun. Could there be a different cause for the red eye … perhaps a large red artificial light behind you.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Red-eye is caused when light strikes the back of the bird’s eye. But the question remains “Why did it occur in this situation?”

      with love, artie

  • avatar Barrett Pierce

    Isn’t the red eye apparent in your photo because the bird’s eye had been closed and thence was dilated; then you took the photo soon after the bird opened its eye which was still dilated, showing the red.

  • avatar Joe Blackburn

    A red sunset

  • Hi Artie,

    Here is my guess. It is similar to what others are saying but explained in a slightly different way.

    In humans and other animals, the red we see when we use a flash is the light reaching the back of the eye. The pupil is dilated, so the light enters the eye directly and illuminates the choroid which is the vascular layer of the eye. The choroid appears red because it is red; it is full of blood.

    So why are we seeing red with this Black Skimmer’s eye? Black Skimmers are one of the only birds to have a vertical slit pupil. It prevents eye damage in bright sun and allows more light to enter the eye when the bird is foraging in low light conditions.

    Because of this structural difference, light can enter the eye more directly when the sun is at the appropriate angle. In your photo, we see the slit pupil and we see the sun’s position as a reflection in the eye. We see the red choroid because the sun is directly reaching the back of this Black Skimmer’s eye.

    Why don’t we see this in all Black Skimmer images? To see red, we need the right sun angle and we need the bird’s pupil to be in the slit position. These two variables must align. If they do not, we won’t see red in a Black Skimmer’s eye.

    Best wishes,

    Don M.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      All good stuff and correct. You are leaving out one important part of the puzzle (though you sort of touched on that …)

      with love, artie

  • avatar Stuart Edwards

    Actually after rethinking my answer , shouldn’t a bird have steel-eye and not red-eye from direct light ? I have a ton of sun rise and sunset bird photos and don’t remember ever seeing red-eye so I am back to square one. Anxious to hear the explanation 🙂

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I’d leave the blue. Lovely image. Redeye is cause by light reflecting off the tapetum lucidum at the back of the eye. I believe most vertebrates have this structure. It is enhanced with flash, because–as Gary Shackleford said–in low light, when you need flash, people’s pupils are dilated. In this case, the sun is coming from right behind you (you never accidentally miss sun angle) and so the light is reflected directly back to the camera off the tapetum lucidum giving the redeye effect.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good stuff but you are missing one important point as the sun is always coming from behind me 🙂 with love, artie

  • avatar Richard Lethbridge

    The bird is looking directly at the sun, which is acting like a flash causing red eye.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      If that were true, all images of birds created with flash would exhibit red eye (or steel or purple eye) … You are therefore, missing something.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Steve Wampler

    Looking at the photo, the amount of red in the eye doesn’t look like normal flash redeye, but rather the reddish clouds reflecting in the eye.

  • Red-eye occurs when a light source is on or near the same axis as the lens. In this case, the sun is right behind you and, hence, on the same axis as the lens. The sunlight is reflecting off the curved retina of the eye and reflects the blood vessels making the normally black eye appear red. Most people assume it’s a “flash thing” but the reality is, flash is the usual culprit because a flash unit is often positioned on the same axis as the lens.

  • avatar Gary Shackelford

    Maybe you’re getting a red eye reflection in this particular image because the ambient light level that’s hitting the skimmer’s eye is low enough to cause the pupil to dilate (enlarge). This is one of the reasons why you see a red eye reflection in people — the flash exposure is made when ambient light level is low and a person’s pupils are dilated — and it’s the basis for the red-eye reduction setting on some cameras — a pre-flash causes the pupil to get smaller prior to the main flash.

  • avatar Dr. Jerry Turner

    Sorry again, I wasn’t thinking properly and got the terminology wrong. The pupil is a thin slit allowing a large dark brown iris, not cornea. The large iris is reflecting the red sun directly behind you.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. But I am not sure that I am buying that …

      with love, artie

      ps: I will post my explanation on the blog at some point.

  • avatar Dr. Jerry Turner

    Sorry I wasn’t clear on my theory. Because the iris is a thin line and is a little off-center in this image, the Skimmer cornea is large enough to act as a mirror and is reflecting the red setting sun that is directly behind you. This effect would occur only in this specific juxtaposition of the bird, you and the sun. If any one of the three is slightly out of line, no “red eye.” Thus, my theory would apply only to this image. I’ll look forward to your answer blowing my explanation out of the water…

  • avatar Dr. Jerry Turner

    The Black Skimmer is unusual in that the iris is a thin vertical slit rather than round as in most birds. What appears to be “red eye” in your image is the sun reflecting off the cornea instead of the retina. That is, the light is reflecting off the outer portion of the eye instead of the inner portion as with flash. The white highlight is in the thin iris.

    The blue in the background is lovely, but the blue sand in the foreground is bothersome to me. I would reduce the blue only in the foreground shadow.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Doc, I am not sure that I follow you. My question for you is why do we not see the red eye effect in all skimmer images, why just in this one?

      With thanks and love, artie

  • I like the blue in this instance, it adds a bit of contrast to the color palette. Shadow blue is more of a distraction when it occurs on the feathers of the bird.

  • avatar David Bose

    Perhaps the red light in the eye is the setting sun?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No and yes … But there is a good explanation as far as I know … Will share soon.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Stuart Edwards

    The red eye is caused by the angle of incidence being close to the angle of reflectance , similar to on camera flash.
    I would leave the background the way it is . It has a very nice gradient from the blue-ish sand to
    the pink-ish sky.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It sounds as if you have almost arrived at the right answer … But you have not.
      Why are we seeing this phenomenon in this particular image (as opposed to seeing it in many image)?

      with love, artie

  • avatar Warren H

    I also like the blue.

    The Red Eye is likely caused because of that large light located Directly behind you, the sun. If you are working right on sun angle and the sun is low, it will be right behind you, like a flash.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Wonderful image!
    I never would have guessed the blue was sand!
    I think you should leave it in : it makes the rest of the photo POP.
    It provides contrast with the sky; it makes the orange/red of the leg stand out and, to my eye, it even makes the black and white feathers of the bird stand out more.
    With no blue the photo would not be as striking.

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    I’d leave the blue. Beautiful light and bird.