Red Tide Blessings #s 2, 3, 4, & 5. D5/200-500mm Flight. Mr. Dickhead. And Using Diagonals to Strengthen Your Image « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Red Tide Blessings #s 2, 3, 4, & 5. D5/200-500mm Flight. Mr. Dickhead. And Using Diagonals to Strengthen Your Image


Tuesday morning started off really slow at DeSoto. I did well at 840mm on the tripod with flying Laughing Gulls. On the way back to the car we found some ibises and ducks in a big rain pool and spent a productive hour with them. We all came up with some really near bathing White Ibis images. That afternoon we were greeted by another huge thunderstorm. I went to my one of my favorite sunset spots to see if we could shoot from the vehicles. The wind was howling and the rain was torrential. With the wind from the north gusting as high as 40 mph it took me a while to figure out how to position the car correctly. Lighting was smashing all around and the rain was coming down in sheets. I worked with the 200-500 and ISOs ranging from 1600 to 3200. I got some superb stuff. Ed and I persevered and head to East Beach in hopes of some clearing. We did quite well and eventually came up with a new type of silhouettes … I will be sharing images from both of those situations with you here soon.

We did well on Wednesday morning with a nice feeding spree and several spoonbills. I went off the wagon for lunch: I had a small salad in the room and followed that up with one slice of peanut butter pie at the Neptune Grill in Gulfport … We took it a bit easy that afternoon spending most of it photographing at Noel Heustis’s piling spot. We’ve been blessed every afternoon as the east wind has shifted to west, at least before the thunderstorms have hit. I head home after our Thursday morning session. In retrospect it has been was amazing how much Ed Dow learned in such a short time and how much better his images have gotten.He is very glad that I went with one. I hope to follow the previous comment up with a story and some of Ed’s photographs.

News on the Galapagos Front/Limit 12/Openings: 3

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for a couple or for two same-sex roommates, and for a male single. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.


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 many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the 5Ds and 5Ds R, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, the Canon 200-400 with internal extender, and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 II. 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.

September Sales

Ron Gates sold a Canon EOS 7D in near-mint condition for $350 in mid-September.
Will Craig sold a Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $674.00and a Canon EF Extender 1.4X III in near-mint condition for $329.00 about one week after they were listed in mid-September.
Will Craig sold an original Canon EOS 7D camera body in excellent condition (with fewer than 26,000 actuations) for $299.00 soon after it was listed in September, 2018.
Anthony Ardito sold a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV body in like-new condition (with extras) for $2,499.00 in early September, 2018.
Anthony Ardito also sold a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens in like-new condition (with extras including a 2X III TC) for $8,500.00 in early September, 2018.
I sold my Canon 1.4X III teleconverter for $329.00 in early September before listing it.
Amy Novotny’s Nikon TC-E-20 (teleconverter) sold the first day it was listed in early September for $249.00.
Richard Gollar sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS (the original IS model, the “old five”) in near-mint condition for $3399.00 in early September.

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Price Reduced $1,000 on September 25, 2018.

Ramona Boone is offering a Canon 600mm IS II in like-new condition for $7,699.00 (was $8,699.00). The sale includes the lens trunk, the front lens cover (R 185B), the rear cap, a RRS LCF 53 foot (installed), the original foot, a Real Tree LensCoat, the lens strap, an AquaTech ASCC-6 Soft Cap, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ramona via e-mail or by phone at 1-719 231 5874 (Mountain time).

The 600 II has been the state of the art super-telephoto for birds, nature, wildlife, and sports for many years. When I was using Canon and could get it to my location, it was always my go-to weapon. It is fast and sharp and deadly alone or with either TC. With a new one going for $11,499, you can save a cool $3,800.00 by grabbing Ramona’s pristine lens now. artie


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Yikes. I almost forgot the best part: Airbnb rates average less than half of even the least expensive chain hotels and motels. If you would like to save $40 on your first booking sign up by using this link: Airbnb. Airbnb does charge clean-up and service fees that make short stays less attractive bargains than long stays.

Those who prefer to stay in a motel or hotel are invited to use the link below to save $25.00.


Several folks on the UK IPT used the Booking.Com link below for their 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.

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. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body as well as for the Canon 600 IIi. He already has two BAA blog orders for the new Canon six.

This image was created at Fort DeSoto Park on the morning of September 23, 2018. I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 500mm) and the blazingly fast Nikon D5 (with Dual XQD slots). AUTO ISO 1000. Matrix metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Shutter Priority mode (S in Nikon, Tv with Canon). AUTO1 WB at 7:37am on a clear morning.

Center group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +3. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #1: Laughing Gull, juvenile in flight
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Laughing Gulls Had a Great Year

The number of juvenile Laughing Gulls at Fort DeSoto was unlike anything I have ever seen. I would estimate that there were at least 10,000 Laughing Gulls present with well more than half being hatch year-birds. That would indicate that the adults have moved somewhere else. This species breeds on nearby Egmont Key. It is possible that many of the birds came from colonies farther to the north … Interestingly enough, a large percentage of the Laughing Gulls present on the weekend had left the sandbar at North Beach by Tuesday …

Taking the RED Out

The RAW file for this image was even too RED for me, too much early morning light. Reducing the RED saturation on the HSL tab during the RAW conversion did not do much so I tried reducing the YELLOW saturation. The results were the same. (Note: both of these techniques often work well and are surely worth trying). I did go to a lower color temperature and then converted the image after adjusting the usual sliders. Once in Photoshop I worked on a new layer and reduced both the RED and the YELOW saturations about 60 points. This left the image looking much more neutral but still showing a bit of the early morning light look.

This image was also created at Fort DeSoto Park on the morning of September 23, 2018. Again I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 410mm) and the blazingly fast Nikon D5 (with Dual XQD slots). AUTO ISO 1400. Matrix metering +1 2/3 stops (should have been +2/3 stops!): 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Shutter Priority mode (S in Nikon, Tv with Canon). AUTO1 WB at 7:48am on a clear morning.

Center group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed. Be sure to click on this one to see the larger version.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +3. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #2: Royal Tern with flatfish
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Mistake …

We were creating (hopefully) pleasing blurs of the pre-dawn gull and tern blastoffs using my shutter priority method: S (or Tv with Canon) mode, AUTO ISO with the ISO set to 100, and +2 1/3 stops of EC. When the sun came up I went with the same method to create sharp images of the tern in flight: I set the shutter speed to 1/2000 and the EC to +1 2/3 stops. But when I saw this Royal Tern dive for a fish, I did just what I teach folks to do: press the shutter button. With a blue water (rather than a sky) background, the image was of course well over-exposed. The water was much darker than the sky and caused the camera to set much too high an ISO. Some of the RGB values were as high as 255, but I was able to save the image by reducing the Exposure during the RAW conversion. I was not, however, thrilled with the final result.

This image was also created at Fort DeSoto Park on the morning of September 23, 2018. Again I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 360mm) and the blazingly fast Nikon D5 (with Dual XQD slots). AUTO ISO 1400. Matrix metering at about +1 stop (should have been +1/3 stop or zero …): 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 7:51am on a clear morning.

Center group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +3. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #3: Snowy Egret, downstroke flight
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Mr. Dickhead

Over the past two years, a guy would show up here preaching — in a rather obnoxious manner — that my practice and teachings with regards to bringing Canon RAW files into Photoshop with the WHITE RGB values in the mid-230s were all wrong. Note: with my Nikon gear, I like the WHITE RGB values in the mid- to low 240 range. “You are all wrong,” said Mr. Dickhead (for lack of a better name), your WHITE RGB values should be at 254 because you are looking at the JPEG. And you need to switch to a RAW converter to see the true values. The first time or two that Mr. Dickhead posted to the blog, he quickly became nasty and seemed hell bent on insulting me. So I spammed (banned) him.

In the “You Owe It to Yourself” blog post here about two weeks ago, someone posted similar comments basically stating that my approach was all wrong and that I should not be teaching folks to underexpose so severely. If you read all the comments there, you can surely figure out Mr. Dickhead’s name, or not. As you will see when if you continue reading. I posted something that in effect asked him is he was the same guy as before. In response, the guy whom I now am calling Mr. Dickhead starts e-mailing me and we have a few civil exchanges and I am thinking that maybe he is right about exposing even more to the right and that I should try it in the field. (The Work teaches us to consider if there is truth in criticism instead of immediately going into defend and attach mode. Anyhoo (as my Dad, the late PFC Robert E. Morris used to say), the guy admits that he is the same guy and that he always posts using an alias. So I ask him why he routinely goes online using an alias. His response was that everyone does it and that he in particular needs to do it “to keep from getting bashed.” If you think about it, That is a very telling comment …

He did take the time to tell me that I had banned him several times unfairly and that I simply deleted comments made by anyone who disagreed with me. I begged to differ. I told him that there were many times that I left comments opposing my point of view stand and that the only time that anyone was banned was when they got mean and nasty. He did the several times. Mr. Dickhead did have some redeeming qualities. In one e-mail he took the time to answer a load of high level questions dealing with exposure and light. And for that I thanked him.

At some point I asked him what his real name was and he said that if I told him that I would spoil his fun. Thus, I decided that for this post I would, — after giving the matter much thought — simply call him Mr. Dickhead. Mr. Dickhead, if you are reading, you are no longer welcome here. If you show up again with your crappy attitude, you will be banned. And no worries, I will not be responding to any of your e-mails.

And best of all, I tried pushing my exposure far to the right as with Image #3 — the RGB value for the WHITEs were all in the 250s. And, as I had predicted, it was a bear restoring detail in such hot WHITEs. I used his method on several morning and as things, turned out, I simply do not like the look of the optimized image files when you expose too far (my words) to the right.

The Lesson

If you are going to trash me on the blog, please use your real name.

This image was also created at Fort DeSoto Park on the morning of September 23, 2018. For this one I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (at 700mm) and the blazingly fast Nikon D5 (with Dual XQD slots). AUTO ISO 1400. Matrix metering at about +1 stop (should have been +1/3 stop or zero …): 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AUTO1 WB at 8:02am on a clear morning.

Center group (grp) Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as originally framed.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +7. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

IMAGE #4: Royal Tern looking for fish
Image copyright 2018: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Adding Diagonals

Any time that you can include strong diagonal lines in your image design they will usually strengthen it. In image #4 we have the diagonal of the wings in tilted flight and the parallel diagonal of the bill created by the look-back head turn. Combined, they add drama to the image, at least for me.

Your Favorite?

Which of today’s four featured images do you think is the strongest? Please let us know why you made your choice.

Help Support the Blog

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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 :).

19 comments to Red Tide Blessings #s 2, 3, 4, & 5. D5/200-500mm Flight. Mr. Dickhead. And Using Diagonals to Strengthen Your Image

  • avatar Bruce

    You can request a priority order of the 500mm PF lens through the Nikon NPS website. B&H expects to have the 500mm PF available by the third week of November for standard orders.

  • Artie… I am so glad you liked my photos, and I am so glad you flushed Mr. Dickhead out of this blog. Let’s hope he never comes back!

    I look forward meeting you and improving my bird photography skills on your upcoming IPTs.

    Take care…

    Luis Alberto Grunauer, Jr.

  • Artie… Luis Alberto Grunauer, Jr. is my real name, and you can check me out in my website where my photo portrait is at, along with some of my bird photography as well. I say it with pride, that all l I’ve learned and done in bird photography I truly owed it to you! I am and have been a loyal client, student and follower of you and your work, and soon I will attending a few IPT’s. In addition to this, we have spoken on the phone before. I recall once … Jim transferred a call to you (I didn’t know I was being transferred to you), and when I asked “who may I have the pleasure to speak with? You said … “You are speaking to the Boss…” I Loved it and will never forget that!

    I don’t know who Luise Alberto Jesus Grunauer Jr. is. If he is a real person, we are a big family and all Grunauer’s are related.

    Take care and see you soon!

    Luis Alberto Grunauer, Jr.
    Silvia’s Jovial Photography

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Luis, The other guy was actually Mr. Dickhead using a new alias. Sorry. Glad that you are not related.

      Many thanks for your kind words. I am glad that we got to speak once 🙂

      I did get to your website and saw lots of beautiful cityscapes.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Hi John, Welcome and thanks for posting our question. In short, as I have explained here often and in detail Digital Basics II as well, bring your RAW files with the RGB values for the WHITEs at 254, 254, 254 is theoretically correct. So why don’t I do that ? Doing so requires a great deal of extra work in order to get the WHITEs to look good while restoring or bring back the detail. I found that for me, bringing my Canon files into Photoshop with the RGB values for the WHITEs in the mid-230s worked perfectly. Please remember that there I converted my RAW files in DPP and that I enabled Highlight Tone Priority. Once I started using Nikon and converting with ACR I found that bringing my WHITEs into Photoshop with the RGB values in the low to mid-240s was just what I needed to produce nice clean, bright WHITEs with lots of detail.

    I call my approach practically correct. 🙂

    with love, artie

    • avatar John Broadwell

      Artie, yes, that is my understanding too. Using ETTR, one should push the RAW histogram as far as practically possible to the right (254 254 254 in ACR), pull those values back to 230-240 in ACR and then open the image in Photoshop at 230-240?
      However, the camera histogram only shows a JPEG histogram which could be compressed by as much as 3EV compared to the RAW, so surely it must be a poor guide for judging correct exposure?

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Hi John,

        As noted above, pulling the WHITEs down from the 250s just does not work well for me. That based on 17 years of digital experience with both Canon and Nikon. If it works well for you, then stick with it.

        Yes, the histogram and blinkies are based on the embedded JPEG. I find it a great guide for getting the exposure that I want and then creating images that look great to my eye and make me happy.

        with love, artie

  • avatar Tim

    Artie, I prefer the snowy egret photo because it is a beautifully lit profile, it is very clean and simple, and herons and egrets are some of my favourite birds!

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    You’re using AUTO ISO! Crazy!

    I also used it this past weekend in wildly changing light. You know how it is, just funny how us die hard full manual guys and gals revert back to some auto settings now and then.

    Don’t spend too much time thinking about Mr. Dickhead….your time is worth more than that.

  • avatar Jim Howell

    Change of subject: Because of your images, I’ve begun using auto ISO. I’m shooting with the Canon 7D II, 1/2000, no exposure adjustment, in high speed mode. Two different birds in deep shade flying out into bright light. The images shot in the shade were better than past attempts so I was quite happy. However, in each case the images taken in bright light were totally blown out. I’m sure it was due to operator error, though I would like to blame the camera. Was this not a good approach to take under these conditions?

    Hey Jim, The situation you describe in a virtually impossible one. Using Auto ISO with EC is no panacea unless you have a complete understanding of exposure theory and you are working with constant light with consistently similar backgrounds. (Be sure to see the upcoming blog post on creating pleasing pre-dawn blurs using S or Tv mode, Auto ISO, and the correct EC.) No automatic mode can handle a situation with two birds of different tonalities in the shade one moment and in the sun the next. It can be done with limited success if you are super fast with the exposure compensation dial, if you have completely mastered exposure theory, and if you get lucky … To learn Exposure Theory I have long directed folks to study the section on Applied Exposure Theory on pages 58 to 63 in the original The Art of Bird Photography.

    The Snowy Egret is beautiful!

    Many thanks with love, artie

    • avatar Tim

      Might depend on the metering mode you are using but TBH the situation you describe sounds very challenging for any camera so I’m not surprised it didn’t get it right. I generally use manual or aperture priority with auto iso and matrix metering. I will then use exposure compensation as required to fine tune. Though this is not easy if the light is changing a lot. I also find white or black and white birds particularly tricky. Hope this helps.

  • Well said Artie… We are all with you!

  • avatar Tim

    Artie, although the technicalities are beyond me all credit to you for trying out this guy’s idea only to find it wanting. Some people just don’t seem to be able to disagree and move on! Love the snowy egret, they look very similar to the little egrets we get in the uk. Keep up the good work!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Tim, Contrary to what Mr. Dickhead thinks, I am fine with folks disagreeing with me and telling me that I am wrong. When I am wrong, I say, “I was wrong.” But such comments need to be made civilly. As I have written here, this is my house. If you walk in with mud on your shows you will be asked to leave.

      with love, artie

      • avatar Anthony Ardito

        Artie, how many years (or decades) you have under your belt? My friend….you are not “wrong”, ever. Sure, the 1st chair violinist of the philharmonic may play one wrong note once a year, but come on, they’re a professional. So are you.