How’s Your Eagle Eye? Do you see any evidence of Photoshop Foul Play? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

How's Your Eagle Eye? Do you see any evidence of Photoshop Foul Play?


On a thankfully warmer Saturday morning (it had been 18 degrees early on Friday morning), the entire assembled family visited the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale, Long Island. Lissy asked that I take a family holiday card photo for her. As I flew up with no camera gear, I headed out fully confident with my iPhone 8+. I have learned a ton about iPhone photography while editing Cliff Oliver’s fabulous iPhone e-Guide. We should be finished early this coming week and hope to have his guide available in the BAA Online Store before the end of the week.

I appears that all three of Paul Mckenzie’s lenses sold within two days of listing. And I learned belatedly on Saturday morning that John Svendsen’s Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR lens in like-new condition sold for the BAA record low price by miles of $4199.00 the first day it was listed. See below for the great low price on his original Nikon 200-400mm.

DeSoto Early Winter IPT News

Because both folks who have signed up for this IPT have expressed an interest in learning to micro-adjust their gear, I will be bringing my LensAlign unit and all of the lighting gear. Do consider joining us if you would like to do the same. Scroll down here for details.


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 here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.


Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF ED Lens

John Svendsen is offering a used Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF ED lens (the original version) in near-mint condition for the BAA record low price by miles of $1499.00. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it: the front and rear lens caps, the lens trunk, the front lens cover, the lens strap, a Really Right Stuff LCF-14 C low foot, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John by e-mail or by phone at 1-503-881-1172 (Pacific time).

This, the older version of the very versatile Nikon 200-400, is priced to sell. 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. 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.

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 September 23, 2018 on the Fall Fort DeSoto IPT. I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens (at 400mm) and the blazingly fast professional digital camera body, the Nikon D5 DSLR camera body with dual XQD slots). (Auto) ISO 720. Matrix metering +1 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in S (Shutter Priority) mode (TV in Canon) was somewhat of an over-exposure. AUTO1 WB at 7:43am in full sun.

Center Group (grp)/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AFA Fine-Tune Value: zero. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Royal Tern starting dive

The Situation/Caught with my pants down …

As thick clouds were obscuring the sun we were shooting (hopefully) pleasing blurs of single birds and both small and large flocks in Shutter Priority mode with slow shutter speeds in the 1/15 to 1/60 second range and Exposure Compensations (ECs) as high as +2 1/3 stops. Suddenly, the sun was out at full strength. I raised my shutter speed to 1/2000 second for sharp flight images and reduced my EC. But not enough. With that deep blue sky influencing the meter to open up I should have been at either zero or +1/3 stop (for the still relatively soft early morning light). It was, however, rather easy to save the WHITEs during the RAW conversion by first pulling the EXP down 1/4 stop (-0.25) and moving the highlight slider to the left to -0.38.

How’s Your Eagle Eye?

As experienced photographers might have surmised, today’s featured image is a crop from a horizontal original. It is very difficult (but not impossible) to create vertical originals of banking and diving birds in flight.

The question of the day is, Do you see any evidence of Photoshop Foul Play? If you do, please leave a detailed comment that clearly states your proof. I will post the original frame in few days.

The Switch to Nikon

New folks who would like to see the series of images that prompted my switch from Canon to Nikon after 34 plus years on the White Side can visit the blog post here.


Fort DeSoto in early winter is rife with tame birds. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The 2018 Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT/Thursday December 7 through the morning session on Monday December 10, 2018: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 6.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in early winter. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As with the fall IPT, this one will run with only a single registrant. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please remember that the meet and greet will take place at 7:30 on the evening of Sunday, September 23. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are short in December. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours; on this particular trip we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers arrive.

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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.

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18 comments to How’s Your Eagle Eye? Do you see any evidence of Photoshop Foul Play?

  • avatar MK

    Hello Arthur,

    Fabulous images!

    I have a question about the edits: while background “cleanup” may be acceptable, should one really be doing any mods at all to the primary subject? I have been under the (possibly naive) impression that all wildlife images and flower images have the primary subject “as shot”. Am I grossly mistaken? I ask because (a) some clipping here or there is the reason I’ve deleted 95% of the BIF photos I’ve captured, and (b) this is the primary reason for many of my “beat yourself up for mistakes” sessions after I return from the field πŸ™‚

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi MK,

      Assumptions are always made at your own risk. I have been repairing clipped wings and wingtips and more for more than 15 years now. I always let folks (and in the old days when it was possible to sell a photograph — editors) know when I have done anything major in Photoshop. Such images are never entered in contests where such repairs are not allowed. That said, while it is easy to do a sloppy job of adding a wingtip or a toe, doing those repairs well is a skill that needs to be developed. Everything that I did to repair the image above, is detailed in Digital Basics II, but it will take most folks a while and lots of study and practice to learn to do it well.

      And BTW, background clean-up is NOT allowed in most major contests. What you do with your images is your business.


  • avatar Norm

    Sounds more like Fowl play to me…. (Sorry πŸ™‚

  • avatar Joel Eade

    I’m hoping you will soon reveal the secret on this because the more I look at it the more things I “think” I see ….. it now appears to me the body of the bird looks odd, as if it was superimposed on the wings and the feet look painted because they have such irregular edges and no detail. Also they are so wide apart and stick out so much rather than being tucked in for flight. I gotta quit now πŸ™‚

  • avatar Joel Eade

    Had you not mentioned using “eagle eyes” I would never closely scrutinize the image or enlarge it to check for anything…I would have enjoyed another beautiful bird image just for that simple pleasure.

  • I think the bird’s head is 180 out.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Great image, Artie. I also was struck by the similarity of the wingtips. I’d guess the right wing was replaced because the shadows between the feathers on the left wing seem to match the shadows on the body. But I am looking on a phone and might be seeing things that aren’t there.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks David. The main reason that folks think that the primaries are identical is that I asked πŸ™‚ As always, I believe that if I had not asked the Photoshop foul play question that pretty much nobody would have mentioned anything … πŸ™‚

      When you say that the right wing was replaced do you mean the upper wing or the lower wing as seen in the image?


      • avatar David Policansky

        Artie: I meant the upper wing. Yes, you’re right; I never actually can see any Photoshop trickery on your images and never would think anything were amiss if you didn’t ask. πŸ™‚

  • avatar Pierre Williot

    I am pretty sure that the top wing tip (distal 1/4 or so) is a copy of the bottom wing tip. I can detect a very narrow darker line at that junction on the top one which can occur with the superposition. Very nicely done! I am pretty sure that you also copied a portion of the sky with it but can’ see the seam. This clue came from the fact that the original was horizontal. I am assuming that the direct sun was on top of your picture.

    Very nice!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    By the right do you mean the upper wing as it appears in the image?


  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Agree with Joel. The wings look exactly the same from about the alula on out. But I can’t find a seam at all.

  • avatar Ruth Schueler

    Joel is right with the wingtips. I first thought of the head, it seemed in a unnatural position…..

  • avatar Joel Eade

    It’s a gorgeous bird and even enlarging it I can’t find any sloppy tell tale signs of photoshop trickery but I know you are extremely skilled. If anything, my suspicion is with the wing tips. The primary feather tips look so identical on both wings (even down to patterns in the veins)
    I wonder if you maybe clipped a wing tip and repaired it by using a copy from the other wing.