The Final Word on Exposing to the Right. Or not? Filling Added Canvas with the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Anything Bug You? And Just How Dark Was It? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Final Word on Exposing to the Right. Or not? Filling Added Canvas with the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Anything Bug You? And Just How Dark Was It?

What’s Up

I finally got started on my 2018 tax return on Thursday. That will be about a two-week process. I’ve been swimming every day and have added some simple stretching and strengthening stuff to my daily routine.

I was glad to learn that the sale of Phil Frigon’s Canon 600mm f/4L IS lens became pending on the first day of listing, that UK Puffins and Gannets IPT veteran Shohagh Adelman will be joining me at Fort DeSoto in almost exactly one month, and that many-multiple IPT veteran and good friend Monte Brown will be joining the growing San Diego IPT group.

IPT Updates

  • The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Limit 6/Openings 5. Afternoon session on Friday, September 25 at 4pm, followed by three full days. We photograph till sunset on Monday, September 30
  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 5)

Couples, IPT veterans, and folks wishing to sign up with a friend or with a partner are asked to contact me via e-mail

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We have all but one of the BigFeet in stock (phone orders only for now: 863-692-0906) but are sold out of the new FLN-60 BigFoot that was recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.


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 the 7D Mark II 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 III. 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.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page

Canon 200-400 f/4L IS lens with internal 1.4X Extender

BAA Record-low Price!

Gatorland In-the-Field veteran Ron Owen is offering a Canon 200-400 f/4L IS lens with internal 1.4X Extender (with extras!) in excellent plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $6599.00. The lens has a paint chip on the hood, a faint mark on the TC housing, and a ding on the plastic shield that covers the distance scale. Otherwise, it is near-mint. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the ET-120 (WII) front lens cover, a black LensCoat TravelCoat, a black LensCoat Hoodie, a Really Right Stuff LCF-53 foot, the original Canon foot, and the lens strap. Also included is a Canon Drop-In Polarizing filter, a Breakthrough 1.8 (6-stop) ND Filter with Canon Drop-in filter drawer, a Breakthrough 3.0 (10-stop) ND Filter, and insured ground shipping via FedEx (or UPS if the buyer prefers) to lower 48 US addresses only. Images of the lens are available upon request.

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

Please contact Ron via e-mail or by phone at 1-904-612-3243 (Eastern time zone).

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 784mm 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 slew of dollars by grabbing Ron’s lens along with all the extras right now. 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 getting folks the hot new SONY stuff: the 200-600, the 600 f/4 GM, and the 7R iv. And the wait-list is short for the Nikon 500 P.

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 at Fort DeSoto Park on September 26, 2016. I used the handheld Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm) and my all-time favorite Canon body, the EOS 5D Mark IV.). ISO: 5000! Evaluative metering plus about 1 2/3rd stops: 1/25 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode was more than perfect. AWB at 7:09am on a very dark, cloudy morning.

Photo Mechanic screen capture for Ruddy Turnstone running along the surf

Be sure to scroll down to see the optimized image

Exposing to the Right

Many folks have heard about exposing to the right too many times. And many folks do not bother to expose to the right, especially in low and soft light on cloudy and overcast days and in the very low light of pre-dawn and dusk. And that goes double for images where overall light tones predominate. Those folks say, “My photos look much better on the back of the camera when I expose in the middle. And I never burn the WHITEs.”

Your images should look washed out on the rear LCD. Especially those made in low light. Why? The size of image files with the histogram pushed far to the right (just like today’s featured image) will be dramatically larger than files with the histogram in the middle that have no data in the right-most box. Thus, properly exposed image files contain more information. In addition, when you increase the exposure of an underexposed image, you are. — by definition — increasing the noise level.

In the Photo Mechanic screen capture above, it is easy to see that I have exposed properly to the right. Both in Photoshop and in Capture One, there were no overexposed WHITEs visible prior to the RAW conversion. By simply setting the BLACK and the WHITE points during the RAW conversion, your washed-out looking image will pop.

Fast Raw Viewer screen capture

Fast Raw Viewer

Those who wish to see the actual RAW histogram rather than the JPEG histogram that we are pretty much always viewing, can use a program called Fast RAW Viewer. As you can see in the Fast Raw Viewer screen capture above, the exposure for today’s image is just about as good as it gets with zero percent overexposed pixels and a minuscule percentage of underexposed pixels only in the RED channel… Scroll down to see the optimized image.

This image was created at Fort DeSoto Park on September 26, 2016. I used the handheld Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens with the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm) and my all-time favorite Canon body, the EOS 5D Mark IV.). ISO: 5000! Evaluative metering plus about 1 2/3rd stops: 1/25 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode was more than perfect. AWB at 7:09am on a very dark, cloudy morning.

Ruddy Turnstone running along the surf

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Optimized Image

First off, note that the image created from the washed-out raw file now looks vibrant with rich colors and lots of pop. Next came some Eye Doctor work to increase the apparent sharpness of the turnstone’s eye. Note that I cropped from the top and expanded the canvas below. To fill the new canvas, I selected the area below the spot where the reflection ended with the Rectangular Marquee Tool, placed the selection on its own layer (Command + J), hit Command T to activate the Transform Tool, and then simply stretched the selection by pulling the bottom love-handle down. Last, I went Filter > Blur > Motion Blur on the same layer.

Does Anything Bug You?

While I love the look of this image, the rich vibrant colors, and the contrast and tonality, there is one thing about it that really bugs me. Does anything about it really bug you? If so, please leave a comment.

How Dark Was It?

Going by the exposure data, how dark do you think it was when I created today’s featured image?

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)

Everything mentioned above (except for Capture One RAW conversions) and tons more — including all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — 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): Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

  • 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.

I continue to optimize my old 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. 🙂 More recently, though I had become proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw, I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12. Learn more about Capture One Pro 12 in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

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 edited by yours truly. Please use this link to purchase NeatImage.

To introduce folks to our MP.4 videos and the basics involved in applying more NeatImage noise reduction to the background and less on the subject, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of the Free Noise Reduction Basics MP.4 Video. Simply click to shoot me an e-mail to get your free copy.

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Limit 6/Openings 5.

Afternoon session on Friday September 25 at 4pm. That followed by three full days. We photograph till sunset on Monday, September 30

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. 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 Roseate Spoonbill. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy. 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 along with some American Oystercatchers. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for four years. 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, 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:

  • 1- The basics and fine points of digital exposure; how to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure.
  • 2- How and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).
  • 3- How to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them.
  • 4- Lots about bird behavior and how to use that knowledge to help you create better images.
  • 5- To age and identify many species of shorebirds including sandpipers, plovers, dowitchers, and possibly yellowlegs.
  • 6- To spot good situations and to choose the best perspective.
  • 7- To see, evaluate, and understand the light.
  • 8- To design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
  • 9- And perhaps most importantly, to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography.
  • 10- How and when to access the magical sandbar safely.
  • 11- More than you could ever imagine.

Morning sessions will run at least three to 3 1/2 hours, afternoon sessions 2 1/2 to 3 hours. There is never a set schedule on an IPT — we adapt to the conditions. There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time. This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). 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 general area (rather than at home or at a friend’s place a good distance away).

Folks attending this IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors; this is pretty much a staple on almost all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours. Doing so will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest and those who need to get home for a proper dinner. I really love it when I am leaving the beach at 9:30am on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving …

Payment in full is due now. Credit cards are OK for your $500 deposit. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand. If you leave a deposit you will receive an e-mail with your balance statement and instructions for sending your balance check. If you wish to pay in full right off the bat, you can make your 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, and clothing and gear advice in mid-August. Please remember that we will meet early on Saturday morning. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.

IPT veterans and couples or friends signing up together are urged to e-mail for discount information.

If In Doubt …

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 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.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

18 comments to The Final Word on Exposing to the Right. Or not? Filling Added Canvas with the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Anything Bug You? And Just How Dark Was It?

  • avatar Jonathan Ashton

    Artie, it’s a whole new world with mirrorless, no kidding you see the darks and lights live in your image, you can view the actual areas over or under exposed and in addition you can see the histogram if you wish – all live! I set the blinkies as mentioned previously at 5 and 250 but that is personal preference you can set them wherever you wish.
    BTW talking about another world I just took a shot of a small butterfly at min focus with the 300mm & 1.4TC, at low light before dusk, hand held 1/60 sec, that is equivalent to 840mm hand held, I hear you .. won’t be sharp, but as I say it’s a whole new world, it is sharp no kidding.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Jon for checking back. I’ve been using the a7R iii along with the a9. I am fully buying the advantages of seeing the live exposure along with a live histogram. Making good adjustments on the fly surely enables us to make consistently better exposure. And with SONY, the Zebra feature adds an additional layer of exposure control for those who understand perfectly how to use it.

      What I am not buying is that we can check the shadowed areas on a live bird while photographing it. I admit that that’s a fine point :).

      Lastly, to agree with you again, SONY (at least) has a huge advantage over dSLRs with low light exposures. And it sounds as if the same is true of your system.

      with love, a

  • Hey Arthur, I would say this was before sunrise. ISO 5000 and 1/25sec so not much light yet. The raw viewer is pretty neat.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    The bug? The darker shadow going through the face?

  • avatar Matt

    Valuable info here, Artie. Thanks.

    I’m not sure it bugs me, but the catchlight… looks like a flash. Maybe what sticks out about that is that flash is associated with freezing motion, not blurring (unless dragging the shutter, but you’d still have a relatively sharp subject somwhere in that blur). I could see where this might confuse the mind of the viewer, albeit slightly.

    I’m not convinced it would look better without the catchlight, though. Perhaps if more a reflected-horizon catchlight.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Matt,. The catchlight is not what bugs me (even though I worked on it while doing the Eye Doctor stuff. I reduced the size of what looked to me like the natural catchlight and brightened what was left …

      with love, a

  • avatar Brendan

    I think its a great image. Only thing that could be a bit of a bug is that you almost have a full reflection. Almost, but not quite. If the reflective sand was a bit bigger, and you had a full reflection of the bird, it would have been amazing. A split second earlier and you might have had a reflection of the head…

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Brendan. I like it too 🙂 A full reflection would have been great, but the partial reflection is not what bugs me. And yes, a second earlier would likely have shown more of a reflection.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Jonathan Ashton

    Another point worth mentioning in the ETR scenario is to set the blinkies just below 255 and above 0, it also helps significantly if you set the Picture mode to a totally neutral setting and set contrast and saturation to -1 or -2, I am making generic comments here but I am sure you get the principal. These settings will help to make best use of the dynamic range the sensor has to offer. the resultant jpeg on the camera screen will look pretty flat but you should be making full use of the histogram by over or under exposing as necessary. Mirrorless cameras have a great advantage in this respect because the viewfinder provides a live image so you can see the highlights and shadows as you go along – you can adjust exposure on the hoof as it were.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Jon. Where are you setting the blinkie levels? I do understand your basic premise, but I am not buying that you can see the highlights and shadows (easily) with mirrorless cameras. Surely being able to see the exposure live in the viewfinder is a big help but it is far from a perfect situation right now as far as I know …

      with love, artie

  • I like the sharp eye and sharp legs along with blurred legs. Could your bug be lack of detail in the white feathers? Altho they look fine to me.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks but nope :). White feathers in low light rarely show fine feather detail and that goes double with blurs.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    Maybe the legs bug me. Appears to be three or four of them, as that little bugger takes many strides in 1/25th sec.

    And even more important to ETTR with high megapixel bodies like the D850. If you don’t, the noise level is too much.

  • avatar Adam

    I find the color and sense of motion quite pleasing. If anything is troubling, perhaps it is the seaweed in the lower left corner which is somewhat distracting. Possibly the wave creating the appearance of a tilted horizon but that’s uber picky and something not easily controlled.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Adam. I thought of lightening the seaweed… But IAC, I like that it balances the composition nicely. And I like the waves too.

      with love, artie

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