Getting Lucky & a Photoshop Content-Aware Crop Tutorial « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Getting Lucky & a Photoshop Content-Aware Crop Tutorial

What’s Up?

After several days of work, I sent a final review copy of the almost-finished RawDigger e-Guide to Patrick Sparkman via Hightail last night.

The forecast is as usual here at ILE today — Tuesday 25 AUGUST 2020: sunny turning cloudy and hot with afternoon thunderstorms. As it has not rained hard here in two days I might try driving on the fields this morning. I will head out at about 7:15am; the days are getting shorter!

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Past Sales list at the bottom of the page.


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

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save $50. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.

107 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

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 of more than $1000.00, 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 has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.

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.

Photo Mechanic Screen Capture

The Situation

I was in my new SUV. It was early and it was dark. I had to stay on thread because of all the rain. As the cranes were a good distance away. I do not like to get out of the vehicle when the birds are standing in one spot and preening because they will usually walk away if I do that so I added the 1.4X TC and raised the ISO as needed to get Zebras on the bird’s white chin.

As you can see in the Photo Mechanic screen capture above, there were two main problems with the original:

1- The bird is much too tight in the frame
2- There is a light-toned blade of grass in the background sticking out of the leading edge of the bird’s right wing.

Note the Photo Mechanic histogram. With the image properly mega-Exposed to the Right (m-ETTR), it looks very washed out (as it should be). This is done to minimize noise, maximize image quality, best utilize the dynamic range of your camera’s sensor, and attain the highest possible level of shadow detail in your RAW files in every situation. In addition, your RAW files will contain more tonal information, feature smooth transitions between tones. And your optimized images will feature rich, accurate color. I have really improved my exposures since I began working with RawDigger at the start of the pandemic.

See the optimized version below.

Getting Lucky …

I created seven images as the bird flapped very slowly. The last in the series turned out to be best as the bird had turned slowly toward me. And with Upper Center Zone all of the images were sharp on the eye. And by luck, I did not clip a single wing. I was very lucky that the bird was flapping just slowly enough so that the images were sharp at 1/320 second …

In The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris, there is detailed coverage of which of the amazing Sony AF Area Modes to use and when to use them. This topic is covered in the text and in the galleries where the legendary BAA educational captions will guide you.

Photo Mechanic

Though I now pick my keepers using Capture One Pro 20 and RawDigger, Photo Mechanic still remains an important part of my workflow as it allows me to browse and manage my keepers easily. And it offers easy access to the EXIF that I need to prepare each blog post.

This image was created on Sunday 23 August 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. Working from my SUV, I used the Levered Clamp FlexShooter Pro/Induro/GIT 304L-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 3200. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/320 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. The exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. ABW at 7:08am with clouds on the eastern horizon.

Upper Center Zone Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection. The active focusing point was on our left side of the bird’s lower neck. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Sandhill Crane adult flapping slowly in place

The Image Optimization

After converting the RAW file in Capture One Pro 20, I brought the image into Photoshop and did my basic clean-up work with the Patch Tool, the Spot Healing Brush, and Content-Aware Fill. The next order of business was to expand canvas using the Crop Tool. To do this, begin with the image in the unframed view and hit C for the Crop Tool. Select Original Ratio from the dropdown menu. Make sure that the box for Delete Cropped Pixels is unchecked and that the box for Content-Aware is checked.

Expanding Canvas with Content-Aware Crop

Expanding Canvas with Content-Aware Crop

For this image I needed a bit more room above, below, and right. Now pull the love handles away from the image on the frame-corners or edges as needed. Now click anywhere on the image to activate the Crop Tool. If you have followed the directions properly, it will look exactly as above. Now click on the checkmark or double-click on the image to execute the Content-Aware Crop. It will take a minute or two to fill in the added canvas. At times, you may have to do a bit of clean-up work as some areas of the added canvas may look quite smudged. Do that with the Patch Tool, Content-Aware Fill, or a Quick Mask or two as needed.

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. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

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

The techniques mentioned above — including and especially working with framed and un-frame images. — and tons more (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are 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. 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.

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. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One 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 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. Click to shoot me an e-mail to get your free copy.

If In Doubt …

If you are 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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 regularly visit 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 :).

3 comments to Getting Lucky & a Photoshop Content-Aware Crop Tutorial

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>