Jerking the Lens. Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize to the Rescue! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Jerking the Lens. Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize to the Rescue!

What’s Up?

We headed over early on Monday morning to Sebastian Inlet with hopes of photographing diving Ospreys and Royal Terns catching fish. There was zero action at the inlet, so I did some of the beach wildflowers: Dune Sunflower and Railroad Vine, a lovely purple morning glory. Then we packed up and drove north in the park to do Wood Storks and terns visiting the cast-netting fisherman. We succeeded. Then I found and photographed some perfect pink Seaside Jackbean blossoms near a small fishing pier.

We wound up staying so long that when we finally got to McDonald’s in Vero Beach, I was too late for Breakfast Burritos!

We will be headed down to the lake here at ILE at about 7:30am this morning, Tuesday 29 SEPT 2020. We head over to DeSoto on Wednesday and will be meeting multiple IPT veteran Bill Schneider for two days of private instruction. We head back home midday on Sunday.

Wanted to Buy

I have someone looking to purchase a used Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens. If you have one that you would like to sell, please get in touch via e-mail.

Great Topaz News (Corrected)!

I did not realize that folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to use this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said on Sunday and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop). I amazed myself yesterday by completing this guide in the car on the way to and from Sebastian. Huge thanks to Anita for doing the driving. Please include a copy of your Topaz order when requesting the guide.

Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro back in stock!

We received a dozen Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pros via DHL. We ordered twenty … Anita North has been using one and said, “With my weak fingers, the Levered-Clamp is a Godsend.

Via e-mail From Derek Hallum

Thank you so very much Artie! You and Patrick did a spectacular job with the SONY e-Guide and Video. They helped me tremendously! Much love to you and your family. Sincerely, Derek Hallum

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Available

Save $10 Now

The RawDigger e-Guide and Video is almost finished. It will sell for $51.00. If you are anxious to get started with RawDigger, learn to mega-Expose to the Right, and wind up with the highest quality image files, you can save $10.00 and have a chance to review a pre-publication copy of the guide by sending a PayPal for $41.00 to with the words RawDigger e-Guide and Video Pre-publication Copy cut and pasted into the Subject line.

You will of course receive a link for the completed PDF when the guide is finished.

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 and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, 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 to 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.

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

The BAA Used Gear Page

Right now, the Used Gear page is red hot! It is 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% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list at the bottom of the page.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time). Be sure to mention the 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 and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

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 3% on all orders. 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.

114 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.

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 in Pinellas County, FL on the morning of 21 September 2020. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 640. Exposure was determined via Zebra evaluation with ISO on the rear dial as detailed in The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide and One Camera Set-up Video. 1/2500sec. at f7.1. ABW at 9:18am in mostly sunny conditions. RawDigger showed that the exposure of the RAW file was perfect.

Center Zone Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and worked well. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Sterna Tern diving

Jerking the Lens

This is another image from our mega-feeding spree day at DeSoto. The tern emerged from the water with a small baitfish. When it dropped the fish, the bird headed down after it. Rapidly! To keep the bird in the frame, I jerked the lens forcefully downward. SONY AF kept up, but jerking the lens down so violently caused motion blur (as expected). Note: a faster shutter speed would have helped somewhat; 1/8000 second would have been much better (at the cost of a much higher ISO).

Before Topaz Sharpen AI came into my life, this would have been an insta-delete. With Sharpen AI I was able to transform it into a respectable keeper. Is the master file a super-sharp family jewel? Absolutely not, but it is more than use-able for a great variety of purposes.

This image was a rather large crop. The master TIF file immediately above represents just a shade more than 40% of the original pixels. I am anxious to get Topaz Gigapixel AI downloaded (we have dreadfully slow internet here at ILE) and running and see how it does with the master TIF file for this image. I will let you know how that goes.

Be sure to click on the image and view the larger version.

Image #2: Topaz Sharpen AI in action

Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize

With the Sandwich Tern image featured in the Late to the Topaz Party … Two Totally Amazing Before and After Screen Captures! blog post here, the Focus setting saved the day because the bird’s head was in front of the plane of focus. With today’s featured image, the Stabilize setting did the trick. The most amazing part of the whole thing is that Auto knew which setting would be best for each image.

I converted the image in Capture One. In Photoshop, I ran Sharpen AI on its own layer and then did some bill clean-up. I finished by selecting the bird’s head and applying a Contrast Mask for a bit of additional sharpening. All but the C-1 conversion (along with tons more) 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 and has helped literally thousands of folks to improve their Photoshop skills.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

San Diego 2021 Brown Pelican IPT

January 12 thru the morning session on January 16, 2021. Four full and one-half day: $1999.00. Deposit: $500.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 7.

Introductory Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins: MON JAN 11, 2021.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and the subject of blinkies. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2-hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-brunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due immediately after you sign up. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


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

2 comments to Jerking the Lens. Topaz Sharpen AI Stabilize to the Rescue!

  • avatar Adam

    Glad you are finding Topaz’s products useful. They are pretty impressive and I routinely used DeNoise AI as part of my workflow when I had my a7riv. It’s seeing less routine use with the R5 images, though it still has a place and in some respects and I like the combination NR/sharpening better than Sharpen AI. Once you’ve played around with it for a while, try taking it off auto. With DeNoise AI, and and simple OOF backgrounds I frequently find that it creates artifacts or leaves some areas without NR. Using the older and faster AI Clear algorithm seems to work better for those cases. Grid artifacting is a known but separate entity. If you encounter that, consider the help sheet: The “low light” feature is fairly good for images where there is a lot of color noise and when you are feeling brave invoke the masking features as these are extremely powerful.

    AI sharpen is fairly good as you’ve demonstrated in you focus recovery. I find the default settings are way too sharp especially in stabilize often resulting in specular features or occasional haloing. I find it is useful for image recovery (mostly for web) as well as final sharpening for print.

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