Two Oldies But Goodies Topazzed to Print! Catching up with Jim Brandenburg … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Oldies But Goodies Topazzed to Print! Catching up with Jim Brandenburg ...

What’s Up?

There were lots of incisive comments on the Two-part Exercise in Thinking blog post here. Old friend and BAA student, the very skilled and oft-published bird photographer, Cliff Beitel, spotted my SUV in the eye of the B&W vulture image! Note: with the sun coming up in the southeast and the bird angling somewhat toward me there would never be western component to the wind … I will be going back over the two images in that post this week. Promise.

I enjoyed another great session with my loaner Canon gear this morning; I have been implementing various suggestions left in the comments on the two R5/RF 100-500 posts. There are some very smart folks out there; I thank them all for their help. If you own an R5, I cannot urge you enough to carefully go over the Comments (and my responses) in the last few blog posts. Or, you can wait for the BAA Canon EOS-R5 User’s Guide. Folks who purchase an R5 or and R6 and/or any RF lenses using my B&H links or Bedfords should save their e-mail receipts as they will be entitled to a discount.

Be sure to read all the way down to learn about Jim Brandenburg. You owe it to yourself. If COVID has got you feeling down, be sure to explore some of the links on the Brandenburg Gallery Facebook page here.

Today is Monday 7 December 2020. It is just past 7:30am. It is dark and drizzly here at ILE. I will be heading out to do some photography as soon as I get dressed. Thanks, Jim!

Most Importantly

As always, if what you read or learn here inspires or convinces you to purchase an R5 or 6, and/or the RF 100-500 lens, and/or the RF Extender 1.4X, please use my B&H affiliate links or get in touch with Steve Elkins at Bedford to save 3% on your new gear and get it a lot quicker …

Great R5/RF 100-500 News from Bedfords

I spoke to Steve Elkins at Bedford Camera on Thursday and was excited to learn that he will be getting his biggest-yet shipment of Canon R5 bodies and RF 100-500 lenses early next week. You can save 3% on your order by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax (if any is due) total. In addition, by using the code you will get free 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

If you buy the Canon rig that I am testing you will save a very handsome $212.91. Using any of my affiliate links is the best way to thank me for the work that I do here on the blog.

Back in Stock

We now have eighteen of the hugely popular Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro tripod heads in stock. Click on the preceding link to learn more about this amazing head, the ballhead that thinks it’s a gimbal head and — thanks to the amazing counter-balanced spring mechanism — works great with any rig from the longest, heaviest super-telephoto lens to a camera-body-mounted wide angle. The latter is possible because of the bi-directional clamp; it is no longer necessary to travel with a gimbal head for long lens photography and a ballhead for scenic photography. And after just a moment’s adjustment, the double ball enables you to ensure that every image you take is on the level.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. 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 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.

Topaz Still on Sale!

Right now Topaz is offering price reductions on the Utility Bundle and the Creator Bundle. The former normally sells for $359.96. It is on sale now for $249.95. Click here, scroll all the way down to the sale, and enter the ARTHUR15 code at checkout to save an additional 15%! The Creator Bundle usually sells for #279.97 and is now on sale for $149.99. Using the ARTHUR15 code at checkout brings the price down to $127.49!

The BAA Used Gear Page

The Used Gear page continues to be 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 for the past ten months at the bottom of the page.

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

Great Topaz News!

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 start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back 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.

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.

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 15 February 2011 on a Hooptie Deux trip to Alafia Banks in Tampa Bay with Captain James Shadle. I used the
tripod/Mongoose-mounted Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens with the 1.4X II TC (now replaced for EF lenses by the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and the long-defunct EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at about +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/11. AWB at 8:29am on a sunny morning.

Tracking Expand Flexible Spot/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Roseate Spoonbill in mega-breeding plumage preening


This is the most gorgeous breeding plumage Roseate Spoonbill I have ever seen. Anywhere. The birds that breed in Texas are, on average, more colorful on the breast than the Florida birds but I have not been there. Yet. I hope to get there early this spring.
The Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens was one of my all-time favorite telephoto lenses.

My favorite AirBNB super-host ordered two prints to decorate my favorite Gulfport AirBNB. This one will be printed on canvas at 24X 24″. The 1D IV was a 16.1 MO 1.3X crop factor body. As this is a fairly large crop, I decided to run the image file through Topaz Gigapixel AI on Auto at 2X before re-sizing it. See below for the amazing results …

Be sure to click on the image to better see the amazing improvement.

Topaz Gigapixel AI on Auto at 2X on the Roseate Spoonbill in mega-breeding plumage preening

Topaz Gigapixel AI on the Roseate Spoonbill in mega-breeding plumage image

With this one I was stunned by the results. I am not sure how Gigapixel AI performs its magic; the image is rendered at twice the file size, and amazingly sharper and cleaner. Note the improved sharpness of the eye and the incredible detail at the base of the upper mandible in the after version on the right. Artificial intelligence indeed. This one will make a stunning canvas print.

This image was created on 9 September 2006 near Fort DeSoto. I used the tripod/Mongoose-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens and the long, long-defunct EOS-1D Mark II N. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at about +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3. AWB right at sunset with some light clouds on the western horizon.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette

Too Long Ago …

I would have sworn that this image was made with a handheld lens, probably the original 100-400. But the EXIF showed that it was made with the first 600 f/4 L IS lens. That one was so heavy that I could not have handheld it even for a few seconds. Ah, the times they are a changing … I do remember being so nervously excited as everything came together that I screwed up the juxtaposition of the subject and the sun. The sun in this image needed to be re-positioned to our right to improve the compositional balance.

Again, be sure to click on the image to better see the amazing improvement.

Image #2B: Topaz Sharpen AI on Auto on the Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at 100%

Topaz Sharpen AI on the Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette image

For this EOS-1D Mark II N (8.2MP) file, I first put it through Topaz Gigapixel AI at 2X. The image was improved, but did not look very sharp. So next I applied Topaz Sharpen AI on Auto. Much better. After being re-sized to 30 X 20″, I uploaded the file to the printer’s website.

The cover image was re-mastered with Topaz DeNoise AI and Topaz Sharpen AI.


The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II)

Though published more than a decade ago, the oft-overlooked The Art of Bird Photography II, remains an incredible resource for all bird and nature photographers.

ABP II is the continuation of the How-To classic, “The Art of Bird Photography; The Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques.” One chapter covers all aspects of Digital Photography and includes a section on understanding histograms. It also includes Artie’s (then-current) digital workflow along with tons of great Photoshop tips. Other chapters include “Equipment; What’s New?,” “Advanced Composition and Image Design,” “It Ain’t Just Birds,” “Exposure and Flash Simplified,” and “Advanced Sharpness Techniques & Creating Pleasing Blurs.” The “Practicalities” chapter includes a detailed section on setting up your backyard for bird photography as well as sections on photographing on safari and on the tundra. Each image in the book includes the all technical data and is accompanied by the legendary educational captions that made Artie’s free on-line Bulletins, and now the BAA Blog, so popular. Most chapters include one or more galleries designed to illustrate and reinforce the principles covered in the text. There are two copies of the book on the CD. Open the “Spreads” version to best enjoy the beauty of the images and the layout and design. Open the “Single Pages” version for easy reading.

Note: You can port this CD to an iPad – please e-mail us for instructions

Note: This CD is also available as a digital download – you can see it here.

The front cover of the CD is an image from the same series as Image #2, the Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette. To learn how the foggy GBH image on the back cover was created from a very foggy image, see the blog post I Haven’t the Foggiest blog post from 2013 here. The back cover of ABP II features a wonderful quote from friend and fellow professional Jim Brandenburg, 40 or so words that I will always cherish:

Arthur Morris’s bird photographs have a truly unparalleled elegance. As artist, he shares a rare gift of intimacy in his work, then as teacher, powerfully describes the steps of this most delicate ballet with his shy and elusive feathered partner.

Learn lots more about ABP II and our other educational offerings here.

Jim Brandenburg

Incredibly, I know that there are more than a few folks who have never heard of Jim Brandenburg. Jim (born November 23, 1945) is an environmentalist, nature photographer, filmmaker, and philanthropist based near Ely, Minnesota. His career includes 10 years as a newspaper photojournalist, more than 30 years as a contract photographer for National Geographic, and commissions from such groups as the United States Postal Service and the BBC. Jim Brandenburg is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Jim is incredibly creative. He is inspirational. He is spiritual. He is philosophical and to me, often seems mystical. He is thoughtful — he seems to consider each word and thought before he verbalizes it. I met him several times many years ago and he was quite kind to me. Most recently, I re-read his monumental Chased by the Light and was re-inspired. If you do not know the story of the epic work, I urge you to check out the video. Watch the video at the preceding link and learn the story of the time when Jim embarrassed a wolf …

I spent well more than an hour this morning “catching up” with Jim. I learned a ton by visiting the Brandenburg Gallery Facebook page here. I learned that Jim, six months older than I am, has not been resting on his laurels. See 93 Days of Spring here. I learned of the completion of Jim’s winter project here.


Feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :). with love, artie

7 comments to Two Oldies But Goodies Topazzed to Print! Catching up with Jim Brandenburg …

  • Hi Artie
    It’s good to back with you all I have missed the great crack that you all generate, the older I get
    the more I love the journey I have been on as professional photographer in the UK I have seen such tender moments over the years by wildlife, I must wright a book on this. By the way I was born in 1943 that makes me 77 years young, and I am still running my Photographic business
    Best and love

  • avatar ebrard

    Hey captain! i say colours.You say canon!!!
    Maestros only could produce such masterpieces which rightfully can be considered as Art.Ai is a stupid device.Artie’s intelligence taste and talent are unique.Some of your pictures will impress people in decades to come.No photo based on sharpness as the first and ultimate requirement will.
    RESPECT jce

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


      Howdy, and thanks for your kind words. I agree that some folks today do too much pixel peeking. But it is not good to stick your head in the sand when it comes to the amazing new technologies that are available to us right now 🙂 I embrace them 🙂

      with love, artie

      ps: a sharp image is alway better than a soft image unless you are doing pleasing blurs!

  • avatar Adam


    Really enjoyed the blast from the past segment and especially your Roseate image. I can’t say that I’ve seen finer Roseate plumage anywhere. The innovations in software are really quite amazing and as you’re observing, it’s worth revisiting images from years ago. It’s one of several reasons why I tend not to discard old images.

    Thanks, Adam. When I was looking for the master files for the two featured images I realized that not only did I need to re-do those but that here were more than a few others in each folder that deserved to be processed, all with today’s amazing new technologies!

    The R5 continues to amaze me and this weekend, I was extremely successful in an exercise of taking “head on” landing shots of waterfowl. Unlike my prior Canon gear which never coped well with BIF moving directly towards the camera, the R5 was nailing it almost every time. Of the hundreds of images, only 1 was completely OOF and the vast majority were in focus or had acceptable focus. A sea change to be sure.

    Agree. I am glad for those who suffered in silence for so long. I am glad that they are being rewarded with the R5 and the R6.

    I’m glad you had the opportunity to catch up with Jim. His opus is compelling and like you, Jim has been a source of motivation for so many people. I’m reminded of the quote attributed to the 20th century pop artist R.B. Kitaj who supposedly remarked, “No one is immune to human contact and art is not made in a vacuum.”

    :). And thanks. I should have mentioned that so far I have “caught up” with Jim only virtually. I am in the process of trying to catch up with him the old-fashioned way soon — by phone.

    with love, artie

  • I absolutely love Jim Brandenburg’s work. He is a real inspiration. I am often dumbfounded by the sheer number of folks that do not know of him, yourself, John Shaw, Jack Dykinga, and so many other incredible and inspiring photographers.

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