ILE GBH-Scape: Color or Black and White? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

ILE GBH-Scape: Color or Black and White?

What’s Up?

I got some nice stuff on Sandhill Cranes on Friday morning. My favorite was mildly backlit, with a shaded foggy-water-with-all-dark tree-reflections background. Then I drove to the North Field, put on my heavy-duty waders, got out the loppers, and opened up a nice viewing window for my sunset photography. The sunset looked promising at first but soon fizzled.

Thanks to all who purchased The Art of Flower Photography by Denise Ippolito and yours truly based on what they read in yesterday’s Canon EOS R5 Multiple Exposure blog post here.

I got my Canon EOS R5, RF 100-500, and RF 1.4X teleconverter via 2nd-day air Fed-Ex from Steve Elkins at Bedfords yesterday afternoon. I’ve been back to swimming every day. I’ve increased my workout slowly over the past few weeks from 44 to 50 lengths (88 lengths to the mile). I’ve also ordered the standard adapter so that I can use my RF with my Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 macro lens. And one extra battery.

The forecast for the next few days is for variably cloudy skies with brisk northwest winds. Though such conditions are NTG for morning bird photography, I will be heading down to the lake twice every day.

I have a Zoom meeting with Patrick Sparkman set up for today — Saturday 16 January 2020 — to iron out one last detail for the RawDigger e-Guide. I am confident that we will be publishing the final version no later than this-coming Wednesday. At least that is the plan 🙂

This blog past makes twenty-seven days in a row with a new blog post. This one took about 1 1/2 hours to prepare (including the time spent on the post-processing). Please remember …

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.

The RawDigger e-Guide by Arthur Morris with Patrick Sparkman

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. The recent delay is the result of my recent conversations with Iliah Borg, the brains behind RawDigger. It is very likely that the Shock-your-World section will shock you.

In the new guide, we teach you why the GREEN channel is almost always the first to over-expose. We teach you how to interpret the Max G values. And most recently, we teach you a simple way to evaluate your exposures using an adapted RawDigger histogram. And tons more, of course. I am planning on having the RawDigger guide ready for sale by next Monday. Folks who saved $10.00 by pre-ordering will of course receive a link to the final PDF.

132 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.

Folks who have used my B&H affiliate links or purchased their SONY gear are invited to e-mail for discount information.

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).

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 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. 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 the morning of 11 January 2021 a the north end of the North Field at Indian Lake Estates. Working from my SUV, I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 266mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1600. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode; RawDigger showed that the raw file was about 1/3 stop too dark. AWB at 8:59am on cloudy morning.

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

Click on the image to see a larger and inexplicably sharper version.

Image #1: Great Blue Heron at edge of canal


I am not even sure why I took this image as it is the complete antithesis of my usual style — clean, tight, and graphic with butter-smooth backgrounds. Strangely, I like this detail-rich image. If you like it, please leave a comment explainig why. Maybe it will help me understand why I like it.

I rested the lens on the lowered car window and was a bit careless — the image needed 4.01 degrees of counter-clockwise rotation. Using the Ruler Tool (keyboard shortcut R), I drew a line from the bird’s eye to the reflection of the eye and hit Command + / (my personalized keyboard shortcut for Image > Rotate > Arbitrary). The latter is one of my very favorite shortcuts.

I ran DeNoise AI on Auto and Sharpen AI on Auto on the whole image after it was leveled and cropped. I like to crop before bringing an image into DeNoise (or Sharpen) as that helps speed up the Topaz renderings just a bit as the plug-in has fewer pixels to work on.

Click on the image to see a larger and inexplicably sharper version.

Image #2: Great Blue Heron at edge of canal black & white

Black and White

My go-to black and white plug-in is NIK Color Efex Pro. I usually go with either 004 — High Contrast (smooth) or with 003- Wet Rocks. With this image, however, I opted for 001 — Underexposed (EV -1). Why? It is hard to put my finger on anything specific, it simply looked best to me. It was the first time I had ever chosen that particular pre-set.

Multiple Choice/Fill-in Color or B&W Quiz

1- I liked the color version best because __________________________.

2- I liked the B&W version best because __________________________.

3- I liked each image about the same.

4- You should have deleted both of them because __________________________.

The last time I ran such a quiz, not a single reader bothered to answer. Maybe the second time will be the charm..

Whatever you think, I think that either the color version or the B&W would make a great jigsaw puzzle …

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

You can purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide

126 pages, 87 photographs by Joe Przybyla and Arthur Morris.
The PDF for this e-Guide is an electronic download sent via e-mail.

Purchase your copy here in the BAA Online Store.

I had thought about doing a guide to some of the great but little-known photo hotspots around central Florida for about a decade, but those plans never came to fruition. I met Joe online in the Avian Forum at BirdPhotographer’s.Net about two years ago. Joe’s photography has improved tremendously over the past few years; he credits the BAA blog, my books and PDFs, and his participation on BPN. The one thing that I learned right from the get-go about Joe is that he is a hard and tenacious worker, always striving to improve his skills and to grow his knowledge base. As he knew of more than a few good spots in central Florida, I broached the idea of us doing a photographic site guide that covered many of the little-known photographic hotspots from Brandon to Lakeland to Joe Overstreet Road to Indian Lake Estates (my Florida home for the past 20 years or so). After more than many, many dozens of hours of effort, The BIRDS AS ART Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide is now a reality. Thanks to Joe’s wife Dottie for her review of our writing. We all learned once again that writing is a process, a back and forth process. All thanks to the white pelicans of Lakeland. Here are the locations that are detailed in this e-Guide:

  • Indian Lake Estates: Sandhills Cranes with chicks and colts, lots of vultures, and Ospreys up the kazoo!
  • Gatorland, Kissimmee: Learn to make great images of wading birds in a cluttered rookery.
  • The Brandon Rookery: Great for nesting Wood Storks, Great Egrets, and more.
  • Circle Bar B Reserve, Lakeland: Here you will find a great variety of avian subjects in a great variety of habitats.
  • Lake Morton, Lakeland: There are lots of silly tame birds here including and especially American White Pelican during the colder months.
  • Lake Mirror, Lakeland: Tame Anhingas, Limpkins, and a zillion White Ibises at times.
  • West Lake Parker, Lakeland: Here you will have a chance for two difficult birds, Snail Kite, and Purple Gallinule.
  • Joe Overstreet Road, Kenansville: Crested Caracara, meadowlarks, Loggerhead Shrike, and many more on the fenceposts and barbed wire. Snail Kites at end of the road!

Each location includes a map, a detailed description of the best spots, best season, light and time of day instructions, the expected species, and an educational and inspirational gallery that is designed to open your eyes as to the possibilities.

You can purchase a copy here in the BAA Online Store.


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

25 comments to ILE GBH-Scape: Color or Black and White?

  • Hi Bruce Finocchio

    Could you tell how you where able to put a Image in the thumbnail square I have asked at least
    ten people how to do it including Artie but no one has come up with answer to date, it’s really bugging me now.

    Best wishes

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    I agree with Maggi Fuller. Couldn’t have stated it better. Maybe save to play with in your software for awhile & maybe learn or discover something new or untried, but eventually isn’t up to your usual keepers. Just limited opportunities and one feels bad bringing home nothing after putting in the time and effort. Emotional attachment/reasoning for the shooter, but on further evaluation and review….. Fun question!

  • I like the color version the best, but would not have kept it unless the GBH was engaged in behavior that added some excitement to the image.

  • Welcome back to Canon with your R5 purchase. I have had mine since October 1, 2020. It’s a remarkable camera. Canon has final produced a revolutionary camera body. The animal eye tracking is fantastic, not perfect, but still exceptional. Keepers for my birds in flight images have gone way up. Bruce.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Bruce, Thanks. SONY is still and will remain my primary system. The R5 is fun, the 100-500 is light, I like the in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features, and I need to continue to test it so that I can finish the R5 Camera User’s Guide.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Adobe Flash Donnette Largay

    I agree, too messy.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. On your quiz, you know the late wildlife photographer Michio Hoshino used to say “put the animal in its environment,” and you have done that with this image. As you say, it’s completely out of character with your normal style. Here are my answers to your quiz.

    1- I liked the color version best because __It gave life to the image and made it more interesting than the b&w version, and the color made it easier for me to see what was going on in the image. In the b&w image the busy background overwhelmed the subject. I also felt that the b&w image was under-exposed.

    2- I liked the B&W version best because _____N/A_____________________.

    3- I liked each image about the same. N/A

    4- You should have deleted both of them because _Well, I never tell anyone to delete an image, unless it’s one of me. 🙂 But I don’t think these are among your better images.

  • avatar Ron Sprunger

    I see you got responses this time. I’m completely a b&w kind of guy, but much prefer color here for the muted brilliance (does that even make sense?). Placement of the bird as observer looking into scene from the edge makes the image work, IMO. Personally, I might have cropped just below the bird’s head in reflection for 2:1 presentation, but of course that’s just me.

    I think what bothers me about the b&w is the “underexposed” look. Would like to see more contrasty full dynamic range image, I think.

    Wish I were there instead of hunkered down in the smoggy cold,


  • avatar Michael Gotthelf

    I like the color one because color is needed to define the bird’s environment. I really like this type of image because it invites you into the Heron’s world. I don’t mind the “clutter” because there are no distracting elements. The Subject and story are clear, and the composition with reflection and reaching limbs is spot on.

  • 1- I liked the color version best because ____I just love color, maybe because it’s the real world. Those 19th century b&w photos feel so lacking and I think of that whole century being dismal B&W. Also I really like photos with habitat.

    2- I liked the B&W version not best but I do like this B&W. Reminds me of Clyde Butcher and his Everglades photos. The B&W does create a feeling of eerie swamp.

    3- I liked each image about the same. Nope-for me color is better

    4- You should have deleted both of them because –I’d definitely keep both.

    Sticking my neck out about color again. All the color seems too strong to me. My monitor is calibrated with xRite so I should be seeing the colors correctly.

  • avatar James Saxon

    Both versions are nice, the b&w reminds me of a Clyde Butcher image, but you should have deleted both. If the bird moved from right to left and closer to the tree and/or framed under the branches of the tree it may have helped. Too much going on for me.

  • I like environmental images and like the black and white version better in that I don’t see that many and in this case the subject stands out well. Given it is a cluttered environment, the tones in the black and white image are not competing with the subject as much as the differing colors seem to be.

  • avatar Walter Foreman

    I agree with Richard Lethbridge. It’s as if the arms of the bush are reaching toward the waiting heron (or herons, given the reflection). I would add that I like the way the colors work: the blue-gray of the heron and the bush, set in the green/yellow/orange-brown of the setting. So I was getting ready to say I prefer the color version, and I do, but looking more closely at the b&w version, I find it becoming a quite effectively eerie “night” shot: the bush becomes more threatening to the heron, as the heron threatens the unseen fish.

  • Hi Artie
    In the last comment I made I should have said do you support your lense and body on the glass window with a bean bag?.

    Best and love


  • Hi Artie

    I like the colour one the best what makes it for me is the refection and the using the golden ratio to place Blue Heron in. I have a good Blue Heron I took in the Everglades in 1998 and it is more like a Artie shot that you would take. When you are using your SUV do you use a been bag to support it on the window?

    Best and love

  • avatar Douglas Bolt

    I preferred the B&W. I’ve seen thousands of nice pics of birds in an environment and almost as many B&W fine art and animal pics. But, a B&W of a bird in an environment, especially a cluttered environment, seems fresh and interesting to me.

  • If the intent (which I highly doubt that it was) was to present an art photo of a Heron then I’d delete both because of all the clutter. However, if the intent was to present a photo showing a Heron in its natural surroundings in the best pleasing way, then I’d definitely go with the B/W. In the B/W image the Heron and the leafless tree/bush standout as a focal points and the brush behind becomes more background. Also, in the B/W, I seem to see what seems to be a visionary triangle formed by the heron and tree/bush (& their reflections) better in the B/W than the color.

  • avatar Joe Usewicz


    I like the color photo. A gentle nod to Monet in both colors and subject.


  • avatar Monte Brown

    Artie I like the color shot, all to often we seek the clean tight shot while overlooking the environment in which the subject lives; this image tells a great story.

  • avatar Adam

    My sentiments are similar to Richard’s namely, though it’s a chaotic scene the eye navigates around the scene and is taken by the reflections and framing of the bird by the branches. On a technical note, I find the foliage a bit too yellow on my monitor for my liking. This is common and many landscapes need a bit of desaturation or hue shift of the yellows. The B&W image lacks enough luminosity to pursue.

  • The color image is much more pleasing to the eye than the gloomy B&W version. If you keep either one, then the next time you see it you’ll wonder why you kept it in the first place.


  • avatar Richard Lethbridge

    I really like this image for it’s composition, the way the branches and reflection
    point to and almost embrace the heron. I much prefer the colour version; it’s
    more alive.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    You should have deleted both because you had a good opportunity to shoot a better vertical image at 600mm. What appealed? – Perhaps the calm and peaceful bird in a completely chaotic scene?

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    You should have deleted both of them, because they just don’t have the ‘wow’ factor and the straggly tree branches are ugly and distracting. The colour version is marginally better than the B & W in my opinion as the Heron stands out more with its contrasting colouring.

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>