My New Lady Friend — I’ll Never See Her Again! Today is the Last Day to save $10 on the RawDigger e-Guide. Huge Thanks Matthew Milnes! The Super-sharp Eye of the Turtle. Image Clean-up Tips. And Quasi-Macro (Handholding) Tips « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

My New Lady Friend -- I'll Never See Her Again! Today is the Last Day to save $10 on the RawDigger e-Guide. Huge Thanks Matthew Milnes! The Super-sharp Eye of the Turtle. Image Clean-up Tips. And Quasi-Macro (Handholding) Tips

Merritt Island NWR In-the-Vehicle Instruction

I will be heading over to Merritt Island NWR on Friday and staying the weekend. Black Point Drive has had lots of Roseate Spoonbills and feeding sprees near the road recently. When I lived in Deltona, I visited often so I know the place well. I have a great little-known sunrise location there.

If you would like to meet me for a day or two or three of In-the-Vehicle Instruction, please e-mail immediately so that we can discuss the rates (inexpensive) and a schedule. 500 or 600mm lenses are preferred. Most of our photography will be from my vehicle. The weather for the weekend is looking good. I need to know in advance so that I can set up my car so that you can photograph from the back seat. I can only take one. Shared lodging (with your own bedroom) in my AirBnB home (FRI, SAT, and SUN nights) is available. If a private IPT sounds as if it might be something that you would enjoy, do get in touch quickly. Or call my cell at 863-221-2372. I will sign up the first to get in touch for a single session or two. Mornings will begin very early.

What’s Up?

I ran down to the lake at the last minute and did pretty well. I just looked at the images and did get a few decent ones. I thought that I was shooting at 1200mm, but the 2X TC had been in the fanny pouch of my sweatshirt. I was working at 840mm the whole time. I didn’t realize that until I headed home.

I was glad to learn yesterday that Bill Schneider sold his like-new SONY a7r iv for $2598.00 within an hour of it being listed. There is another nice a7r iv along with Bill’s like-new a9 ii on the The BAA Used Gear Page.

I was thrilled with the response to my plea for PDF help last night. Within two hours of posting, I had two perfect copies of the RawDigger e-Guide with all the links working. Thanks to the many who responded, especially to IPT veterans Bart Deamer and Muhammad Arif. They were, respectively, the first and second to the finish line.

Today is the last day that you will be able to save $10 on this guide. (See below to order by PayPal.)The guide will be in the store later today (at $51.00) and will be featured in tomorrow’s blog post on learning to create perfect, mega-Exposed-to-the-Right raw files on a consistent basis.

Today is Friday 29 January 2021. The forecast for this morning is for clear skies with gentle north winds. I will head down to the lake for a short morning session as I have lots to do getting ready to make the three-hour drive to Titusville this afternoon.

This post took more than 2 1/2 hours to prepare and makes forty days in a row with a new one. Please remember …

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at 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 Status of My Canon Gear

I began setting up my very own R5 yesterday using the R5/R6 AF e-Guide and what I have written on the BAA EOS R5 Camera user’s Guide as a — you guessed it — guide. While doing so, I made a few changes to each of those documents. I hope to do some flight photograph. with the R5/RF 100-500 this weekend at Merritt Island. The R5 Camera User’s Guide will be the most-expensive-ever Camera User’s Guide. Except for those who have used my affiliate links to purchase their Canon mirrorless gear.

RawDigger e-Guide pre-publication version

RawDigger e-Guide and Video Advance Copy Still Available — but not for long!

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 recently updated pre-publication version 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 completed RawDigger e-Guide ready for sale by this coming Wednesday. Folks who saved $10.00 by pre-ordering will of course receive a link to the final PDF.

134 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 and then entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. Please include a copy of your Topaz receipt that shows the discount. 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 (remember those?) 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 Indian Lake Estates, FL on 26 January 2021. Lying down on the ground, I used the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 400mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. Exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial. ISO 2000: 1/500 sec. at f/7.1 (stopped down 2/3-stop) in Manual mode was shown to be prefect in RawDigger. AWB at 9:39am in the shade (thus the high ISO).

Tracking Flexible Spot M AF-C was active at the moment of exposure an performed perfectly.

Image #1: Peninsular Cooter (Pseudemys peninsular)/head portrait

My New Lady Friend

On my second visit of the morning to the vulture tree last Tuesday — the eclectic morning of photography, I noticed a large turtle on the right side of Banyan Drive, a street with views of the lake that runs parallel to the lakeshore. I pulled over onto the grass to investigate, and saw quickly that she was completing the job of covering the eggs she had just laid. Though she seemed very tame, I began with the 600GM lens at 840mm. Those images were terrible. So I went back to my SUV and switched out the big lens for the smaller, lighter, closer-focusing 100-400. First I tried sitting but those images were terrible. So I got doe flat on my belly, supported the rigs with my elbows as a bipod, and went to work. The now-distant BKGR was much, much better.

Big turtles like this are normally very shy. If you approach them closely, they will pull their heads into their shells and not come out for a week. But this large creature — I estimated her to be at least 16 inches long and about five or six pounds. (When she finished, she had started to cross the road to head for the lake. So I picked her up and walked her a ways toward the lake to make sure that she would not become turtle soup …)

After momma turtles lay their eggs, they make their way back to the lake. If any of their offspring survive — predation by raccoons, armadillos, and opossums is very high, especially in populated areas — momma turtle will never see her kids again. And it is pretty likely that I will never see my new lady friend again either. It was great spending an hour with her.

Thanks Matthew!

The breadth of knowledge and skills of the folks who visit the blog regularly no longer amazes me. Nor does their willingness to share so freely. Huge thanks to Matthew Milnes not only for helping me identify the big lady turtle, but for sharing his extensive knowledge of turtle natural history with me. Matt, married with two little one — 3 and 6 years old, lives in Milledgeville, GA where he is a biology professor at Georgia College. He grew up in Clearwater, Florida (not far from Fort DeSoto) and has spent his career studying the physiology of reptiles.

Years ago, he took a few trips to places like Merritt Island NWR and the Outer Banks. From those outings morphed a desire to photograph wading birds, waterfowl, and shorebirds. In a typical year he’d make two or three coastal trips to photograph birds to places somewhat connected to his job. He does, however, have lots of chances to photographing snakes, lizards, frogs, and salamanders.

From Matt I learned that this individual was nesting very early and that the rates of embryonic development in reptiles are temperature-dependent. There is, therefore, usually a broad range of incubation periods. I learned that the range of incubation time for this species is from 60-150 days — about 60 days would be for eggs laid in the summer, and probably close to 150 days for eggs laid in December. And I learned that some hatchlings of this species are known to overwinter in the nest if they hatch in late fall! Based on his prior experience incubating turtle eggs, the time of year, and my location, Matt would guesstimate that the eggs would hatch in 3-4 months.

Quasi-Macro (Handholding) Tips

  • 1- First off, handholding gives you much greater freedom in getting into the best position and choosing the perfect perspective than working on a tripod.
  • 2- When lying down, making sure that your image is square-to-the-world is a challenge. It is easy to get skewed and wind up as much as five degrees off level. By turning on and paying attention to the in-viewfinder level (if your camera has one), you avoid having to rotate and crop in post-processing.
  • 3- It is imperative that you keep your rig perfectly still by whatever means (in this case, the elbow bipod). Be sure also, to set your IS/OSS switch to mode 1.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1A: An unsharpened 100% crop of the Peninsular Cooter head portrait

The Eye of the Turtle

Like the Canon 100-500, the SONY 100-400 is fantastic for close work with tame subjects. As with the Canon 100-400 II, the magnification with the SONY 100-400 (at 400mm) is actually greater than the magnification of the RF 100-500 at 500mm. That is possible because is focuses proportionately closer. In any case, the incredible sharpness of the eye in today’s featured image is due to several factors:

  • 1- By getting on the ground and using my elbows as a bipod, I was able to keep the rig completely still.
  • 2- I remembered to set the OSS (Optical Stabilization System) switch to Mode 1, best for static subjects.
  • 3- The sharpness of the SONY 100-400 optics.
  • 4- I stopped down 2/3-stop for just a bit of extra d-o-f (depth-of-field). Doing this when working at point-blank-range is always a good plan.

The Image Optimization and Clean-up

After converting the raw file in Capture One, I brought it into Photoshop and applied a layer of Topaz DeNoise Low Light on Auto. Because I had mega-Exposed-to-the-Right, background noise was minimal. For the image clean-up I used my usual cadre of clean-up techniques and tools: Divide and Conquer– with help from the Clone Stamp Tool, the Patch Tool, Content-Aware Fill, and several small transformed Quick Masks often refined by a Regular Layer Mask.

Note that the bit of posterization in the background is the result of the creation of the Animated GIF. It is not present in the master file or in the JPEG above (Image #1).

Feel free to leave a comment revealing your thoughts on the image clean-up.

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 clean-up techniques mentioned above and many dozen additional Photoshop tips and techniques (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 used to convert 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 (along with my R5 images).

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 Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair.


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

18 comments to My New Lady Friend — I’ll Never See Her Again! Today is the Last Day to save $10 on the RawDigger e-Guide. Huge Thanks Matthew Milnes! The Super-sharp Eye of the Turtle. Image Clean-up Tips. And Quasi-Macro (Handholding) Tips

  • Hi Artie

    I new there was something special about you and now I know what it is your kindness to help things along that live in the Natural World. I see people like you here in the UK, remember this you are amazing human beings.

    Best and love

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    Man what a good blog post! Thank you so much Artie!

  • It is interesting that the stripe in the eye appears to be horizontal. If the whole head were horizontal, would the eye stripe line up with the head stripes?

    Do you have a shot with the head horizontal? That might be an interesting study.

  • avatar Steve

    The face of the turtle looks like it has sky reflections on it. Do you think a polarizing filter might have helped with this?

  • avatar Doug Faulder

    Can the turtle egg nest be now protected somehow? From predators, vehicles, whatever.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      If it is undisturbed when I get back from Titusville we will dig it up carefully, mark the tops of the eggs, incubate them indoors as detailed by Matt, and release the hatchlings in the lake if any make it …

      with love, artie

  • Love this turtle portrait–beautiful background and love the photographer and turtle on equal planes.

  • avatar John

    Thanks for sharing this learning. Could you say more about why the initial images with the 600GM at 840 were terrible? Was it the view angle (viewing down at the subject)? Or perhaps too much background due to DoF being wider at the greater distance?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are welcome, John. Thanks for appreciating that there is a the amount of learning in this and most blog posts.

      The images last night — all but one — were terrible because the wind was from the north slightly northwest. So the birds were landing and when an airboat went by too close, taking off away from me. D-oF had zero to do with it. It’s funny that I was thinking that the landing birds did not look very large in the frame (that while thinking I was at 1200mm).

      At times, when the wading birds or the grackles blasted off through the color, I was too tight at 840mm. I was too lazy to set up the 200-600 and hang it on my shoulder.

      Thanks for the good question.

      with love, artie

  • Hi Artie
    What a great encounter with an unusual reptile. When I was in the Everglades National Park I was driving to the Anhinga Trail, on the way there was a really big turtle blocking the road it was almost black at least 36 ins long I picked it up from behind avoiding its beak, I got a hands clap from the drivers on the road amazing.
    Best and love
    Ps have a great weekend

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Ken, If it was an Alligator Snapping Turtle you were luck to survive. I once say a gator grab and eat a big soft-shelled turtle at Anhinga Trail!

      with love, artie

  • Its great to see your progress in working on the R5/R6 User’s Guide. Since you are also updating the R5/R6 AF e-Guide as you learn more, will an update of this be available in the future? Thanks –

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Dudley.

      Every who received the R5/R6 AF e-Guide will receive a free update. Hopefully in 2-3 weeks.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Love your new lady friend! So glad you helped her get across that street.

  • avatar Jim Spilman

    My Sony 100-400 arrives tomorrow and yes, BIRDSASART, thank you Artie for sharing her picture several days ago. Jim

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