Laughing Gull as Devil Crop Percentage. Ho Hum, Another Perfect Exposure. And Right Place + Right Time + Vision + Good Technique Usually Works Out Just Fine … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Laughing Gull as Devil Crop Percentage. Ho Hum, Another Perfect Exposure. And Right Place + Right Time + Vision + Good Technique Usually Works Out Just Fine ...

What’s Up?

I had an interesting morning photo session on Sunday. It was a bit cloudy with not much going on. As I drove south on the road next to the South Field, I saw a Crested Caracara digging around. I hung a u-turn, put the 600 f/4 on the BLUBB, and approached slowly. The caracara had an egg. Thinking “egg,” I wondered, “What type of bird’s egg?” I made some very good images in very low light. When the bird flew off, I followed and found it eating the egg on the ground in the North Field. When it flew off I got out of the car to investigate. I found the remainder of the shell. It felt wet and leathery. Mystery solved: the caracara had been digging up a turtle nest! Photo story here at some point.

I have been getting some work done on the Nikonians webinar, and in addition, consolidated the MAY 2021 folder. On Sunday, I began the second edit of 2258 raw files … I’ve been swimming and doing my bursts every day.

Today is Monday 7 June 2021. The forecast for this morning at ILE is for cloudy with an easterly breeze. I will be heading down to the lake for a bit. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare, and makes 163 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to 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, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

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 second-day air 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.

This image was created at the washover pool at Fort DeSoto on the 2nd DeSoto IPT. I used the Panning Ground Pod-mounted Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 503mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 500: 1/1000 sec. at f/11 (stoped down 2/3 stop) in Manual mode. RawDigger confirmed that the RAW file was close-enough-to-perfect. AWB at 19:29am on a sunny morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed quite well.

Image #1: Laughing Gull as Devil?

Laughing Gull as Devil Crop Quiz

In the Laughing Gull as Devil? blog post here, this was included:

Multiple Choice Crop Quiz

What percentage of the original frame does the optimized TIF file represent (as represented by the JPEG above)?

  • a- 11%
  • b- 22%
  • c- 44%
  • d- 66%
  • e- 88%

Click on the screen capture for a better look at the histogram.

Image #1A RawDigger screen capture for the Laughing Gull as Devil? image

RawDigger Screen Capture shows the full frame original

Checking out the full frame original in the screen capture above shows that the Laughing Gull as Devil image was indeed a very large crop. Only 89% of the original pixels were represented in the JPEG that represented the master file, Image #1 above.

Two folks nailed it:

Yves Guillot: A pour moi aussi: 11%

Mark Jordan: Hi Artie. I’ll say A. 11%.

Ho Hum …

Same old, same old: another perfect exposure thanks to studying RawDigger. Note that the G channel makes it 2/3 of the way from the 8000 line to the 16000 line. Thanks to RawDigger, that is exactly what I aim for.

Via e-Mail from Geri George

Hi Artie, Thanks for the RawDigger e-Guide. With many of my flower images, DPP 4 shows lots of over-exposure on the petals, but RawDigger shows only a smattering (less than a hundred). They all converted perfectly in DPP 4 simply by pulling down the Highlight slider a bit. RawDigger has some really cool stuff!

Thanks and best, Geri

RawDigger e-Guide with Two Videos

The RawDigger e-Guide with Two Videos

by Arthur Morris with Patrick Sparkman

The RawDigger e-Guide was created only for serious photographers who wish to get the absolute most out of their raw files.

Patrick and I began work on the guide in July 2020. At first we struggled. We asked questions. We learned about Max-G values. We puzzled as to why the Max G values for different cameras were different. IPT veteran Bart Deamer asked lots of questions that we could not answer. We got help from RawDigger creator Iliah Borg. We learned. In December, Patrick came up with an Adapted Histogram that allows us to evaluate the exposures and raw file brightness for all images created with all digital camera bodies from the last two decades. What we learned each time prompted three complete beginning to end re-writes.

The point of the guide is to teach you to truly expose to the mega-Expose-to-the-Right so that you will minimize noise, maximize image quality, best utilize your camera’s dynamic range, and attain the highest possible level of shadow detail in your RAW files in every situation. In addition, your properly exposed RAW files will contain more tonal information and feature the smoothest possible transitions between tones. And your optimized images will feature rich, accurate color.

We teach you why the GREEN channel is almost always the first to over-expose. We save you money by advising you which version of RawDigger you need. We teach you how to interpret the Max G values for your Canon, Nikon, and SONY camera bodies. It is very likely that the Shock-your-World section will shock you. And lastly — thanks to the technical and practical brilliance of Patrick Sparkman — we teach you a simple way to quickly and easily evaluate your exposures and raw file brightness using an Adapted RawDigger histogram.

The flower video takes you through a session where artie edits a folder of images in Capture One while checking the exposures and Max-G values in RawDigger. The Adapted Histogram video examines a series of recent images with the pink histograms and covers lots of fine points including and especially how to deal with specular highlights. The directions for setting up the Adapted Histogram are in the text.

If we priced this guide based on how much effort we put into it, it would sell it for $999.00. But as this guide will be purchased only by a limited number of serious photographers, we have priced it at $51.00. You can order yours here in the BAA Online Store.

This image was created on 4 June 2021 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 200. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/5000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:21am on with a bit of fog barely covering the sun.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Great Egret backlit in sparkling golden water

Right Place + Right Time + Vision + Good Technique Usually Works Out Just Fine

Clemens was already lying in the sand trying for Least Terns and the Snowy Plover chicks. For whatever reasons, I did not feel like getting sandy and/or wet on our getaway morning. As I lagged behind him, I noted a Great Egret to my right feeding in a shallow bay just as the sun was breaking through the fog just a bit. I had been carrying the tripod in one hand and the big lens in the other. I decided that handholding would be best as I would have lots of shutter speed and would be able to more easily get into position. If the sun had been out fully there would have been no shot at all. But with the fog, there was a swatch of sparkling golden water. As the bird was walking to the south, the trick was to move slightly ahead of the bird and let it walk into the bright water.

I made about one hundred images in all, perhaps 6-10 each time that the bird walked into the golden zone. The first thirty or forty had an ugly sandbar in the foreground that showed up as black but that was a blessing as I was fine-tuning the exposure. As the bird made its way south, I moved a bit closer. This one — with one foot raised out of the water, was the best from the last series before the bird turned around and walked back to the north in front of the sandbar. Party over. At no time did I consider getting lower because that would have brought the far shoreline of the lagoon into the top of the frame as an ugly black border.


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

7 comments to Laughing Gull as Devil Crop Percentage. Ho Hum, Another Perfect Exposure. And Right Place + Right Time + Vision + Good Technique Usually Works Out Just Fine …

  • avatar Duncan Groenewald

    Hi Artie, just looking at some of the images you post from the 600f4/a1 and they don’t appear to be that sharp on my monitor (LG 5K Display), well no significantly more so that ones I take with the a1/200-600 combo – do you post the full resolution images or are they downsampled ? Just interested in seeing the difference in feather detail between the 600f4 and say the 200-600. Obviously lots of benefit in f4 over v6.3 in terms of background blur and shutter speeds but I would have expected a reasonable step up in fine detail/sharpness as well. Is this the case ? Perhaps you can show some comparative examples – or link to the page if you have done so previously. More often than not I find I am shooting the 200-600 at 840mm to better fill the frame and that seems to still deliver pretty sharp images with not too much loss of IQ. Nevertheless I would have thought the primes would deliver a considerable improvement in sharpness.

    Best regards and stay safe – we’re all back in lockdown here in Melbourne !

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Duncan,

      Sorry for being tardy on responding. Your comment has been on my to-do list for a while 🙂

      #1: The JPEG that I use on the blog are 1200 pixels on the long side. With the file limited to less than 395 KB. I would expect that they look pretty lousy on a large, quality monitor. Therefore, the stuff that you see on the blog has been downsized tremendously. So you are comparing apples with oranges. In addition, as noted in the post, that JPEG was a huge crop. Unusual for me it represented only 11% of the original images. I can assure you that the master files for everything I post are either sharp or mind-bogglingly sharp.

      #2: Both Patrick Sparkman and I feel that the SONY 200-600 lens, though it is “only” a G lens rather than a GM (Grand Master) lens, is incredibly sharp, pretty much as sharp as the 600 f/4GM. As stated on the blog often, I do not have the greatest eye for fine detail. Folks on BPN are often pointing that out with my images, and they are almost always right. Patrick on the other hand has an excellent eye for fine detail. I’ll see if I can get Arash to comment on this issue.

      #3: Here is a relevant comment from Sunday’s blog post:

      On a related note, if you are a serious bird photographer without any physical limitations, and can afford a top of the line 600mm or 500mm f/4 along with a high-end mirrorless body and both teleconverters, but do not presently own that gear, I can only ask, “what are you waiting for?” 1200mm and 1000mm are deadly weapons ever for those who live in areas with silly tame birds, and they have never been more effective than they have ever been before. And yes thanks, please use the links.

      And here is a recent e-mail exchange with David Pugsley:

      DP: Hi Artie, hope all is well. I’m having quite the debate in my head over whether or not to pull the trigger on the Sony 600. I’ll summarize my current thoughts via bullet points, and would love your thoughts.

      AM: For me it’s a non-brainer …

      DP: Advantages

      – reportedly superior optics, even wide open

      AM: They are both very sharp. Even wide open.

      DP – more light gathering allowing lower ISO and/or faster shutter speeds (I’m finding my 200-600 with the 1.4 is noticeably sharper stopped down to f/10 which is really making me push the ISO.)

      AM: Yes, and that is when the sun is shining. The 600 f/4 shines when the sun is not shining. With the 200-600 and a 1.4X TC, you will yourself at ISOs from 4000 to 12800 in low light situations. That is not a nice place to be (no matter how great Topaz DeNoise is …) You will always save four clicks of ISO (1 1/3 stops) with the 600 f/4.

      DP – better bokeh

      AM: Bokeh is mainly a factor of the distance from the subject to the BKRG. The Boken of the 2-6 is just fine in most situations. Gorgeous, in fact.

      DP – plays well with the 2x TC.

      AM: Not well. Amazingly mind-bogglingly well. Imagine making razor-sharp images at 1200mm without giving it a second thought. Not to mention that you will have incredible AF across the (almost) entire frame.

      DP: Disadvantages

      – MFD of nearly 15’, the 200-600 will put more pixels on the subject at anything inside of 15’ which is often the case at Fort DeSoto.

      AM: Correct. That said, aside from the fishing pier, it is rare to be inside of 15 feet even with tame birds. On sunny days I will always grab the 200-600 when working with silly tame birds.

      DP: The million dollar question is whether all the advantages outweigh the MFD concern.

      AM: For a serious photographer that is not even a question. See all of my a1 stuff on the blog at 1200mm. Hell, Arash kills on flight with small shorebirds and raptors at 1200mm.

      Your call.

      Much Love, a

      FYI: David ordered his SONY 600 GM and saved 3% by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. He should have the lens in six to eight months …

      with love, artie

  • Howdy Artie
    I too would love to see the egg images as for the Great Egret it is simple yet powerful in the water the foot raised makes the image for me the golden water, I assume you zebra out the water in a photo like this and not the bird, but how much?
    Turtles usually bury there eggs pretty deep they must have a great sense unless something else dug them up first.
    Right Place (LUCK)+ Right Time(LUCK) + Vision(knowledge) + Good Technique(again learning Knowledge) Usually Works Out Just Fine
    Always with love b

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Soon. In the blasting or almost blasting backlit highlight situations you want lots of Zebras on the specular highlights …

      thanks with love, a

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Art: I am really looking forward to seeing the crested caracara and turtle’s nest pictures! I hope you do that sooner rather than later.

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