Clipping the Virtual Feet, a Very Common Error. But … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Clipping the Virtual Feet, a Very Common Error. But ...

What’s Up?

I went down to the lake late yesterday afternoon without much success, though I did see a calling Barred Owl in a gorgeous tree with lots of hanging moss. The bird was sitting on an open perch. I would have set up the 600 with the 2X but for a single vine that hung right in front of the owl’s face …

Today is Tuesday 16 November 2021. It is 7:28am and I am sitting in my SUV working on today’s blog post. I am right on sun angle with the most recent road-kill cafe: a defrosted (previously road-killed) opossum carcass and a pile of smoked salmon skins. The sun came over the big cloud on the eastern horizon about ten minutes ago but so far there has not been any action other than a few Fish Crows flying around. It is dead clear now with a nice breeze from the Northeast so conditions are pretty good. The 200-600 is on the passenger seat and the bare 600 f/4 is on the tripod down by the edge of the canal so that if the vultures come in, I will be right at grass level. Aside from both species of vultures both Crested Caracara and Bald Eagle are potential diners. Time will tell. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took more than two hours to prepare.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item β€” a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head β€” for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would 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 for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

This Just In …

It is not 8:43am and I am ready to hit Publish on today’s post. Not a single bird flew by my road kill cafe, even for a sniff. I am going to shovel the opossum and the fish skins into a small cooler and let them ripen for another day. Then I will try again tomorrow.

New Bedfords BAA Discount Info

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy free Overnight Fed-Ex Air shipping for orders over $1,000.00 and free Second Day Fed-Ex Air shipping for orders under $1,000.00. Even better news is coming very soon. If you are curious, shoot me an e-mail.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy free Fed-Ex Air shipping as above, 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 qualify for the free Fed-Ex 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 a 1, 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.

Important Note

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Please Remember Also

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 (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times β€” I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — 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.

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.

This image was created on 7 June 2021 by BAA-friend, IPT veteran, and a1 Group member David Pugsley. Working from a very low perspective, he used the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter(at 840mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2500. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the Thumb Wheel: 1/1600 sec. at f/10 (stopped down 1/3 stop) Manual mode. AWB at 9:24am on what looked like a cloudy-bright morning.

Image courtesy of and Copyright 2021: David Pugsley

Image #1: Marbled Godwit scratching

Clipping the Virtual Feet

While doing the research for this blog post, I came across David’s BPN Scratch That Itch post here. Most everyone who commented felt that the image was too bright and that bird needed more room all around, especially in front of the bird and on the bottom frame edge where David had not left room for the virtual feet, the feet as if we could see them through the water. Scroll down to see how David improved his image with the repost in Pane #11 and to learn more about clipping virtual feet …

Searching for the term “virtual feet” on BPN, turned up exactly 500 links! Most were in the Avian Forum with a few in Wildlife. The first references were to posts from 2009 by Moderator Randy Stout and yours truly. Like me, David Pugsley learns something new with every image he posts. BPN is truly a great place to learn to improve your skills for only $40.00 a year. And we offer a three month free trial.

Image courtesy of and Copyright 2021: David Pugsley

Image #1: Marbled Godwit scratching

A Big Improvement

With more room at the bottom of the frame for the virtual feet, and with the brightness pulled down nicely, David’s repost was a big improvement. David had room all around in the original capture; his error was simply in cropping too tightly. That is another very common error. This from a recent e-mail to De Soto IPT participant Pete Myers:

As for not liking tight crops at all, for me, the bird needs room in the frame, room to move, room to see, room to exist. At this point leaving room for an editor’s type no longer plays into the equation. But — for artistic reasons — I will often pick a looser original over a tighter one. with love, artie

In any case, I (crudely) added the virtual feet to give folks a better understanding of the concept. That brings us to …

I created this image on 4 November at Circle B Bar Preserve in Lakeland, FL. While standing, I used the Levered-clamp Flexshooter Pro/Induro GIT 304L tripod-mounted Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 467mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/320 sec. at f/6.3 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the brightness of the raw file was perfect. AWB at 3:39pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Tracking: upper center Zone AF-C Bird/Eye Detection AF was active at the moment exposure and worked perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the hi-res version.

Image #2: Anhinga, female in Pond (or Bald) Cypress

Clipping the Virtual Tail

The discussion above brings us back to the Circle B Bar Reserve Anhingas & Bald Cypress Trees. Sony 200-600 G Lens Plate/Low Foot Options. And Why! blog post here where I wrote:

#2: Which basic compositional rule did I break when I created the second and the fourth images?

Over the course of four days several folks took a shot at my question, but nobody had a clue until BPN Super-moderator Daniel Cadieux posted this comment to a more recent blog post:

Hey artie, Yes, you clipped the virtual tail, the part of the tail that extends beyond the lower frame-edge had it been visible. I just checked the BPN thread and saw that a member there got it right. There is lots of learning on BPN for everyone 😉


With both images 2 and 4, I was aware that I was clipping the virtual tail. I shot slightly wider versions but far preferred the somewhat tighter views with the clipped (not entirely virtual) tail.

When I posted Image #2 here on BPN, long-time member Jim Crosswell commented on the problem right off the bat. An interesting discussion with another long time member Andreas Liebman followed:

Originally Posted by Andreas Liedmann:

Hi Arthur …. who cares about those rules , and more important who is thinking about him/herself to dictate rules for others ????

All rules are more or less killing creativity … well IMHO .

I think it is just a matter of individual taste …. but if anyone wants wants to follow rules, go for it .

So …. I cannot see any form of violation, using your term.

My response:

Thanks, Andreas. I agree that rules stifle creativity. I have never been one to blindly follow the “rules,” photographically or otherwise. My photography is often guided by a series of artistic principles that I believe in. Jim, in Pane #6, hit upon what I was looking for, the fact that I clipped the virtual tail (partially obscured by the vegetation). I was aware of that when I pressed the shutter button, and wound up liking it a lot better than the slightly wider shot.

And I never suggest that folks should follow any photographic rules (other than “stay on the path,” when that is the rule) πŸ™‚

with love, artie


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

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