Save Yourself From Too Many Images: Stringent Editing « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Save Yourself From Too Many Images: Stringent Editing

What’s Down?

I inadvertently forgot to hit publish after finishing this blog post on Saturday night! I am publishing it on Monday morning so that you can enjoy two posts today. Or whenever.

Photo Mechanic Screen capture: 15 keepers from an 819-frame morning photo session

The Need for Stringent Editing

With 20- and 30-fps mirrorless camera bodies ruling the roost for bird photography, if you do not learn to edit ruthlessly you will soon find yourself (and your hard drives) buried in digital images. I rolled by The Perch and the Vulture Trees early on and there was not much doing. I grabbed the 400mm f/2.8 GM lens and worked some cranes, first in the South Field and later on the parking lot hill. In between I had an adult eagle in a pine tree and two different preening Great Egrets. I need to get the Osprey image to FWC as it is in dire need of repair.

After the first edit, I had 23 images in the day folder. Those included several runs of similars. After a quick second edit, I was left with the fifteen images in the Photo Mechanic screen capture above. Before you scroll down, click on the screen cap to enlarge it and see if you can pick out my two favorites, the two images that I chose to feature in today’s blog post.

For the first edit, if I am not sure about an image, I keep it. For the second edit, I pick the best from each group of similars, and if I am not sure, it is deleted. The keeper rate for this morning’ session was less than 2%, 1.831505% to be exact.

What’s Up?

I made it down to the lake twice on Saturday. As you can see above, the morning was spent photographing the usual suspects. There was enough around that I did not create a single vulture image. There was a colorful, fog-muted sunset with no silhouette-able birds in sight.

Today was 🙂 Sunday 4 December 2022. I headed down to the lake early. This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes two hundred fifty-two days in a row with a new, educational post just for you. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

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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. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

Today’s NANPA Tidbit

Early on in the Town Meeting, NANPA President Beth Huning, at the 12:06 mark, referring to the “agreement,” stated “it was not done behind closed doors.”
Had the board not been exposed, the agreement would have been completed in total secrecy. Perhaps Ms. Huning has a different understanding of what it means to do something behind closed doors.

If you would like an audio recording of this event, shoot me an e-mail. Apologies if you listen to the audio and hear a few muttered expletives.

This image was created on 3 December 2022 down by the lake near my home at ILE. Seated on wet grass I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 400. 1/2000 sec. at f/3.2 (stopped down 1/3-stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be 1/3 stop short of perfect. AWB at 7:46:27am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: (Upper) Zone AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed very well by grabbing the bird’s right eye. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Sandhill Crane facing torso portrait

The Search for Different

Living at Indian Lake Estates for 22 years now, I have created tens of thousands of images of Sandhill Cranes, yet I had never before made one very much like Image #1, _A1G8131. The birds began to walk right at me, probably out of curiosity. Upper Zone is my default AF location for photographing tall birds, so I rotated the lens to vertical and was amazed at how well the Tracking AF grabbed and held the bird’s eye. I liked and kept the next three frames, _A1G8139, _A1G8158, and _A1G8176. I created a series of more than 45 frames in seven seconds.

I liked _A1G8131 best because of the angled neck, the placement of the bird’s head in the extreme upper right of the frame, the cool look at the breast, and the incredibly smooth f/3.2 background. You gotta love the bokeh of the Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM lens. If you find yourself wishing that the bird’s breast was sharp, remember that stopping down enough to do that would have brought up tons of unwanted detail in the distant marsh.

During the post-processing a dark area below the bird’s tail was eliminated, the single feather that merged with bottom frame-edge was re-shaped, and most of the sand on the bird’s bill was removed. Using the mask feature in Topaz Sharpen AI, the head, face, and bill were sharpened.

This image was also created on 3 December 2022 down by the lake near my home at ILE. Standing at the base of the small hill adjacent to the parking circle at the base of the pier. I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 400. 1/2000 sec. at f/3.2 (stopped down 1/3-stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be dead-solid perfect. AWB at 8:52:15am on a mostly sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot (S) AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed well by grabbing the bird’s upper neck. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Sandhill Crane dancing into north wind

Lots of Work Here

As the two birds danced atop the hill, I had many chances, but with the fixed 400mm lens, every frame but one had clipped wings and feet and heads. Getting rid of the second bird in the frame took a lot longer than I thought it would. I began by using the Clone Stamp Tool and the Content-Aware Fill with the Divide and Conquer technique, but was not thrilled with the results. Next, was a horizontally flipped Quick Mask of the lower-left-corner that was used to cover part of the mess in the lower-right-corner. A large, very soft Clone Stamp Tool brush helped in that area. And last was a layer of 64.8-pixel Gaussian Blur painted in as needed via a Black (Hide-all or Inverse) Layer Mask.

This is a front-lit version of the dancing crane at sunset image in the AM & PM. 1200 & 200-600. What Excites Me 🙂 blog post here. The dancing poses are quite similar.

High Level Question

Why did I find it necessary to use Tim Grey Dodge and Burn to lighten the bird’s face and eye?

Your Call

Which of today’s two featured images is your favorite. Why? Which of the other 13 images in the screen capture do you like, if any?

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 techniques mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques — along with my complete digital workflow, Digital Eye Doctor Techniques, and all 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. 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: most of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted 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 three years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One and did that for two years. 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. Today, I convert my Sony raw files in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw.

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


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

3 comments to Save Yourself From Too Many Images: Stringent Editing

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    I picked 2589 (hair raising), 8158 (no beak shadow and determined waddle). Then I scrolled down and LOL 8390 (your #2 of the day).

    I was thinking of it as the best, but then thought, he wouldn’t want us to consider PS any of these would he?

  • avatar Sue Jarrett

    Both photos of Sandhill Crane are interesting and cute! And Sandhill Crane Image #2 dancing into north wind makes me funny!

  • avatar Jordan Cait

    Hi Artie,
    I prefer the second image. The first one is interesting but only the bird’s face is in focus.

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