One Very Strange (and very beautiful) Bird! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

One Very Strange (and very beautiful) Bird!

What’s Up?

It was mega-foggy at 7:15am on Monday morning so I did not head down to the lake until 7:45am. It turned out to be a superb morning for dew-covered spider webs and wildflowers. It ended in surprise when I discovered today’s very strange featured bird at the Vulture Trees. A short sunset foray finds me with 662 yet-to-be-edited in the December 05 2022 day folder.

Today is Tuesday 6 December 2022. I will be heading down to the lake again this morning. This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes two hundred fifty-four 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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Today’s NANPA Tidbit

A cc:ed e-mail from Jon Vickery

Ms. Huning and Ms. Day,

Since I received no reply to my prior email, which was addressed to Susan, I can only assume you are ignoring me. I may be a new remember of NANPA, but I do have 67 years of life experience with a variety of organizations, both professionally, and by avocation.

I am very much opposed personally to your single-handed and single-minded approach to push us into this media organization (ASMP sic). My life experience tells me that it will ruin NANPA and cause it to lose its history and identity. I am particularly distraught that you are doing this on your own without asking the membership what it actually wants.

For heaven sakes, put it to a vote.

I can hardly believe that you care so little about the folks you are supposed to advocate for. It is a pity we cannot call for your resignation on a no-confidence basis.

Please, get out of this arrangement ASAP and start over. It is never too late to get out of a bad judgment call.

Jon L. Vickery M.D.

Article XII. Referendum

The NANPA Board is ignoring the Referendum despite this from the Bylaws:

Upon petition of ten percent of the individual members eligible to vote, a request for a vote of the members of NANPA upon any matter, not involving an amendment to the Articles of Incorporation or these Bylaws, may be addressed to the Board. If such matter is not inconsistent with these Bylaws, the Board shall present it to the membership for a vote.

This image was created on 5 December 2022 down by the lake near my home. Working from the driver’s seat of my SUV with the window raised as high as possible, I used the BLUBB-supported Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: ISO 400. 1/800 second at f/8 (stopped down two-stops) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that the exposure was dead-solid perfect. AWB at 8:52:42am on a mostly sunny morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Turkey Vulture with many leucistic wing feathers<


leucistic (luːˈkɪstɪk) adjective

In zoology: having reduced pigmentation in the skin or feathers but normally colored eyes.

The Surprise

As I pulled up to the Vulture Trees, one bird flicked its wings briefly; at a glance, it seemed that there were too many white feathers. With its wings re-folded two thing were obvious:

1- The bird had lots of white in the flight feathers.

2- The bird had been crapped on at the overnight roost as there was lots of whitewash on its back and hind neck.

I took a few snaps out of curiosity. I looked elsewhere. When I took a second peek at the strong bird was stunned by its beauty as the bird had spread it wings fully in the sunning pose. It was immediately obvious that this was a spectacular example of leucism, a wide variety of conditions that result in the partial loss of pigmentation in an animal causing white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales, or cuticles, but not the eyes. It can be pronounced with either a soft “c” (luːSIZəm) or with a hard “c” (lu-KIZ-əm). A quick read of The Birds of North America #399 species account for Turkey Vulture found no mention of leucism in this species.

Be sure to click on the image to enlarge it and note that the white secondary feathers on the right wing are far more worn than the corresponding black secondary feathers of the left wing. Note also — I have no idea why, that this bird’s bill tip is many shades darker than the usually very white bill tips of normal Turkey Vultures.

If you have any neat images of a leucitic or albino bird, you are invited to shoot me a 1200-pixel wide JPEG via e-mail.

I created 89 images in all, auto-bracketing at the very end to ensure maximum detail in the dark feathers. The first 86 frames had the bird facing well away from me and were insta-deletes once I saw the winning pose at the end: the last three frames had the perfect head angle. — 90° for most over-the-shoulder poses. When photographing birds from behind, stopping down a stop or two for more depth of field will often render the whole bird sharp as 2-stops did with today’s featured image. In the lightest of the bracketed series, RawDigger showed 6030 OvExp pixels, all in the veins of the white primary feathers). As those were all in the GREEN channel, they were easily recovered during the raw conversion with the Highlights slider.

The Image Optimization and Clean-up

After converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw, I executed a small crop from the upper right corner and ran Topaz DeNoise on Low Light on the whole image. I did ten minutes work on the ugly orange branch stub just below the bird’s tail (seen in the Before image). For the most part, a series of small Quick Masks each refined by a Regular Layer Mask were used to re-craft that mess. Next was the task of eliminating the whitewash on the bird’s back and hind neck using my usual cadre of clean-up tools: the Spot Healing Brush for the small specks, and either the Patch Tool or Content-Aware Fill for the larger ones.

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.


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