Keep or Delete? Why? Your Image Optimization Thoughts? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Keep or Delete? Why? Your Image Optimization Thoughts?

What’s Up?

Please remember that the blog is meant to be interactive. Even if you do not opt to leave a comment, run through the questions in your head. Doing so will help you improve your bird photography. All comments are of course, greatly appreciated.

The last morning of the 2nd Homer IPT was blown out by 25-knot NW winds with gusts to 35-knots per hour and 8-foot seas. The wind dropped in the afternoon and the ride across the bay was a bit swelly but easily manageable. We spent several hours in Peterson Cove and did quite well mostly with perched adult and young eagles. We finished off the session with some perched eagle silhouettes. If you are interested in joining me on one or both of the 2024 Homer IPTs next February, please shoot me an e-mail.

Again, I was completely overwhelmed by the number of folks who commented on yesterday’s post and by the quality of the responses Check them out.

Today is Friday 3 March 2023. The forecast for today is for moderate winds from the north with clear skies. It is likely that we will do two sessions. “Bear” Bob Sabin is staying an extra day and joining us for the first day of the 3rd IPT. This blog post took less than an hour to prepare and makes three hundred thirty-eight days in a row with a new educational post written just for you. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

Please, please, pretty please remember to use my B&H or Bedford’s affiliate programs for all your new gear purchases. If you use B&H, please be sure to click on any B&H link in the blog to start your search. Or simply start with this link. There is always the option of e-mailing me for gear advice and for the correct links.

The plan is to continue to post every day until the streak reaches one year and one day and then begin posting every other day.

As above, please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

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 — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — 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 earn 3% cash back 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 image was created on 21 December at La Jolla, CA. While standing at full height, I used the handheld Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens
the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 560mm), and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined via Zebra technology with ISO on the Thumb Dial. ISO 500. 1/4000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file exposure was determined to be perfect. AWB at 8:50:47am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed to perfection. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Brown Pelican Pacific-race pre-breeding plumage head throw

The Image: What We’ve Got

We have a perfectly exposed photo that captures the peak of the head throw action with a great look at the bill pouch. We managed avoid clipping the bill tip. Sharp focus is on the eye with enough of DOF to cover the entire subject that is ideally and perfectly parallel to the imaging sensor.

Keep or Delete? Why?

If this were your image, would you keep it or delete it? Either way, why?

If you would keep it, please leave a comment detailing your plans for the image optimization. How would you crop this? Where would you add canvas? Would you eliminate the out-of-focus young pelican in front of the subject? How?

This all-new card includes images created on my JAN 2022 visit to San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2023/2024 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPTs

San Diego IPT #1. 3 1/2 DAYS: WED 27 DEC thru the morning session on Saturday 30 DEC 2023. $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

San Diego IPT #2. 4 1/2 DAYS: TUES 9 JAN thru the morning session on SAT 13 JAN 2024: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

San Diego IPT #3: 4 1/2 DAYS: TEUS 23 JAN thru the morning session on SAT 27 JAN 2024: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers.

Please e-mail for information on personalized pre- and post-IPT morning sessions.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Ducks; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions (both depending on the current regulations and restrictions). And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

I discovered some really neat spots on my 2022/23 visit. As a result, the first and second IPTs may include an afternoon or two of landscape photography.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on exposure along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode so that you can get the right exposure every time (as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant). Or two seconds with SONY zebras … And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning, there is usually some excellent flight photography, at times with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of those opportunities. Depending on the weather, the local conditions, and the tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego. Each IPT will include one or two duck sessions.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

These IPTs will include four or five 3-hour morning photo sessions, three or four 1 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, and three or four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon shoot. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Deposit Info

A $699 deposit is required to hold your slot for one of the 2023/2024 San Diego IPTs. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due three months before the trip.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


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

18 comments to Keep or Delete? Why? Your Image Optimization Thoughts?

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Keep! Square crop with the bottom intersecting the junction of the subjects’ back and the bird on the left. Stretch the crop to add canvass to the left. Content aware fill with sea. Select the OOF head and content aware fill again. Clone and brush clean up tools for the sea, and tidy up back of bird with clone. Just done it quickly on a screen grab and it looks really good.

  • avatar David Pugsley

    I’d keep it with a a square(ish) crop, added canvas left and deletion of the intruder’s head – winner.

  • avatar Mark Harrington

    Delete the first image because of the OOF pelican in the foreground

  • avatar Nancy R Fischer

    Artie, Sorry I don’t comment more often. I read your blog everyday while at work, which somewhat explains why I don’t write. From yesterday’s blog, I really love Image #1: the Bald Eagle taking flight. That shot, as well as many more recent shots from Alaska and/or your guest contributing photographers.

    Tomorrow, it’s my intention to visit your eaglets again, except that now they’re my eaglets. After visiting them the family the last few weeks, waiting to document their newest development(s), I found myself missing them and can’t wait to go see them again.

    As far as the current question, I love the Pelican head throw and detail in the photo. I would rather like the oof pelican to be removed, but lack the skills to make such a big move, and keep it clean. I’d have to keep the shot and work on it in the (hopefully not so distant) future.

    Yes, I know it’s wordy…

  • Keep. Can’t see Elinor’s effort, but a 8.5 x 11 cover crop starting on the left and extending so as to grab just a bit of gray mantle while leaving similar margins on the left and right leaves pieces of the other two birds that can be removed simply by circling them and using Fill>Content Aware to replace them with blue water/sky.

  • avatar John C

    delete, not good angle & busy image, not clean feathers!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for commenting, John C. I disagree on the poor angle. Busy I can take care of. And I do not see many if any dirty feathers. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder.

      with love, a

  • avatar Sue Jarrett

    Image #1: Brown Pelican is interesting and funny and nice!!

    Almost all of your images daily are always interesting and well made!

  • I’d keep it and crop just at the bottom of the head thrower’s neck which would crop off all of its back.Then use spot healing brush to change the pelican’s head in front to water along with the white tuft of feathers on the left. Then crop to square and add blue water on the left. Didn’t take time to add water on the left side.
    I don’t think the edit will send but here’s a try.

    /Users/elinor/Desktop/head-throw-ORIG-3200-_A1G8532-La-Jolla-CA-.jpg-nggid0511402-ngg0dyn-600x0x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010 copy.jpg

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