The Digital Basics III Video Series: Volume I/#1 « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Digital Basics III Video Series: Volume I/#1

Big News

Yesterday, curious as always, I ordered the new Sony a-9 III and the new Sony 300mm f/2.8 GM lens from Bedfords. I will be sharing my findings with you here as soon as I get my hands on the new gear. If you pre-order one or both of these items from Bedfords, please use the BIRDSASART discount code at check-out to receive 3% back on your credit card and free, second-day air Fed-Ex. Both of these items will be very hard to get. The waiting lists at Bedfords will be a lot shorter than those at B&H.

Not Too Late

For late registration discount info on the 4th Fall DeSoto IPT, or to explore the possibility of sharing an AirBnB with Alan Goodwin and me — we have an extra bedroom (cheap when shared by three), please get in touch via e-mail ASAP. Scroll to the bottom for details.

Your Call/My Call

I will share my thoughts on the two Blazing Star images and on the many and widely varied and well-thought-out comments in the next blog post. Different strokes for different folks.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Extras

Good friend and many multiple IPT veteran Indranil Sircar is offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II in excellent plus condition with several extras for a very low $449.00. The shutter count is 31001. The sale includes the Canon Battery Grip BG-E16 (a roughly $69.00 value), two Canon batteries, the original box, the cables and software and manuals, the battery charger, the front body cap, Canon Remote Release RS-80N3 (a roughly $50.00 value) and insured ground shipping via UPS to lower-48 US addresses only.

Please contact Indranil via e-mail.

If you are looking to get started with a Canon dSLR, Indranil’s 7DII is perfect for you. Both Patrick Sparkman and I used and loved the 7D Mark II bodies until about ten years ago when we both committed to using full-frame Canon bodies. We both made some truly great images with it. Two of my three 2016 Nature’s Best honored entries were created with the 7D II, one still, and one video. The 7D Mark II remains one of the greatest-ever values in a digital camera body. artie

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with Extras

Good friend and many multiple IPT veteran Indranil Sircar is offering a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in excellent plus condition with several extras for a very low $999.00. The sale includes the Canon Battery Grip BG-E20 (a roughly $229.00 value), two Canon batteries, the original box, the cables and software and manuals, the battery charger, the front body cap, and insured ground shipping via UPS to lower-48 US addresses only.

Please contact Indranil via e-mail.

What can I say? The 5D IV was my favorite-ever Canon digital dSLR. I owned and used three of them while my 1DX II and a 1DX III sat on the shelf in my garage. A new 5D Mark IV, with its 30.4MP full-frame CMOS sensor, sells new for $$2,699. If you have been dreaming of a 5D IV, grab Indranil’s 5D IV right now and save an astounding $1,700.00. artie

What’s Up?

Now that I have been home for a while, I’ve been swimming a half-mile every day and recently added a 1.5 mile health/vitamin D walk with my shirt off. On my walk on Tuesday afternoon, I saw my first-ever anywhere Black Vulture taking a bath. It was in the lake and was flopping around in what must have been eight inches or so of water; the bird looked quite ungainly and strangely, It sort of reminded me of the spoonbills bathing in the afternoons at Stick Marsh.

Photography at Indian Lake Estates has been getting better every day. The cranes are pairing up and are beginning to fool around. I had two straight great mornings with the Black Vultures at the smelly-old-fish feeder that I set up on the South Peninsula. The eagle pair has been trying to decide where to nest this year. They have been splitting their time between the beautiful, previously twice successful, easy-to-photograph nest that they used for the last two years and a cluttered, almost completely hidden ugly old Osprey nest in a dead tree a bit farther to the south. I know which one I am rooting for.

Today is Thursday 9 November 2023. My tentative plan is to head down to the lake early, feed the vultures, and then keep an eye on the weather at Sebastian. I will likely go to the coast very early on Friday and possibly stay for Saturday morning. Wherever you are a whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

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.

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.

Clockwise from the upper left back around to center: Osprey gaining altitude after missed strike; school of mullet under attack from below; Wood Stork with Southern Whiting; Osprey with Menhaden; Wood Stork with small lobster; Royal Tern with large baitfish; Osprey with Menhaden; juvenile Osprey directly overhead “t-shot”; Osprey taking flight with freshly caught Mullet.

Sebastian Inlet In-the-Field Sessions

Join me for 3 hours of morning In-the-Field Instruction at Sebastian Inlet for only $300.00/session. The main target will be Ospreys fishing for a variety of migrating saltwater fish that visit the inlet each fall. Back-up subjects include fishing gulls, terns, and Brown Pelicans, Wood Stork, a variety of herons, egrets, and sometimes shorebirds, sunrise cloud-scapes, and the occasional sea turtle or manatee.

November Dates: 10-11 & 20-25, 2023.

The weather is looking excellent for Friday and Saturday. If you would like to explore the possibility of doing both days (with or without and afternoon session), please get in touch via e-mail ASAP.

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 Digital Basics Backstory

The original Digital Basics PDF sold for $10.00 when it was released about two decades ago. Before it was published, I got a single e-mail complaining that the price was too high. Soon after, the guide had expanded considerably and the price was doubled to $20.00. The premise was that folks were creating very good images with their new digital camera bodies and then ruining them in Photoshop. And the same is still true today in spades with today’s great mirrorless camera bodies.

Amazingly, in 2011, the proceeds from the original DB were used to pay for my $67,000 lap pool in full. You can read the whole story and see the photos here. The original Digital Basics was a real eye-opener as it showed that serious folks were willing to spend good money on relevant information presented in digital form.

After several updates, “The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)” was published in June, 2017. It was priced at $40.00 and there has not been a price increase. Sales of DB II have exceeded $80,000.00. To be honest, I cannot remember ever receiving anything but praise for either the original DB or for DB II.

You can purchase “The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)” here.

Folks who do not want to miss anything and those who need the BreezeBrowser Pro/Downloader Pro information may wish to save $15 by ordering the Digital Basics/Digital Basics II Bundle for only $50.00 here. The bundle contains both the original Digital Basics and DB III. Both PDFs will be sent via e-mail.

The Digital Basics III Video Series YouTube Promo

The Digital Basics and Digital Basics II PDFs have taught more than 8000 nature photographers to process their raw files optimally, to make them look great. In the new DB III Video Series, I will be doing three image optimizations/video. Each will include the three raw conversions. Keep reading to learn more.

The Digital Basics III Video Series

The Digital Basics III Video Series

I realized about a year ago that my digital workflow had changed significantly and was toying with the idea of writing a Digital Basics III. More recently, I have learned and begun working with two great new Photoshop Tools, the Remove Tool and the Luminance Targeted Adjustment Tool. The former is like a smarter Spot Healing Brush Tool on steroids and the latter is a huge step up from the fabulous Color Mixer Tool. During that same time frame, I came up with a new and improved 2-step noise reduction technique. I still use Divide and Conquer, Quick Masks, Layer Masks, an expanded array of personalized keyboard shortcuts, and tons of other stuff from both versions of Digital Basics.

As soon as I realized that I did not want to take on another large writing project, I realized that by creating a series of videos I could much more easily share all the details of my current digital workflow and much more easily incorporate additional new tips, techniques, and tools as I went. And so, The Digital Basics III Video Series was born. Keep reading to learn about Digital Basics III Volume I/#1. As below, you might opt to purchase single videos or to subscribe to Volume I and save $26 by ordering the first five videos in one fell swoop. You can purchase the five videos in Volume I by clicking here.

For folks using the latest version of Photoshop (2024) or Lightroom. Topaz DeNoise AI and Topaz Sharpen AI are a plus.

Digital Basics III Volume I/#1

Digital Basics III Volume I/#1

Nearly an hour in length, DB III/VOL I/#1 has you sitting by my side at my Apple 16″ MacBook Pro (M2 Max, Silver) as I optimize the three images above. You will see that I use and recommend only Photo Mechanic (for both MACs and PCs) for picking my keepers and browsing and that I do my raw conversions using Camera Raw (Version in Adobe Photoshop 2024 (25.0.0 Release). Note that Camera Raw is identical in Lightroom.

Right off the bat you will learn to customize the panels (sometimes called tabs) and put them in the order you wish to use them. For me, those include Color, Light, Detail, and Color Mixer. Then, for each image, I take you through all the raw conversion sliders including the Color Temperature (White Balance), setting the White and Black points, adjusting the Highlight and Shadow sliders, and rarely, setting the Exposure and Contrast sliders. You will learn to use the new Remove Tool, the new Luminance Targeted Adjustment Tool, and my two-step noise reduction strategy. I use all three of those on virtually every image that I process. The second image, the Short-eared Owl, was created at ISO 12800. You will learn why and how I used Topaz Sharpen AI on various images.

After the master .TIF files are saved, you will learn how I size and sharpen the stunning JPEGs that you see on the blog every day.

You can purchase DB III/Volume I/#1 for $25.00 by clicking here in the BAA Online Store. Or, you can opt to purchase the Volume I series, videos #1 to 5, for the bargain rate of $99.00 for the first five videos (as noted above). The plan is to publish about 1 video/week. If the project is well received, there will be future volumes. I have already picked the images for DB III, Volume I/#2!

All images from SEPT/OCT/NOV at Fort DeSoto.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger, sharper high-resolution version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Piping Plover flapping after bath, juvenile Laughing Gull with feather, American Oystercatcher with sea urchins, Willet foraging in surf, American White Pelican juvenile swimming, skimmer/tern/shorebird blast-off blur, American White Pelican in flight, Black-bellied Plover stealing lugworm from Marbled Godwit, Roseate Spoonbill staring.

Fall 2023 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #4

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 14 November through the morning session on Friday 17 November 2023. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings: three.

Fall Bird Photography at Fort DeSoto

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds, terns, and gulls in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, and night-herons that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. And there should be some quality Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On this IPT, all will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button. Everyone will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly, you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever and whenever you photograph.


Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

The Details

There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

These IPTs will run with only a single registrant (though that is not guaranteed). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB/VRBO information. If you register soon and would like to share an AirBnB with me, shoot me an e-mail. Other possibilities including taking a cab to and from the airport to our AirBnB and riding with me for $50/day. This saves you both gas and the cost of a rental car.

A $600 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check one month before the trip. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six folks, so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand, or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions on lodging.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously, folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving. On cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip the afternoon session. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will sometimes be on your own as well.


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

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