Single Bird Horizontal Image Design: the Mike De Rosa Rule « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Single Bird Horizontal Image Design: the Mike De Rosa Rule

What’s Up?

The sunny morning NW winds finally quit on Friday, replaced by a gentle breeze from the northeast. I almost did not head down to the lake, thinking I’ve got enough vulture and Snail Crane images already. But then I thought, You can’t find anything great to photography in your office. My morning began with a first-ever Sharp-shinned Hawk, a juvenile, on The Perch. Next I worked the nesting pair of Crested Caracara and created a single family jewels of the pair copulating — just fitting both birds into the frame at 1200mm.

I was glad to learn that many multiple IPT veteran Warren Robb will be joining me on the Morro Bay IPT. And coincidentally — in view of today’s post, that Mike De Rosa is considering the same trip.

Today is Saturday 9 December. I will be heading down to the lake early to set up another road kill cafe. Wherever you are and whatever you choose to do, 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.

Single Bird Horizontal Image Design

Learn the basics of designing horizontally oriented images of singles bird in this 11-minute video. Be sure to stay to the end to learn to about clipping the virtual feet.

The Mike De Rosa Rule

The Mike De Rosa Rule

Mike and Norma De Rosa have joined me on many IPTs. To help Mike better design his images, I created the Mike De Rosa Rule. You can see this rule in action in the YouTube video above (and in many blog posts).

This image was created on 17 January 2009 with the tripod-mounted Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS 50D! Aperture Priority +1 stop: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open). AWB at 3:34pm on a sunny afternoon.

Be sure to click on the image to view a larger, sharper high-res version.

Great Egret with bill in water — sunset silhouette

Keep the Bird Back in the Frame!

You can simplify the Mike De Rosa by remembering to keep the bird back in the frame when creating horizontal images of single birds. The AF systems of the top of the line mirrorless camera bodies make doing that easier than ever before. If you are using any type of back-button focus, check out what I have to say on the video.

Clockwise from the upper left: in pink/purple predawn reflections; squabbling over feeding territory; with wings raised; with sand flea; ruffling after bath; on the edge of the surf with one foot raised.

Be sure to click on the composite image to view a larger, sharper high-res version.

Morro Bay Long-billed Curlew Images

2024 Morro Bay 3 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT): WED 7 FEB through the morning session on SAT 10 FEB 2024: $1999 (Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 5).

There will be a short Meet and Greet after dinner on your own at 7:00pm on TUES 6 FEB 2024.

Join me in one of the most beautiful and scenic places on the planet to photograph a large variety of birds of sea and shore. As above, the star of the show will be Long-billed Curlew. There will be lots of Marbled Godwits, Whimbrels, and Willets as well, and lots of the smaller shorebird species like Black and Ruddy Turnstone. Black Oystercatcher is likely and we should get to photograph large flocks of Western Sandpipers in flight over the bay. With any luck we should enjoy some colorful sunrises and sunsets. There are lots of gulls including Western, California, and Mew. There is one location where we may get to photograph Western, Clarke’s, Eared, and Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and Common Loon. We may run into some passerines including Anna’s Hummingbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow. And we have a chance for several species of raptors. Yikes, I almost forgot California Poppy, California Ground Squirrel, and Sea Otter.

The Details

This IPT will include four 3-hour morning photo sessions and three 2-hour afternoons (all times are approximate and dependent on conditions, most especially the weather), three working (image review and Photoshop) brunches (included), and of course tons of great in-the-field instruction photographic instruction. Each working brunch will be followed by Instructor Nap Time (INT). On cloudy days with a poor afternoon forecast, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a single long session and skip the afternoon. To ensure very early starts and that you get some sleep, breakfasts and dinners will be your responsibility. This IPT will run with only a single registrant as I do not like disappointing anyone.

Your $699 deposit is due now. Credit cards are OK for that. You can register by calling Jim during weekday business hours before noon Eastern time at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand. Once you leave a deposit, you will receive an e-mail with your balance and instructions for sending your check two months before the trip begins. If you wish to pay in full right off the bat, you can make your 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 and clothing and gear advice two months before the trip. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.

IPT veterans and couples or friends signing up together may e-mail for discount information.

Clockwise from the upper left: Great Egret fishing at sunset; pair of Western Gulls; Bird-Sh_t Rock at sunset; pan blur of the beach north of the rock on a foggy morning; shorebird flock over bay at sunset; Wild Turkey tom strutting.

Be sure to click on the composite image to view a larger, sharper high-res version.

Morro Bay Miscellaneous

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

Folks attending this IPT will be out in the field as early as possible and stay out late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors as is pretty much the case on almost all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours. Doing so will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty sleep and those who need to get home for a proper dinner. 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. Or watching folk leave the beach just before the western sky lights up.

What You Will Learn

I short, you will learn more than you could ever have dreamed of. 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 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. 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.


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

8 comments to Single Bird Horizontal Image Design: the Mike De Rosa Rule

  • sue jarrett

    I like all the images of many birds. I don’t like Great Egret witch is too dark on the image and on the photo of some birds and other things.

  • David Policansky

    Wonderful image, Artie. I always thought the 50D was the least successful of that series of Canon caneras–the 40D and 60D seemed much better to ne–and look what a beautiful image you made with it.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks and agree. Most folks who “upgraded” to a 50 D were wishing that they still had their 40 Ds 🙂 Never used a 60D.

      with love, a

  • “I’ve got enough vulture and Snail Crane images already”–typo or new ABA split?

    Great video. Couldn’t help noticing that the first two images, both Bald Eagles, in addition to following the De Rosa rule also happened to fit the birds into the terrain perfectly (between patches of background grasses). You mentioned backgrounds later with at least one of the hummingbirds, balancing the bird against vegetation on the other side of the frame. I’d even say the bird too low in the frame was fine, balanced by the large OOF wave at the top.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Cliff.

      That was an unnoticed auto spell check error. It has been fixed. And between you and Adam, I wound up re-crafting the entire paragraph.

      Thanks. At some point I will do an “other elements of composition” video that deals in part with backgrounds. As I am pretty sure that you realize, I chose my perspective quite carefully in the two eagle images 🙂

      with love, a

  • Adam

    “You can’t find anything great to photography in your office.” Were you intending to utilize the infinitive verb “photograph” instead of the noun “photography”?

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