Low and Behold: Best Ever Lesson on Getting Down and Sandy « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Low and Behold: Best Ever Lesson on Getting Down and Sandy

Been Swamped

After three days of virtually non-stop programs and In-the-Field Instructional Photo-Walks at the Florida Birding and Photo Fest in St. Augustine, my keynote address, “A Bird Photographer’s Story was warmly received last night by about 135 folks. From the get-go I have been (and still am) fighting a tickley cough, a bit of chest congestion, a slightly sore throat, and a mild case of laryngitis. (That after giving myself a kinehora last week by saying, “I have not had a cold in well more than a year….”) Today is a relatively light day with just two In-the-Field walks at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. I will pack up during the day and head back to Indian Lake Estates on Monday morning.

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This image was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon EF 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm), and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1000 sec. at f/10.

Low and Behold: Best Ever Lesson on Getting Down and Sandy

The image above was created while I was standing. While I do like the inclusion of the shadow I would best describe the image as butt ugly. The sharply defined irregularities of the beach are visually disruptive. The key to the success of the image below was getting down flat on the soft sand; doing so reduced the photo to just the key element on a pure white high key background. My hope is that after comparing the two images here you will not soon forget the advantages of getting low when working on relatively flat ground: a sharp subject pleasingly set against a background of pure color.

To learn why the wing of a Laysan Albatross was sticking out of the sand check out Tsunami Evidence on Midway.

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This image of the primaries of a buried adult Laysan Albatross was created with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, the Canon EF 1.4X III TC (hand held at 280mm), and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/13.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear that I used to create the image above. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. Man, I am loving this lens on my shoulder with the 2X III teleconverter. I also use it a lot–as I did here–with the 1.4X III TC.
Canon EF 1.4X III TC. This new TC is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. The very best professional digital camera body that I have ever used.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Delkin 32gb e-Film Pro Compact Flash Card. These high capacity cards are fast and dependable.

I pack my 800 and tons of other gear in my ThinkTank Airport SecurityTM V2.0 rolling bag for all of my air travel and recommend the slightly smaller Airport InternationalTM V2.0 for most folks. These high capacity bags are well constructed and protect my gear when I have to gate check it on short-hops and puddle jumpers. Each will protect your gear just as well. By clicking on either link or the logo below, you will receive a free gear bag with each order over $50.

13 comments to Low and Behold: Best Ever Lesson on Getting Down and Sandy

  • Ken Sheide

    I prefer the butt ugly 😉 image too because of the detail visible in the sand along with the frame-filling shadow. That’s the great thing about art; everyone is entitled to their own opinion and likes which don’t necessarily match those of others. Fortunately, I don’t have to tailor my images to the likes of others so can concentrate on producing photos which are appealing to me. If others also find them appealing (and many do) then that’s just a bonus!

    It is worth mentioning that I wouldn’t have known it was a wing protruding from the sand by looking at either image without someone telling me. I’m left wondering if the second image tells that story better for others.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Ken, Obviously we are from different planets. That said, I do encourage folks to develop their own styles. I do however reserve the right to like or not like a given image based on mt thoughts, preferences, and opinions :).

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Jack, Thanks a stack for your wonderfully kind words :). You too Denise 🙂

    Robert; who said that the second image was butt ugly???

    Harvey. I learned a bit of Yiddish from my Dad’s mom, my grandma Selma.

    Cheapo. I figured that someone out there would like the first image….

    As for the “better definition of the feathers in the first image,” I am not buying that…..

    The shadow in itself is not distracting to me, had the beach been a wet sand beach I would have loved the first image. It’s the irregular surface of the sand that makes the first image look so bad to me.

    Bill. No sweat.

    Nelson. I did knock on wood… I always do with a potential kinehora. It did’nt help :).

  • nelson pont

    artie with any kinehora i bet you forgot to knock on wood stay well nelson pont

  • Bill Tyler

    BTW, I did not mean to imply a preference for the first image in my comments on texture. I was simply commenting on the technical reasons for the apparent change in definition. The texture is not the point of this image.

  • The second image talks to me more about what happend to the bird. I am not distracted by the big shadow and am focused on the wing. I agree that this is a great lesson. Thanks for sharing with us. And I now know what Kinehora means!!!

  • cheapo

    Absolutely right Bill, and the more I look, I also see the where the second image starts to loose sight of the ‘cambered’ shape of each feather, which is at first visible in the soft near vertical line that runs up each one. Primary feathers seem to be slightly ‘double cambered’ which gives them a shape only matched in human terms, by something like a windsurfer sail as it is fully loaded with wind pressure and starts to slightly de-pressure the trailing edge. Both images are interesting in their own right, but I’m just less artistically minded. 😉

  • Bill Tyler

    The reason for the apparent better definition in feathers in the first image is that the angle relative to the sun is different. Looking at the shadow of the feathers against the sand in the first image shows that the lens axis is at approximately a 45 degree angle to the sun direction, whereas in the second image, the camera has moved to the left and is more nearly straight in line with the sun. You can see this angular change in the way the feathers overlap. The result is that the tiny shadows that show the feather’s texture have become much less visible. Surface texture is best revealed by the small shadows that result from a light source at nearly right angles to the lens axis, which is why this kind of lighting is almost never used for portraits.

  • cheapo

    My eye is saying that the first one has better definition in the feathers. Must be something to do with the combination of the translucency and reflectivity of the keratin. But I will always admit to not preferring abstraction in natural subjects. So I prefer the first image.

  • harvey tabin

    I wonder how many of your fans (readers) know what Kinehora means. Well better.

  • The second image is much better and is not “butt ugly”.

  • Jack Breakfast

    Now you’re talking! I keep telling myself to get lower and lower, but (mysteriously) I tend to wear decent clothing when I’m out shooting birds and I prissily tell myself “No don’t you’ll ruin your slacks” and then I end up with white-throated sparrows that just aren’t everything they could be, if you know what I mean. Arthur Morris, you are, once again, an inspiration. I love your work, and I truly appreciate your photographic lessons. No-one could ever convince me that an artist must consciously be a teacher as well. Putting one’s heart into the art is more than enough. But Arthur Morris, you are, quite generously, an artist and a teacher. Bless your heart.
    Jack Breakfast

  • Great lesson Artie, Glad you had such a successful bunch of workshops. Sorry I missed your Keynote-I know you were fantastic!