Love Is… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Love Is...

This image was created with the tripod-mounted Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens, 1.4X III TC, and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode.

Love Is…

Unlike the elaborate courtship dances and displays of the Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses of Midway, Black-browed Albatross courtship involves mild bill clacking, nuzzling, and allo-preening. This courting pair was photographed on New Island in the Falklands on my recent Southern Ocean voyage.

What Makes This a Good Bird Photograph?

If you feel as I do that this is a good bird photograph, take a moment to leave a comment and let us know what about the photograph makes it a good avian image.

When attempting to photograph the heads of two birds interacting it is often the best tack to manually select an outside sensor as indicated by the AF sensor highlighted in red here in the BreezeBrowser screen capture above.

The intruding tail was covered with a few small Quick Masks and then smoothed out with a 40% hardness Clone Stamp Tool. As is usually the case, all as detailed in Digital Basics.

Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris

I traveled to the Southern Ocean with Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris; find out what I thought about them here. You can learn more about CES by clicking here. If you have any questions you can shoot them an e-mail or call them at 800.527.5330.

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My Comments

With a bit of free time I had a chance to respond to the comments posted to the December 27, 2011 blog post “The Best Laid Plans…” and to the December 31 post, “See You Later.”

Support both the Bulletins and the Blog by making all your B & H purchases here.

Remember: you can earn free contest entries with your B & H purchases. Eleven great categories, 34 winning and honored images, and prize pools valued in excess of $20,000. Click here for details.

Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in today’s blog post. 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 300mm f/2.8 L IS II lens. This lens proved to be ideal on a tripod for both birds and wildlife with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. All images were super-sharp and the lens was light enough for hand-holding both in the zodiacs and when doing flight photograph from the ship.
1.4X III TC. The new Series III 1.4X was designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders 🙂
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV User’s Guide. Learn to use your Mark IV the way that I use mine. Also available for the 7D and the Mark III here.
BreezeBrowser. I do not see how any digital photographer can exist without this program.

25 comments to Love Is…

  • Robert Adamowicz

    Hi Art,
    As usual your shots are fantastic…
    Just before your trip you mentioned that you were using another method of determining the lens micro adjustment fot your 1D MK IV. If possible would you please share this method as I have found it near impossible to read the LensAlign when it’s placed beyond 25m (even with the longer rule) using my 500mm & 1D MK IV.

  • Chuck Garrett

    When I look at the image, my eye goes to the eye of the bird on the right — then to the bills — then down the full length of the bird on the left and back into the image on the right side to repeat the process. In addition, the upward position of the heads + the fact one of the bills is partially open adds drama to the moment. The cropping is excellent — the background couldn’t be better — the slight slant of the bird’s bodies — everything seems to be working in harmony — what more could one ask for?

  • Their eyes are not clipped to black ,and the whites are not lacking detail!

  • It’s a great photograph because of its simplicity and depth of feeling. The beautiful blurred background picks up the orange in the beaks. The eyes and the “eyebrows” – so wonderfully expressive. Not sure, but it looks like the left bird is the guy and the right is the submissive gal. Just the beaks themselves are wonderful – the sharp focus and their outlines and their expression. And the wonderful patch of dark feathers on the breast of the guy, along with the little tuft of feathers sticking up on the back of his head.

  • cheapo

    I really love it Artie. You’ve chosen another of my very favourite birds. Most Southern Ocean seabirds are pretty special as far as I’m concerned. Most people are quite surprised to learn that these creatures are quite long lived. Up to 60 years so far for one Laysan Albatross female on Midway. As to the image, obviously better centralising of the pair would be preferable, but to capture the moment of bonding was critical, so you make the best ow what you can get. The backgroung is nice, OOF enough, and curiously complimenting the subject’s bill colours. Oh my goodness, these birds are so beautiful! The fine smoothness of their white plumage is just epic! Heh, I could go on. :¬)

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Your comment about “better centralizing the pair would be preferable” makes zero sense. The trick with images like this is to get a bird on each side of the frame; why would you want them both in the middle?

      • cheapo

        Ok. Heh. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a photographer by nature, and now I’ve read someone else’s comment about the positioning of the subject’s eyes as the focal point, which makes more sense.

  • What makes this an awesome picture is the emotion. The interaction of the two birds both tells a story and invokes an emotional response in the viewer. It makes me feel that I can identify with those birds; this picture displays them as more than just an object with feathers. Really quite a picture!

  • Ron Sprunger

    I could just copy in Phil’s comments — to me, this is as good as it gets. I do not see halos or artifacts on my calibrated HP graphics monitor. I do see less saturation when I click on the photo for the enlarged version.

    Great background, perfect composition, I like the color saturation while retaining great detail in the whites, and of course the birds themselves are very handsome. I’m uncomfortable ascribing emotion to the birds, but the grave “expressions” and mutual engagement are wonderful to see.

  • Phil Ertel

    Hi Artie,

    Below are the things I think make this an excellent bird photograph.

    1. Technical aspects of the image appear spot on (sharp and well exposed).
    2. The simple blurred background clearly defines the main subject and allows us to focus all of our attention on the birds.
    3. To me the background colors display the birds nicely.
    4. The interaction provides ample interest which allows us to connect emotionally with then image.
    5. Being able to clearly see the eyes of booths birds also helps establish a connection.
    6. I also think that the overall compost is pleasing.
    *The placement of the birds heads in the upper third of the image works well This focuses our attention on the interaction which is the
    *I like the placement of the bird’s eyes on the rule of thirds.
    *I think the diagonal of the adds tension and leads the viewer into the frame.

    What I do not like about the image is it is not mine 🙂

    • Phil Ertel

      3. In addtion to the background being simple, I think the colors compliment the birds which adds to our viewing pleasure.

      6. first bullet:
      The palcement of the bird’s heads in the upper third of the image works well. This focuses our attention on the interaction.

  • What a great picture! Thanks for sharing. It is tack sharp and very clearly shows the emotion between the two birds. The pleasing blur of the background goes a long way to making it the great picture that it is. I would say that it is cropped perfectly. In short, I don’t see how you could make it any better

  • Troy

    Fantastic photo 🙂

    However i can see a halo of noise/artifacts around significant portions of the birds and a square patchwork of over-compression in the background.

    33k jpg a bit too compressed perhaps?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Troy, The compression is on your end. And you did not answer the question :).

      • Jeff Dyck

        I am not so sure Artie – I am seeing the same artifacts and patchwork that Troy is (on this image only)

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          I am. The image looks fine here….

          • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

            Please let me know how the image looks now.

          • Troy

            Hi Artie, image quality looks much better now 🙂
            The image was 33kb in file size before, now it’s 293kb. Not sure what happened? I love the interaction between the birds and i think the slightly open beak of the bird on the right enhances that. I really love the background. I’m a massive fan of a bit of variation in the background colour.

            Thanks Troy. The smaller file did look fine here…

  • I usually try for a full body for subjects in nature but this tight head shot of the two draws you to the emotion between the two. Had there been more of each body showing it would have detracted from the billing. Their unique faces lead one to relate human feelings of love. Totally awesome shot. Good work.

  • Mary Stamper

    Simply wonderful!

  • Arla

    It’s great because it displays emotion. We don’t usually see that in bird images (except perhaps a bird with chicks).