Flying Dolphin or Photoshop Creation? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Flying Dolphin or Photoshop Creation?

Galapagos: Day 3—Navigating Past Marchena Island to Isabela

This flight shot of a Bottle-nosed Dolphin was created with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens (hand held at 120mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X). ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/4.5 in Av mode.

Two sensors below the central sensor/AI Servo/Rear Focus on the water at the horizon line active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Flying Circus

My two+ week Galapagos cruises are designed to be a mix of days jam-packed with world class, frenetic photography action and a bit of relaxation. As distances between some of the great locations are relatively large some of the relaxing days consist of long navigations with lots of free time. On Day 3 Juan took us past Marchena Island on the way to Isabela, past his very favorite Bottle-nosed Dolphin spot. At one point we had more than 100 of the playful, inquisitive marine mammals around the Samba. Though they were spy-hopping and jumping It was very difficult to photograph them from the boat and just as difficult to photograph them from the pangas (zodiacs).

We followed a group headed northwest when a dolphin far in the distance jumped about 20 feet clear of the water. I got the splashdown. But less than a minute later another followed suit and this time I was ready.

Or Did I?

Is the tale above true? Or was the airborne dolphin cut and pasted from another image? If you have an opinion that you would like to share, please leave a comment and share your evidence either way.

This image was created with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (hand held at 200mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X). ISO 640. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stop: 1/4 sec. at f/4.5 in Tv mode.

Three sensors below the central sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus on the ocean active at the moment of exposure. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.


After about nine hours of stop and go sailing we anchored in a protective cove at Punta Albemarle, Isabela. Everyone enjoyed the sunset, yet another great dinner—baked grouper filet, fresh salad with chef Angel’s killer homemade honey mustard dressing, lentils prepared in the Ecuadorian Menestra style, scrumptious mashed potatoes as good as my mother used to make them, some fresh steamed broccoli, and Gypsy Arms for dessert. All that was followed by a good night’s sleep on a very gently rocking Samba.

Bucket List?

If visiting the Galapagos is on your bucket list and you are a happy camper who is serious about joining us on our July 2015 trip, please shoot me an e-mail and ask to be placed on the interested list. There simply is no better Galapagos Photo Tour.


On all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. 🙂

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18 comments to Flying Dolphin or Photoshop Creation?

  • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Boys and girls, as it turns out, the image above is 100% genuine but for a decent crop of the original. See the details and my additional comments here.

  • Wayne Rundell


    The light reflecting off the shoulder of the dolphin does not jive with the scene. I see no other light being reflected at the same angle in any of the waves. This tells me that something is wrong here. Also, to get anything other than a black spot looking like the shape of a dolphin, the shot would need more exposure compensation which would make the sky brighter. I see some definition in the dolphin, but the sky is too dark. At the shutter speed you shot this at, the water shed off the dolphin as it leaves the water should be frozen in mid air, but I cannot see anything resembling splashing of water.

    I say it’s photoshopped.

    Thanks for a great brain teaser!


    • Wayne Rundell

      Oops..I clicked on the image and in the enlarged version, I can see the water splash, but I still think this is edited.


      • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        What do you mean by “edited”? Please be specific. Thanks, artie

        • wayne Rundell


          1. The depth of field appears to be too “deep” for being shot at f4.5 and 120mm focal length. Most of the shot is in focus from near the camera, all the way out to the rock outcrop and including the clouds.
          2. The light reflecting from the dolphin does not appear anywhere in the water. I would expect some of the same light reflecting from the waves.
          3. In this lighting condition, I would expect to see the sky to be exposed brighter in order to reveal any detail in the dolphin. With the sky showing as much contrast and detail as it is, I would expect the dolphin to be a black spot lacking any detail in the body unless a ray of sun just happen to hit it.


          • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART


            Thanks for your thoughtful analysis. But you still did not answer my question: “What do you mean by “edited”? artie

          • wayne Rundell

            Artie, By “edited”, I mean the dolphin has been “cut” from another file and “pasted” into this scene using a photo editing software.

            Thanks, Wayne

            Thank you Wayne. That is very clear. artie

  • Hey Artie! I don’t think you would take the time to go out of your way to painfully select a dolphin to paste it in another pic. So for no other reason that I don’t think you would do this, I would say it is real. Plus I don’t see anything amiss at this picture size. I could be wrong…

  • David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I’ve been watching dolphins for decades and I’ve never seen one jump that high (except at Disney World), so either you captured a rare event quite beautifully, or you enhanced the image digitally somehow. Also, I don’t see the splash where the animal left the water, which would have added drama and so I think you’d have used if you could have, especially since you said you were ready. I guess the splash could be out of the frame to the right. I’m hedging a bit here but I’m going for digitally enhanced. Very nice in any case.

  • Hossam Sadek

    I think this real. The water splash and droplets behind the dolphin look really real to me!

  • Ron Fullelove

    I’m only looking on my Blackberry, but it looks genuine to me, and I don’t think you would mislead anyone with your pictures.
    Love the sunset shot by the way !!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Ron. I’d never mislead folks but at times I try to trick them :). artie

  • I’m only looking at this on my 7″ tablet but when I stretch it with my fingers, it looks to be digitally enhanced. I vote yes, you used my favorite Adobe product. Should I have fired up the 27″ desktop monitor?