Image Problems and an Important Lesson to Come « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Image Problems and an Important Lesson to Come

The Streak Continues: 173

This post marks 173 consecutive days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? April was a record month but May has not been so good. So far…. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, I do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know the tools that you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and visiting the BAA Online store as well.

This post took 1 hour to assemble. Enjoy it!


BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #461 has been online here for a few days. I have been remiss in not posting a notice here sooner. IAC, here you go:

  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm IPT Report
  • The New Essence of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm: Roseate SpoonBILL
  • Silhouette Soup From a Stone
  • Speaking of Spoonbills
  • The Weather and the Food
  • Fort DeSoto IPT Report
  • Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART
  • Used Photography Gear Page
  • UK Puffins and Gannets IPT July 2-9, 2014
  • Jim Neiger West Coast Flight Workshops, July 2014, Orange County, California
  • Flight Plan eGuide


This image was created on the St. Augustine Alligator Farm IPT on a mostly sunny early morning with the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (hand held with the internal TC in place at 560mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/160 sec. at f/10 in Av mode. AWB.

61-Point/AI Servo/Rear Focus AF active at the moment of exposure performed perfectly selecting a tight cluster of sensors on the bird’s upper bill. Learning which AF Area Selection mode to use in different situations helps you maximize the efficiency of the great AF systems of the 1D X and 5D III. Learn everything that I know about the various AF Area Selection Modes, when to use which one, several ways to move the AF sensor, and tons more in the 1D X AF Guide and the 5D Mark III User’s Guide. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Roseate Spoonbill vertical front-end portrait

Problems, Problems, Problems

This was the lead image in BAA Bulletin #461. There I wrote, I have three problems with this image. If you think that you know what any of them are, please feel free to leave a comment. I will respond. Several folks commented but nobody hit that nail on the head. So I thought that I would run it by the blog readership as there is one very important lesson here, one that I have never seen or heard mentioned by anyone but me. I will give everyone a few days to see if they can come up with the 3 things that bug me and then I will come clean.

For this version I lightened the face, bill, and neck as compared to the image that originally appeared in the Bulletin here.

Your Thoughts?

Please leave a comment and let us know What things about this image bother you. There is one major problem that plagues this vertical image and many horizontal images as well. As always, please be specific and explain your reasoning. Several folks who commented on this image in the Bulletin half hit the nail on the head without being able to identify the problematic concept….


This is the BreezeBrowser Main View screen capture for today’s image.

The Breezebrowser Main View Screen Capture

Note that the illuminated red squares show the AF point sensors that were activated by 61-Point AF. Not bad at all. Note: in Breezebrowser you need to check “Show Focus Points” under View to activate this feature. To see the focus points in DPP check “AF Point” under View or hit Alt L. Hit Alt M to see Highlight Alert. To learn how and why I use DPP (Canon Digital Photo Professional) to convert my RAW files, see the info on our DPP RAW Conversion Guide here.

Note the histogram with the WHITEs well into the rightmost histogram box. Regular readers know that I use and depend on BreezeBrowser every day of the year. It allows me to sort my keepers and delete the rejects faster than any other Windows browsing program. We use it on the main computer in the home office to catalog our images file-drawer style. And the companion program, Downloader Pro allows me to download my images quickly and conveniently. It automatically adds my IPTC data and the shooting location. I have it set up to create a folder named by the Month/date/year. The Breezebrowser/Downloader Pro combo saves me many hours each week. To learn more or to purchase this great PC only program, click here. As far as the BreezeBrowser/Downloader Pro Combo goes, if you are using a Windows platform and are not using these two great programs you are at best, wasting your valuable time. My understanding is that Photo Mechanic is best for Mac-users who do not opt to run Parallels or VM Ware fusion on their Macs so that they can enjoy the many advantages of BreezeBrowser. See BreezeBrowswer on a Mac for details.

61-Point AF Area Selection Mode

If you do not know how and when to use 61-Point then you need a copy of either the 1D X AF Guide or the 5D Mark III User’s Guide. And here’s the great news: purchase either camera using one of our B&H Affiliate links, send me your B&H receipt via e-mail and I will be glad to send you a free copy of the corresponding eGuide. Buy both and get two free e-Guides. I own and use two EOS-1D X bodies and one EOS-5D Mark III body.

Coming Tomorrow

The lowdown on the Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO(E) (Diffractive Optical Elements) Lens.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20% plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words “Items for Sale Info Request” cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advise, usually sells in no time flat as did Dennis Cassidy’s 500 II recently on the blog. Larry Master’s 400 DO and his 800 f/5.6 sold within a week. From Larry via e-mail: Thanks for helping me sell the lenses so quickly!

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART friend Kitto Kono sold her Nikon 500 to a Blog subscriber in less than a week. Janet Horton’s 7D sold this week after a $100 price reduction. Denise Ippolito’s 100-400 and her 100 macro sold in one day. Peter Kes sold his 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and his 400 DO through BAA in ten days. In the past two months we have sold a Canon 800, a Canon 500 II, 3 400 DO lenses, a Nikon 500mm, and lots more. If you are interested in using our services, please e-mail.

Used Photography Gear Page

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that there is a link to the Used Photography Gear page on the yellow tool bar at the top of each blog page. Folks looking to buy (or to sell) can click on that tab or here. I will on occasion continue to list new gear and great buys in blog posts and in Bulletins and may on rare occasion share all the listings with you on the blog. I will strive to keep the listings current. Great news for Kitty Kono and her Nikon 400mm f/2.8; it sold yesterday! That made her 2 for 2 on selling her older Nikon super-telephotos with BAA.

Both of these items are priced to sell fast!

EOS-1D Mark IV

BAA friend Nancy Bell is offering a used Canon EOS-1D Mark IV camera body for sale for $3200. The body is in excellent condition. It enjoyed annual routine cleaning and service at a Canon Factory Service Center; the last one was done on 5/30/13. The sale includes the original box, battery charger, 3 Canon batteries, the instruction manual, all connection cables, a Canon neck strap, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipping to US addresses only.

Payment by personal or teller’s check; the item will ship item only after the check clears. Please contact Nancy via e-mail or by phone at 970-484-8791–Colorado, MDT.

Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS Lens

BAA friend Nancy Bell is also offering a used Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens for sale for only $4499. The lens is in very good to excellent condition with some minor blemishes on the exterior finish and some signs of wear on lens hood interior rim. The glass is perfect and he lens is both light and sharp. The last yearly routine cleaning and service at a Canon Factory Service Center was on 5/30/13.

The sale includes the leather lens hood, the lens trunk, and insured Fed-Ex Ground shipping to US addresses only.

Payment by personal or teller’s check; the item will ship item only after the check clears. Please contact Nancy via e-mail or by phone at 970-484-8791–Colorado, MDT.

Price Reduced

Used Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens for Sale/Price Reduced $300!

Multiple IPT veteran Bill Wingfield is offering a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $1125! The glass is clean and the lens is in perfect working condition. The sale includes the lens hood, the fabric case, and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped after your check clears.

For more than a decade I used the 100-400 to create hundreds of sharp, sale-able image. It is a very versatile lens.

You can reach Bill via e-mail or by phone at 843-729-6670.

Best Super-telephoto Lens Value

Used Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS Lens for Sale

Multiple IPT veteran, the too-kind Jim Bicket, is offering a Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $8750. The lens is like new except for some wear on the bottom of the lens hood near the forward edge when the hood is reversed. The sales includes the LensCoat that has protected the lens since day 1, the leather hood, the original hard case and key, and insured shipping via UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

This great lens, my favorite for 3 years, sells new at B&H for $13,999.00. A month ago B&H was offering one in mint condition for a ridiculous $10,249.90; it sold overnight. Go figure. Jim’s lens will save you a ton of dough and you will have a great lens with lots of reach. I can’t believe that this one has not sold yet as Jim is practically giving it away!

Interested folks can contact Jim via e-mail or try him at 501-915-9336.

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

26 comments to Image Problems and an Important Lesson to Come

  • Art Buesing

    I don’t like the two triangles formed by the body, neck and head. The bright triangle and the grey shadow on the body. Too many wrong areas to divert your eye.
    Art Buesing

  • Katharina Reddig

    What bothers me in the photo is the scruffy looking feathers on the neck. This is caused by strong contrast of fine white and black feathers. Also on the shoulder of the bird is a patch which looks oversharpend due to strong contrast of dark pink and white fine feathers.

  • Kathleen Hanika

    Hi Artie,
    Although I’ve been lurking for years, this is my 1st shot at one of these so please be gentle. 1) It appears to me that the shadows (from the bill and behind the neck) are coming from two differnt directions. 2) I also think I might prefer the eye in the top right “rule of thirds” position with consistent background (all foliage or all sky), but I’d have to see a comparison to decide. 3) I like the bit of leg. It “grounds” the bird for me.
    Teach on!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The shadow stuff that you mention is just an illusion. Kudos to you for chiming in. I could go either way on the leg…. artie

  • My turn 🙂

    1 I’ll go with the background being divided with the top half dark and the bottom half light? Specifically the deviding line by the bird’s neck
    2 The dark branch in the background going through the head of the bird.
    3 and eeeeerr.. the branch mentioned in point 2, the dividing line from point 1, together with the bill direction of the birs, seems to form diagonal lines that leads the eye out of the image.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      1–you are the first person to be on the right track. But you went too far 🙂
      2-Nope, for me.
      3-Nope for me again 🙂


      ps: revelations probably early next week at the latest.

  • These are what bother me:
    1. The specular highlights caused by the sky between the leaves of the tree.
    2. The 2 oblique lines (branches?) in the top left corner
    3. The blotchy yellow and white in the lower right hand corner
    4. Overall, I feel the bird is a bit too bright, and can be toned down a bit. (I don’t care what the histogram says! 🙂 )

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      1. and 2. do not bug me.
      3.not a flower: just sunlit vegetation.
      4. agree. I lightened it a bit too much. See the original post. However, that was not one of my original three :).


  • Joel Haas

    I can be just as “off” as the others, so here goes.

    I thought you liked the eye “looking off a bit”, not just straight at you. And the darn bill is in the center of the image, the least attractive feature of the Spoonbill draws ones eye to it. Why not put it off center by adding some canvas at the top.

  • Mark A Jordan

    How about more space on the left side. And maybe the branch at the top let corner?

  • Robert W.

    Enviable image. My gilding the lily comments:
    1) The tip of the bird’s bill is OOF – not sure what could be done about that – would need lots of DOF – probably not available.
    2) The green cast/tint on the bird’s head – probably light reflected from the foliage?
    3) Really digging here – might be the crop (of the image not the bird’s) being a tad too tight?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks but none of those :). BTW, the bird’s head is a very light green 🙂 artie

  • Carolyn Peterson

    This is a very handsome portrait. Show more of the leg or crop just above it.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Agree in part but not in my top 3 🙂 artie

    • Carolyn Peterson

      I considered the sharp transition from the dark green vegetation, as suggested by others, as one of the top three, but second guessed my self. The bright spot just above the left of the bird’s head is a bit distracting.

      The coloration of this species is very interesting. Do these birds eat a significant quantity of pink creatures (like flamingos and brine shrimp), thus taking on the lovely pink color? Do they eat green food that colors the green feathers?

      I am not asking if spoon bills eat flamingos!

      • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        No to the pink color as far as I know and definitely no to the green color. artie

  • Tony Bianchi

    I think the abrupt transition of the bird’s head/neck to the background gives a pronounced appearance of being superimposed onto the background (even though it isn’t) creating too much separation. I would have also cropped up a bit on the lower part of the frame to leave the leg out? I don’t quite see any value in its inclusion. That said – I so appreciate your work kind sir!

  • Gary Felker

    1. Splotchy background above
    2. Contrasty light with shadow from head and bill
    3. Adjacent bird background below not pleasing

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      None of those. There is no “adjacent bird background.” That’s the sky 🙂 artie

  • Martin Plant

    Perhaps the shadow bothers you as the bird is off your preferred sun angle.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Only about 1 degree off. I took the blue out of the shadow. It does not bother me a whole lot. artie

  • Oh heck, I’ll give it a shot…

    I think in the blog you mentioned the lower right is the sky? I’ll say how the sky and tree line intersect the neck.