Maybe Next Year … Pelican Wingstretch Editing Help Needed « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Maybe Next Year ... Pelican Wingstretch Editing Help Needed


On Tuesday morning I put the finishing touches on the new BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide after finishing up work on the blog post announcing its publication. Having spent about eight full hours on Monday finishing up the text it felt good to get that all done. I enjoyed a nice, easy half-mile swim midday and finally got back to some stretching and core exercises …

Now that DB II is finished, it is possible that the LensAlign/FocusTune Micro-adjusting Tutorial will be available for purchase soon …

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and listening to some great Byron Katie videos. And I began pre-packing for the sold-out 2017 Puffins and Gannets IPT.

Mongoose M3.6 Heads Sold Out

For the first time in months, we had seven Mongoose M3.6 heads in stock last week. They are all gone. Your best bet is to call Jim at 863-692-0906 right now to order yours. We will not bill your card until we receive our next back-order and ship yours.

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 13 days in a row with a new educational blog post πŸ™‚


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use the BAA B&H links for your major and minor gear purchases. For best results, use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link, you can always start your search by clicking here.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop workflow that will make it easy for you to make your images better in Photoshop (rather than worse). That true whether you convert your images in DPP 4 or ACR. See the blog post here to learn lots more and to read a free excerpt.

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

Maybe Next Year …

I have never made a good image of a pelican wingstretch. It seems that whenever a pelican does an elegant wingstretch, it has company with it. Like the pelican in the frame below on our left or the Heerman’s Gull in the frame below on our right.

Both of these images were created on the 2017 San Diego IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +2.

Brown Pelican stretching wing with friend nearby

Click to see the a larger version.

Editing Help Needed

Of today’s two featured images, 1909 on our left, or 1929 on our right, which is the stronger? Would you keep both or delete both? Be sure to let us know why.

Assuming no blinkies on either image, which one is the best exposure? How do you know?

Do you think that each photograph features the same bird? Why or why not?

Which of the two images do you think will be harder to clean up? Please state your reasons.

Do Know …

Do know, as we have seen here for years, that the blog is intended to be interactive. The more folks that respond, the more everyone learns. And yes, that includes me. Please, therefore, take a moment to chime in on today’s blog post.

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT: Monday, JAN 15 thru and including the morning session on Friday, JAN 19, 2018: 4 1/2 days: $2099.
Limit: 10: Openings: 4

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Sunday, Jan 14, 2018.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (usually nesting and displaying) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Wood Duck and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seal (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lion; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Please note: formerly dependable, both Wood Duck and Marbled Godwit have been declining at their usual locations for the past two years …


San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You can do most of your photography with an 80- or 100-400 lens …

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//2016. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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13 comments to Maybe Next Year … Pelican Wingstretch Editing Help Needed

  • George Cottay

    For me, 09 is the clear winner because of head and wing position. I would keep both.

    29 seems perfectly exposed with good detail in highlights and shadow, but 09 isn’t garbage. I’d love to try some spot exposure adjustment with the RAW.

    On scene they may have been the same bird. On screen they are different in attitude and appearance. The perspective seems to make 29 a poor little pin head pelican whose bill can’t come close to filling his belly.

    09 is a piece of cake because of the OOF background. 29 would be a fun adventure because of the ripple pattern. After a few tries I’d likely try a crop.

  • Hi Artie, I like both of these images. But I prefer 1909 because of the wing position and the positon and angle of the head, image 1909 also stands out more against the sea because of the shallower depth of field. I would like to see your optimisations of these images.
    The exposure is best in image 1909 (ETTR) because the sea is brighter but not too bright because there are no ‘blinkies’.
    The images look like they are of two different birds because the lores are brighter on image 1929 and the hairdos look slightly different.
    Image 1909 would be easier to optimize because the unwanted pelican is only in front of the OOF water and not the (harder to replace) rock, I think that the pelican could be removed with the clone stamp tool.

  • Hey Artie

    1. 1909 is stronger by a mile and a half. Head, leg and bill all point toward the negative space in the frame, balancing the composition perfectly. I might convert it to a 16:9 widescreen ratio though.
    2. 1929 has the better exposure as you can see detail in the shadows. The bird in 1909 probably needs a 1/3 stop more light.
    3. The bird in 1929 seems to have a bit more red at the base of its bill. Its crown is also slightly creamier than the bird in 1909. 1909’s extraneous pelican’s white head means it’s feeding chicks right?
    4. Assuming that you want to remove the friends – 1929 is harder to clean up as the Heerman’s Gull is against textured background. Smooth sailing with the extra pelican against distant, OOF ocean in 1909.

  • john farnsworth

    I prefer the image on the right. The Heerman’s gull places the photo on the Pacific Coast, and the plumage of both birds fixes the time. Larus Heermanni has an interesting kleptoparasitic relationship with Pelecanus occidentalis: a primary food source is whatever it can steal from pelicans. This photo tells a piece of that story in an interesting way.

    Bokeh and blinkies aside; natural history, recorded accurately and faithfully, is also part of the aesthetic of wild bird photography.

  • Kathleen Hanika

    Hi Artie,
    I prefer the yoga pose on the left–1909. I would have liked to see more of the watching stern instructor, however.

  • Jerry Fenwick

    I like 1909’s pose better, and the head on the left can be removed easily with cloning or content aware. If a tight crop was the goal, 1929 would be easiest to clean up with just a simple tight crop. I like the exposure and softer background of 1909 better, but I would keep both. The head in 1909 is better positioned, and I like the wing pointing into the picture rather than out as in 1929. I think that the bird is the same because of the distinctive uneven marking on the tip of the bill.

  • Kerry Morris

    Hi Artie,
    i would delete both images. Why? The angle of both birds is not good or interesting; both are too far away; neither image comes close to the ones you have in the La Jolla IPT cards.
    1909 has more detail and i prefer the smaller f-stop and blurred background; in 1929 the bird is much farther away.
    1929 looks a little underexposed.
    Yes, it’s the same bird: the facial and bill markings look the same and the location looks the same.
    i think 1929 would be harder to clean up because there is more detail in the background.

  • Neil Hickman

    1. I think 1909 is stronger. Better head angle and much better eye, bokeh and framing. Too much shadow in 1929. Keep only 1909.
    2.No blinkies – 1909 is better because you exposed to the right (hence brighter).
    3. Same bird. Orange pattern on bill looks identical despite different angle.
    4. 1909 easier to clean up because Gull intersects rock and sea. Moot – because 1929 was deleted in 1 anyway!

  • Elinor Osborn

    Of today’s two featured images, 1909 on our left, or 1929 on our right, which is the stronger? Would you keep both or delete both? Be sure to let us know why.
    I’d keep both because they are different and both superb. 1929 is stronger to me because of the foot stretched back, and foot and wing stretched together.

    Assuming no blinkies on either image, which one is the best exposure? How do you know?
    I didn’t take the time to enlarge these, but it looks as if there could be a little more detail in the white in 1909. There is good detail in the black in 1929 so I’d say it is the better exposure.
    Do you think that each photograph features the same bird? Why or why not?
    Probably because the feet seem to be in the same place. Twenty images apart probably took a very short time since I bet you held the shutter down to catch a wing stretch.
    Which of the two images do you think will be harder to clean up? Please state your reasons.
    1929 harder because the gull is against a rock and also water both with lots of detail. 1909 pelican is against almost featureless water only. Pelican also is more compact–no thin legs.

  • 1. 1909 there is less rock and the background is more out of focus.
    2. 1909 looks brighter than 1929, that one looks a little underexposed.
    3. They look to be the same bird to me. The white stain on the rock is almost in the same place in both frames. They look to be shot at different focal lengths.
    4. 1929 would be harder to clean up due to the gull intersecting with the rock. And the rock is bigger in the frame if you were going to remove all the white on it.

  • Which is stronger…I like 1929. I like the position of the legs and seeing the under the stretched out wing.

    Best exposure…1929…seems a tad darker…more detail in the water.

    Harder to clean up…I’d say neither really. 1909, assuming you want to remove the pelican head on the left, that’s easy peasy. 1929, again assuming you want to remove the gull, that’s not to hard…which only remains the poo and that probably really depends on how much you may or may not want to remove.


  • Hi Artie,

    In answer to your questions:
    1 – I prefer the bird in the left image, but then I tend toward tighter crops (sometimes too tight) in my own photography. I also prefer the bokeh of the left image, the water in the right image is a bit distracting. However, not being as good as you, I would keep both if they were mine. πŸ™‚
    2 – think the left image exposure is better, there is detail in the feathers on the body near the base of the neck that seems to be lacking in the right image.
    3 – I believe that these are different birds, the feathers on the back of the neck look different to me.
    4 – I think the one on the left would be easier as you would need to only substitute out of focus water for the intruding element, on the right image you have less out of focus water as well as an in focus (more or less) rock to deal with. While not beyond your abilities, it is certainly beyond mine.
    Which of the two images do you think will be harder to clean up? Please state your reasons.