Spectacular Sunset Take-off Image. Color Too Garish or Just Right? Center Large Zone Rocks! And a Great New DDP 4 Noise Reduction Technique! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Spectacular Sunset Take-off Image. Color Too Garish or Just Right? Center Large Zone Rocks! And a Great New DDP 4 Noise Reduction Technique!


I was hoping for clouds so that I could finish my micro-adjusting; with long effective focal lengths I work outdoors with the lights. It was very cloudy to start but in the middle of the two and one-half hour session the sun was peeking in and out so I set up a tripod with an Umbrella Clamp Rig and used my large Canon golf umbrella to shade the front of the 600 II. It worked perfectly. By 11am it was cold and raining hard. I packed up a big box of lenses that Jim will ship to San Diego for the two IPTs.

Mazel tov to UCF (University of Central Florida) for their great victory over heavily favored Auburn in the Peach Bowl. By 4pm it was cold and windy and raining so I got into the 75.6 degree water and swam 3/4 mile. It felt great. And the pool lights turned on and off perfectly.

I fly to Phoenix late today, Tuesday January 2, 2018.

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$300 off on the Canon 100-400 II!

The Streak

Today makes one hundred fifty-six days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took less than an hour to prepare including the time spent optimizing the image. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created down by the lake near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL on the evening of Sunday, December 31, 2017. I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my favorite silhouette photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop in Av mode: 1/2500 sec. at f/9 was a bit of an under-exposure. WB: K7500 at 5:40pm on a dead clear sunset.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -10.

Center Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system performed perfectly as seen in the DPP 4 screen capture below. Click on the image for a larger version.

Anhinga: sunset take-off, headed for 2018

Anhinga, headed for 2018

This bird has been becoming more and more dependable for the past week; it sits on The Perch almost every night. For the most part it does nothing but just before it is gonna fly it does a really neat head down wing stretch. I got a few images of that last night but in the best ones the bill merged with the perch … I immediately rotated the lens in the barrel and went to horizontal format for the take-off. I had been concentrating so hard on not missing the action that I was getting a headache. And every five minutes I had to move the tripod to my left in the deep muck to stay on the brightest part of the sky as the sun moved down and west, to my right. If the bird had flown when I was re-locating in the mud I would have come up empty, again. I was quite happy when I saw this one on the rear LCD and even happier when I saw it on my Macbook Pro.

DPP 4 screen capture for today’s featured image

DPP 4 Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image

I have been preaching the benefits of using Large Zone AF here on the blog and in the 5D Mark IV User’s Guide as well. Last night it performed perfectly when the Anhinga jumped off its perch. (The bird always flies to the northwest regardless of the direction of the wind.) Note the three AF points illuminated in red, one on the neck and two on the base of the far wing. As I said, perfection.

I probably made more adjustments to this image in DPP 4 than I have made to any image that I have ever converted. You can see that I juiced up the color by moving the Color fine-tune dot all the way to the RED corner. For the first time ever I experimented with the Color tone slider and wound up liking it set all the way to the left. What you cannot see is that I did a lot of work on the Adjust image colors tab; for both the RED and ORANGE I moved the Saturation slider to +10 and the Luminance slider to -10.

A Great New DDP 4 Noise Reduction Technique!

I have been noticing on these sunset silhouettes that luminance noise with the dark RED and the dark ORANGE background tones can be problematic so I tried a brand new approach: after using the Noise Reduction recipe for ISO 1600 (instead of the recipe for ISO 800 because of the underexposure), I enlarged the image to 400% to check the background noise. Then, working on the Adjust image detail tab, I moved the slider for Luminance noise all the way up to 12 at which point the luminance noise disappeared completely. Live and learn.

Once I brought the TIFF file in Photoshop I tweaked the color a bit more and deepened the BLACKs with a Levels Adjustment. I even added CYAN to the BLACKs in Selective Color to take the RED out.

The Big Question Is!

The big question: “In your humble opinion is the background color too garish?

From Merriam-Webster: excessively or disturbingly vivid; offensively or distressingly bright : glaring.

From Dictionary.com: crudely or tastelessly colorful, showy, or elaborate, as clothes or decoration.

Coming Soon

February 2018 Spoonbill Boat IPT (definite!)
Two Fort DeSoto IPTs (April and May, 2018)
Three Gatorland IPTs (March, April, and May, 2018 — including early entry and late stay — tentative)
Three Sandhill Crane chicks and colts Master Classes at Indian Lake Estates (March)

The Master Classes will be small groups — strictly limited to four photographers — with the first folks who register staying at my home and the others staying at a chain motel in Lake Wales. Live, think, and breathe photography from Friday afternoon through lunch on Monday morning; all meals included. We will enjoy three morning photography sessions with the main subjects being tame Sandhill Cranes almost surely with chicks or colts. Also vultures and Cattle Egrets and more. Limpkins possible. There will be three afternoon photo sessions with hopefully glorious sunsets like the ones you have been seeing on the blog recently. I will micro-adjust one of your lenses during a group instructional session and all will be welcome to practice what they have learned during the breaks. We will sit together around my dining room table and pick everyone’s keepers, enjoy guided Photoshop sessions, and, on Monday before lunch, folks can make a single large print of their favorite image.

Folks who would like advance notice on any of the above are welcome to shoot me an e-mail.

Folks who would like advance notice on any of the above are welcome to shoot me an e-mail.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac or PC/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.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

Your guessed it, everything mentioned above (and tons more) is covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Do note that you will find the RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing tutorial only in the new e-guide. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

The two most recent and many of the older MP4 Photoshop Tutorial videos releases go hand and hand with the information in DB II):

  • The Wingtip Repairs MP4 Video here.
  • The MP4 Crow Cleanup Video here.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

Support the Blog

Please help support my (stupendous) efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

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Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store πŸ™‚

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.

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, and for everything else in the new store, 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 those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.


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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

15 comments to Spectacular Sunset Take-off Image. Color Too Garish or Just Right? Center Large Zone Rocks! And a Great New DDP 4 Noise Reduction Technique!

  • Esther Corley

    Seems like I’m in the minority…I think it is WAY too garish! But, then, I like things to look “natural”…

  • Lee Sommie

    Spectacular image Artie! What a great image to start the New Year! I like the style this image exhibits. It shocks the senses with the contrast. Thanks for teaching us that bird photography does not have to be a perfectly illuminated subject.

  • Hey Arthur, Very nice. The background color makes the image in my opinion. Love the rim light on the neck.

  • Don M.

    Hi Artie,

    As tempting as it is, I do not boost contrast or colour with my wildlife images. This way, I know when I have captured a unique moment and when I need to do better.

    I look forward to seeing your unaltered image. My guess is that it will be more pleasing than the modified version.

    Best wishes in 2018,

    Don M.

    P.S. With the incredibly cold weather many of us are experiencing, it might be helpful to share tips on cold weather gear.

  • James Saxon

    The photo looks fine to me. Would like some detail, if possible in the bird, if it would not create noise in the sky.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks James. The last thing that I want in a silhouette is detail on the subject.

      with love, artie

  • byron prinzmetal

    Are you a historian photographer or a fine art photographer? It is almost impossible to be both. I vote for a great fine art photo any day of the week where the photo causes some type of emotional response (positive or negative) of the viewer a la Jay Maisel’s Light and Gesture.

    PS There are literally billions upon billions of historical photos taken everyday with smart phones, but very few fine art photos that “also” captures people’s emotions. Some of the greatest photos ever produced are presented in Black and White, but we don’t see in B/W. Great fine art photos stand the test of time. That is not to say a very few historical photos don’t also stand up to a test of time because some do.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Byron, What if I just want to be a photographer, to take pictures of stuff that I like/

      with love, artie

  • David Policansky

    ‘The big question: β€œIn your humble opinion is the background color too garish?’


    I love this image! Including the shiny reflections along the bird’s neck and back.

  • Jerry Fenwick

    Because of the solid background and no detail, the image looks more like a drawing than a photograph. This should be very popular at Halloween. I really like the pose and would like to see it with a little detail. I too feel that it is more pictorial than natural.

  • Depends on what your intentions were for the image. I don’t think the background looks natural, but if you are going for something different then it is fine.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Matt, I have made a “natural” version that more closely matches the color as the image came out of the camera (at K7500). I will share that one with the group in a few days. It looks pretty funky. Maybe I will try one at AWB …

      with love, artie

  • Ruth Schueler

    Too garish, I would say kitsch, It also does not look genuine
    BTW Happy New Year1

  • Jon

    Hi Artie and Happy New Year. The background for this image is fine in so far that the image has been specially created for impact. The image may be considered to be pictorial and I think it looks very eye catching. In terms of being a natural history image I would suggest not.
    Equally the noise reduction is suited to this image but not to a natural history image where maximum detail is almost universally anticipated.