You Owe It to Yourself … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

You Owe It to Yourself ...


It monsooned again here on Friday afternoon.

Used Gear Page News

After a month or so in the summer doldrums, sales on the Used Gear page have been red hot for the past month:

Richard Gollar sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS (the original IS model, the “old five”) in near-mint condition for $3399.00 in early September.
Anthony Ardito sold his Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens in like-new condition for $999.00 in mid-August.
I sold my Canon 100-400 L IS II in very good plus (almost excellent) condition and in perfect working order for $1399.00 in late August.
Anthony Ardito sold a Canon EOS-1DX Mark II body (with extras) in like-new condition (less than 41,000 actuations)for $3,999.00 in late August.
Roger Williams sold a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM lens in like-new condition (but for a single faint scratch on the front element)for the “it’s-your-lucky-day” price of only $899.00 a week after it was listed.
Dane Johnson sold a Canon EOS 40D kit with the body converted to Deep Infrared by Life Pixel in near-mint condition for $549.00 in August, 2918 on the first day it was listed.
Jamie Baker sold his Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III in near-mint condition for $299.00 in late August.
John Lowin sold a (men’s extra large) Xtrahand Magnum vest by Vested Interest for $229.00 within a day or two of listing it in late August, 2018.
Anthony Ardito sold his Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens in like-new condition for BAA record-low by far price of $449.00, his Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $1,499.00, his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for $1,099.00, his Canon Speedlite (flash) 600EX-RT flash in like-new condition for $399.00, his Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens (for Canon mount) in near-mint condition for $250.00, and his Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF mount in like new condition for $399.00, all with a day or two of their being listed.
Pierre Williot sold his Canon EOS-1DX Mark II in mint condition with less than 75,000 actuations (rated to 400,000) for $4,199.00 in late August.
Todd Koudelka sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (“the “old five”) in very good plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $3199.00.
Pierre Williot sold his canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens (the original 600 IS) in very good to excellent condition for $3999.00 in mid-August.
Todd Koudelka sold a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in near-mint condition (but for a few tiny, barely visible scratches) for the BAA record-low-by-far of $2249.00 (was $2449.00) in early August.
Ron Gates requested that the listing for his Canon 70-200mm lens be removed and kindly sent me a check for 4% of the original asking price.
Julie Brown sold her Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS lens (the original version) in excellent condition for $2099 in early August.

You can see all the listings here.

New Listing

Nikon TC-E20 III (teleconverter)

Amy Novotny is offering a Nikon TC-E20 III (teleconverter) in excellent condition for $249. It would be rated near-mint but for a very few, very small shiny scuff marks on the finish. The sale includes the front and rear caps and insured ground shipping via UPS.

Please contact Amy via e-mail.

As regular readers know, I have made some sharp, very nice images with the Nikon 2X. This, the newest Nikon 2X, does great with the 300 f/2.8 or with any of the f/4 super-telephotos. See the sweet 1200mm Hooded Merganser image here. Prior versions were alleged to be crap … Learn more about the TC-20E in the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20Es Suck! Or do they? blog post here. artie

You Owe It To Yourself …

In the Bempton Cliffs Part IV: It Ain’t Just Gannets! Dealing With Invisible Eyes. And a High Level Understanding Exposure Question offering here, I posted this with regards to the Razorbill image:

A High Level Understanding Exposure Question

Simple question: why was the middle-toned amber-colored iris rendered much too dark in the RAW file?

Don’t know? Check out the diagram on the bottom of page 62 in the original (soft cover) The Art of Bird Photography. Though this book is based on film images, the information on Applied Exposure Theory (pages 58-63) is 100% relevant for digital folks. I urge all serious nature photography students to master the concepts in this section. Most folks have not …

So Far …

So far, only IPT veteran Joel Eade took a crack at it when he posted this:

I suspect the iris in the original raw file was rendered too dark because in the frame as a whole there is a large amount of middle and light tones in the rocks and the camera is attempting to meter the frame toward neutral gray which will make the dark tones even darker. You tried to help out with some positive exposure compensation but it wasn’t enough to bring the dark tones up. Had you added more you might have risked blowing out the light tones.

I responded:

You are on the right track but you never quite got there … There is a simple answer that shows complete understanding …

with love, artie

ps: as the histogram shows, the RAW file was perfect; the WHITEs are pushed to the edge and there is lots of room to the left — that shows that the BLACKs are nowhere near being too dark …

Why Care?

I urge each of you to revisit yesterday’s blog post and take a crack at trying to figure out why the amber-colored eye was underexposed in the RAW file. Why care? Understanding the concepts at play here will make you a far better photographer.


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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 :).

5 comments to You Owe It to Yourself …

  • Richie

    The shadow cast on the rock behind the bird shows that you were slightly off sun angle. Had you been dead on, the shadow would not have been visible. Had you been dead on, there may have no problem with lighting the eye.

    It’s a high dynamic range, high contrast scene with sun coming from somewhat to the right and rear of the bird. The razorbill has quite a prominent eyebrow ridge which casts a shadow over a small, deep-set eye making it appear near black. Opening up the shadows in post can only be taken so far before the black plumage suffers. Revealing the eye can therefore only be achieved by local adjustment.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Richie,

      Thanks for commenting. You are right about the sun angle but if I had been able to move three more inches to my right that iris would still have been under-exposed … And the sun was not coming from the right and rear of the bird, it was coming right over the top of my head but just an inch or two right of center. The eye of razorbill is not very deeply set. And the global adjustments that I made during the RAW conversion did not affect the color of the iris at least as discernible by humans. The work that I did on the eye was very very local — I worked only on the iris as I described.

      with love, artie

      ps: do re-visit for the correct answer.

      • Richie

        Sorry Artie, I stand corrected on razorbill eyes. I was thinking this might be a lighting question rather than a post processing question.

        It is neither. It is an exposure question.

        Well, if you exposed to the right correctly, (which you almost did – being picky, there is a good half to one stop of latitude in the JPEG histogram), then technically the eye cannot be underexposed.

        You are wrong above but only twice.

        #1: if you enlarge the screen capture by clicking on it you can see clearly that the BLUE channel is right up against the edge. The WHITEs came in at at 241, 242, 244, right where I want them.

        #2: Not only is the eye technically underexposed it is practically over-exposed as well (if there is such a thing). I am trying to get someone to explain how that can be. 🙂

        If neither highlights nor shadows are clipped, the data is all there. So it’s a matter of brightness and of the eye being rendered darker than you would like.

        You are correct there in part. The question remains why was the iris rendered unnaturally dark?

        Normalising (reducing) the overall image brightness (a correctly exposed ETTR image often looks too bright) would darken the eye. Also, reducing the white point/highlights to bring the white feathers into the 220-240 range for maximum detail would also darken the lightest tones in the eye. Result – eye too dark.

        You are grasping for straws above. The actual answer is comprised of one sentence of less than fifteen words. Coming soon. 🙂

        Opening up the shadows slider would lighten both the very dark feathers and the darkest tones in the eye but perhaps not enough as the dark feathers can only be lightened so much before they start looking washed out.

        All of the work on the eye was done selectively in Photoshop.

        Result – eye too dark.
        So, once the image overall image had been adjusted to look fine except for the eye, there is only one option left – locally adjust the eye to taste.

        That is exactly what I said that I did in the original post 🙂

        with love, artie

        • Richie

          With the greatest respect, I am not wrong in saying the shot is technically ETTR underexposed. The histogram display reflects the in camera JPEG – not the RAW exposure.

          I appreciate the respect. You are, however, correct that the image is technically under-exposed. But as I state here often and in DB II, I do not want my images to be exposed with the WHITEs at 254, 254, 254. Those involve much too much work to bring any detail into the WHITEs, and in many cases, it is impossible to do so. I prefer my images to be exposed so that they are practically correct, with the WHITEs in the mid-240s with Nikon and in the mid-230s with Canon.

          The in camera JPEG is an inaccurate indicator of the true RAW exposure, typically around a stop at least and sometimes considerably more. Your 241, 242, 244 white values reflect the white values in the JPEG – not the RAW.

          Two things here. I disagree with the “at least and sometimes considerably more …” Furthermore, with Nikon bodies you can set the value for the blinkies in the JPEG so you simply cannot make a blanket statement that is accurate. And, the 241, 242, 244 values that I quoted were taken from the RAW file before conversion as the image came out of camera.

          Load the RAW file into FastRawViewer or RawDigger and you will see what I mean. I can supply further references if needed.

          Not needed. My images look great and my workflow is simple. BTW, are you the same guy that has been pitching this story here for a year or two?

          If you expose as you do, with white values at around 240, (whether JPEG or RAW), the highlights are by definition underexposed and all other tones will look correspondingly darker including the eye, the ocean or anything else in the frame.

          You are correct there but missing one very huge point: if you expose with the WHITEs at 254, 254, 254 all of the other tones will be underexposed. And the difference will be roughly 6/100 of a stop …

          If you expose with white values at 255,255,255, i.e technically perfect, the eye and the ocean will render correctly

          The above statement is wrong, but only 1005 wrong. If you go back to the ABP material that I referenced perhaps you will come to understand what is at play here.

          but the whites although technically correct, will result in white feathers having insufficient detail.

          Congrats. You finally got something right.

          The only answer is to adjust the white feathers for best detail and deal with eye separately. So it may be an exposure question, but the answer lies in post processing.

          The question is a 100% exposure theory question. The RAW file is dealt with in post processing.

          With love, artie

          • Richie

            Oops, error. Too many late nights. The histogram you show is in Photo Mechanic, a RAW viewer, so the histogram is correct.

            I do not think that you are correct above as my understanding is that there is no such thing as a RAW viewer. I might be wrong there but it does not matter to me.

            The second part of my comment however, still applies.

            See above.

            Reducing exposure to protect the white feathers from clipping will result in the mid tones, including the eye, being darker.

            Yes, by properly exposing for the WHITEs the mid-tones will be about one stop underexposed, and the dark tones close to two stops under. If you would have stated that from the get go you could have saved me about 30 minutes of typing 🙂

            with love, artie