A Different Opinion. Another insightful comment from skilled veteran bird photographer Cliff Beittel. Cattle Egret/LBH Feet-Reed Merge Confessions! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Different Opinion. Another insightful comment from skilled veteran bird photographer Cliff Beittel. Cattle Egret/LBH Feet-Reed Merge Confessions!

A Different Opinion

I liked the Armada Best (gasp!)

It was unanimous: eight out of eight folks who left a comment on the Cackling Goose flocks in low light images in yesterday’s blog post preferred Image #1, the Flotilla. I like them both, but liked the Armada — Image #2, best. I love the more intricate pattern formed by the birds. I love the compositional balance. I love the two birds swimming out of the frame on the left. And perhaps, the greater number of birds implies more strength. Please remember that if you liked Image #1 best you were just as right as me 🙂

To get more detail in the water, I could have moved the Highlight slider in Capture One more to the left as I did with Image #1.

What’s Up?

Sunday morning — as predicted — was not very good. I keep one crane image and four head and neck shots of a silly-tame Cattle Egret; the bird kept walking so close to my car that I could not focus with the 6000 GM! Sunday evening was also pretty much of a bust. There was some nice color early. Without birds. Then the gray took over, so I was home early to watch the end of the Ravens/Titans game. I was glad for Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson who won his first playoff game after two previous losses. His 48-yard touchdown run just before half-time put his team back in the game.

As I type on Monday morning, I am watching the formerly hapless Cleveland Browns kick the butt of the formerly invincible Pittsburg Steelers. Right now the score is 28-0 in the first quarter! I am hoping that the Browns do not collapse like the Colts did two weeks ago …

It has been so cold here — 38 degrees yesterday morning, that I skipped both of my weekend swims. I did my walks and my bursts both days.

Today is Monday 11 January 2021. The forecast for this morning is not bad: 50 degrees at 8am; mostly sunny with light east/northeast winds. I will be headed down to the lake at about 7:45am.

This blog past makes twenty-two days in a row with a new blog post. This one took about an hour to prepare. Please remember …

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop).

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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 on 4 January 2021 at Indian Lake Estates. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 6:40pm just after sunset.

Left Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection. Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Cattle Egret returning to roost just after sunset

Which was the best image?

In the Discovering what was there all along … blog post here, may folks left excellent comments when asked Which of today’s featured images do you feel is the stronger? Most preferred Image #2 below (for its complexity). Several preferred Image #1 above (for its simplicity). I feel that both were very strong images, but that Image #2 was a bit stronger. Why? Because we can see the lake. Because for me, the clouds and the various tones in the sky are more interesting than the smooth background in Image #1. In addition, the wing position in Image #2 — the complete downstroke, is powerful than the semi-braking wing position in the first image.

The best part is that whether you liked #1 or #2, you were right. Nobody was wrong. Everything above is just someone else’s opinion.

This image was created on 6 January 2021 at Indian Lake Estates. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4xteleconverter, and the 61-MP Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. AWB at 6:41pm just after sunset.

Center Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection. Click the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Little Blue Heron returning to roost just after sunset

With no merges … Or not?

In that same blog post here, long-ago multiple IPT veteran, good friend, and talented photographer Cliff Beittel left this comment:

#1: fine two-dimensional image
#2: layering of foreground, middle ground, and background gives feeling of three dimensions, the “depth” that two previous comments mentioned (ironically, one for #1, one for #2). More complex, more atmospheric, more photo.

Both shots have amazing positioning of the bird amid the grass stems, with no intersections.

The emphasis is mine. Cliff realized that getting the bird in each image completely separated from the reeds with no merges was important to the artistic success of each photo.

However …

Image #1A: a 100% crop from the original for Image #1

The Merge in Image #1

As you can see immediately above, a single thin reed did merge with the bird’s right foot in Image #1. Working large, mostly using the Clone Stamp Tool at varying levels of Hardness, I carefully removed the entirety of the offending reed. Then I painted a Quick Mask off the second toe of the bird’s left foot, put that on its own layer, flipped it, moved it into position on the right foot, and refined the toe layer with Regular Layer mask.

Be sure to click on Image #1 and compare the area around the feet to Image #1A.

One merge down, one to go.

Image #2A: a 100% crop from the original for Image #2

The Merge in Image #2

Here again we see that there was a merge in the original Image #2. Again, working very large and very carefully, I used the Clone Stamp Tool at varying levels of Hardness, to carefully removed the offending reed completely (from the top to the bottom).

Be sure to click on Image #2 and compare the area around the feet to Image #2A.

The lesson is that even very small merges can be problematic to the artistic success of an image.

Topaz DeNoise Low Light on Auto

Topaz DeNoise Low Light on Auto

I began with the Comparison View and saw clearly that with this image, Low Light was clearly best. The almost complete elimination of the nasty noise in the original on the left is quite remarkable. In addition Topaz DeNoise brightened and sharpened the image.

Note the mosquitoes 🙂

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

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. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

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

The clean-up techniques mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are 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. 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.

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. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I used to convert all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today (along with my R5 images).

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

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 Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and edited by yours truly. Please use this link to purchase NeatImage.

To introduce folks to our MP.4 videos and the basics involved in applying more NeatImage noise reduction to the background and less on the subject, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of the Free Noise Reduction Basics MP.4 Video. Simply click to shoot me an e-mail to get your free copy.


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

4 comments to A Different Opinion. Another insightful comment from skilled veteran bird photographer Cliff Beittel. Cattle Egret/LBH Feet-Reed Merge Confessions!

  • You’ll be very happy with AI Gigapixel, but “JPEG to Raw” is a bit of a bust (since the concept is basically impossible to implement ;-))

  • ebrard

    Dear sir

    If art has something to do with emotion and it certainly has number, 2 is the choice .As an old youth of eighty who ,for more than sixty years has spent so many nights in the marshes from sunset to sunrise picture two tells the whole story deep an clear .If you would like to make someone feel how the real thing feels ,no words,show the picture,no words unless you are a poet.Based on experience i can also tell you that the flotilla also tells a story.That’s just how those birds land (wind in your back of course) keeping their flight formation.

    Congrats for both .A warm kudos for”sunset on the marshes”

  • Artie,

    The merge in the #2 photo is so insignificant it wouldn’t bother me much (though I too would remove it). And both photos are great as shot given the difficulty–I probably wouldn’t even try situations like those with my older cameras and reflexes.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>