May 28th, 2009

Birds As Art Bulletin #290



no images were found

Laughing Gull with pipefish, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg, FL
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1.

I created this image on an afternoon trip to North Beach Lagoon when we were delayed due to a really big screw-up by Toyota service….. When I saw the gull with the pipefish my immediate reaction was to get down on the ground, but I thought that the gull might swallow the pipefish quickly so I stayed on my feet. My philosophy is to always go for the very best image and though I like this image, I later wished that I had followed my heart and gotten right down on my belly. Doing so would have eliminated all of the distracting elements on the beach—mostly human footprints—and yielded a lovely blue Gulf background. Lesson learned.


After six weeks and a shade under 7,000 miles in my SUV I arrived at my office/home in ILE on Sunday, May 24th, two days earlier than scheduled. Photography-wise, the trip was not as productive as I had hoped it would be. It was a great adventure, but not one that I will be doing again any time soon I did however, have a grand time, saw and spent time with lots of old friends (including my Mom), and met lots of wonderful folks. For details of the trip and to learn of my very great 12 hour adventure in the emergency room in Leamington, Ontario, you are urged to visit the blog ( and scroll down. You will also find lots of great images with our legendary educational captions. (Click on each image to view it at 800 pixels the long way.)

no images were found

Great Egret chicks in the nest, Lake Toho, Kissimmee, FL
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 24-105mm IS L lens handheld at 80mm with the EOS-50D. ISO 640. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/100 sec. at f/7.1.

I created this image on a pontoon boat trip with Jim Neiger the day before we headed for Dauphin Island, AL. A long telephoto lens was useless in this situation. Here is Jim’s contact info: Cell phone: (407) 247-5200. Email: Website:


If you missed the grand opening of the new BIRDS AS ART On-Line Store , be sure to check it out here: The store was created by Blake Shadle and was stocked and tested by Jim Litzenberg and Jennifer Morris. The store was designed to make your on-line shopping efficient and completely hassle-free. If you need additional product information or advice or help with your on-line purchases, do of course call us at 863-692-0906 during regular business hours. if you experience any problems while using the store, please let us know via e-mail:

no images were found

Indigo Bunting, male, Dauphin Island, AL
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/80 sec. at f/5.6.

I absolutely love photographing birds in the shade. I had images of this bird in late afternoon light but much preferred this one taken when the sun had gone behind a nearby house. This image was created at a feeder set-up.


When making adjustments to selected areas, it is important to consider how the edges will be rendered. For years, folks feathered their selections but the results were often hit or miss, and often unsatisfactory. CS3 (and CS4) offer Refine Edge, a much more sophisticated way to control the appearances of the edges of selected areas. The main idea is to avoid the cookie cutter look that comes with edges that are too sharp. The best thing about Refine Edges is that it teaches you as you work and allows you to see how the edge will look by clicking Preview on and off as you go.

Make your selection. Then, to best control the appearance of the edges, click Select/Refine Edges, or better yet, learn the keyboard shortcut: Alt/Control/R. The first thing that you should do is to click on the middle of the five ring symbols. This will turn the non-selected area black and allow you to see the edges accurately. Next, note the default values: Radius: 1.0 px, Contrast, 0%, Smooth: 3, Feather: 1.0 px, and Contract/Expand 0%.

Next, to help with the learning process, place your cursor over each of the sliders above. As you do this, an explanation of the effects of moving this slider will appear under the word “Description” at the bottom of the Refine Edge dialogue box. If it does not, simply click on the double down-facing arrow; it will become a double up-facing arrow. Work your way through each of the five items.

If you have followed directions properly so far, the selected area will look as it did in the original image and the non-selected area will be black. Before continuing with your Refine Edge-ucation, it is best to zoom in on an edge. Hit “Z” for the zoom tool and then draw a box around the area that you wish to enlarge; let the cursor go, and voila! Now, begin to play around with each slider or with the sliders in various combinations, and note the changes in the sharpness or the fuzziness of the edge detail. At some point, be sure to move each slider all the way from one end of the scale to the other; this will help you to understand what each slider does. Be sure to give it a few seconds to crank out the changes, more time if you have a slow computer.

If you will be using Protect and Defend Techniques (see in Digital Basics:, it is often best to have the edges only slightly blurred. If you are going to run Noise Reduction on the background, you would usually want a higher degree of blurring while at the same time contracting the selection of the background (using the Expand/Contract slider in Refine Edge) to keep the Noise Reduction from spilling over onto the subject. And if you are doing a Gaussian Blur on a layer mask you will want a high degree of blurring (hint: now is the time to up the Feathering setting). You can always erase the edges of the subject if the Gaussian Blur spills over. Once you have completed your edge refinement, click OK.

Next, view the image full size and see how it looks. Finally, zoom way in on one or two spots and check your results. If there is too much or too little blur, or if there are jagged edges or artifacting, you can always go back and start again.

By using Refine Edge you learn while doing, you can actually see what you are doing, and your results will be pleasing. And the more you practice the better your results will be.

no images were found

Golden-cheeked Warbler, Los Madrones, Hill Country, TX
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/8.

With the relatively dark background, I knew that I would need to subtract light from my exposure to avoid burning the bright yellows. Folks using the 40D or the 50D would likely have had to go to -1 stop, Nikon folks to -2 stops. Is this image real or is it counterfeit? Lots of folks on BPN were positive that I had added a sharp head from another frame (and they even showed “proof”!. To learn the truth and see the original capture, click here:


Here is an e-mail exchange with Becky Field:

AM: Hi Becky, re:

BF: Have you ever successfully removed leg bands from birds in Photoshop?

AM: Yes. It is usually a fairly easy procedure, more so if the background is smooth and of a consistent tonality. Using a Quick Mask or a series of QMs is the way to go. The basic techniques (and tons more) are described in Digital Basics ( and the advanced techniques in APTATS (

BF: I had a fabulous workshop with James Shadle (Bob Blanchard was there also so that made three of us on the Hooptie Deux) on May 2nd, but the birds in my favorite Roseate Spoonbill images all have leg bands!

AM: Yes, getting out with James is always a treat. I am getting up at 4am tomorrow to sail with James. What many folks do not realize is that his trips offer great opportunities right through July. He puts the boat in at various locations and visits a variety of rookeries, islands, and sandbars. (To learn more about James and his trips, click here: Note: to contact James via e-mail, please try both of these addresses: and Or give him a buzz on his cell at 813-363-2854. Cell phone tip: my advice is to keep trying Jim rather than to leave a message as his cell phone is his business phone. He is pretty good at picking up in the afternoons. Do know also that James is our Nikon Answer-Man and will be glad to answer your Nikon-related questions. He guides many dozens of folks out each spring and summer aboard his photo-customized pontoon boat, the Hooptie-Deux.

BF: And I really enjoyed North Beach at Fort DeSoto Park (thanks for the great map in the DeSoto Site Guide) …

AM: You are most welcome.

BF: … on May 3rd, but one of my favorite shots there had a green plastic garbage right between the two birds in the image.

AM: That is another easy job for those who use Quick Masks, again, the more consistent and even the background, the easier the task.

BF: I am only now beginning to realize the frustrations you serious bird photographers must encounter.

AM: 🙂 Actually all nature photographers are in the same boat.

BF: I went to my favorite nearby pond here in Minnesota early this morning with my new Canon 800mm lens ready for the usual performance put on by at least a dozen bird species on any given day – – – only to find heavy equipment all over the place, the wetlands degraded, all the trees cut down, NO BIRDS in sight, and I was told they were putting in a wall to “enhance” the site.

AM: Man, you gotta love that. If you keep your ear to the ground it is sometimes possible to learn of such projects well in advance and to fight them using your images….

BF: Florida truly is a wonderful place to photograph birds! But really, have you ever “removed” the bands in Photoshop?

AM: All the time. Really. later and love, artie ps: Please see the before and after examples below.

no images were found

American Goldfinch in the rain, banded molting young male, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with a 25mm Extension tube and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/60 sec. at f/5.6. Flash with Better Beamer at -3 stops.

In the original above the bird is banded and there are several distracting background elements. See the optimized TIFF immediately below.

no images were found

American Goldfinch in the rain, banded molting young male, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The band was painstakingly removed with a series of Quick Masks and some Clone Stamp and Patch Tool work. The offending branches were removed with all of these same tools using the Protect and Defend Technique. Learn these methods (plus tons more) in our Digital Basic File ( Learn the advanced Quick Masking Techniques from APTATS: And yes, the best plan is to buy both!


If you have a UV filter on the front of your intermediate telephoto lens, it would behoove you to read this BPN thread carefully: The info on UV filters is about halfway down the thread. I strongly recommend against the use of UV filters on intermediate telephoto lenses. Period. See the thread for details.

no images were found

Long-billed Thrasher, Ramirez Ranch, Roma, TX
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/125 sec. at f/7.1.

Roel Ramirez’s ranch is the best place that I know to photograph this usually shy Rio Grande Valley specialty species. I just love this bird’s perfect pose. I may be scheduling an IPT at Roel’s place next spring. If you are interested, please e-mail and let me know.


no images were found

The initial limited sale period for the classic Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART image, “Fire in the Mist,” will end on June 30, 2009 when we will offer our second print in the series.

This spectacular image was created at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico. It was honored in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and was selected as cover art for “Light on the Earth,” a collection of the best of 30 years of winning entries. (See here for Light in the Earth info:

The thick gallery wrap (1 ½ inches) canvas is hand-made in the US under the supervision of the artist and is available only through BIRDS AS ART.

As above, this is the first of a series of Arthur Morris’ digitally signed, numbered, limited edition gallery-wrapped canvas prints. The canvas is stretched over custom-made wood supports. The canvas has no frame and appears to float on the wall. There’s no need for a frame for stability since the structure is inside the art. These fine canvas limited edition prints are covered with a rear black dust cover. The hanging wire is neatly attached and a courtesy package with two clear bump-ons, a nickel plated hanger and nail are included. (Some folks prefer the canvas in traditional frames; please e-mail for details and costs.)

This edition will be limited to 100 pieces of any size. Once the final print is sold the edition will be permanently closed making each Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART print a valuable collectible. Each 16 x 24 inch print is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and by a pair of white photographic gloves and directions for safely handling your prints.

The first fifty prints will sell for only $349 plus $20 shipping and handling to all US addresses. Once 50 prints are sold, the price will rise to $424. The last five prints will sell for $499. (Please e-mail for prices on other sizes and for framing options.)

The first batch of 19 prints will be shipped no later than June 15th, 2009, the second batch no later than July 15, 2009.

Shipping and handling to Canada will require an additional $35 handling fee. (Canadian orders may be subject to Customs delays and duties and require payment via personal check or money order in US funds.)

Each image will be professionally packed to avoid damage during transit. All fees are due and payable in advance in US funds. (We cannot be responsible for delays at customs.)

Payment may be by check or money order mailed to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855, by Paypal to, or by credit card. Please call 863-692-0906 for credit card orders. Or visit the store here:

We offer a 100% money back guarantee. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied we will gladly accept a return for exchange or refund provided that the item is returned within seven days of receipt and is in saleable condition. We refund only the purchase price plus the shipping and handling. Return shipping is the responsibility of the customer. This guarantee does not include prints that you damage or that are damaged in shipping. If your print is damaged in shipping, please let us know and we will arrange to have a replacement sent. Please allow 14 days for your check to clear.

We are 100% positive that “Fire in the Mist” will become a collector’s item; thank you for your support of my work.

no images were found

Painted Bunting, Cozad Ranch, Linn, TX
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/13.

When creating over-the-shoulder images, it is vitally important to use some extra depth-of-field so that everything from the tip of the tail through the eyes is sharp. I may be scheduling an IPT in early May just for Painted Buntings and possibly migrants as well. Please let me know by e-mail if you are interested.


Who has not dreamed of photographing the coastal grizzlies at close range as they go about their daily business catching salmon? If you are at all interested in joining me for the trip of a lifetime, please e-mail ( or call me at 863-692-0906.

Do check out the brand new Katmai Bear Boat Gallery here: If you do not think that you can make this trip, it would be best not to look at the gallery….

Bear Boat #2: Sept 4-10, 2009

$6999. Openings: 3. (It is advised that you be in Anchorage on the afternoon of the September 2nd to be assured of not missing the boat!). This one is the bears-catching-salmon trip. In addition, Glaucous-winged and Mew Gulls eating roe are a certainty. Dark phase Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes (including the gorgeous immatures), Harbor Seals, and Stellar’s Sea Lions are likely. Did I mention bears catching salmon? And more bears catching salmon?

If you are curious about the trip or have any questions and would like to explore the possibility of joining me for the trip of a lifetime, please e-mail ( or call me at 863-221-2372. I will do my very best to make it happen.


At 3:30pm on Friday, September 18th, 2009 I will be presenting Digital Bird Photography Basics at the Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, OH. The festival runs from September 16-20. For complete information including registration info—there are many great speakers, programs, and field trips, visit:

no images were found

Bronzed Cowbird, female, Cozad Ranch, Linn, TX
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/13.

I get as much pleasure from creating a near-perfect image of a drab bird as I do from creating a near-perfect image of a colorful bird like a Painted Bunting. Well, almost….


Linda Robbins reports that photographic conditions at Gatorland in Kissimmee, FL are excellent. For details and directions, click here: They have an early entry pass for photographers; please call them for details.

no images were found

Cattle Egret chicks, Gatorland, Central Florida
Image Copyright 2009: Linda Robbins/Hummingbird Addiction

Canon Mark II N and a 500mm f/4 lens with a 2X teleconverter on the 3530LS Gitzo CF tripod with a Wimberley V2 head. . ISO 1000. 1/1250 sec. at f/8.

This image was cropped from the bottom to remove nest sticks. A twig behind the middle chick’s head was removed and several Quick Mask were used to repair some head feathers.

no images were found

American Alligator, Gatorland, Central Florida
Image Copyright 2009: Linda Robbins/Hummingbird Addiction

Canon Mark IIN and the Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens on the Gitzo CF 3530LS tripod with a Wimberley V2 head. ISO 640. 1/400 sec. at f/11. Exposure compensation -2/3.

There were lots of booming gators when Linda visited last week.


I am thrilled to announce that Photoshop guru Tim Grey will be leading the SW FLA President’s Week IPT this in February 2009. Please see item next for details.

no images were found

Chipmunk, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 640. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/100 sec. at f/7.1. Flash with Better Beamer at -3 stops.

These little guys are very cute but are very tough to photograph; to see our feeder set-up at Rondeau, visit the Blog (( and scroll down to the May 18th entry. You may learn a lot. There is much info on photographing natural history subjects other than birds in my CD book, “The Art of Bird Photography II”.


I will be teaching fewer and fewer IPTs each year. The number of participants has been reduced, and the number of days in most tours have been increased. If you want to learn from the very best, do consider signing up ASAP.

BOSQUE del APACHE 2009 IPT: “The Complete Bosque Experience.” NOV 21-27, 2009

Slide program on the evening of Friday, NOV 20. 7-FULL DAYS: $3199. (Non-refundable deposit: $500.) Limit: 10/Openings: 3. Co-leader: Scott Bourne.


Slide program on the evening of FEB 9. Slide program on the evening of FEB 11. 6-FULL DAYS: $2799. (Non-refundable deposit: $500.) Limit: 10/Openings: 7. Co-leaders: Tim Grey, and Alfred and Fabiola Forns. Escape winter’s icy grip and join me in Florida in the land of ridiculously tame birds. This IPT will visit Little Estero Lagoon which has been fantastic for the past three years (and been getting better each year), the Venice Rookery, several killer Burrowing Owl nests on Cape Coral, and several spots on Sanibel including Blind Pass, the Sanibel Fishing Pier, and the East Gulf beaches (for Snowy Plover). If we have a foggy drizzly morning we may visit Corkscrew Swamp and Sanctuary. We have arranged for morning low tides at Little Estero and a setting full moon for our Saturday visit to the Venice Rookery For the first time ever, we will not be visiting Ding Darling NWR as photographic opportunities there have been diminishing steadily for the past decade. As you can see, I am teaching less and less, taking fewer folks, and lengthening the IPTs to allow for a slightly more relaxed pace with repeat visits to the best locations.

A non-refundable deposit of either $500 or $1,000 is required to hold a spot for each BAA IPT, Photo-Cruise, or Photo-Safari. Deposits may be paid by check, Paypal, or credit card. Payment in full (by check or money order) is due four months before the start of each trip and is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out. You will be required to sign a statement of understanding to this effect. Travel insurance is of course highly recommended. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options, you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage, which expands the list of reasons for your canceling to an infinite list, from a sudden work or family obligation to a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. We regret that we must implement this new policy but we have recently been plagued by last minute cancellations that make it impossible for others to participate and deprive us of essential income.

no images were found

Brewster’s Warbler, male, near Monterey, VA
Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Canon 800mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/10.

For the full story on these hybrids, and to see an image of this bird singing, click here: or visit the blog and scroll down to the May 27th entry. Or both 🙂

Comments are closed.