April 2nd, 2015


  • Is this Image Worth Optimizing?
  • Date Change: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice Spoonbill and Wading Bird Chicks IPT: May 4-6, 2015.
  • 7D Mark II User’s Guide
  • The Blog is the Bomb!
  • Used Photography Gear for Sale
  • BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) Info
  • South Georgia October 2015
  • Affiliate Stuff


This image was created at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (hand held at 205mm), and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/4.5.

AI Servo Zone/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). For this image, the AF system activated three AF points that fell largely on the pup’s neck but still yielded sharp-enough eyes for both the pup and for mom. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Southern Sea Lion pup nuzzling mom.

Is this Image Worth Optimizing?

It’s cute, but they are both soaking wet, the fur of the mother and the pup look totally detail-less, and the eyes of both sea lions are barely defined. The BLACKs have a pretty good (or bad) RED/MAGENTA color cast. Is this image worth optimizing?


This is the optimized image that was created from the image above.

The Optimized Image

Note that a good deal of detail in the wet fur has been restored. The bulk of the improvement came from applying a healthy dose of Detail Extractor and a bit of Tonal Contrast, both courtesy of NIK Color EFX Pro. Note also the improvement in the eyes via Eye Doctor work. Be sure to see the before and after animated GIF immediately below if you are in doubt.

What Do You Think?

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think?

a: it still looks lousy, you wasted your time.
b: not bad, you used too much Detail Extractor.
c: it looks pretty good, especially the eyes and the removal of the color cast.
d: it looks great; you did a fine job of the image optimization.
e: make up your own comment 🙂

Milk face???

I am thinking that the white crud around the pup’s eye is mother’s milk. Any clues?

Digital Basics

Everything that I did to optimize today’s image is covered in detail in my Digital Basics File–written in my easy-to-follow, easy-to-understand style. Are you tired of making your images look worse in Photoshop? Digital Basics File is an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, Contrast Masks, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Tim Grey Dodge and Burn, a variety of ways to make selections, how to create time-saving actions, the Surface Blur (background noise reduction) settings, and tons more.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS II. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount to either with phone orders only. Buy both APTATS I and APTATS II and we will be glad to apply at $15 discount either with phone orders or here in the BAA Online Store. For phone orders, call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 weekdays.


You can order your copy of “The Photographers’ Guide to Canon Digital Photo Professional 4.0” (aka the DPP 4 Raw Conversion eGuide) by Arash Hazeghi and Arthur Morris by clicking here.

The DPP 4 eGuide (PDF)

The Ideal Companion to the 7D Mark II User’s Guide

Learn how and why I and many other discerning photographers choose and use only DPP 4 to convert their Canon RAW files in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly. The latest version supports all of the newer Canon camera bodies and several older models including the EOS-7D and the EOS-1D Mark IV. A free update that will cover most of the newly added cameras will be sent in a week or two. See upcoming blog posts for exact details.


Clockwise from upper left to center: Snowy Egrets/breeding plumage pair, American Alligator with egret feather on head, Cattle Egret in breeding plumage (with fill flash), large Snowy Egret chicks, displaying gator, Wood Stork in flight carrying nesting material (fill flash), begging Snowy Egret chick, another Cattle Egret in breeding plumage (with fill flash), and Great Egret chick.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice Spoonbill and Wading Bird Chicks IPT: May 4-6, 2015. TWO FULL and TWO 1/2 DAYS: $1099. Limit 8/Openings 5.

Please note the new date.

St. Augustine in early May is a bird photographer’s paradise. With any luck we should have chicks of all sizes in the nests ranging from newly hatched Snowy Egrets and Tricolored Herons to nearly fledged Great Egrets. More than a few pairs of Roseate Spoonbills have nested at the Alligator Farm for the past several years. Photographing the spoonbill chicks in the nest is a huge challenge…. With any luck we will encounter a few Snowy and Cattle Egrets in stunning breeding plumage. We should have lots of flight photography ops especially late in the day. We will enjoy extra early entry on our three mornigs. Folks who will need a photographer’s pass ($89.95 includes full season early entry and late stay and submission fees for up to 5 photos in their annual contest; this works out to cheaper than four separate entry tickets). We will have those ready for pick-up on the first afternoon.


Clockwise from upper left: flash-as-main light Great Egret chick begging, breeding plumage Cattle Egret w/fill flash, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret chick in nest begging, Cattle Egrets copulating, Wood Stork with nesting material, another Wood Stork with nesting material, and breeding plumage Snowy Egret displaying.

What You Will Learn

On this IPT you will the learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure and how to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure. You will learn to understand and predict bird behavior and to see and understand the light. You will learn to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system and how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). Most importantly, you will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective. Rookeries are crowded, cluttered, white-washed places. Most folks who visit have no clue as to the difference of an image with tons of distractions and one with a clean line of sight and the best possible distant background. Join me and I will teach you to see like a pro.

I will be bringing my flash to the Alligator Farm (gasp!) I have not used flash for at least a year. I will be teaching you how to use flash as fill and how to use flash as main light. In addition, I will be reviewing the flash flight techniques that I developed at St. Augustine more than a few years ago.


Clockwise from upper left: gator back, Great Egret returning to mate (with fill flash), Roseate Spoonbill with bill open, Roseate Spoonbill chick begging, Roseate Spoonbill 11am silhouette, large Great Egret chicks in nest, and bill of Roseate Spoonbill.

Whats the Rest of the Deal?

Afternoon session on Monday, May 4. Then two full days with a morning and afternoon session each day, May 5 & 6. Then our last morning on May 7. At lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday (included) we will review my images; folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one? If you opt to bring your laptop, we can take a look at five of your best images from the morning or another session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

A $499 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot. Your balance–$600, payable only by check, is due immediately. Please include a separate check for $89.95 so that we can purchase your pass in advance. Please click here to read our cancellation policy before committing. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork linked to here and get it to us. You can register by calling Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 and arranging for your deposit of $499. Balances are payable only by check. I hope to see you there.


The 7D Mark II User’s Guide is now available. You can purchase your copy right now in the BAA Online Store here for $59

7D Mark II User’s Guide

The long-awaited 7D Mark II User’s Guide has received rave reviews. You can purchase your copy right now in the BAA Online Store here for $59. This is the highest priced user’s guide ever, surpassing the 5D II User’s Guide that is priced at $50. Why? I did twice as much work preparing the 7D II Guide. It required many days of writing, many dozens of hours of study and research, not to mention hundreds of hours in the field trying to figure out the best 7D II setting while doing what I love to do best, photographing birds and nature. The camera is quite complex. Many thanks to both Rudy Winston and Chuck Westfall of Canon USA for their help in getting me through the stickiest parts.

The guide contains 23,196 words in 516 paragraphs. There are 24 photos and screen captures interspersed in the main body of the text and a gallery of 23 additional 7D II images that show what the camera is capable of with a variety of lens and lens/TC combinations. We would love your feedback via e-mail.

The Blog is the Bomb!

Readership on the blog is at record levels for good reason. I have been putting 15-20 or more hours each week into the blog to ensure that it remains informative, timely, and beautiful. Recent posts have included detailed info on the latest gear, most notably the 100-400 II and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Right now I am on a streak of 85 straight days with a new blog post.

Most of the educational features that formerly appeared in BAA Bulletins, like item one in this Bulletin, now grace the BAA Blog. If you are not subscribed, you are missing a ton of great stuff daily. You can (and should!) subscribe to the blog posts by clicking here. If you have a problem subscribing, please contact us e-mail.

If you doubt me or have been missing out, click here and scroll down.

Here are some links to recent posts of interest:

My April Fool’s Day “retirement” here.

Twenty + free hours of Photoshop tutoring and image review here.

Great exposure lesson here.

See a really neat displaying Anna’s Hummingbird here.

Plus lots on the 7D II with more than a few high ISO images. Peruse the Postlist here or do a search for a specific topic of interest toe you in the little white box on the top right of each blog post.

Used Photography Gear for Sale

There are lots of great used lenses and camera bodies for sale at affordable if not record low prices. And several more will be posted soon. You can see the complete current listings or learn about selling your used gear here

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Most BAA IPTs are sold out. We still have a single opening on the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT and there is room on both of the 2014 Bosque IPTs, both of those with two great leaders, Denise Ippolito and yours truly. See complete details by scrolling down here.

South Georgia October 2015

Do consider joining me in South Georgia next October for the trip of a lifetime. Click here for complete details.

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. Please remember: no phone orders: web orders only!

Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, and the like. 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 we are 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 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 visiting the BAA 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 :).

7 comments to BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #473

  • Artie,

    In my opinion the photo is not worth optimizing. Sea lions are cute animals, this image, although a great pose, makes them look slimy and not endearing to the viewer. The optimized image, although better, still is not good enough to represent what I think of as an elegant animal.

  • Comment A covers it pretty well. It was worth a try though.

  • Max Warner

    Interesting sea lion shots—maybe Morro Bay?

    But—” on Bird’s Neck” ?

    “Image # 1: Single King Penguin emerging from Surf?”

    More April 1 stuff here?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks. Location was (correctly) given as “Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.” The other two were cut and paste in haste errors that thanks to you have been corrected. artie

  • William Lloyd

    I’ve learned a lot from trying to save images that I in the end still considered not worth saving. When you are pushing the processing extremes, you often discover that the boundaries are farther out than you had supposed.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      For sure Bill. At times I have worked for an hour on the original and then deleted the TIFF along with the RAW file! artie