Your Raw Files Should Look Washed Out « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART (2022)

iPhone Favor

If you have an old iPhone — the older the better — that is sitting in a drawer, unused, please consider sending it as a gift to my 14-year old grandson, Idris Reimov. He is collecting them. Please shoot me an e-mail for the address. Many thanks, much love. artie

What’s Up?

Conditions were dead-solid perfect at Nickerson on Tuesday morning with a brisk NE wind, but the action was a bit slow and the Monday’s light clouds never materialized. We did, however, have a very good morning and Muhammad learned a ton, as always. Early on, I got us on some Black Skimmers bathing in the ocean. After that, our best chances were with flying and fishing terns and with two pairs of Common Tern chicks.

On Tuesday afternoon with a strong east wind in the forecast, I headed to Ronkonkoma to have dinner with younger daughter Alissa and her family. Today is Wednesday 17 August. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes one hundred forty-six days in a row with a new one.

Many folks are scheduled to join me at either Nickerson or JBWR in the coming weeks for an In-the-Field session or two. The first window for doing shorebirds at the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has closed. The second window is from 24-26 August. See the additional details below. Muhammad Arif enjoyed there In-the-Field sessions and made lots of great images with his R5. I hope to share some of them with you here soon. Carlotta Grenier is coming for her third session this morning and will joined by first-timer Sanjeev Nagrath who is staying for the afternoon and the following morning. Sandy Brown is flying in from Seattle for an afternoon at Nickerson and a morning on JBWR. And Marc Wortsman will be coming for lessons on his Sony a6400 as soon as we get an afternoon west wind.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

The Howdy to the World Exercise — Worth Repeating!

On Becoming Less Judgmental

As I mentioned here previously (this excerpt is adapted from the blog post here), one of the issues that I worked on at The March 2017 School for The Work was my being too judgmental. As Byron Katie says often, “We’re human. We judge. That’s our job. That’s who we are.” I have always seen myself as friendly. When photographing the nesting Brandt’s Cormorants and most recently, the killer male Anna’s hummingbird while standing on the sidewalk at La Jolla, I say “Hi” to lots of folks. But not to everyone. This one looks unhappy. This one is too obese. That one is smoking. She is too beautiful. That one will not like me. He is not making eye contact. And that one is surely too homeless.

On my recent visit, I came up with the following exercise: smile and offer a friendly “Howdy” to everyone I see who walks by (when I am not actively photographing). For the most part, that eliminates a lot of the having to judge the folks who pass by (but not all of it — we are human, that’s what we do). The second part of the exercise is practicing withholding judgment based on the reaction of the person you’ve said “Hi” to. You look someone right in the eye, smile and say “Howdy,” and they walk by staring straight ahead without so much as a smile. What would your story be? Is it true?

Having done this exercise for about 12 hours over four days while photographing in La Jolla years ago, I have learned that we are all the same, that we are all connected. Folks whom I might have previously judged as not worth a “Howdy” often stopped and chatted for minutes. A beautiful woman from Columbia and her three younger lady friends from Japan hung out for ten minutes learning about the hummer that posed for today’s featured image. There were hugs and smiles all around when they left. And several times folks who had stopped by wound up pointing out to me that I had missed seeing the bird come back and re-land.

Try giving out the love; it just might come back to you in spades.

Clockwise from the upper left corner back around to the center: Wilson’s Phalarope, JBWR; just fledged Common Tern, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, adult skimming, Nickerson; Black Skimmer killing tiny skimmer chick, Nickerson; American Oystercatcher foraging at sunrise, Nickerson; Common Tern chick swallowing baby bluefish, Nickerson; Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, double overhead wing stretch, JBWR; Black Skimmers, predawn flock blur, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, 10-day old chick, Nickerson.

Click on the card to view a larger version.

(Video) Preening Western Gull Image Optimization with Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Nickerson Beach/East Pond JBWR composite

Nickerson Beach/East Pond at Jamaica Bay (JBWR) In-the Field Workshops

Both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at JBWR offer some of the best midsummer bird photography on the planet. Hundreds of pairs or Black Skimmers and Common Terns along with more than a dozen pairs of American Oystercatchers breed at Nickerson each season so there are lots of chicks of all sizes and handsome fledged young to photograph. Provided that the water levels are low, hundreds of young shorebirds in their handsome fresh juvenile plumages stop by the pond each August on their way south.

Nickerson often reveals nature at it rawest, most basic level. Most days we get to photograph all sorts of dramatic behaviors ranging from skimmers and terns fishing and feeding (and tending) their you. There are often chances to shoot a variety of predatory encounters — gulls eating large skimmer chicks, skimmers eating skimmer babies, and Peregrine Falcons hunting. And rarely, if we are lucky, Peregrine Falcons catching! Consider joining me to learn a ton both about bird photography and the birds.

I am taking the Auto Train north on 31 July and will happily spend all of August on Long Island. I head south on 31 August and should be back home on 1 September (barring anything unforeseen). I am offering In-the-Field sessions at both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or text me at 863-221-2372.

Whether you are a local or would like to fly in for several days of instruction — a sort of private, or small group. — at worst, IPT, LMK via e-mail so that we can work on a schedule that could possibly include both Nickerson and Jamaica Bay.


Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Brand-New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

Your Raw Files Should Look Washed Out « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART (2)

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex Air 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists 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 a 1, 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.

(Video) Birds Photography Editing and Blending (PSD Box)

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

If You Enjoy the Blog …

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 (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — 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, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

Your Raw Files Should Look Washed Out « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART (3)

Your Raw Files Should Look Washed Out « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART (4)

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. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

The Photo Mechanic screen capture for the Anna’s Hummingbird, male singing image

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Your Raw Files Should Look Washed Out

Does the file above looked washed out? It should. Raw files for images made in soft or low light should always looked washed out. Why? If they look good on the back of the camera, your image is well under-exposed. It will be nosier than properly exposed files, the colors will be muddier, and the file sizes will be smaller with less color information.

The washed out image proved to be (somewhat amazingly, even to me), about 1/3 stop too dark when analyzed in RawDigger! It did, however, look quite good after being optimized. See below for the finished product.

This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens (replaced by the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM Lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my very favorite Canon bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/10 (stopped down 2/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 2:49pm on a cloudy day.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +1.

Three AF points up from the center AF point/Manual selection/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was just below and slightly behind the bird’s eye as originally framed.

Anna’s Hummingbird, male singing

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(Video) Expressive Lightroom in 5 Minutes

Hummingbirds on the San Diego IPT

We run into a tame Anna’s Hummingbird on most San Diego IPTs. In 2021, we were blessed by a very cooperative male Allens. You can see four very nice images of this great bird in the blog post here. This male Anna’s graced us with a variety of wing stretches and on occasion, sang its raspy song for us.

The Optimized Image

As always, I began by adjusting the Color Temperature. As the image looked a bit too RED and a bit too YELLOW, I moved the slider to the right to cool the colors down. Next was setting the WHITE point and the BLACK point, pulling down the Highlights slider, and playing around a bit with the GREENs and YELLOWs in the Color Mixer tab. All (plus tons more) as detailed in Digital Basics II.

Via e-mail from multiple IPT participant David Hollander

Primarily, what distinguished the San Diego IPT other photographic classes that I have attended was the “granularity” and specificity of the information you shared. By that I mean the level of specific, technical information that was covered. This was helped by the fact that you often gave an explanation as to why you made your choices. For example, when we first arrived at the location, you told people to shoot at 1600, F 5.6, and various shutter speeds. As the light got better, you progressively moved to lower ISOs, and gave us rules of thumb on what ISO to use in different lighting conditions.

You further explained in one of the review sessions that with modern cameras and good software, the noise isn’t really a problem and that you could get rid of the noise from a 1600 ISO a lot easier than fixing a blurred image. Similarly, you gave precise instruction on what aperture to use in various circumstances. In general, before your class, my “default” mode was to shoot in aperture priority, usually at about F 9 or 8.1. The reason wasn’t that I was trying to capture background, but instead to increase my chances of getting the bird’s head in focus if I got the focus point in the wrong place. I will revisit that approach now.

During and image review session, you showed a picture that had the bird’s eye in focus, but the tip of the beak was slightly off. When I asked you whether you would have used a higher F stop in that case, you went to a website showing the impact on the depth of field at the given distance of moving up a stop, which was less than an inch. That demonstrated why increasing the F stop would not have worked in that case. From a teaching perspective, hearing the same information in multiple channels makes it more likely for people to absorb
it and remember it, so the technical explanations help the main message sink in. The instruction on use of the back button focus was also very helpful. I had read about that on your blog before, but I had not taken the time to actually try it, and now I have a new tool in my kit. Overall, I found the advice and instruction to be “actionable”. It was all there for those who were listening.

The comparison of slightly different images of the same bird was also very helpful. It showed what you were looking for head angles and placements. However, I should note that differences in many of the pictures that were acute to you were pretty subtle to me, and all of the pictures were ones that most photographers would have been proud to have taken, even the ones that you were rejecting.

This all-new card includes images created on my JAN 2022 visit to San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022/23 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) IPTs

San Diego IPT #1. 3 1/2 DAYS: WED 21 DEC thru the morning session on Saturday 24 DEC 2022. $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 5.

San Diego IPT #2. 4 1/2 DAYS: SAT 7 JAN thru the morning session on WED 11 JAN 2023: $2699.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 4.

San Diego IPT #3: 3 1/2 DAYS: FRI 20 JAN thru the morning session on MON 23 JAN 2023: $2099.00. Deposit: $699.00. Limit: 6 photographers/Openings: 1.

Please e-mail for information on personalized pre- and post-IPT sessions.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Ducks; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals and California Sea Lions (both depending on the current regulations and restrictions). And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

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San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on exposure along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode so that you can get the right exposure every time (as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant). Or two seconds with SONY zebras … And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure will be one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of those opportunities. Depending on the weather, the local conditions, and the tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.

Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

These IPTs will include four or five 3-hour morning photo sessions, three or four 1 1/2-hour afternoon photo sessions, and three or four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy days, we may — at the leader’s discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Deposit Info

A $599 deposit is required to hold your slot for one of the 2022/23 San Diego IPTs. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART”) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due three months before the trip.

Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

(Video) Lightroom cc 2018 Wildlife Photography Editing Tutorial - From The RAW File To The Finished Photo!

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


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


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