Barred Owl Hunting Repost

This is a repost of the Barred Owl Hunting on May 17th. Sorry for taking so long to try again. This has the background darkened, owl exposure corrected and is somewhere between the suggestions of Keith and Dennis. Let me know what you think.

Specific Feedback Requested

Anything to improve.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon 90D
Sigma 150-600 C @562mm
ISO 1600.


I like this, Brian. It shows the late evening light in the back yet has the owl plenty bright enough to look very good. I do see a few anomalies along the edges of the plumage where the brightening of the bird bled over into the background. I don’t know how you processed the image, but if you have the bird on a separate layer above the background you can just go over those areas on the bird layer with the eraser tool set at low opacity and blend them in.

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Thank you Dennis, That is something I need to learn. Great eye on your part because I blew the photo up and did not detect anything. Lesson learned on my part.

Hi Brian,

This image is coming along in a very good way. Follow Dennis’s suggestion and you should be able to finish editing without edge artifacts. I like the exposure and a very different background which I like. Well done…Jim

I think this is a nice improvement over the original. It does have a few issues as Dennis pointed out. If you have the bird on a separate layer, you really need to learn how to use layer masks rather than copying pixels. When I did my edit, I just created a curves adjustment layer above the background, layer, created a mask for the owl and adjusted the background on that layer without disturbing the owl or needing to copy it around. Masks are absolutely the preferred editing option in PS. If there is an error in the mask it is just a matter of painting in black or white on the mask to either reveal or conceal whatever is on that layer (i.e. the curves layer).

@Keith_Bauer is absolutely correct – masks are completely flexible, and can be used for adjustment layers as well as pixel layers. In many cases a lot of the heavy lifting for a mask can be done with Select > Subject in PS, and then the edges refined by zooming in and using a black or white brush of the appropriate size (and opacity in some cases). Hit the Q key to toggle the mask to a selection and lighten the subject with a Curves, then inverse the mask and darken the BG the same way.

And of course masks have been taken to a new level by the TK actions – which I really need to learn!

Good morning and thank you for everyone helping me. Masking is something I need to learn. I will look up some tutorials. I sure appreciate all of your patience and encouragement.

Brian, if I may, I would modestly suggest the ones on my web site, They are a bit old but still completely relevant for Quick Masking.

I second Diane’s advice - I’ve had a lot of trouble with this “bleeding” especially with feathers and butterfly fringes. Diane’s website has helped me a lot, though I’m still learning. I love this owl shot regardless, it stands out beautifully against that BG.

Thank you Diane, I will definitely check it out.

Thank you Mike, I will follow your advice.

Hello, Brian, good points above. Putting that aside, I think it a wonderful moment you had there .The owl well-exposed and the golden-lit background, really a wonderful combination! I’ll have a look at @Diane_Miller 's tutorial as well :slight_smile: ! Cheers, Hans

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Thank you Hans, I have a lot to learn.