The colder the better

I traveled to Maine for the holidays, and luckily there was a Currier and Ives landscape with an irruption of Snowy Owls. Driving the three hours down the coast to Biddeford, daylight waned. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I spotted this first-year female posing on the ice and snow covered rocks with the sea behind her.
Just magical.

Specific Feedback Requested

I cropped the image to offset the owl in the landscape and capture the feeling of the cold rugged Maine coast. But is this the best way to highlight the owl, or should it be more centered? Any other comments would be helpful. Thank you. This is my first post.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Olympus OMD1 Mark III, 300m f4.0 pro lens - ISO 200, f4.0, 1/640sec

Hello and welcome to NPN, fellow Smith!

I really need to get out and find our snowies. They come every year to some part of Wisconsin and I just have to make the effort. Great job for getting out there. I can only imagine how thrilling it must have been to see.

That said, I think there’s room for improvement so -

Photoshop for auto levels, increased exposure, added clarity, corrected some of the color cast and did a little dodging on the bird’s face. There’s quite a bit of noise here that I didn’t fix, but you could. Even though you’re at ISO 200, underexposing brings it up. If you have access to a noise reduction and sharpening app like Topaz, using those would help a great deal as well.

Super find and I’m so glad you decided to post here. It’s a great place to learn and grow your craft.

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Welcome to NPN, Frimmel. This is an excellent first image post. I love the composition and the detail. Definitely not centered. I think the exposure could be brought up a bit, but that’s really minor in my view. This feels like a twilight image.

Thank you! Post-processing is definitely a challenge. This is a great site for learning!

Thank you! It is a twilight image taken at exactly sunset; I’ll play with the exposure.

Yeah, this is really nice. Kristen had some great ideas. The basics are here in this is a very well composed image.

Thank you! I did take advice and am trying to figure out how to re-post. Hope this does it.

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Yes, the repost looks better. The light is wonderful.

Frimmel, welcome to NPN. This is a great first post. It’s a beautiful owl in a fine setting. The tighter crop shows off the owl better, but it’s a bit on the dark side and the whites are no longer white. The brightness of your first post seems more appropriate. You can include multiple images or a repost like this in your original post by going to your post, clicking on the pencil (edit) button and using the add image button again. Doing that makes it much easier to compare the before and after (using arrows that show up along side when viewing the larger version). Oh yeah, the weekly challenge runs from Sunday 12 AM to Saturday 11:59 PM, so you posted this a bit late, that’s not a big deal, especially for a first post. Looking forward to seeing more of your photos.

Thank you! I’ll keep trying.

I love owls, and I love your repost - agree with @Mark_Seaver 's comments, but I wouldn’t lighten it too much, to preserve the twilight feel (maybe just the bird). Welcome to NPN!

Thank you very much, David!

Welcome to NPN! This is the place to learn and grow and just generally enjoy and appreciate our world!

I love the pose and the perch, and think the crop is good to place the bird off-center. The visual weight of the rock is a consideration for a crop and I like what you did, with the slope leading up to the bird.

The post is underexposed, but for my taste, @Kris_Smith went a bit too far with contrast. It helps if you give information about your processing software and the steps you have done with it. You have a very good camera and lens, so you’re off to a good start. I look forward to your future posts!

Thank you very much, Mike. I have taken the advice!

Thank you, Diane! I usually “under process,” so I’m trying to learn what are the best steps to showcase my images. Typically, I add brilliance, reduce contrast to highlight the feathers, add a little vibrance, denoise and very little sharpen, if any. In this image, I also increased the saturation of the eyes, as that is to me the best trait of the Snowy Owl. I am playing around with the brightness, so as not to lose the twilight context. And thank you for the welcome!!

Welcome to NPN. A wonderful bird to get in the viewfinder. Yes, it is underexposed, but easily recoverable. Here’s a version with the following goals:

  • More Light on the Owl
  • More twilight feel to the sky with a touch more color
  • More blue in the foreground to create a color contrast with the sky and accentuate the cold feel
  • Targeted light to the eyes only

Post processing is both a technical skill and an art. Subtle processing is something that for an image like this is all that is needed.


Yes! @Keith_Bauer made the owl come alive!

Beautiful - thank you for this!!