The force is strong in this one


I experimented with some new image designs with our family of burrowing owls here in SoCal. Backlighting is something that I have always wanted to do more but it is not easy to pull off a good image. I hope this one works but as always, all comments and feedbacks are most welcome.

Nikon D500, 500mm, f/4.5, 1/640, ISO 5000


You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Wonderful, dreamy shot. The glowing edges of the owl are working very well, and there’s enough light to make out the details in the bird. Only, small, minor is the OOF lower part of the image. Other than that a very fine image !! Cheers, Hans

Awesome! Birds in backlite is my favourite.

Thanks @Hans_Overduin and @lennart! Yeah, indeed. The lower OOF part of the image is not ideal given how they live behind an embankment. Hopefully next time they will come out a little to the front!

Wonderful backlight! The dark parts still have detail, too. I am not bothered by the lower OOF area. It’s enough OOF that it blends in with the OOF background, although it’s a bit darker. Maybe dodging the darker lower areas a tad would make it even less noticeable.

I like this a lot, Adhika. The out of focus lower part adds to the dreamy quality for me. You have to look at this image for awhile to get the detail, and that’s a good thing in my opinion, though you might want to pull the shadows in the bird up just a tiny bit, though that’s completely subjective. The detail is all there if the viewer has the patience.

Thanks, @Bonnie_Lampley and @Dennis_Plank.

I actually burned the lower OOF part to make it less intrusive in the image. But I can see what you are saying, Bonnie, about making it as part of the BG.

Processing wise, do you guys think that the feather is a little weird because of AIClear (granted it’s a rather noisy image to start with)? I am thinking if I should have gone the ACR NR treatment route…

Very nice, Adhika. I love the edge lighting around this owl.

The backlight works really well here and the mood is quite effective. I suppose if I had to change anything I would put a little more brightness on the face. Regarding AI clear, I have almost stopped using it completely because it changes the character of the pixels, sometimes actually reducing clarity. Yes there are times when it works but I am finding fewer and fewer images where it is helpful and not harmful.

Thanks @Shirley_Freeman and @David_Schoen!

@David_Schoen, I notice similar things. What are you using for NR these days?

Just had a look through your portfolio here and this image immediately drew my attention. Backlighting is a great thing to work with if the ingredients are there and you pulled this one off very well!
Grt, Ingrid.