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Short Eared Owl

By Emmog
Really love these birds. One of over fifteen birds present at the little piece of scrub land and meadow land.

Wondering if you can help me improve on my images... I like to try to get to birds small in the frame. Here I have cropped in to pano style image, increased the saturation by +2, lowered the exposure, increased the contrast a little too. In the background, I also used the burn tool to darken a tree as it seemed to stand out quite nicely!

All comments and criticisms are welcome.

Tags: October Owl Birds of prey Warmth Sun set Short eared owl Wildlife and nature

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


DerekL 13 192 24 England
16 Dec 2011 10:02PM
Nice image.
However the focus on the bird and the field below do not seem to be at the same DOF

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perkyjude 6 46 11 England
17 Dec 2011 6:20AM
I don't think there is a great deal you can improve here. Obviously the bird is very small in the image and it would have been nice to see him closer. The contrast of the bird against the background works well and the colours are lovely. You have cropped the image well, leaving lots of space for him to fly into, however I personally may have cropped off more of that grass in the foreground and bring the 'horizon' line onto the 1/3. Lovely. Jude
banehawi Plus
14 1.8k 3893 Canada
17 Dec 2011 4:13PM
Hi Matt,

Im a little unsure what youre after here. Youre saying that you like lots of space with the bird quite small, which is likely different to most bird shooters, but it can work. Most shooters would be after the bird detail.

In this shot, the bird is too small for me, - one opinion of course, and has the appearance of being at a distance that coincides with the out of focus blur area. May be an illusion due to the compression qualities of the long lens, but there nevertheless.

You didnt say if you used a tripod, - I assume you did, as the shutter speed is way too slow for this focal length, and probably for this type of shot. I will defer to regular bird in flight shooters if any want to weigh in, but I would have used shutter priority, set the speed to at least 1/1000, and used ISO to manage the aperture depending on available light. I would also use the autofocus tracking or servo mode to continuously focus on the bird.

I hope this may help in some way,


paulbroad 10 123 1250 United Kingdom
17 Dec 2011 4:26PM
I can understand what you are doing, and it is effective. However, for me, the bird needs to be much larger. We see them quite a lot, (Barn Owls) and I love those super images with piercing eyes. Just the personal view.

SueEley 12 279 96 Wales
17 Dec 2011 5:36PM
For me the focused foreground distracts me from the owl. As Derek said, it makes you wonder how this can happen. So maybe a tighter crop to remove that area? Was that the bit of ground that was directly below the bird?
Emmog 9 38 1 England
17 Dec 2011 8:31PM
Thank you Derek, Jude, Willie, Paul and Sue. To be honest, I have no idea how I managed to get a weird looking DoF - I will have a look at cropping out that area.

Willie, I used a monopod to try to capture the Owl in flight. I find that the ISO above 640 on my camera is awful so I tried not to go higher but I totally understand what you mean as the other images that i took that evening were showing motion blur. I use continuous focus just about all the time for the reasons that you say.

Sue, I think that the area in focus was under the bird but the bird was a little far away to be sure.

Thank you for your critique. I have been really pleased to hear your opinions and tips. Thank you.

banehawi Plus
14 1.8k 3893 Canada
18 Dec 2011 12:29AM
Thanks for the update Mark. I understand the high ISO issue. Try some third party noise reducers, NIK, Noise Ninja, Neat Image, - free trials and see if they can help.

paulbroad 10 123 1250 United Kingdom
18 Dec 2011 9:12AM
Theres nothing wrong with focus and, as you say, the bird and the area below is adequately sharp. It just looks a little strange because in front and behind are less so.

Emmog 9 38 1 England
18 Dec 2011 7:53PM
I hadn't thought of looking at noise reduction. Thanks Willie and Paul.

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