Burrowing Owls in Lamar, CO

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I’m not sure what to do with this - it was surprising to find this one when culling. I was shooting these owls waaaay across a field by a cemetery in massive winds, glare and heat haze, and almost none of the shots were usable. I like this one though.

Specific Feedback

Any suggestions on improvements would be great.

Technical Details

Fuji X-H2S, 1/600s, f/8.0, ISO 500, 600mm. Raw conversion with DXO PureRaw in Lightroom Classic.

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How neat to get one in flight and looking at you as well. Not sure I have any suggestions. I’d be happy to have seen and shot this scene. My first thought was to make the owl on the ground stand out more, but on second thought it blends in so well with the environment, it seems appropriate to leave it as is.

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Thanks @Allen_Brooks. The background in the top half looks bad, but it was like 40-50 mph wind gusts.

Debbie, you got two for the price of one! I have yet to have one pose for me. I like that you captured one in flight and the other on the grown. To me it shows a little more about their environment and the things that they do. Not sure how you were about to hold the camera study even on a tripod in that kind of wind. Good job.

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Very nice, Debbie. It doesn’t look like this would stand up to much more cropping, so I think I’d leave it as-is except maybe to put a border on the edges as it’s the kind of image that lets my eye drift off. I like the way my eye goes immediately to the bird in flight and then discovers the one on the ground.

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@Shirley_Freeman Thanks! I was crouched on the ground behind my truck so it would block some of the wind.

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@Dennis_Plank A border like a hard border, or more of a faded darkening vignette?

I tend to go more with hard borders (but thin), but I know a lot of people who prefer vignettes. Pretty much your taste.

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Well done and excellent techs. I live near a large wooded and hear owls regularly. But it is too dark and they get spooked easily.

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Hi Debbie, a nice catch of these two owls with the one flying getting our initial attention and the still one providing additional interest. I see the affects of wind, heat, etc on image quality but this still is a good rendition of the owls. Tells a great story.

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@Allen_Sparks and @David_Schoen Thank you!

Debbie, I don’t know if you have the pixels, but a vertical crop makes the most sense to me. In this case it’s not about the flight and directionality of the top owl, as much as the great interplay between the two owls. I think a vertical crop here connects the two in a strong diagonal line cutting through the frame, really emphasizing their visual relationship.

Did you add the vignette, or is that natural shading along the top and bottom? I do find it distracting, especially since the top shadow encroaches on the flying owl.

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Thanks @Max_Waugh. I added the vignette as it was a really bright glare-y scene but I understand your point. I’ll try a vertical crop.