Eastern Bluebird--Challenging Lighting

What technical feedback would you like if any? My camera was setup for BIF, so the high ISO is something I have to live with in this shot. How did I handle the lighting?

What artistic feedback would you like if any? Does the highlight area of the bird look OK?

Pertinent technical details or techniques: D500 600mm f4 (1/1250 sec at f7.1, Iso 1250) DeHaze, Levels, Crop for Comp,Shadows & Highlights, Brightness & Contrast, Rubber stamp to remove orphaned stick in upper RH corner, DeNoise. I wish that it was cloudy that particular morning, but you got to take what nature throws at you. The blue in bluebird feathers is due to the structure of the feathers rather than from a pigment. The sun was rising and you can clearly see the difference in color between sunny side and shade. I use TK’s sharpening and I reduced the sharpening because at my default settings, the image was looking over sharpened. Thank you for looking…Jim

(If backgrounds have been removed, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

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A lovely pose with a nice full look at the Bluebird’s back and very well done with the side lighting. The sharpening appears a bit overdone to me but there is a lot of fine detail to show off. I do not mind the sticks and limbs in the bg as birds are often perched and reside in these settings. Well done.

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Bird is beautiful. I like the side-lighting. I also like the perch and the stick above the bird’s head. Dont love the sticks in the BG, but they’re not too obtrusive. Bird is a little coarse, which can happen with the D500. This one might not need any sharpening at all! Otherwise, I’d take a look at a less-square crop and see what you think. Looking forward to more.

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Well composed shot with nice color and perch. I like the environmental aspect of this image. I do agree it is slightly over sharpened. The regular sized images quite pleasing and the over sharpening is less obtrusive.

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Nice capture of the colors; really drew my attention from the thumbnail. The largest enlargement does look a bit over sharpened, but the first two images look fine. Background is okay; I find myself looking to the left with the bird. I could see cloning out that spot on the bottom.

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Yes, clearly some tough lighting . My biggest concern with the image is the sharpening. The small version looks fair, but a bit crunchy. The large version just looks way over sharpened to me. I’d love to see a version with no sharpening as you mentioned you decreased the TK sharpening.

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Thank you all for the critiques. I went back to the RAW file and redid the crop which provided me with a few more pixels for post processing. I al;so did not sharpen the RAW file, but instead did a very slight sharpening with AI Adjust after applying Topaz DeNoise. Hope that you find this version more plkeasing to the eye than the original…Jim

Jim, I like your original, yet the revision is really superb. In addition to reducing the sharpening, the little extra space to the left shows off more of the bird in its environment. Wonderful capture.

Much better in all respects for my tastes.