Grey-crowned Crane Protecting Territory

In Ngorongoro last year - this crane has a nest in the vicinity with its spouse sitting on it, hence I knew that there might be an opportunity like this - unfortunately midday - one just takes what one gets - a good story nevertheless

Thanks Dennis and Allen @Dennis_Plank, @Allen_Brooks
I tried duplicating the background layer and then did a Gausian blur - applying a gradient and finally brushing in the sharper crane

What technical feedback would you like if any?

How do decrease the contrast in the top 1/3 background tastefully. Seems to me that the background “clashes” with the action

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If backgrounds have been removed, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
Nikon D850 600mm
1/3200sec / F7.1 / Iso 400

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Wonderful action, great birds, and a very good composition, Karl. I agree on the background being a bit too much here. Two techniques that I use both involve the first step of isolating the birds on a separate layer in PS. That lets me work on the background in a layer below the birds almost with impunity. In this case, the first thing I’d do is use the blur tool on the upper part of the background with a very large soft brush. Its not a very intensive blur even at 100% opacity, so I tend to go over it multiple times until I’m satisfied. An alternate blur is to create a duplicate background layer, blur it with one of the global blur tools and adjust opacity as desired. The problem I’ve had with this one is that it tends to fuzz out the subjects if they’re still in the background and create halos, so it’s best to remove them first. The second technique is a little different. I’ll select a dominant color from the background, make a large soft brush at very low opacity and simply paint over the background until I soften the harshness effect.

A great image.

Great action shot of the crane. Good detail and colors. Looks as if the crane is planning to land in the pelican’s pouch.

Terrific action capture. Really a great catch of this territorial behavior with the poses from both birds making for a striking image.