Juvenile Barn Owl

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Our Barn Owl box is in use again this year after a couple of years of no owls, and the juveniles have just (I think) started leaving the nest box at night. This one hung around late enough in the morning to try for some high iso/low shutter speed images yesterday.

Specific Feedback

I did some major cleanup on the background because I was confined to an angle that put a lot of bright highlights in the background that pretty much ruined the image for me. I just picked up some different greens from the background that was there and painted over the highlights with a soft brush. I find that technique often works better than the clone tool when I have major repairs.

Technical Details

Sony A1, FE 200-600 + 1.4 TC, Tripod with Gimbal Head, f/9, 1/125, iso 12,800, manual exposure. Processed in LR & PS CC. NR using the LR AI tool followed by a another round in PS using the Neat Image tool. The subject and box still had to be brought up a fair amount to get them looking reasonable. Cropped to 3464x4356. Taken at 5:16 AM on June 27th.


It looks like it just emerged from a bubble-bath, Dennis. You did very well with the exposure at such an unholy hour. And your treatment of the BG is excellent too. Any shots of the parents, I wonder?

@Mike_Friel Afraid not. The parents are very circumspect and only come and leave in full dark. We put this box up 16 years ago and we’ve had tenants all but 2 or 3 years. We’ve seen adults in maybe 4 of those years well after sundown.

1 Like

A nice image Dennis which has come through the processing very well. It all looks good to me. My only thought would be to reduce the amount of box to give greater emphasis on the owl.

This way too cool Dennis. Barn owls as a breeding species in Michigan are no longer present. Glad to see that you are having success. You work on the BG has paid off. I like the image as presented…Jim

Very engaging photo! The eyes have it!

@Jim_Zablotny I’m amazed they’re not in Michigan. I remember so many barns both in the central Michigan area where I grew up and in the Kalkaska/Traverse City areas where most of my relatives lived. Ochardists court them in many parts of the country and you’d think the Cherry growers would do the same.

Yeah, they are extra rare over this way. The first documented barn owl nest in 20 years all of Wisconsin was in 2021, so this is pretty special. Keep 'em coming!

The last successful nesting was in the 1980’s at Sterling State Park in Monroe County, Michigan. Farmers are using some very strong rodent poisons and most farms do not have fallow pastures for owl foraging. Still lots of old barns, but barn owls occasionally show up in migration…Jim