Surprised?

Yesterday I found this Long-eared Owl (Asio otis) roosting in a tree with some odd 20 others. Problems is always to find one that is not too much obscured by the leaves. These owls hunt during the night and spend the days resting and preening in trees. In winter they gather in small groups. What you see here is an alert bird (ear plumes up and eyes open), in this case it was caused by a ‘yelling’ Magpie in the neighbouring tree.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any

Technical Details

Nikon Z9 with 500mm f4 | 1/320s | f4 | ISO1000 | overexposed 1 2/3 EV | Tripod. I cloned out part of tree trunk, but as the environment was filled with in- and out of focus leaves anyhow I thought it to be allowed :wink:

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The in-and-out-of-focus leaves are an important part of this wonderful image.

The pose and the environment are just so interesting here. Makes the usual bird portrait a lot more engaging and distinctive. Not sure things aren’t a tad too bright since I wasn’t there, but something to consider. Great eye contact.

What a fascinating face!! I think a version with lower exposure could be interesting.

Thanks @Ronald_Murphy , @Kris_Smith and @Diane_Miller for your feedback. I lowered the exposure a bit, as you suggest, and then it could look like this. I’d say it’s a matter of personal preference, I do tend to like the lighter images, but both could work well in my opinion. Thanks for thinking along ! Cheers, Hans

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I like the high-key look as it focusses my attention fully on the owl. I’m lucky if I see one owl, and you saw 20!

Very cool image. I do like the slightly darker version.

Great image of the owl in a very nice setting. Another vote for the darker version-I think the owl pops a bit more.

Hi Hans
The long-eared Owl is playing peak-a-boo with us. I am voting for the lighter posting. I think the lower exposure makes the leaves a distraction. Anyway the shot is really cool.
Peter

Really nice pose on the owl and I agree that the veil of OOF leaves with the fall colors make for a great surroundings for the owl. I think maybe it could be a touch darker overall without losing the high key quality.

Hi Hans - This is such an eye-catching photo. The soft leaves add some wonderful framing and the owl’s expression is perfect. I like the brighter presentation at the beginning. My only piece of feedback is that you could consider brightening and reducing the contrast of the vertical limb to the right of the owl. I think it competes a bit with the owl as is but it if were lighter, it could fade into the background a bit more. Really great photo!