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The Owl and the Jay

The Owl and the Jay
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-12-26
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, NIKKOR AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 ED DX VR, Optex 77mm Circular Polariser
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/500 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2008-01-31 18:36
Viewed: 4155
Points: 44
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
We were sitting having our Boxing Day breakfast, when an owl went swooping by our back window, so I grabbed my camera and went running out in my boots and bathrobe (that was almost the title) to get some shots. We feed the birds and have a lot of Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) around. They took exception to this Barred Owl (Strix varia) coming into their territory and started a game of harassment that I’ve only seen before with smaller birds. They took turns landing near him and squawking. He wasn’t at all intimidated by me, calling up to get him to look at the camera. Most of his time was spent checking on the latest position of these nasty blue aggressors. He finally had enough and flew away.

This was the first time I had seen a Barred Owl, so I was pretty thrilled. The good news is that I read they’re territorial and tend to spend most of their time in the same area (of one square mile). They feed on mice, rabbits, amphibians, reptiles and insects. Well we have lots of all that in the area, so maybe we’ll see each other again.

In this shot, there is a branch across the face of the Jay. I wasn’t real happy about that, but in keeping with the TOS I’ve left it in. It’s gone in my workshop and home copy.

Much of this and ID from: Stokes, Donald and Lillian (1996), Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region, Little, Brown and Company, Boston

Workflow for this shot was as follows:
The shoot – shot in Raw with Jpeg reference @200mm f5.6 1/500
NEF file adjusted for exposure and shadow
Adjusted levels for black and white points
Adjusted curves for contrast
Burned and Dodged with overlay layer (5-10% opacity black and white brush)
Added saturation layer +15 to master
Duplicated the background layer
Cloned out the branch
Saved as a tiff
Selected for blue and reduced noise on both layers – inversed the selection for branches and birds
Resized and duplicated the background layer and the 2nd background layer (so now there were 2 sets with 4 layers with the picture on them)
For each set I sharpened with USM – toned down the edges with layer mask and 25-75% opacity black brush, re-sharpened all the eyes and saved a copy with the branch visible for this posting, and without for the workshop.

rcrick, rkailas, mlines, inked, timonejoon, ellis49, Argus, pablominto, CeltickRanger, pierrefonds, zenitlady, horia, cam has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To CeltickRanger: RetouchJPlumb 1 02-02 00:41
To pablominto: Two Birds on One StoneJPlumb 1 02-02 00:36
To Argus: Back in OzJPlumb 1 02-02 00:31
To inked: In AustraliaJPlumb 1 02-02 00:26
To ellis49: PP-WorkJPlumb 2 02-01 03:57
To timonejoon: Jays Frightened of OwlsJPlumb 1 02-01 02:52
To rkailas: Vertical CompositionJPlumb 1 02-01 02:47
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Critiques [Translate]

Wow! 2 pour le prix d'un, deux à la fois et tout aussi net l'un que l'autre , superbe prise, beaucoup de netteté.

Hi John.
Now that story has a familiar ring to it, (rushing around) and what a shot, just superb I love the framing with the two birds, excellent d.o.f, and the colours too they almost blend in with the tree, really nice work mate, tfs, Cheers Rick :)

Hi John

Well seen! I like the vertical composition, not only to capture the two birds within the frame, but just looks better when looking up.

TFS and Best

  • Great 
  • mlines Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 556 W: 26 N: 668] (3116)
  • [2008-01-31 21:22]

Hi John, What a cute photo of this owl, It is clearer than many others on this site. The presence of two species is a real plus. The owls plumage is fully fluffed in the cold i think. TFS. Murray.
PS Bird photos is the main reason for my interest so i like to see these. Take a look at Alper ID " twin" on treklens too.

Hi John,

Very nicely captured, both birds in a single frame.
It seems the jay try to tease the sleepy owl ......
Great shot.

Ben Lakitan

  • Great 
  • inked Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 132 W: 0 N: 249] (771)
  • [2008-01-31 22:45]
  • [+]

hi John,
fantastic photo! great composition. I hope the owl has moved into the neighbourhood so you can get more pics like this for me to check out. well done and TFS

Hi John

I thought JayJays hate or frighten from owls. it is very intresting shot. well composed and nice use of focus. perfect shot.
well done


Hi John
You have cool shot and nice story here :)

Hi John,
you manage to get two for the price of one in this nice picture.
Good sharpness, nice composition and colours.
You did a lot of PP-work here maybe a bit overdoing?
Well done.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-02-01 4:16]
  • [+]

Hello John,
Very nice to be able to take shot of a Barred Owl and Blue Jay at once! Though the quality of this shot suffers a little from the heavy cropping, both birds are seen sharply and with good detail. The composition with the small branches and blue Sky BG is great!
Thanks for sharing this one. You must be back in OZ now.

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-02-01 6:10]

Hi John,
I will be back in a moment.

Hello John,
Is this what they call "..two birds on one stone"..?
Very nice catch, the owl has probably been delayed on the way home, hehehe...
Well done and fine details!
Pablo -

hello John

this is a superb shot and you got 2 of the price of 1,
excellent details on all yoiur image, excellent POV
from down to up and vertical framing to get the 2 birds on the image,
your retouch is succesful on the workshop, TFS


Hi John,

A nice image of the owl and of the blue jay which are not annoyed by each other. The point of view is showing with precision the details and colors of the feathers of the barred owl. Have a nice day.


Hello John,
Two birds both in excellent sharpness and details. A double bonus against the clear blue sky.


Hi John,

This is an amazing shot, and not just that fact that you have captured two birds at once. The owl is really stunning and I love the colour of the bark on the tree. There is so much detail and texture running throughout the picture. Great shot.


  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-02-02 13:55]

Hello John

This is super!Last Winter I witnessed some ravens mobbing an owl,and could not manage one shot.
To get the blue jay is a real bonus.As Marie says two for the price of one.
This owl is a beauty ,with lovely plumage that shows well.
The shot has very good lighting.Your POV was very good.


  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-02-03 10:07]

Hello John, very nice capture my friend, two great birds in one shot! Well composed, very nice details and perfect exposure,well done, thanks!


Hello John! What a grouping! Lucky you! Great POV up through the branches. Well done! Linda

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-02-05 3:38]

Hi John

2 in 1...hoe cool is that!!!
I really like the pose in which you've managed to capture both of them here!
Owls in my opinion are superb subjects for photos, but here we also have a scale for its size - in that lovely blue jay behind :)
I remember seeing pretty much the same scenario in my garden once, too - with an owl and a dove...but after i came back with my camera...need i mention :)
Anyway, you did gret to capture this, compose it like this and shar it.


  • Great 
  • cam Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 85 W: 0 N: 78] (360)
  • [2008-02-07 6:56]

Hi John
Lucky you.When this hapen to me, they are usually gone by the time I get my camera.You must be sleeping with it..:-)
The owl has a good pose, looking down.
A slight softness but a picture I will be happy to make.
Have a good WE

Hello John,
Wow! This one is somewhat of a rare shot, you dont really see many owl shots with other species of birds in the picture. Very nice exposure with fantastic details. TFS :)

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