Great Gray Owl - subtle recovery of detail, but still with great denoising!

The back story of how I took this dark and grainy Great Gray Owl photo
At the beginning of 2022 I was out looking for the incredibly elusive Great Gray Owls that live in our province. Unfortunately winter being what it is, sometimes leaves the days dreary and dark which is obviously the exact opposite of what we usually want when photographing wildlife. Wouldn’t you know it, when light was scarce and there was snow starting to come down we finally spotted one.

The challenge is in the feathers and tiny details found on the Owl and in the environment
The big challenge with owls is that their feathers are quite different than regular birds feathers in terms of how they bend the light and show off their details. More often than not they just get overly smoothed out of existence. I’ve got to say that I was pretty darn happy at the recovery job Topaz Photo AI pulled off without destroying all the subtle details in this VERY noisy photo.

Don’t shoot the photographer, this is how I like it :smiley:
Everyone like to do wildlife photo processing differently. I try to stick very much to the scene as much as humanly possible even when it’s drab and dreary as that’s where and how the animal was when observed. So I know some may suggest big changes in lighting and saturation…etc, but be that as it may, take a look for yourself and judge individually how you think it handled the subtle details:

Side-by-side in Topaz Photo AI 1.2.1 - showing final settings


After Topaz Photo AI:

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