Darkroom Challenge Digital Darkroom Derby #122 (closed, results posted)

Whidbey Island
This is Digital Darkroom Derby #122, a digital image editing/processing challenge.

Please read the rules here. Short version: Host provides the challenge image and selects the winner, who then becomes the next host.

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Preening Pelican

The RAW and JPG files are here.

Edit: Extended an extra day!
The challenge will close at 12:00 (noon) Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, May 30th. Enjoy!
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This is not an entry. - Just playing around with the challenge.

Looking at 1600 ISO, there was always going to be a bit of noise in the slightly darker background. So I first ran the ORF file through DxO PureRAW 3 for de-noising and lens correction purposes, before importing the resulting DNG file into Capture One Pro 23 for cropping, highlight recovery, shadow recovery, contrast and some saturation.

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Entry #1. Used the new Lightroom AI de-noise tool to clean her up. Then I updated Photoshop to get the brand spanking new remove tool and used that to remove the distracting lines and wires. Back to LR for a bit of basic exposure tweaking, a gentle preset and a vignette.... then back to PS for the frame.

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Thanks to all who contributed! All the entries were good. And, again, I appreciated the variety in the submissions!

This scene was lit by a big, blue afternoon sky. The sun was behind a tall hill/bluff. The location was the Harford Pier at Port San Luis in California. You can just make out the pier in the shadows of this sunset panorama:

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The subject is a brown pelican. They typically range from brown to gray in color with substantial variety between individuals, maturity, and breeding status/seasons. But they are not typically the steely blue-gray implied by my source image. So I gave extra consideration to white balance and color corrections, but it wasn't a huge factor.

Winner: @betamax . I liked both the color and B&W entries. The tight crop and processing of the details were great, and the warmth of the color image was pleasing (and slightly overdone, in a good way).

2nd: @RobD . Again, I liked both entries. The first was close to actual color in the shade, and the second entry was, again, pleasantly warm. I like the off-center crop and thought the processing was very good.

3rd: (tie) @BosseBe & @kae1 , B&W entries. I liked both of these monochrome versions.

Honorable mentions to @copescamera (very creative!), @Stiga , and @Herbert Hound.

Thanks to @griffljg for an postcard from the road, and to @Peano (the replacement background was interesting, but the lighting didn't quite match).

My processing of this image wasn't as nice as some of yours, but is probably close to the colors as I perceived them under that big, blue light.

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