Even with all my work to control things, I feel like the characters aren’t popping off the background. So I apply a Zoom Blur (found under Radial Blur in the Filters menu) to parts of the background. This makes all the background edges softer, but preserves a lot of the energy of the explosion.
Warms and cools
I wish my last step had some sparkle or flourish, but it’s still about managing high-detail areas. The debris is competing with the warm colours of the bird, so I add purple to the smoke and blue-green to the grass, to help that area recede. I use a flatcoloured Luminosity layer to see colour temperatures more clearly. It’s the polish the piece needs.