Great Horned Owl
Made my summer trek back home to Indiana a couple of weeks ago with limited expectations from a wildlife photography perspective. We usually go in June when the Osprey’s are nesting and there is an abundance of Sandhill cranes in the area. Therefore, I left my 500mm lens at home and traveled light with my 100-400 II lens.
To my surprise, the Osprey’s were still around along with some Sandhill cranes. Best of all, found this Great Horned Owl along a dirt back road.
Just after sunrise, I was driving along my usual route when a bird caught my eye with just a glimpse of something flying just under the tree canopy as it spread over the road going up a hill. I crested the hill and saw the bird gliding very low about one foot above the road. Thought to myself that it wasn’t a hawk but had to be an owl. He flew up into a tree near the road. When my car got closer, he flew away and continued down the road. As he approached an intersection with a paved road, I thought that he was going to get hit by a car if he continued his path but he took a quick right turn before getting to the stop sign.
Drove very slow while scanning the area when I spotted him lying in the grass along the road on my right side. Had to go past him and turn the car around to get into position for some photos. The first photo shows what he looked like after I turned around. Slowly inched the car forward to try to get to a better position with the grass out of his face. Made it to that position but there was some trash just on the left side of his head. Had to move again to get the trash behind his head.
Had to remove my teleconverter and use ISO to 10,000 to get my shutter speed above 100. Luckily he stuck around for 10 minutes which allowed me enough time to remove the teleconverter and get several photos. On my computer, I can see the reflection of my car in his beautiful eyes.
Aperture priority, 1/80 sec @ F8, ISO 12,800, evaluative metering, 560mm
Aperture priority, 1/125 sec @ F5.6, ISO 10,000, evaluative metering, 400mm
This Great Horned Owl chick was intently tracking something and trying to scream but to no avail. Nary a peek could be heard. Silence can be golden or deadly, if you are trying to call momma back to the nest.
Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head, 580 EX II flash with better beamer
1/160 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, fill flash at -3 stops
Great Horned Owl Chick
With being in a major rut lately due to no photography, decided around 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning (jet lag + normal brain damage) to head out to Brazos Bend State Park. My normal modus operandi would have kept me home with cloudy weather and the chance for rain but I really needed to get out and shoot for my own sanity. Encountered some light rain on the hour drive to the park but blew it off as scattered early morning fog/dew/wet stuff, anything but rain. Of course I believed the weather channel’s radar, at 3:00 a.m. Needless to say, turned out not to be a bright sunny day.
Got there about 1/2 hr before sunrise, which was a little too early on a cloudy day. Made my way around 40 acre lake when it started to sprinkle. Took off my jacket, covered the camera and kept on hiking. Not much activity except some Coots and distant Great Egrets. Headed back up the trail to find the owl nest after installing the 1.4x teleconverter. Found a few decent photo op’s along the way including a Northern Shoveler and a Great Blue Heron building a nest in a tree.
Got a little more rain as I neared the parking lot and decided to put my camera in the trunk to keep it dry. Walked down the trail to find the owl’s nest. Had to stop under a large tree to keep out of the rain when it started to come down with more intensity. Finally spotted the nest and started to walk back to get my camera when I turned around and saw the chick staring at me. Began to wonder if momma was in the nest or ready to attack from another tree. Got my gear and confirmed that the parent wasn’t in the nest, which provided some cool photo op’s of the chick. He was very attentive and would watch everyone that came walking by, including a few nearby squirrels.
Sandy showed up and we had a good talk while waiting for the mother to come back. Saw a glimpse of her flying back into the tree but she didn’t return to the nest. She ended up falling asleep in the tree so I headed home. A potentially crappy day turned out to be a good one. A very cool experience was had by all, well at least me. Thanks again Doug for the tips about the owl.
Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II head
1/160 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, fill flash with better beamer at – 3 stops
1/320 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, fill flash with better beamer at – 3 stops