Inscrutable Great Horned Owl

Owls are known for their inscrutable look – their mysterious and enigmatic demeanor.  This Great Horned Owl and I spent quite a while trying to figure each other out.

 

great horned owl 6199 ron dudley

 1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS USM, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed this bird in June of 2010 on our family farm in Montana. Those early summer mornings are cold and the owls like to huddle in these east facing protected nooks of some of the 80-year-old granaries where they can escape the often cold wind and enjoy the heat absorbed and radiated by the dark wood.  I believe this is the smaller male of the mated pair that has been resident on the farm for years.

I photographed this bird using a tripod which is somewhat unusual for me (usually I’m shooting from my pickup) so there we were, the two of us staring at each other and trying to figure each other out.  He had no fear of me and he was as curious about me as I was about him.  I remember watching him through my lens, wondering what he was thinking and I did so for quite a while.

 

 

great horned owl 6206 ron dudley

 1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS USM, not baited, set up or called in

 But this owl was sleepy and yawned more than once.  At first I thought he might be about to cast a pellet but this turned out…

 

 

great horned owl 6213 ron dudley

 1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS USM, not baited, set up or called in

to be a yawn…

 

 

great horned owl 6215 ron dudley

 1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS USM, not baited, set up or called in

and he really got into it.

 

 

great horned owl 6223 ron dudley

 1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7D, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS USM, not baited, set up or called in

After that he gave me that inscrutable look again for a minute or two and then promptly went to sleep.  So I put my tripod and camera gear over my shoulder and went back into the farmhouse to warm up with a hot cup of coffee.

I’m not sure the owl even noticed…

Ron

 

 

 

 

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Magpie In Flight And The Varying (and unpredictable) Effects Of Fog

I’ve become quite interested in the effects of fog on some of my avian subjects.  Often I don’t like those effects but occasionally I find them visually interesting.

 

black-billed magpie 4801 ron dudley

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed this Black-billed Magpie eight days ago on Antelope Island.  The fog was constantly changing from thick to thin and back again but at this moment it was quite dense.  I’ve rarely (if ever) even attempted to photograph a bird in flight through this much fog but when the bird took off instinct took over and I fired off a burst, fully expecting to trash the shots but I actually think this one’s kind of interesting.  Even though the detail is muted by the fog, it’s still there in all of the blacks except for parts of the head and neck.  In fact, I seldom get detail in this many of the blacks of a magpie, even in good light.  I suspect that without the effects of the fog I might have had some pretty spectacular iridescence in this shot.

I was also pleasantly surprised that the bird was sharp under these conditions.  The sun burning through the fog behind me provided an extra-large and bright catch light in the eye.

 

 

black-billed magpie 4707b ron dudley

 1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 800, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF500mm f/4L IS II USM +1.4 tc, not baited, set up or called in

Less than five minutes earlier the fog had been much less dense (though some was present, enough to have an effect on the image) and the results were quite different.  There’s much more color and even detail in the background and less detail in the blacks of the bird (though what detail is there has not been muted much by fog).  I think it’s interesting that the backgrounds of these two shots would have been very similar without the presence of thick fog in the first image.

I realize that foggy images won’t appeal to everyone.  But as a photographer I like to explore this kind of thing and my blog is my outlet…

Ron

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