Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

September 15, 2009

Hide in Plain Sight

Filed under: behavior, Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 4:54 pm
Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

I’ve written before about working with a cooperative subject as much as possible, so it should be no surprise that I’ve posted a photo of this Great Horned Owl here before. I don’t know any birder or bird photographer who will pass up a look at any owl and I look for this bird now on every visit to the Gilbert Water Ranch. It wasn’t all that long ago that it was discovered, its the first one any of us have seen at the Water Ranch, and there’s no guarantee of how long it will stick around in this particular spot.

Although this owl has picked a spot near a trail at the Water Ranch, it isn’t an easy bird to photograph. There are only two viewpoints – the tree is separated from the trail by a channel of nasty brown water and lots of dense thorny shrubs. IF you can see the owl from one of these access points you probably can’t see it from the other, so there’s a good chance the light will be coming from behind the bird. And since the viewpoints are small there’s little flexibility in finding a clean sight line.

I would pass this shot by if it was a cormorant or night heron, both of which use this same tree. I’ve got plenty of clean images of both of those species so I wouldn’t have much use for such an image.

But this is an owl, so I’ll work harder at trying to get a useable shot. And with an owl I can incorporate the way it blends in with the setting as part of the image and natural history. Its an effective illustration of how well they can hide because their color and feather texture is so cryptic and such a good match for the tree.

September 6, 2009, Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 500, 1/80th second at f/8.

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