This weekend I spent some time at World Bird Sanctuary because they were hosting a Camera Day. That is where they have some of their birds out of their cages so that you can get some nice photos in a more natural setting. Here is a shot I got of a Great Horned Owl:
The good news is that I had a great time. The bad news is that I forgot my tripod. While it doesn’t matter too much for this particular photo, I will tell you that I have a lot of photos that will be heading for the electronic trash bin.
As you can see, it was a pretty bright day. I set my ISO pretty low but because of the dark wood colors I did not set it at 100, but 320 looked like it would work. When I am shooting in this situation I almost always try to shoot bracketed exposures. There are two reasons for this. The first is that with light changing frequently in a wooded area, a bracketed exposure gives you more options per click of the shutter. The exposure that would have worked a minute ago may now have changed. Bracketing offers you some flexibility with the changing conditions. The second is I am almost always thinking of trying to make an HDR image out of a photo like this. What you see above is HDR. I really like bird images in HDR because in my opinion it really brings out the detail in their feathers. I chose a low f-stop because I did want to blur out the background a bit. I would like you to notice how well this bird blends in with its background, but I don’t want the background to compete too much with the bird. Given that this owl is made to blend in with it’s environment, the balance between the subject and background can be a tough one. Since the Great Horned Owl is often not seen but instead heard, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a bit eerie to suddenly hear it hooting. I wouldn’t blame you for jumping a bit.
Eerie is the theme of the weekly photo challenge at WordPress and other entries can be found here. Have you ever been startled by one of these birds? it’s happened to me more than once while out camping, in the dead of night of course! Do you like this HDR version? This is not my first time photographing the Great Horned Owl, here is another shot from last fall. Your comments are welcome below.