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Snowy Owls--Digiscoping

Posted Saturday 3rd March 2012 at 14:49 by lmans66
Updated Saturday 3rd March 2012 at 17:05 by lmans66
I heard there were snowy owls spending the Winter in a wheat field about 70 miles from where I live so decided to take a look. I debated, scope or camera or both. Well, the first time I just took the camera and regretted not bringing the scope. There were five immature snowy owls lined up in a row like ducks..... but separated by a 100 meters or so.

Next guessed it. I took my scope and did some digiscoping. This time around the owls were not in the spot they were before and I was initially bummed out as they were 'gone'... That location would have been perfect as I could of scoped from the road and the owls were perhaps 50 meters away. So, I went a looking.... I found em. There were two of them sitting in the wheat fields, one had its back to me but the other was facing me. There were about 100 meters apart still so I focused on the nearest one facing me.

The day was cool and the wind was blowing pretty good, ...cloudy for most part with a bit of sun in between.

I set up my scope outside my car and shot the owl from about 100 meters again. Hmmm...too far I thought, even for a large bird as an owl. So I started creeping in by walking in the wheat field and soon I narrowed the distance to a solid 50 meters....definitely a doable shot given the size of the owl.

Shots were taken at exposure - 2 stops and kept my F stop at 4.5 which gave me good enough shutter speed times over a 1000. Not bad for a stationary owl. The wind was a bother though as even though I have a solid Benro tripod, I was worried that even a bit of wind would upset the shots. But I had little can't choose the perfect field now, eh?

All told I snapped off 150 shots...with sets of 4 shots on a 3 second timer delay. There are two shots below...the closest one being the one I digiscoped while the further away shot is the one I took with my Canon 400L ...I like the digiscoped one. Both are cropped.

What did I learn from this little adventure...first, that it I have a steady tripod, a windy day doesn't hurt my digiscoping too much. Also, I continued to strive for my shots by not upping the ISO...The ISO remained 100 or 200 as I will not venture into that territory where shots come out looking soft. I can always compensate for lack of ISO but can never compensate for softness.

Thoughts? jim
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Name:	Snowy Owl Digiscoped resized march 1 Nine Mile Canyon road.jpg
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Name:	Snowy Owl resized Feb 2012 9 Mile near Finley.jpg
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Total Comments 2


SeattleDan's Avatar
I like that you included the environment some. I'm having a tendency to crop too much, so I end up with a lot of oddly shaped .jpg files.

I'm glad you found them, though it sounds like you worked for them. I live in Washington, and I'm reading what I can on Owl photo techniques and behavior today. I have it in my mind to try this locally, but I'm just still trying to "gear up," so to speak.

Thanks for posting this, especially information on the details of the photo. One of the cool features of my digital camera (new toy to me), is that, if I shoot in auto, and if the photo comes out well, I can glean the file for instructive information.

I just put it on the computer, right click and select "properties," look on the "details" tab, and I have the film speed, aperture size and shutter speed, etc. That, and remembering the light conditions at the time of the shot, is like having a teacher with me.

Some folks, somehow eliminate those details when posting them up here. Your photos still have them. This way, I can also learn from experienced folks here, even without their knowing.

We have a "Nine Mile Lake" around here somewhere. That can't be the same place, eh?
Posted Thursday 22nd March 2012 at 20:52 by SeattleDan SeattleDan is offline
SeattleDan's Avatar
I just noticed your bio, Environmental Professor? Oy! I'll just listen, thanks.

Posted Thursday 22nd March 2012 at 20:54 by SeattleDan SeattleDan is offline
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