ARCHIVE 245 – GREAT GREY OWL (MONO)
September 11, 2016 12 Comments
This large owl is not found in Britain, more’s the pity; its a denizen of eastern Scandinavia and lands further east. And its one of two species that Collins Bird Guide specifically warns against approaching during the nesting season – when it can unleash ferocious attacks. The other species is the Ural Owl, which I hope to illustrate here in due course.
Where I can, I like to get in close when I’m photographing living things, to show their fine detail and, in some cases, characters. I like them to fill the frame, or at least to be the obviously dominant feature. I’d rather do this than merely take shots that show them in their entireties – after all, countless thousands of such portraits, and record shots too, already exist.
With that in mind, I went up to ICBP yesterday to get up close and personal with birds of prey. I was an enthusiastic birder for decades – 1967 to 2002, I suppose – and so going to see these magnificent creatures was a special pleasure. Knowing there’d be many failures, I fired off over 300 frames. How many usable shots emerge from this (non-motor driven) barrage remains to be seen ….
My mother became very interested in owls at one stage late in her life, and I took her to ICBP many years ago – from which time I thought I’d remembered that all of the birds could be freely seen on perches in the open. But the reality is that while some diurnal raptors are observable in this way, all of the owls, and many of the eagles, vultures, etc were in cages consisting either of bars or, worse, wire mesh.
But there was no option but to go for it – up close and personal, with no hint of either cages or wire mesh – or the jesses, the thin leather straps by which free-flying birds are tethered to perches or human wrists.
This bird’s eyes and beak are yellow and this colour could have been restored – but to me this would have overdone and cheapened the image.
Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.
D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 5,000 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset.