ARCHIVE 566 – LONG-EARED OWL

 

 


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Long-eared Owl, at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

As often happens with living things, I’m close in to the individual both by means of a telephoto and via cropping of the resulting image. 

The eye – to me the really vital, vibrant and living focus of the shot – is in focus, while all of the surrounding patterns and textures are blurring into an “impression of the beast”.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window – certainly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 250mm; 3200 ISO; Dfine 2; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ANNIVERSARY – FATMAN PHOTOS IS NINE

 

 

1: Spectacled Owl; 2014.

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FATman Photos has been infesting cyberspace for 9 years.  Getting to 10 would be nice but, in these uncertain times, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.  As always, I want to thank everyone who follows my blog or more casually looks at it.  Your Likes give me encouragement and motivation – its always good to be appreciated –  and likewise its always a pleasure to respond to your Comments.  I try to be inventive with my pictures and to include various genres, and in this anniversary post I’ve set myself the challenge of showing faces  – mostly with eyeball contact – from the animal (as opposed to the plant) world.  I hope it all hangs together, and that you enjoy these shots.  Thank you all, again.  Adrian

Click onto any image to see it enlarged in a separate window.

 

2: Mannequin, Penzance, Cornwall; 2011.

 

3: Newquay Aquarium, Cornwall; 2011.

 

4: The Somerset Levels; 2019.

 

5: How did Paul Simon put it? … I met an old lover on the street today

Nairobi, Kenya, 1979 – where have all the years gone?

 

6: Nightmare, dead in a bunch of bananas, Nairobi, Kenya; probably late 1970s.

 

7: Cape Teal regarding me with extreme suspicion as I crawl towards it, inching forward

with a long telephoto;  Slimbridge, Gloucestershire; 2010.

 

8:  Farm cat, on the Somerset Levels; 2019.

 

9: Cow, and flies, on the Somerset Levels, 2010; the animal’s flank forms the backdrop.

 

10: Fish market, Sohar, on the Batinah coast of Oman; mid 1970s.

 

11: Great Grey Owl; 2014.

 

12: One of a flock beside the road in West Littleton, South Gloucestershire; 2016.

 

13: Black-headed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 2011.

 

14: Young photographer, aged three in fact, 2012 >>> but growing up very fast now!

 

15: Red Ruby Devon, on the Somerset Levels; 2012.

 

16: I find that talking very quietly to cats engages their attention – they open their eyes and look at you.

And so it was here. Bristol, 2017.

 

17: Turnstone, a type of wader or shorebird, in breeding plumage, St Ives, Cornwall; 2013.

 

18: No-Time Toulouse … looking guilty about something …

or perhaps aghast at reports of a Belgian beer shortage …

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ARCHIVE 410 – BARN OWL, ASLEEP (MONO)

 

 


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Barn Owl, asleep, at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.
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TALKING IMAGES 37 – I’M SLOWING DOWN, FOR AWHILE

 

 

Mannequin, seared by sunlight in a Cornish shop window

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The simple fact is, I very much enjoy blogging as a means of self-expression.  There’s the creation of the images, all of the attendant writing too (I love writing!) – and last but certainly not least the communication with like minds around the world – I enjoy talking with you all very much!  Also, there is not the slightest doubt that these years of blogging have been inspirational for me, certainly (to my eyes at least) improving my photography.
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A dear, warm creature, a being whom it is simply a pleasure to be with

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However, I have two large projects in hand, and I need to spend less time blogging for a month or two, to complete them.  One of these projects is the creation of my (more or less) annual Blurb photobook which, amongst other things, contains my favourite photos from the preceding 12 months along with their captions and text.  I have around 20 of these books now, some the annual volumes and some other, specific projects, and I find them a very convenient way of producing hard copies of my favourite work; they are very good to look back through.
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Someone special, from long ago and far away

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So, whereas I’ve been producing around six posts a week, this will decrease for awhile – assuming that is that I can restrain my creative enthusiasm!  And for today, here are some favourite images – faces from the archives – two people, someone quite artificial, and two beautiful animals.  Clicking onto these images will enlarge them, click onto them again to further enlarge them.
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Great Grey Owl – we looked at each other

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Selfie, with trademark cap and hulking Nikon DSLR

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ARCHIVE 260 – CAPE EAGLE OWL

 

 

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Cape Eagle Owl, Teleki Valley, Mt Kenya; August 1978.

Trekking up to the summit of Mt Kenya, we were spending the night in a hut in Teleki Valley.  We were at an altitude somewhere around 14,000 feet and, even here on the equator, nights this high up are very cold.  I was out for a last look around before darkness fell, when suddenly this wonderful creature was staring impassively out at me from the valley wall.

A telephoto would obviously have been the thing, but the light was failing fast and I was using slow colour transparency film – so my sole option was to go at it with my 50mm f1.4 lens.  I crawled towards it very slowly, firng as I went in case it should disappear, and here is the (enlarged) result.

This is a fairly radical enlargement of a colour slide over 30 years old and the grain is starting to take over.  But the bird’s left eye shows ok and the deterioration in picture quality is starting to push this image towards something more impressionistic and painterly – or is that just wishful thinking???

OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 245 – GREAT GREY OWL (MONO)

 

 

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Great Grey Owl at the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), near Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

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.

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ARCHIVE 242 – URAL OWL: THE ONE TO WATCH

 

 

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Ural Owl at the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP), Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

A blank expression, if owls have expressions, but certainly alert.  And a medium-sized owl, a little larger than our Tawny, motionless and regarding me passively from a high perch in a shaded cage at the end of a long line of cages.

And yet this is the one to watch, the one with a reputation for ferocious attacks upon those intruding into its nesting area.  Google “ural owl attack” and you will see footage of attacks on humans, and mention of some being blinded in Finland.  And the Collins Bird Guide describes it as very aggressive, telling birders to “keep your eyes fixed on the parents if you stumble on an inhabited nest, and leave area quickly!”.  Not at all what one would expect from the silent and still occupant of that final cage.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 3,200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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BIRDS 76 – GREAT GREY OWL 3 (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 

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Great Grey Owl at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

During the years 1967-2002 I was a totally committed and enthusiastic birdwatcher.  This interest shaped my life not a little – for example it sent me to live in Kenya, to see African birds – and, before that, it had taken me behind the Iron Curtain.

I have never seen the Great Grey Owl on the wild, but have always been spellbound by that majestic face – and the prospect of photographing it was my main reason for going to ICBP.  Some of the birds there were tethered in the open but many were in cages, and I had to accept this arrangement – it is after all a fact and necessity of life in a situation like this.

Having spent a lot of time looking at natural things in the wild, zoos and TV nature programmes just don’t do it for me any more – I would far rather see some less exotic natural thing “for real”, than witness something far rarer and more dramatic either in a pen or on a screen.  And as long ago as the 1980s I can remember showing my safari clients incredible natural things – only to hear that they’d already seen them on TV – some people really do have very little imagination!

But still, that rant and those points having been got off my chest, it was an experience to be with this sadly caged and solitary individual.  The place was quiet and there was no one else around, the few people there being elsewhere watching a flying display.  So that I was able to spend a long time with this bird, keeping quiet and making no sudden movements.  I looked at him, he looked at me and, losing interest after awhile, he started looking elsewhere.  And after another while, and very gently, I raised the 70-300’s great and shaded glass eye, and started carefully releasing the shutter.

And when it was time to leave, leaving was not something done lightly.

There are other photos of this bird here and here.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 6400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset and selectively restoring colour.
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BIRDS 69 – LONG-EARED OWL

 

 

Long-eared Owl
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Long-eared Owl, at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

As often happens with living things, I’m close in to the individual both by means of a telephoto and via cropping of the resulting image. 

The eye – to me the really vital, vibrant and living focus of the shot – is in focus, while all of the surrounding patterns and textures are blurring into an “impression of the beast”.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 250mm; 3200 ISO; Dfine 2; Color Efex Pro 4.
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BIRDS 67 – BARN OWL, ASLEEP (MONO)

 

 

Barn Owl, asleep
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Barn Owl, asleep, at the International Centre for Birds of Prey, Newent, Gloucestershire; 2 July 2014.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.
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