Jan 012013

What a find for me!

Capturing “that one” photograph is a great adventure.  With 33+ plus years carry around a camera I still feel like a little kid every-time I go out to shoot.  Like christmas everyday.  At times it’s less about the subject.  Maybe perfect lighting that is rare or unique to enhance the subject.  A new subject, scene or unique person is always a bonus.  I dream of shooting the wild in Africa and Alaska.  Always trying to get a shot of a very unique individual.  Looking for extremes I guess.  I have mentioned many times the allusive owl is my nemesis.    As of late I have been very blessed to follow for a couple of days a small short eared owl.  He was hunting with the sun still up.  Most owls are nocturnal.  Very difficult to find and photograph.  Especially for a full time working amateur like me.


As I was traveling the dikes in farmington waiting and photographing the short eared owl something caught my eye in the deep deep rush. I saw some motion.  My new eyes hard at work……

The colors were off for a Harrier Hawk.  Too small for a coyote or small mammal.  I watched for some time and had a few guesses.  Very slowly I moved until I could get a better view.

HOLY COW!!! A Barn Owl!


I honestly had a rush of adrenaline similar to when I was charged by a grizzly in Yellowstone.  My heart was racing, palms sweating and ……well I’ll keep the rest to myself.  I have never seen a barn owl outside of a cage in a zoo or sanctuary.  I don’t think they are endangered.  Just really private.  Immediately I knew my chances of getting this beautiful critter in flight was waning.  It was very late in the day.  He looked to be in REM sleep.  Waiting for darkness to hunt.  All I could do was wait and pray.

Then off he went!  What I did next proves my almost un-conscience excitement about finding this bird.  I jump from my car, 600mm lens in hand and starting shooting. YEP handheld, after sunset, low light and a flying bird.  All I can say is I went a little crazy.  Cranked up the ISO to 3200.  Opened all the way to f4.

He started to hunt.  flying back and forth in front of me.



While hunting he would make sudden turns if he saw movement or a potential snack.

Then he would hover for a second or two ready to dive.


Did I care that I had just recently posted about how I ALWAYS shoot from a tripod?  NOPE.  Had I forgotten about my diatribes of people getting out of their cars and scaring of wildlife?   YES.  Was I lucky to even get a photograph close to sharp?  Absolutely!


If this beauty was letting me capture his talents I was breaking all the rules!!!  Sure it was flat light.  The sun had been down for a bit.  Are the photographs at a quality to produce huge prints?  Not shot at 3200 ISO.  They are special to me though.  Memories captured as I stood in crocks and a tee shirt in 20 degree temps, a foot of snow and  hand holding a monster lens.  With a crap eating grin on my face.


Eventually he realized my feet were freezing and my skin was getting a layer of frost on it.  I didn’t care.  He landed and gave me a rest.  He looked down at the sign as if he was saying that it was rest time.  Put the camera away go home and let me hunt.


Driving home I realized my incredulous actions. I thought there would be no way the shots would be good enough to keep.  To my surprise and delight they turned out OK.  I love them.  As much for the experience as the memory.   Will I ever run across a barn owl again?  I don’t know.  I do have the pixels to prove my experience and remind me of the great time I had!!!!!!!

Now I am looking for my next lucky capture!

 Posted by at 2:58 PM