Over the summer, the Barred Owls that live around the lake where I live have been very active. There are two mated pairs and at least one offspring that I have seen and photographed (previous blog article). Every evening, when I am outdoors or have my windows open, I can hear them hooting back and forth at dusk. They are very loud, and for me, it is thrilling to hear their enthusiastic calls.
Recently, at dusk and early evening, the owls have been venturing further than usual from the heavily wooded areas across the lake and closer to my home. I was able to photograph one of the owls over the weekend and was excited to get the shot and posted it to Facebook. It was totally dark and very challenging to get that image due to its distance, branches that covered parts of the owl at times, and getting the settings just right on my camera and flash. Nevertheless, I was pleased to see the owl and get the less than perfect shot.
However, this evening was different. The owls were back, but this time one was closer than before and perched on an unobstructed tree branch. I also had a bit more time to get the camera and flash properly adjusted to get a few perfect shots before it silently flew away. One of those images is above. (Click on the image to see it in more detail.)
For me and most nature photographers, the “perfect shot” is one that is sharp, properly exposed with no noise, and well composed, and getting such an image in total darkness is very challenging. The image was taken with a Nikon D800, 70-200mm lens with a TC20 teleconverter at 310mm, at f/5.6 and ISO 400, and using a Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a Better Beamer. This image will be hanging on one of my walls very soon.