A foggy morning at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge brought me 13 minutes of joy after spotting a shape on the gravel road, it was a female Short-eared Owl and she flew up and landed on a post not too far from the road.
The fog was swirling around her, at times she would be clear of the mist and the post would be shrouded by the fog, other times she would be partially obscured and the post would be in the clear. The female owl was at the very edge of the miasma with the rising sun starting to burn it off .
Photographers dream about the “sweet” light usually found early in the morning or late afternoon. I know I appreciate that light too but I also love testing my skills by photographing birds in difficult lighting situations while attempting to create compelling images. Photographing birds in a fog is one of those situations.
The heavy fog aided in creating a monochromatic background for these image, the grasses and sagebrush were smoothed out by the fog and the bokeh of my lens. The Short-eared Owl female was quite comfortable with my presence and posed on the fence post in various ways with many different head positions.
At the time I was photographing this owl I remember that I kept hoping that the fog would burn off and leave her in the sweet light of the early morning sun which would have allowed me to lower my ISO and show more of the fine details of the owl’s plumage. I was; however, extremely glad to have the chance to photograph her in the fog and to create images under the challenging circumstances.
All I had was 13 minutes with this beautiful Short-eared Owl female but those thirteen minutes brought me tremendous joy. Before the sun had burned off the misty fog the Short-eared Owl flew away into the mists and became for me a creature as ephemeral as the lake fog itself.