Great Horned Owl Chick – Angles and Backgrounds

/, Glacier County, Great Horned Owls, Montana/Great Horned Owl Chick – Angles and Backgrounds

Great Horned Owl juvenileGreat Horned Owl fledgling with sky in the backgroundD200, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 250, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 300mm, natural light, not baited

While visiting my friend Ron’s family farm in northern Montana we had the opportunity to photograph this young Great Horned Owl very early in the morning, in fact when we first spotted it the sun had not yet risen. Normally I prefer to have natural not man-made perches, though I do make exceptions. This owl is perched on an old ladder to what used to be a child’s fort. I remember thinking that morning how much I liked how the bird was framed by the warm tones of the wood and the rustic feel to it.

The photographs I have attached to this post are of the same Great Horned Owl fledgling, taken in the same location on the same morning. The backgrounds seem very different and that is because of the angle I used when I created the each of the photos.

I photographed both these owl images handheld. For the image above I propped the lens on my knee while sitting on the ground pointing my lens slightly upward. The golden color you see at the bottom of the frame are out of focus grasses and above them the blue is the sky.

Great Horned Owl juvenileGreat Horned Owl fledgling with sky in the backgroundD200, handheld, f6.3, 1/530, ISO 250, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 320mm, natural light, not baited

I stood up and pointed my lens slightly down towards the owl when I created the image above. The sky didn’t show in this image just the out of focus grasses of the background.

When I am photographing I try to be aware of how a slight change of angle can make a huge difference in the final image. I’ll often move up or down to see what impact that has on the bird and background.

I can honestly say that I like both backgrounds with this owl and don’t prefer one over the other. By changing the angle I used to produce these images though I have given each of the photos a different look and feel.  Just by moving a little I can change the angles and backgrounds and give the subject a different look.



  1. Lois Bryan June 23, 2014 at 7:24 am

    This is such a great job of framing, Mia … I love birdie … so fun to see his head swiveled all the way around … very cool!!!!!!!

  2. denise ippolito September 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Mia, Sweet young owl. I like both BG’s also. My favorite part is that it wasn’t baited.

  3. Ron Dudley September 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Interesting and effective illustration of the difference to an image varying backgrounds can make Mia. You know, you wouldn’t have been able to do this if this had been taken in Utah – you’ve always claimed that you grow taller when you’re in Montana. 🙂

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