Barn Owl BlurBarn Owl Blur – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/400, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 257mm, natural light, not baited

Three days ago I spent 59 minutes photographing this Barn Owl at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area in poor light. I did come away with many images I like despite the bad lighting conditions but it took me a few days to review them all and I found this image where the Barn Owl’s face and feet are sharp but because of my slow shutter speed the wings were blurred along with the back and tail and there was even a bit of light in the owl’s eyes. I didn’t get this Barn Owl blur on purpose, it was the result of not enough light and a slow shutter speed.

Last week I did a post on the many nicknames used for Barn Owls and among them was “Ghost Owl” and for some reason when I first looked at this frame I thought the blurred wings did make it look “ghostly”.

Typically I prefer images with “sweet” light and enough shutter speed to freeze the action but every once in a while I will create an image like this that I think of as a “happy accident”.



  1. [email protected] December 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I also love the kinetic aspect of this photo. I’m so glad you posted on this topic. I just wrote about it myself … “proof of life” photography where conditions fail but experiences remain. I must add the disclaimer that even your bad-lighting shots are truly lovely, Mia.

  2. Wally December 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    It’s not a coincidence that such “happy accidents” happen most often to very gifted artists such as yourself!

    Very compelling image of the Ghost!

  3. Sonja Ross December 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    It is a lovely surprise when something like this happens, and thanks for sharing it.

  4. Julie Brown December 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Mia, I just got my copy of Birding and stared at the fold-out cover for a few minutes. When I looked at the photographer credit, I was so pleased to see your name. Congratulations on being on the November/December cover! Even more congrats for all of your images in the cover story!

  5. Elephant's Child December 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

    A ghost I would be more than happy to be haunted by.

  6. Patty Chadwick December 26, 2013 at 10:19 am

    An interesting shot…from the angle of his wings, it almost looks like he could fly backwards! I love the feather detail…

  7. Lois Bryan December 26, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I love it … I call those “happy accidents” … “when the camera sees what the photographer does not” … always love the surprises!!! Well done once again, Mia!!!

  8. Montanagirl December 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Sometimes those “happy accidents” are the best ones. Lovely photo, Mia.

  9. Julie Brown December 26, 2013 at 6:04 am

    This is a cool image, Mia. I like it.

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