Short-eared Owls photographed in fog and evening light

Female Short-eared Owl photographed in a lake fogFemale Short-eared Owl photographed in a lake fog – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 300mm, natural light, not baited or set up

In photography the available light and weather conditions can make remarkable differences in the settings that are used for the shot and in the results of the final image.

This female Short-eared Owl was photographed at 8:24 am in a lake fog from the Lower Lake at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Montana. I had taken the first series of images at a higher ISO and then bumped it down to ISO 400. I knew my shutter speed was going to be slow but my lens was rock steady on my Noodle and the bird was perched and not very active. This image is low in contrast and while the Short-eared Owl is sharp and in focus there is a softness to the overall feeling when viewing this photo partially because of the softening effect the fog had on the vegetation in the background.

Male Short-eared Owl photographed in evening lightMale Short-eared Owl photographed in evening light – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/320, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light, not baited or set up

This male Short-eared Owl was photographed in warm evening light at 8:20 pm in Glacier County in northwestern Montana and it has much more contrast than the image of the female owl because of the available light and there are also more fine details evident in the plumage. The setting sun added a bit of a golden glow to this image too. Again my shutter speed was slow but my lens was steady and the bird wasn’t very active so I selected ISO 400.

Both images are appealing to me because I enjoy the foggy softness of the female Short-eared Owl image and the warm, golden tones of the male Short-eared Owl photo. I have learned to work with the light and not against it and quite often I am very happy with the results.



  1. Patty Chadwick January 20, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Love both images, but first one ifs PERFECT!!!

  2. Nate McGowan January 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Amazing. This is a dream crush of mine. Well done.

  3. Elephant's Child January 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    My heart always leaps with excitement when I see a post featuring owls. Love them both – and am so grateful for your work, your talent, your skill and your perserverance.

  4. Wally January 20, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Mia, these are not only great photographs, but a terrific demonstration of how important it is to understand prevailing light conditions, how they will affect the final product and how to technically respond to those conditions. Many less-gifted photographers (I’m looking in the mirror) might have come home with only one useable image or several “so-so” photos.

    The softer look of the photograph of the female has the impact of a fine oil painting.

  5. Julie G. January 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Exquisite photographs!

  6. Lois Bryan January 20, 2014 at 7:32 am

    They do have such wisdom in their sweet faces!!!!

  7. Montanagirl January 20, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Stunning images!

  8. Stu January 20, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Wonderful Photograph

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