Portrait of a fledgling Great Horned Owl – Nikon D200, tripod mounted, f9, 1/15, ISO 320, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
When I can be close enough to see into the eyes of a fledgling Great Horned Owl and take a portrait of it I feel honored and enchanted. In June of 2010 I had the opportunity to photograph Great Horned Owls and their young up in Glacier County, Montana on a farm. There are several old buildings where the wood has been aged by the sun, weather and wind that I find very appealing when the owls appear with it. Sometimes they will perch on external parts of the buildings and sometimes they will sit at openings in the buildings. I have also found them in the trees, old farm equipment and once on and child’s fort that was well weathered too.
One morning I could see around the corner of one building that a fledgling Great Horned Owl was sitting at one of those openings so I very slowly moved my tripod just beyond the corner where I knew I could turn the tripod head enough to photograph the fledgling. I remember feeling like I was moving in slow motion to get set up. The light wasn’t the best and I knew at ISO 320 my shutter speed was going to be very low but I wanted as much detail as I could get, I didn’t even notice how slow my shutter speed was until later when I viewed the files in my lap top. It really pays to have a sturdy tripod and good tripod head when photographing at 1/15 of a second. I could not have taken an image as sharp as this this handheld.
These owls are on a private family farm and they are used to people being around the buildings but even so I didn’t hang around this fledgling long because I don’t want to stress it or the adults I knew must be watching nearby.
Looking into this young owl’s eyes was mesmerizing and still is when I look at this image. I also like how I can see the corner of the building in the owl’s eyes along with a slice of Montana sky.
Life is good.