Barn Owl in Twilight

Posted by Mako_Elite on Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:40 pm

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Yesterday was one of the days I will never forget.
 Me and my friend were shooting Short-eared owls at nearby field.
Last few days Barn owl was roosting in nearby trees. We found it buried deep into the branches. 
My friend never saw Barn owl so we decided to wait until darkness to see if would come out. It was getting really dark so I walked to my car which was nearby and I dropped my 500mm f/4 P with D2Hs attached to it and I picked from the car trunk D4 with 200-500mm f/5.6 since D4 can handle better low light. I din't expect to owl to come of the roost (it was there all day long) so I didn't swap lenses.

Finally owl flew out right behind us and landed on low level branches. By now light was gone. We moved around to get   better angle, we did get few shots and without warning owl took of after something on the ground by the edge of the field. It was there few minutes and then landed on the perch I rigged in the field few years back. At this point we are in darkness, full twilight. We are taking shots. My friend was  using D850 with 600mm f/4 on tripod, live view..mirror locked etc. At that point I wished  I would grab the flash from the car when I went there earlier or swapped the lenses to give me extra stop of light. But I didn't want to risk to go back and scare the bird away. I wanted  my friend to get some shots.
So I just shot handheld with D4 and 200-500mm f/5.6.
I didn't want to push ISO past 16,000 even tough D4 can handle much more, since I was shooting handheld and the extra shutter speed wouldn't help that much at this point since it was darkness.

Flash or tripod would made a world of difference, but again it could scare the bird. If I was the only person there I would go back to my car and grab the flash.

This is pretty much straight of the camera shot. Also  I was shooting in DX (1.5X crop) mode.

D4, 200-500mm f/5.6
1/15, ISO-16,000, f.5.6, VT-ON, handheld.

Please click on the image for uncompressed view, thank you.

Last edited by Mako_Elite on Mon Jan 07, 2019 6:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

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by Ron Day on Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:04 pm
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My hats is off to you, Ludo. The image is incredible considering it was handheld at 1/15 sec. using ISO 16,000. It really needs to be clicked on and viewed in shadow box with dark surroundings to be fully appreciated. I really enjoyed the story behind the shot. The pose, perch, and grass below are wonderful. Excellent image.

by leigha on Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:22 pm
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Nice story and nice image, Ludo

by John Spreitzer on Sun Jan 06, 2019 5:45 pm
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A real beauty of an image! Well worth taking at ISO 16,000. 1/15 Wow!

by Cynthia Crawford on Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:26 pm
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Great night capture- remarkable detail-must have been a thrill to find.
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by Tony Britton on Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:03 pm
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Truly a mesmerizing, dreamlike image.
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by david fletcher on Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:40 am
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Wonderful. Top drawer Ludo! Many thanks for the extra info. Superb work in all respects
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by Karl Egressy on Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:42 am
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Great story and an amazing image Ludo at 1/15 s ISO 16000!!!

by Paul Rossi on Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:15 am
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Very nice image and great story that I enjoyed.

by Carol Clarke on Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:14 am
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You know that your low light/twilight owl images are some of my favourites. This amazing twilight portrait is absolutely stunning!

What a wonderful photo, Ludo. I Love it!

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