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 Post subject: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 4:03 pm 

Joined: August 26th, 2011, 2:35 pm
Posts: 12
I use a small device with calls on it to lure them in, then shine a powerful flashlight so my camera can focus. I cant get an infared focus attachment for my camera so the light is unavoidable. A flash is illuminates the subject, a flashlight allows the camera to focus.

I've also had great sucess by setting up a motion tripped video camera in the trees along with a device that plays a few calls every hour or so. The video camera is infared.

Ive got pictures of screech owls using the first method but larger owls are always scared away the second I click the light on. With the motion camera I have saw whet, Barred and Screech owl video.

Owl time is starting up again and I'd like to bring something new to the table this year. I'd love to get color video of one flying. ( got a few elaborate ideas ) or get a close up of a Great Horned.

Yes I realize that flashing lights and calls can disturb the owls if overdone. This time of year I usually do one round of owling every week and a half or so.

So how do you guys photograph owls?


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 21st, 2011, 4:34 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2766
Location: San Antonio, TX
I simply use flash. As long as they aren't looking straight at you, the reflections/red eye is manageable.

Flash at night, focused using the edge of headlight beams - Barred Owl
Image

Flash in the day - Spectacled Owl. The red eye doesn't bother me.
Image

This was shot with flash at night, but using a bright flashlight to focus.
Mottled Owl
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 21st, 2011, 12:38 pm 

Joined: August 26th, 2011, 2:35 pm
Posts: 12
Those pictures are AMAZING! It's good to know the flashlight focus+flash works so well. I'll have to keep practicing.


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 22nd, 2011, 4:33 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 545
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
This Tropical Screech-owl was found during the day and I used a flash.
Image

Buffy Fish-owl at night, flashlight and flash.
Image

Barred Owls are pretty easy to find during the day in the south.
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2011, 7:23 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2766
Location: San Antonio, TX
Nowicki418 wrote:
Those pictures are AMAZING! It's good to know the flashlight focus+flash works so well. I'll have to keep practicing.


I usually only put the edge of the flashlight beam on the owl at night and then I manually focus the camera if there isn't enough light to autofocus.

Another trick I have used for mammals at night is a laser pointer with some sort of filter on it - the kind of "toy" gadgets you can get that project shapes, etc..
If you can get one that projects an image of a tic-tac-toe board (straight lines at 90° to each other), your camera can lock focus on that from a great distance in otherwise total dark. Just be sure not to point it at the animal's head - point at the branch below it.


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2011, 6:07 pm 

Joined: August 26th, 2011, 2:35 pm
Posts: 12
chrish wrote:
I usually only put the edge of the flashlight beam on the owl at night and then I manually focus the camera if there isn't enough light to autofocus.

Another trick I have used for mammals at night is a laser pointer with some sort of filter on it - the kind of "toy" gadgets you can get that project shapes, etc..
If you can get one that projects an image of a tic-tac-toe board (straight lines at 90° to each other), your camera can lock focus on that from a great distance in otherwise total dark. Just be sure not to point it at the animal's head - point at the branch below it.


The laser pointer is a great idea. To solve the problem with focusing over a great distance I've been using a spotlight. This doesn't give me a lot of time before the animal is scared off by the bright light. A laser is much more convienient and discrete.

This is why I love these kinds of discusions. Tricky photograph situations yield a lot of inovative thinking and it's so interesting to hear about all the solutions people find.

I'm going owling very soon, hopefully I will have some pictures to show!


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: November 25th, 2011, 5:38 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 283
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Here's a mottled owl (Ciccaba virgata). We have a large "street light" in the center of the clearing at one of the stations I work out of (Cerro Dantas, Heredia, Costa Rica) that attracts a plethora of lepidopterans and their bat friends. We watch this one sally in and out of the clearing a few times a week. To light the bird a friend held a flashlight on the owl while I focused. I shot this with my macro setup as that was how the camera was set up at the time- 105mm macro, R1 kit.

Image

Image

-Don


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: December 3rd, 2011, 10:37 pm 

Joined: August 26th, 2011, 2:35 pm
Posts: 12


Got a picture of an Eastern Screech Owl. Not quite as sharp as I'd like but still looks pretty good. Attracted the owl with a calling device in my pocket and took the picture with a flashlight in one hand, camera in the other.


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 Post subject: Re: Photographing Owls at Night
PostPosted: December 3rd, 2011, 10:46 pm 

Joined: August 26th, 2011, 2:35 pm
Posts: 12
I seem to be having trouble posting images. Probably my slow internet connection's fault.


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