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Witold

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Behind The Lens

Location
The photo was taken in the Mendon Ponds Park. The park is located between the Towns of Mendon and Pittsford in New York State.
Time
It was cold January 17th, 2010, around 3 PM. I remember walking quietly in the park trying to photograph some birds looking for seeds in the snow. Then I found this critter perching on the branch. Apparently the bird was sleeping with the both eyes closed.
Lighting
The natural light of clouded sky was just perfect,with almost no shadow and a very low local contrast. Winter snow on the ground provided additional lighting from below.
Equipment
Those days I was shooting with Olympus E-410 with a 50/150 mm lens. I had a small hand held tripod attached to the camera, just as an extra wait to dampen shaking while shooting a 'free hand'.
Inspiration
I have never been so close to an owl. I wanted this picture, I knew it was the moment to take it. I kept shooting with a zoom centered in, coming slloooowwwlly closer and closer. I kept the owl in focus, wondering if she was aware of my presence. And then suddenly, as if in response to my thoughts, she gently turned her head around looking directly into my lens. When I took this picture, I knew I got it! I looked again but she was gone, flying quietly without making any sound of her wings.
Editing
I always shoot in the RAW file. So my post processing always includes a correction of chromatic aberration, temperature, sharpness contrast and other basic adjustments which I do in the Lightroom. I always try to minimize a post processing unless a subject 'requires' an HDR.
In my camera bag
I have two bags always ready to go. For the family events I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 50mm f/1.2, without filters. And for my travel photography I always bring a bag with the Pentax K-1 Mark II and Pentax HD FA 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED lens. I also always keep handy UV, Polarizer and a high density filter. I never leave home without two extra memory cards, batteries, battery charger and the USB-3.0 card reader. My absolutely preferred travel camera bag is Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250.
Feedback
Eight years later my equipment got better and the lenses sharpen. But that particular picture proves that we don't always need the newest, the most expensive equipment. Especially in the nature photography, which requires strategy and correct anticipation of the next move of the subject. A good brand, large and fast memory card will help you keep shooting, while your subject is still in the range. Your last picture may be the best.

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