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A slightly different edit of a photo I've posted before. I brightened up the eyes a bit in this image.

A slightly different edit of a photo I've posted before. I brightened up the eyes a bit in this image.
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Contest Finalist in From Afar: Wildlife Photo Contest
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billbrandon cdipanjan CoriBlu Malarchy1 marianoikiva danielbeeby pilardazgmez +27
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Creative Compositions Photo Contest Vol3Top 30 rank
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Monthly Pro Vol 28 Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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Image of the Year Photo Contest 2016Top 10 rank
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Composition Techniques Photo ContestTop 10 rank
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From Afar: Wildlife Photo ContestTop 10 rank
From Afar: Wildlife Photo ContestTop 10 rank week 1

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2 Comments | Report
mark-bryant PRO
 
mark-bryant March 05, 2016
Very nice image
Jessica94 Premium
 
Jessica94 June 30, 2017
Stunning shot
natosed PRO
natosed June 30, 2017
Thanks!
See all

Behind The Lens

Location
Ottawa Canada.
Time
It was taken in the afternoon but indoors.
Lighting
It was bright and relatively white light. It was a little on the warm side rather than the cool side of the spectrum. The owl was well lit from all sides.
Equipment
This shot is one of my favorites because of the meager equipment I used to take it. In fact, it is this shot more than any other that reinforced for me the truth of the old adage, "the best camera is the one that's with you." You see, I normally carry my Nikon D7000 (with several wonderful lenses) wherever I go, and I don't particularly like shooting anything of any substance with anything other than my Nikon. Sometimes, if I don't feel like carrying my Nikon, I'll carry my compact Canon with me (which is a decent though somewhat limited option). But for the most part, everything I take is with my Nikon. In fact, every bird shot I've ever taken has been with my Nikon, except this one...which is also ironically, probably my best one. The reason I had neither of my normal options with me is because I didn't really expect to see anything of substance at this museum, and also because I didn't want to embarrass my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend by lugging around my gigantic camera everywhere we went in Ottawa (I had already carried it through the Parliament building and to most of the other sights during my visit). She's really wonderful and very understanding, but even the most reasonable and wonderful woman doesn't want a DSLR to accompany her on every date. So on this day, because I had neither of my normal options with me, I was forced to use...my iPhone.
Inspiration
I absolutely positively love taking pictures of birds. I got hooked taking bird pictures at the Milwaukee County Zoo's "Birds of Prey" show a couple of years back. That show was the first time I had the opportunity to shoot live birds relatively close-up. At that same show, I was able to take several shots of a majestic barn owl. To this day, I consider those early shots to be some of my best. They inspired me to shoot birds as a favorite subject. Following the birds of prey show, I started taking pictures of birds whenever and wherever I could...at my uncle’s bird-feeder, and at conservatories, and while hiking...literally anywhere. And this shot of this owl epitomizes that love of birds for me. In fact, I shoot birds so often that several friends of mine have referred to me teasingly as “their bird photographer friend” (since it seems to be the only kind of photography they ever see me post). The thrill of catching a live bird is unmatched which is why when i first walked into this museum, I wasn't expecting much…and these low expectations are why I didn’t have my Nikon on me at the time. But the fact that I didn’t have my Nikon in retrospect makes the shot and the entire experience that much sweeter. It forced me to think a bit more about my surroundings and especially my limitations. It was really the limitations set upon me by my lack of preparedness (lack of controlled lighting, camera, lens…) that provided the creative inspiration for this shot. So while this shot was not produced in a typical fashion with appropriate equipment, I think it is all the better for it. Basically, this owl shot was taken at a wildlife exhibit within the Canadian Museum of Nature. This exhibit has immaculate and incredibly lifelike taxidermied birds on display. They looked so unbelievably real and alive it was uncanny. I thought to myself, "I can barely tell in person that this bird is dead and I'll probably never have the opportunity to catch one of these birds in the wild ever (or be able to afford the equipment to get this close in the wild ever)". It was so beautiful, I had to take a picture, but I had no camera to take a decent picture with. I walked around the exhibit several times wishing I had brought a decent camera. As I walked I think I even mentioned to Stephanie that I wished I had brought my Nikon because some of these birds looked so incredibly real. It was then that I stopped at the owl again. I stared at it wishing and longing when I realized...I did have a camera. I had my phone! The owl was behind glass and there was glare on the glass, but the good thing was that the owl was very close to the glass on the inside of the exhibit and the lighting on the inside didn’t cast significant shadows on it that would make it look unnatural. I realized that if I pressed the camera on the phone right up to the glass it would guarantee the subject was perpendicular to the frame...It would support the camera so as to remove any lack of sharpness due to inadvertent movement...It would maximize the resolution of the sensor because I could fill the frame without zooming or cropping in post...It would eliminate any glare on the glass from outside lighting...and I could get a really cool close-up of just the face of the bird. It looked so real I knew it would stand up to close scrutiny. In fact, I know I could have taken the shot with my Nikon and it still would have stood up just as well. It just looked so alive. Anyway, the rest is history, and I’m so happy I didn’t give up simply because I didn’t have my Nikon on me at the time.
Editing
I process most of my images through Lightroom, but on this image I used Photoshop and Snapseed (primarily). I did a little bit of touching up in Photoshop (I had to touch up a blemish on the right eye), and I did a little bit of color and basic contrast editing with Photoshop and then with Snapseed as well (which was great because I like its intuitive controls and because I had taken it with my iPhone which doesn't shoot in RAW like I normally like to shoot...i normally don't edit my DSLR shots in Snapseed). I added vignetting in post as well.
In my camera bag
I normally carry my Nikon D7000 and 4 lenses with me. The four lenses are my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8, my Sigma 50mm f1.4 (Art), my Tamron 90mm Macro, and my Nikon 55-200mm. I always carry a circular polarizer (B+W 77mm F-Pro Kaesemann), two batteries, shoulder strap, lens cleaning cloths, two additional memory cards, and a portable tripod. ...and of course, my phone. ;)
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