Barn Owl

Barn Owl hunting in the evening 1-3-2019

Barn Owl hunting in the evening 1-3-2019
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RickL PRO+
RickL Jan 27
Exceptional photography

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Behind The Lens

This photo was taken in the countryside local to where I live in Northamptonshire. I had briefly seen a Barn Owl in the area whilst out photographing Foxes, so decided to settle down quietly in the area. It took a few visits before I was blessed with the presence of this stunning bird who stayed around for about an hour whilst I was able to shoot both stills and videos. A video record of by experience can be seen at and you can see from my reactions how totally exhilarated I was by the whole experience. These were my first decent photos I had ever captured of the Barn Owl in the wild.
The photo was shot an hour before sunset when the Barn Owl came out hunting at the end of the day. It flew around from post to post looking for prey watching in the field below until the darkness started to fall and it flew off into the distance.
Although the lighting was not great on the day it did give a nice even level of light to bring out the detail in the bird. A nice golden morning or evening light would have been wonderful but I was more than happy with the results I was able to achieve.
I had recently purchased a Canon 5D MKIV body which I was able to use on this shoot. The main advantage of this body over my previous 7D MKII is that the low light performance of the 5D is far superior allowing me to push the ISO higher, keeping the shutter speed up and still achieving nice clean images. The lens I was using was a Canon 100-400 with the addition of a 1.4x tele converter to get me closer to the subject. The complete rig was mounted on a tripod for maximum stability. The tripod was essential particularly for capturing the video images.
The Barn Owl was on my bucket list of wildlife to photograph. I had seen and photographed captive Barn Owls before but never had the opportunity to photograph them in the wild. They are such stunning creatures to see in their natural environment and become addictive with respect to photographing them again and again. I hope this is the start of many images to follow.
The image was a RAW file with basic processing done in LightRoom to bring out the best of the image. No major processing or manipulation was done to the image.
In my camera bag
Although I have several lenses in by bag the go to lens is my trusty Canon 100-400mm. It is an excellent lens with great sharpness but light enough to carry around on a long day out. I have both a 7D II and 5D IV body both of which have advantages. The 7D shoots great frame rate and is super quick to lock focus. Being a cropped sensor you also get a little closer to the action and is great in good light. However the 5D has a much better performance in low light so is becoming my "go to" body as a preference as most wildlife tends to come out at the beginning or end of the day. I did shoot a brief video on how I "escaped from the ISO prison" when I got my 5D body and if your interested it can be found here
My biggest piece of advice for photographing any form of wildlife is that you can't chase it around. Be patient, sit quietly, enjoy your surroundings and even if nothing turns up you will have had a great day out in our wonderful countryside. Wildlife needs to come to you and remember you are in their environment so please respect it.

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