Snowy Owls in Ontario
My spouse and I spent last week in northern Ontario to photograph snowy owls in a Muench Workshop. The ambient temperatures were in the high teens and low twenties Fahrenheit, the wind was from 5-30+ miles an hour, and we received about 15-20 inches of snow in the area over the course of four or five days. It was rather cool and brisk in the field, unless you were dressed well for arctic weather. Our leaders' Jeep got stuck in a 3+ foot drift of snow, but my trusty 4Runner, yanked him free, and didn't charge him. These owls were photographed on privately owned farms. The grounds are not open to the public.
The sun rarely came out, but the owls were hungry and quite entertaining. Our guide even had names for some of them, as owls are quite territorial like many raptors, and our guide had learned to recognize many of them intimately.
This is Christine - notice the dark eyebrows over her eyes. She was always waiting eagerly for us, weather notwithstanding.
This is Hip Hop, named because she dances from side to side on the ground. Notice the lack of "eyebrows" on Hip Hop
This is a young female interloper who tried to enter Christine's territory - needless to say she was driven off quickly by Christine, who was much bigger and heavier.
This is Hip Hop on the ground in the blowing snow - I include this image so Puzzled Paul will know that I spent many hours laying in the blowing snow - notice how I am shooting up at her.
These images were all captured with one of several Canon bodies, usually at 1/3200 sec. f8, and and ISO varying from 800 infrequently to 1600 or 3200. Some were shot as high as 12800. We all tried slower shutter speeds, despite our guides suggesting that 1/3200th was the lowest we should use, which necessitated the high ISOs. I found myself shooting in late afternoon sunlight in a snow field at 1/3200, f8 at ISO 4000 or more at times!! I never dreamed I would use an ISO that high in a snow field with full sunlight, but I did occasionally. I actually shot in Manual Mode, 1/3200th, f8, AUTO ISO, with 1 full stop of positive exposure compensation
I have more images here - https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Travel/Snowy-Owls-in-Ontario-February-2017/
Comments and critiques are wholeheartedly encouraged. I will try to answer any questions about this trip. Owls in flight are faster than you might think. Certainly faster than eagles I have photographed. And the conditions were harder as well, with heavy garments, hoods, and windy blowing snow. I used a Canon 100-400 for most of these images, but I also used a 500 f4 and a 70-200 f2.8 at times. The 500 f4 was tripod mounted, but most of the other shots were all handheld.
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