I was lucky enough back in April to be invited along to witness the flying of a Tawny Owl in a privately owned bluebell wood.
At the end of the display the owl was rewarded with a meal of a mouse – and I was rewarded with a sequence of images that show the bird manipulating the meal and then swallowing it head first having initially, I am told, crushed the mouse’s skull with its very powerful beak.
All taken on the Olympus EM-1 MkII + 40-150mm f/2.8Pro lens, ISO 2000, f/3.5 and 1/125sec in natural lighting.
Last month a group of photo club friends and I had the opportunity to photograph owls – and a goshawk – in a bluebell wood. These are some of my images.
All were taken on the Olympus EM-1 MkII. The most challenging shot was the tawny owl in flight. We had several goes at this – but owls, being owls, fly quite fast and not usually in a straight line. Tracking the bird in flight, even as it heads towards you, is not so simple!
I tried continuous focus ( or whatever your camera maker calls it ) where once in focus the camera should hold the focus on a moving object, as long as the target doesn’t move outside the selected focus point(s). I gave up.
I took to manually focussing on a point about halfway between the bird’s starting point and myself, and setting the camera on high speed sequential shooting, knowing that if I could follow the owl it would have to fly through my elected ‘plane of focus’. And it does work although you land it up with lots of out of focus shots, plus one or two ( maybe three ) that are just about in, and, with a bit of luck, one that is sharp!
On the day the light was not brilliant under the canopy of trees so a higher ISO was required, and, looking back, the lens I chose ( 40mm – 150mm [ 80 – 300 35mm equivalent ] ) was a touch too short resulting in the owl being a bit small in the frame. And I don’t have too many pixels that I can afford to throw away in a crop.
Having said that, it was a great experience. Many thanks to Robin and Derry our hosts ( and photographic advisors ) for the afternoon.
Tawny Owl in fight
Long Eared Owl