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Old Dec 18, 2004, 11:57 PM   #1
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A friend sent me mail telling me about this owl. I offer a bounty of a picture of the owl if I get told where to find it and I find it. And this one produced a really good picture.

The second picture isn't as sharp (it was hand held) but I like it for the expression. It was the first picture I got of this owl, when it was leaning around the trunk to look at me going "what are you doing over there?" I was afraid that it was nervous and wouldn't put up with being photographed... but that turned out to be completely wrong. It wasn't bothered by me until I setup my camera right across the trail from it. A wonderful subject.

This is the smallest great horned I've ever seen. I don't know if this is an age or nutrition issue. It also has the longest ears of any Great Horned I've ever seen. Who knows why?

Does the first picture seem a bit too bright to you?
Picture one:
Camera: 20D 600mm 1/60 f5.0 ISO 400, tripod
PhotoShop: RAW convert, neat image (selective), contrast, reduce, sharpen, touch more contrast.

I wish this was sharper, but hand-held will do that for you. If I'd know the owl would have put up with me, I would have switched to the bigger lens and used the tripod. I love the feeling of this and its companion in the gallery below.
Picture two:
Camera: 20D 100-400 @ 400mm 1/100 f5.6 ISO 400
PhotoShop: RAW convert, neat image (selective), crop, contrast, reduce, sharpen selectively.

More picture in this series can be found here:
http://www.marx7.org/~esmith/menotomy/dunback_owl/

Eric
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 12:52 AM   #2
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Eric,

Both of these pictures have a lot of personality. I love the flopped over ear on the top picture. It might be a little light but, that is a very small quibble given the total character of the shot.
The bottom photo is a crack-up. What a priceless shot. Well, maybe not priceless. It looks like it could bring a good price from a novelty greeting card co. :lol:
The other photos are nice too. Is it just me or does one eye seem to squint more than the other? Was it windy?
I have decided that owls have the most photogenic personalities in the bird world. Excellent job!

smac
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 1:32 AM   #3
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Very nice capture, eric. The nice glassiness of the eye in the first one is special. I kinda like the typical Canon L bokeh created by the coniferous background. It's sharp barb feeling offers an increased sense of wilderness to me.

Too bad those branches had to get in the way at the bottom. Have you considered processing them out. I'm not sure that they add to an extremely successful work. It's interesting to see the difference in the 100-400 and 600. Quite a difference in sharpness for sure.
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 9:05 AM   #4
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I guess the 20D does a wonderful job for you, Eric, especially on birds that aren't in flight (even though I thought your short-eared owl in flight with the 20D was a great shot too, I know you've had some complaints). Great capture!

Yeah, the branches in the lower half are a bit of a distraction. Not much, though. And if you wanted, you could even crop the bottom with the branches and come out of it with a square presentation that would still look terrific.

I am curious about your needing to use NeatImage selectively. ISO 400 on the 20D has been pretty noise-free for the things I've shot...
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 12:42 PM   #5
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I was getting dark & very light noise that was showing up when I sharpened. So the hot spot next to the owl in the first one and the dark area next to the owl in the second one. Both shows noise that when sharpened I found distracting. So I went back and did some work on removing it. It wasn't hard because I couldn't find a good place to train neatimage on. I find that if I use a generic profile I can't really go beyond 50% removal, but when I train it on that image I can almost always do 100% removal and not loose any detail (or none that sharpening won't bring back.

I think most of the difference between the two images is hand-held (second shot) vs. tripod & wimberley head in the first one. Some is definitely the lens, but not all of it.

When the owl "winked" it was always with his left eye. Maybe it's related to the squinting? And the ears were always like that... one up one to the side. Weird.

I had to fight to get a good clean shot. I worried I would bother it while I searched, but I didn't. Its weird how you think one place is good and you look through the camera and see a branch which you missed with your eye. I agree this would be a much better shot without those lower branches. I didn't post the one with the better pose which has a stick right over his face that is reflecting sunlight. Great shot, but I'm going to have to try to remove that stick. It's in the gallery, take a look.

The 20D is an odd beast. I'm still learning its quirks. In single shot is does seem to snap into focus with more speed and confidence than the 10D (it should, by the specs) and that is great. Some times it seems more sensitive to things in the forground (like a distracting stick) than the 10D was. But other times is ignores them just as I would like.

So far I'm happy in most cases. I've done a bit more flight testing and it tracked things really well. Maybe my trouble with the short eared owl was an anomoly? Don't know.

Eric
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 3:30 PM   #6
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Thanks for the explanation re the NeatImage processing, Eric. Yes, I guess I've seen noise crop up where I've done post-processing in certain areas of my images. It really is nice to have the plus version of NI that comes with the PS plugin. Being able to do selectivenoise removal is wonderful.

I've had the 20D longer than you and I'm still learning its quirks. It can yield some really great pictures and it can magnify my failings as a photographer and give forth some really lousy shots too! :O

I'm wondering if, similar to the way humans can be left- or right-handed, birds can also have a bit of left- or right-something. In the owl's case, left-eyed? I'm sure there are individual differences with respect to those types of things.
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Old Dec 19, 2004, 9:04 PM   #7
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Hi eric,

Nice pics. Since you asked the first one does look every so slightly washed out, a smidge.

It is tough to catch the great horned owls out in the open during shooting light.

The ones I have seen seem to be back in the branches. Look like you are having fun working out the details with your 20d.


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