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Old Mar 1, 2005, 9:08 PM   #1
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Great Gray Owl - hunting

Great Gray Owl - eating

Northern Hawk Owl

Boreal Owl

Northern Saw-Whet Owl

I went up to Montreal this past weekend to photograph Great Gray Owls. You can see two of the results here. It was absolutely amazing. I got to see 11+ unique Great Gray owls on one day. I thought Great Horned were big, but these guys are amazing. Watching them fly around was so much fun.

Then the next day we set out to find a Northern Hawk Owl, which I'd seen in captivity but was even better in the wild. It's got a great call. Unfortunately, they like to sit in the highest tree around and this one was no exception. So that 3rd picture was taken with a 2x TC and 2 1.4 TCs plus a small extention tube to make it possible. Over 3200mm including the sensor crop. That picture is full frame (actually, I believe all of these are but the boreal. I don't exactly recall.)

The boreal is a very hard owl to find. They don't live particularly far up into Canada (and even at times in the "lower 48") but their size, hunting only at night, and love of forests make them hard to find. This one has been using the same set of trees for a roost for awhile now. So while we don't know where it will be in particular every day, it is usually around. By the time we got there others had found it. This day it was nestled up in some conifers and was only clearly visible from one location. But I think I prefer this obstructed view.

Down another set of trees from the boreal was a Northern Saw-Whet. We get them where I live outside Boston, but they are very hard to find down there. In the spot that I know of they stay high up (60+ feet) up tall red pines. This one was only about 15 feet up.

Both the saw-whet and the boreal owls were asleep when we got there, but both woke up and preened while we watched. Really, really cute.

The Great Gray, Hawk, and Boreal owls are the three hardest owls to find on the North American continent. It was an amazing weekend to get to see all three within about 7 hours of each other.

I have to say I don't really recall the settings, roughly they were:
20D, 600mm f5 1/1000th or so, f8 or so, ISO200 tripod
photoshop - almost nothing. White balance (Gray Balance?) touch of contrast and sharpening and reduce.

Hawk Owl
20D, 600mm f4 2xTC 1.4TC 1.4TC 1/100 f22 ISO200 (I think?)
photoshop - neat image, cloned away a few dust spots, contrast, reduce, sharpen

I don't recall the others. Slow shutter speeds and I had to focus by hand 'cause of the branches in the way.

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Old Mar 1, 2005, 10:02 PM   #2
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Wow, Eric what a georgous series of shots. I think the obstructed view fits the shot perfectly. I am in awe.... Beautiful.

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Old Mar 1, 2005, 10:39 PM   #3
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That first shot is awesome!

You caught just enough of the eye to really see the concentration.

What a great time you must have had. It is an awesome day if you can get one owl much less an assortment like this.
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Old Mar 2, 2005, 12:14 AM   #4
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amazing shots, they look very interesting birds
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Old Mar 2, 2005, 12:19 AM   #5
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Wow. Awesome shots!
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Old Mar 2, 2005, 2:52 AM   #6
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These are amazing Eric. Thanks for sharing them with us. What a gorgeous bird. Cheers..........thekman.
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Old Mar 2, 2005, 12:55 PM   #7
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I'm glad you all like the shots.

The Great Gray is an amazing bird, I agree.
When they are active, its lots of fun to just watch them looking around, showing those great yellow eyes. They have an intensity in their stare which is almost chilling to look at. I felt like I was food under the gaze. :shock:

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Old Mar 2, 2005, 4:44 PM   #8
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The third shot came out amazingly well for how far away the bird was. WOW!
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Old Mar 2, 2005, 9:29 PM   #9
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eric s

absolutely awesome shots.

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Old Mar 2, 2005, 11:07 PM   #10
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Hello Eric. I know you had a wonderful weekend. Getting to see all those Owls in one weekend is amazing and you have posted some really nice shots. I've been waiting for you to make a post. If you read this I have a question to ask. A while back when I mentioned having a hard time using the geared head on my tripod I think you remarked that there was nothing wrong with having another head. Well I'm ready to get one and wondered if you would makea suggestion of which one. There's tons of them out there. My tripod is a Bogen Manfrotto 3046. I think I would likea ball head betterthan a 3-way or pan head becauseI can keep my hands on the camera with a ball head. There is just so many of them to choose from. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

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