Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Field Bio

Tonight we wandered the woods in search of saw whet owls and eastern screech owls. What you are seeing above is the latter. It's definitely not your usual birding or class experience. We wandered the forest in the dark stopping every so often to play calls to attract the birds. None of the birds were biting to our mobile calls, but this eastern screech owl did like the tapes playing near the the two mist nets that were set up. An awesome experience. Now if I could only capture an owls image without them being in the professors hand!

Quick note on the photography. I highly suggest practicing your technique and exposure settings. The night before I setup a teddy bear with similar colors and tested the exposure. It may have looked awkward, but when you can only take a few shots without disturbing the animal greatly you need to make it count. Once you have that down hold steady and try to compose in the dead of night! The one advantage of using the flash for autofocus is a special feature with the SB-800 I have. It uses the red spectrum to focus which has a high visibility to the camera and is much less disturbing to all your subjects. I disabled the modeling light to avoid further irritation.


  1. Great Shot Jarred. I'm impressed with how the shot came out because that flash didn't seem very bright to me, the flash on one of the cell phone cameras was much brighter than yours. In the birding community there's often arguments about using a flash when taking photos of owls; I can see where using a flash set the way yours was would minimize the stress on a bird. Many feel that using a flash hurts the eyes of owls, but likely no more than it hurts ours. Even though most owls are nocturnal, they do have their eyes open in the daytime as well. Visual acuity for nocturnal animals isn't due to "more sensitive eyes", it's based on the size of the eyes and ability of larger eyes to capture more light (much like a camera lens). cheers.

  2. Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the compliment. I like to keep things short and sweet. The less stress or commotion I can cause the better. The other people also try to take photos with an autofocus system that uses a video light. Its more of a modeling light then a quick bright flash. The red spectrum focus isn't a bad aid either on my nikon sb-800. Something a pop up flash doesn't have. It is a good point about the capacity to see rather than their sensitivity.


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