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Owl hunting

A Great Grey Owl listens for rodents under the snow while hunting from a thin aspen sapling

Great grey owl hunt­ing from thin aspen sapling

I’ve writ­ten about this image before, and I wanted to print it today, as it’s got a very dis­tinct sep­a­ra­tion between the sharp, in-focus owl and the com­pletely blank sky where any grain or tex­ture is purely an arti­fact of sen­sor noise and sharp­en­ing in post-processing. As I men­tioned yes­ter­day I tried the strat­egy of push­ing the clar­ity and sharp­en­ing as far as I think looked good on my mon­i­tor, before back­ing off a bit. Yes­ter­day the print came out look­ing really good (although it had a slight green­ish cast that I hadn’t noticed on-screen), so I fig­ured I’d try it on a much less for­giv­ing photo today. We’ll see how it turns out…

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Warbler along mountain creek

A male Audubons Warbler watches for flying insects from his perch on a freshly budding willow sapling overhanging a small creek in Banff National Park, Alberta

Yellow-rumped War­bler on bud­ding willow

I’ve always liked this pho­to­graph, and the mem­ory of the day that I took it (which often con­founds a photographer’s abil­ity to tell if a photo’s any good or not). I’ve even writ­ten a post about this image before (which you can read here). Even so, I’ve never printed it, so I fig­ured this Daily Print project was just the excuse I needed.

Bonus ques­tions for this post: +1 point if you can tell me the sex of the bird, +5 points for the sub­species, and +50 points if you can tell me the age (hint: click the image to view it full size, and remem­ber that this photo was taken in May…)

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Great Gray Owl hunting from thin aspen

A Great Grey Owl listens for rodents under the snow while hunting from a thin aspen sapling

Great grey owl hunt­ing from thin aspen sapling

The pho­tographs from my two pre­vi­ous posts were both taken while I was doing owl sur­veys and wait­ing for the sun to set (with cam­era at the ready, of course). So I thought I’d post an image of what we were out there look­ing for.

I don’t shoot a lot of wildlife, but I sim­ply could not resist fill­ing up a mem­ory card while watch­ing this owl hunt for rodents under the thick, spring snow. It was amaz­ing to watch him (or her, I’m not sure) lis­ten­ing from the tops of these small aspen trees before swoop­ing down and div­ing feet-first into the snow after his prey. I had the plea­sure of watch­ing from a dis­tance for over an hour before he finally gave up, or got full, and slowly moved off.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Red-winged Blackbird flock

Red-winged blackbirds perch in the bare branches of early spring near Beaverhill Lake in Alberta

Black­bird flock in bare trees

I recently received a request from a woman to use this pho­to­graph in a blog post she’s writ­ing, which gave me the great excuse to re-visit this image and to share it here (it hasn’t made it into the new web­site yet, but watch for it in the Birds sec­tion of my cat­a­logue, hope­fully in the next few months).

I took this photo near the Beaver­hill Bird Obser­va­tory near Tofield, AB in the spring of 2007. At the time, I was exper­i­ment­ing with defo­cus­ing images, or por­tions thereof, for cre­ative effect. In this case, the orig­i­nal image was mostly sharp, and I “painted in” the blurred effect in post-processing. I was inspired to try this tech­nique by another pho­tog­ra­pher who would cre­ate the same effect in the dark­room by spilling chem­i­cals over the dry­ing print and using a brush or sponge to blur the image.

It’s always fun to try new tech­niques, and although I haven’t taken many defo­cused pho­tographs lately, you can view a selec­tion of these images in my “Boreal Impres­sions” port­fo­lio. I’d also rec­om­mend hav­ing a look at William Neill’s “Impres­sions of Light” port­fo­lio for more great blurry images that were an inspi­ra­tion to me (although he achieves the effect mostly through long shut­ter speeds and cam­era move­ment, rather than man­u­ally defo­cus­ing the lens).

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Trumpeter Swans at Ministik Lake

A Trumpeter Swan floats with a raft of ducks on Bray at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Trum­peter Swan at Min­is­tik Lake

A pair of Trumpeter Swans float with a raft of ducks on Bray Lake at the Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Trum­peter Swan Pair at Min­is­tik Lake

I was walk­ing the Waska­he­gan Trail though the Min­is­tik Lake Game Bird Sanc­tu­ary a cou­ple days ago (Oct 5th, to be pre­cise), and came across this pair of swans. While it’s fairly com­mon to see migrat­ing Tun­dra Swans fly­ing (and honk­ing) over­head in flocks this time of year, I am pretty sure these are the much less com­mon Trum­peter Swan — but I would really appre­ci­ate if some­one more famil­iar with Trum­peters could con­firm (or con­test) my ID. These two birds were on Bray Lake, right in the mid­dle of the sanc­tu­ary, and were there when I first passed the lake, and still there later in the after­noon on my way back. This is what I love about Min­is­tik — there’s always some­thing new to see, you just have to get out there and look for it.

Flock of waterfowl at Ministik

A flock of ducks flies up from Oliver Lake on an autumn evening at the Ministik Lake Bird Sanctuary

Water­fowl ris­ing from Min­is­tik Lake

Here’s another pho­to­graph I made last week, along Oliver Lake out at the Min­is­tik Lake Game­bird Sanc­tu­ary. As the sun was set­ting, hun­dreds (if not thou­sands) of ducks were set­tling on the lake, ris­ing in large flocks if unnamed pho­tog­ra­phers (or their dog) moved too quickly. I nor­mally try hard when pro­cess­ing a pho­to­graph to make sure that there is detail in both the high­lights and shadow. In this case how­ever, I found that push­ing the bright­ness up really did a bet­ter job of cap­tur­ing the mood of look­ing west across the lake into the sun, watch­ing the birds against the bril­liant, back­lit fall colours. They say the rules are there to be bro­ken, right?

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $

Waterfowl on a misty Minsitik lake

A pair of Canada Geese and a small flock of ducks rest on a calm lake on a foggy morning at Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Water­fowl on misty morn­ing lake

Here’s another pho­to­graph that I made the same morn­ing as the one in my pre­vi­ous post. Although I took it less than ten min­utes later than the pre­vi­ous photo, from nearly the same spot on the lake shore, and rotated only about 90 degrees, this pho­to­graph has a com­pletely dif­fer­ent feel to it — and that’s one of the things that I love most about pho­tograph­ing the landscape.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $