Between the leaves

Well last summer was one for the books! I managed to spot my first ever western screech owls, which was certainly a treat. Even better, I was able to actually photograph them!

Pictured here is one of three owlets. I chose to photograph the young bird through a couple of branches to create a natural vignette that would highlight the owl’s face. Nothing was added or subtracted in my post-processing.

Please note that I crafted this image with a super-telephoto lens on a crop sensor camera (Nikon D500) and then cropped the image to match the composition I had envisioned.

I am committed to ethical wildlife photography, which means keeping a respectable distance from my subjects. Additionally, this owl was NOT baited, called, lured or manipulated in any way - this is a 100% natural scene.

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Technical Details

Is this a composite: No


Hi Jenaya! I really like this image. The young owlete’s face is captivating, especially the eye. Shooting through the leaves makes for a great frame. Well done!

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I’ve been enjoying this one since you first posted it elsewhere this week. Jealous, of course, of the Screech sighting, but the framing is perfect. Look forward to maybe seeing it again toward the end of the year, unless you come up with something even better. :wink:

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I had fun unpacking what was looking at here. Nice shot, almost abstract

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Thank you all for the kind words!

@Steve_Kennedy My aim was to lead the viewer’s attention to the subject’s eye, so I’m glad I succeeded, haha! Shooting through foliage is one of my favourite things, but I think this is the best result I’ve ever gotten.

@Max_Waugh Thanks, Max! I highly doubt I’ll get anything better of a screech by the end of the year, but I suppose you never know. I do have a couple more from this sighting to share, I just have to get around to processing them. As always, thank you for your support! :slight_smile:

@CharlesV I’m glad you enjoy this image!

A very compelling image. The use of foliage is wonderful.

For me more important than anything in this image is your statement about ethical wildlife photography. Kudos!!! A superb model for everyone to follow. Thank you for discussing it in this post.

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Jenaya, this is an outstanding image all the way around. Perfectly framed with OOF Leaves, the eye and face clear. Well done. A truly unique avian image.

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@Keith_Bauer Thank you, Keith! I have always advocated for ethical photography, but have been more vocal about over the past few years as I have noticed more and more people adopt the practice of baiting. For me, the owl’s wellbeing comes above getting the shot, even if it means I never get the image I envisioned.

@David_Bostock Thank you so much, David! I’ve been trying to be more creative and artistic in the way I photograph animals lately, so I’m very glad you like what I came up with. :slight_smile:

Yes. There is not a photo that will ever be captured that is worth harming the well being of the subject. We’re all responsible for making this happen. Again, Kudos to you for your photography ethics and sharing it openly!

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Hi Jenaya,

The large version provides the best viewing for the screechie. The ethical approach is something that I would like to write about as it is essential to nature photography. This photo shows that taking an ethical approach can produce a very compelling image. The eye is very nice and placed perfectly in the frame. The diagonal vignette produced by OOF leaves works well with your comp. Awesome photo…Jim

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@Jim_Zablotny Thank you, Jim! I look forward to reading what you write in regards to ethical nature photography! I myself have written a couple of articles in the past on the subject.

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Excellent, Jenaya. I’ve always been a fan of “peekaboo” images and you pulled this one off beautifully. Well done.

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Really well done from the standpoint of composition. Colors and details are superb. Doing this is not easy. As others have noted, your approach to taking these kinds of images and your respect for wildlife is commendable.

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Hello, Jenaya, what a wonderful shot ! Good you wrote about the conditions, which I can only agree to. Sadly enough there’s plenty of captive animals these days shown on the social media without any disclaimer as to the non-natural setting. Ah well, shouldn’t use your wonderful image for my complaints. Well shot, through the leaves, a technique I often use myself and really love. You chose a compelling frame, and I love the reflections in the owl’s eye. Well done ! Cheers, Hans

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Thank you, Hans!

Yes, I know what you mean about captive subjects on social media. I only photograph wild animals, so like you, it bothers me seeing captive wildlife presented as being in a natural setting.

Again, thank you for the kind words on my image! :slight_smile:

This is a fantastic image, Jenaya! I would not chang a single thing; spot-on!!!

Jenaya, I am late to the game, but I have noticed this beautiful image and meant to comment much earlier. It is a really nice image with the framing of the eye with the leaves. Congrats on Editor’s Pick.