Eastern Screech Owl

Amazing to see this little guy in the wild during the day sleeping. He is a night owl tucked away during sunlight, nearly impossible to spot.

Specific Feedback Requested

I have done nothing to this image except exporting it according to the insturctions for this website. I would have brought it into Photoshop and begin processing throught raw but I am looking for straight out of the camera advise, please. Both camera setting and lens advise. This owl is deep in the forest amongest old forest growth without much sunlight. He is high in a dead tree sticking out from a brocken branch hole. So looking up and keeping a respectful distance with many obstacles.

Technical Details

Nikon Z7_2
NiKKor Z 100-400 (f4.5 - 5.6) EC-2.0x
Focal Length 800mm
Exposure: 1/125sec, f/18, ISO 3600, Manual, Pattern metering

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Wow, Norma, this is one of those “where’s Waldo” images. It took me a while to see the owl. Wonderful image. I see a square crop cutting off some of the left up to the foreground branch. In any case, it’s awesome.

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Hope I put this in the correct spot on this post. Here is the crop version.


Hi Norma, very cool to spot this owl in the dead tree! Image quality looks pretty good for 1/125th of a second. Did you use a tripod? I think you could have gone wider than f18. For still birds, I usually start at f10 which gives me a good DOF most of the time and decent shutter speed for sharpness. Of course this bird wasn’t moving so it seems to have worked out fairly well in this case. If hand held, I think a faster shutter speed would have helped with sharpness.

I like David’s cropping advice and the repost you did.

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Thank you Allen, this is exactly the kind of advise I am looking for, so thank you. No I was no using a tripod. My frustration of course is the sharpness and the noise. I can’t believe I had it on 1/125, I usually keep it faster for birds. Next time I think I will put shutter speed 1000, f10, manual starting a lowest ISO100 in camera settings. Your thoughts??? I really do appreciate your feedback.

A nice find, and it must have been a thrill to spot the owl like this. I like the images (and composition) as presented. Cheers, Hans

I think ISO 100 is way too low especially for these conditions. You should be able to shoot much higher without noise being a problem. I don’t think noise was much of an issue with the original image here. I’d just try shooting at a wider aperture and see how that balances with a faster shutter speed that provides more sharpness hand held. For me, I try to get at least 1/320s - 1/400s for hand held shots (I have a fairly steady hand). I think f18 is much narrower than you need so try going much wider when testing for the hand held shutter speed that you can manage.

Thank you, I use manual so my ISO is set for a range with lowest being 100 and highest pretty high, so automatically adjusts with Fstop and Shutter Speed. Yes it helps to do some testing in the field. Allen, great feedback so appreciated.