Owl Story + update

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I’m posting these images not only for critique but also to share a story of these owls.

The story is about the area where these owls roost during the day. They typically fly right around sunrise or sunset and afford the opportunity for photographers to get images. The area is in a large city park well known among birders and photographers. The local ornithological society has made it clear that getting out into the middle of the field where these birds roost will disturb their behavior and sensitive habitat. Most photographers and birders wait right on the edge of the field (by a road) for the owls to appear (fly) near sunrise and sunset. It can be a long wait. I shot there Sunday morning and saw several owls thirty minutes after sunrise. The story relayed to me was that Sunday afternoon however a photographer went all over the field flushing birds to try to get shots. He was told by other photographers there not to do that but that did not deter him. To my knowledge, no owls have been seen in the field for the last three days now. I tried shooting there yesterday morning and did not see a single owl. I know I am preaching to the choir here on NPN but this is another incident showing the importance of respecting wildlife and their habitat.

Specific Feedback

Any thoughts on the square crop in these images given the outstretched wings.

Technical Details

Canon R7, 400mm f4 DO IS II, 1.4x extender III
ISO 1600, f5.6, 1/2000s, hand held

Processed in DXO Pure Raw 3 and Photoshop.

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Allen, I I am othered by your story of a fellow photographer doing idiotic things to secure an image, wildlife be damned. These types of occurrences are happening far too often and it gives all of us a bad name. I hope the owls come back because you have posted some really terrific images of these guys and this set is no different. I actually quite like the square crops on these. In that first shot I would probably bring the exposure down a little bit and maybe isolate the background and bring it down even more as that image just looks a little bit bright and flat and it’s a great image.
Thanks for shariung the story, Allen!

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Beautiful images, Allen, and the square crop works well.

i’m sorry to hear about the rogue photographer. That kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. I hope some of the other photographers who were there photographed his behavior and plastered it all over social media, preferably with his name included. I think peer pressure is the only weapon really available.

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Allen, these are stunning images as a result of your expert camera work and field knowledge overall. Heck, the lighting ain’t too bad either… :sunglasses:

So sad to hear about the irresponsible photographer. As most all of us here at NPN having many years in the field I’m sure there are many similar stories unfortunately. Many of my encounters are post event damage such as graffiti or trash… :rage:

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They may return after things settle down, but fortunately for the owls they may have found a better, more secluded field. A nice series and your work shows that owl friendly techniques also produce wonderful photos. Well done…Jim

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What a wonderful opportunity!! Your pictures of the owls have been incredible! And what an idiot who spoiled it for both the serious photographers and the owls. As soon as he ignored them, the others should have physically restrained him. The “photographers” who do stupid things like that are usually ones who couldn’t get a decent picture of a petunia in a pot.

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@David_Haynes @Paul_Breitkreuz @Dennis_Plank @Jim_Zablotny @Diane_Miller

Update: A friend of mine from our local camera club went by the owl field yesterday afternoon and saw about a dozen owls near sunset so hopefully their absence and any harm done was temporary.
As far as the rogue photographer, I was told he returned to the field a couple days after the first incident and looked like he was headed back into the field again but this time other photographers intervened again and this time he heeded their warnings about not trying to flush the roosted birds. Hopefully a lesson learned. I was told he was using a short lens to try to get the owl shots so perhaps he was a newbie photographer.

Thank you for your comments!


Gives me recall to the person I saw many years ago walking up to a resting moose with a Instamatic and shocked us all when the moose instantly stood up and almost took the dude out. … :upside_down_face:

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Another series of great owl flight images, though I prefer the darker/habitat background.
Idiots like that can give the rest of us a bad name.

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And then there was that video a while back of a bison that had enough…

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