Monday, March 6, 2006

Nature Photography is 90% skill and 90% luck,

March 6, 2006

Due to the exceptionally early and heavy snows in Sweden there was an owl invasion in Southern Sweden. Not an unusual phenomenon, but new for Johan (13)  and I. We were used to fighting for a glimpse of an owl at sunrise or sunset, or seeing the few resident owls in the botanical garden in Lund sticking their heads out from their nest box. You could almost hear them laughing at us. It was not a pretty picture.

But this winter was different. Owls could be found at any hour of the day, sitting on fence post, sitting on the ground,or hunting along the coast where there was a small stretch of open ground where the sea water melted the snow. Johan and I used this knowledge and managed to take quite a few decent owl shots during this winter. But the best shot of the winter was just plain dumb luck. After ten hours in the field from 7:30AM to 5:30PM we had a few so-so shots of owls and a gyr falcon. So at 5:30 I decided we had had enough and pulled the car over to the side of the road intending to turn the car around and head for home as soon as the cars behind us passed. After a few seconds Johan spoke up from the passenger seat, "Aren't you going to photograph him?"
"Who?" I responded.
And then Johan pointed to the short-eared owls sitting on the fence post directly across from us on the other side of the street, which was why Johan assumed we had pulled over. Panic! Get the camera, check the sittings, turn of the car, turn off the radio, roll down the window, DON'T SCARE THE OWL! And then slowly, agonizingly slowly move the camera into position and start shooting.

And then the owl was gone, and we pulled around and headed for home. The day went from being mediocre to being great, all it took was two minutes with a short-eared owl.


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