Barred owl

Whooo?

Early this morning I headed out for my morning walk – which recently has included a steep hike up the hill behind our house, bushwhacking through the snowy forest. The sun was coming up, and as I walked across the street and entered the woods I noted a pinkish glow along the horizon to the west and north… although, with this hill to the east, the woods were still in the morning’s dim early light. I made it less than 50m into the woods, starting up the slope and thinking I might revisit the spot where I so often see fox tracks, when a barred owl swept silently past me, its talons clutching its breakfast catch. It landed on the branch of a nearby pine tree.

Darn! I had no camera with me today, although on my Tuesday outing I had carried a full complement of camera gear only to see nothing of interest. I hesitated, then ran back home to fetch my Canon R5 with its 100-500mm lens. Within five minutes I was back, and the friendly owl was still there, posing patiently. I experimented with different positions and different exposures – the light was still low – and the above photo was the result.

Noting that he was facing away from me, swiveling his head to look in my direction, I decided to walk around to the other side to perhaps capture a view from the front… but my efforts to crunch through the old snow in that direction apparently convinced him it was time to leave, and he flew off. I look forward to seeing him again someday!

Hunter’s moon

Full moon and fall foliage.

I was out at sunset tonight, driving some of the back roads of Hanover and Lyme, New Hampshire… just to see what I might encounter. Many of the trees are at their peak fall color, and I thought I might find some interesting scenes during the late-afternoon glow. I headed out too late, though, and the sun had set on the interesting locations… but as I rolled along a dirt road I suddenly pulled to a stop when a huge yellow moon appeared over a grassy meadow.

I waded into the grass and attempted to capture the incredible beauty of this moment… but my photos can’t even come close. The chill of the fall evening was settling in fast, the fall foliage retained a bit of post-sunshine glow, the moon seemed extra-large, and the sky had that deep blue only possible at twilight. I had no tripod along, but managed some hand-held photos.

As a photographer the challenge was clear: my eyes have much greater dynamic range than the camera can capture. I was able to see and enjoy the colors of the fall foliage and the detail in the moon – but the camera could only expose properly for the foliage or the moon. I bracketed the exposure in hopes of an HDR merge later, at home… but I’m still learning the Canon R5 and bracketed via ISO and, duh, that was pointless. (The HDR photos were full of noise.)

I hopped back in the car and headed further along the dirt road, deeper into the forest, deeper into the night. Again I encountered something worthy of a sudden stop … a beautiful barred owl, perched perfectly on a branch beside the road. I could not wish for a better photographic pose… except that it was now so dark (even with my high beams focused on it) that every photo I took was more noise than owl. Someday… some day I will capture good photos of an owl!

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the full moon. Technically, the full moon occurs tomorrow afternoon (around 4pm EDT on 9 October)… so we’ll have two nights of a moon that appears full.