Snowy Owl Miracle: Very Muddy and a Little Bloody « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Snowy Owl Miracle: Very Muddy and a Little Bloody

What’s Up?

I headed back to Long Beach on Friday morning for seconds on the owl. It turned out to be a rather miraculous outing. See below for more on that. You can learn a valuable lesson by considering the High Level Perspective Question just below the I-phone image … Friday afternoon was a bust as it was cloudy way dark and the wind was howling from the west with gusts in excess of 35mph.

Today is Saturday 27 November 2021. With clear skies and a strong NW wind, I opted to stay in and write this blog post. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took less than two hours to prepare and makes 20 consecutive days with a new one.

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I-phone image

Image #1: Snowy Owl (facing away) 🙁 on rock near marsh

Finding the Owl

The forecast called for a “90% chance of rain.” I arrived at about 8am. Over the course of three hours, it drizzled for about three minutes. I walked west about 3/4 of a mile without my gear to search for the owl. There was nothing doing so I headed back towards my car. While getting close to the parking lot, I spotted the owl sitting on a large rock just behind the lot. After getting my gear, I went to work until 11am.

I made this I-phone image to give folks an idea of the setting.

High Level Perspective Question

Did I spend the bulk of my time photographing the owl from well to the left or from well to the right of the spot from which I made Image #1? How did you know?

The iPhone Photography e-Guide

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The PDF is sent link by e-mail for downloading: the file is relatively huge at 216 MB.

Hard to Believe

Yes, Cliff has a great eye and wonderfully creative vision. Yet it is still hard for me to believe that he can make so many great images with just an i-phone. Almost more amazingly Cliff captures with his iPhone and does all of his post-processing on the phone! In this great new e-Guide written for BIRDS AS ART you will learn to use set up you iPhone quickly and efficiently and how to use it. In addition, there are dozens and dozens of tips on Cliff’s favorite apps and his favorite gear. Scroll down to the bottom to see the Table of Contents.

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Dr. Cliff Oliver

Dr. Cliff Oliver is an award-winning photographer, former photography instructor for the San Diego Natural History Museum, cutting-edge integrative health care professional, and international workshop leader. He created and taught the first 5-day immersion iPhone photography workshop at Hollyhock, Canada’s premier Leadership Learning Center. He teaches quarterly iPhone photography classes at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library School of the Arts (these include Art on the iPhone, iPhoneography, Portraits and Selfies, and Practicing in the Field). His images have been on the cover of WildBird magazine, on display at Scripps Oceanography Institute, and been honored with multiple first-place finishes in the International Exhibition of Photography Del Mar. The San Diego Natural History Museum’s, “Birds of the World” centennial exhibit featured several of his images. One of his iPhone images received an honorable mention in the Athenaeum 23rd annual juried exhibition. He has displayed images at Art Speaks: Expressions of Hope and Healing and has produced a series of books, called Zen I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII that feature original images that promote inner peace. The last 4 books feature only images taken on the iPhone. He teaches individuals and groups the skills of capturing iPhone/mobile photographs and then how to create personalized works of art.

To see some of Cliff’s iPhone images, click here. Learn more about Cliff and what he does on his Center for Balance website here. And don’t forget, if I had never met Cliff I would be pushing up daisies somewhere. To request my Health Basics File that contains the whole story, please shoot me an e-mail by clicking here..

This image was created on 26 November 2021 at Long Beach, Fairfield, CT. Standing, I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod (no longer available)/ Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-supported Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 1600. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/400 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 1:15pm.

Tracking: Spot S with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly by tracking and nailing the bird’s right eye. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #2: Snowy Owl staring (after preening)

The Preening Session!

For the first hour, the owl simply sat on the rock with it eyes barely open. Things got really exciting when the bird changed position and began preening the feathers on its leggings and picking the mud from between its impressive talons. With the mud on the central breast feathers and traces of blood on the leg feathers, it was obvious that the bird had enjoyed an early morning breakfast in the marsh.

There are two owls at this location; this is the very tame one. It looked up to the sky briefly when a Herring Gull flew by and harassed it with a half-hearted dive. And it stared at the sky when a low-flying helicopter went right over. It never once reacted to my presence. It had been preening away just before I made today’s featured image; perhaps it heard something in the nearby bushes. Out of more than 800 images that I made, this image, and the others in a short series, were the only one that featured two fairly wide open eyes.

At one point I removed the TC and created several videos; I am pretty sure that the last one will be the bomb.

RawDigger showed that the raw file was about 1/3 stop too dark; that knowledge is immensely helpful when doing the raw conversion in Adobe Camera Raw.

This image was created on 26 November 2021 at Long Beach, Fairfield, CT. Standing, I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod (no longer available)/ Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-supported Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 1600. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/400 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 1:15pm.

Tracking: Spot S with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly by tracking and nailing the bird’s right eye. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #2A: tight square crop of Snowy Owl staring (after preening) image

a1 Image Quality

The tight crop here allowed me to eliminate the muddy breast feathers.

I continue to be in awe of the image quality of sharp Sony a1 files. They can easily stand up to large or even massive crops. And as mentioned here previously, you the color of at files is far more accurate than the colors of files from the a9, the a9 ii, or the a7r III or IV. With most photos, the raw file matches the color space in my mind.

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Bedfords still has a very few SONY Alpha 1 bodies in stock. Order yours, save 3% by using the BIRDS AS ART discount code at checkout, enjoy free second day air Fed-Ex, and earn free entry into the BIRDS AS ART Sony Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Notes Group. As part of the attraction, the first e-mail that you will receive includes a .DAT file with my a1 settings and explicit directions on how to load my settings onto your a1; talk about convenience! Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took more than two hours to prepare.

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as more and more folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based answers. As the a1 is becoming more readily available, more and more folks are getting their hands on this amazing body. With another photographer joining yesterday, we are now up to an astounding 95 lucky and blessed folks. Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.) This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, folks can call Jim weekdays at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.


In all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

16 comments to Snowy Owl Miracle: Very Muddy and a Little Bloody

  • avatar Geoff

    You moved right. The white spot on the OOF rock has moved from right of the owl to almost under it so that means you moved right. If you had moved left it would have widened the gap between owl and that white spot.

    Love the image!

  • avatar Chuck Carlson

    The white plumage of the Snowy really expands the dynamic range challenge! Whiter than white. Thanks!

  • The pattern of the rocks shows right, and the bird (when the head isn’t turned away as in the iPhone image) is facing right. Going left would have had the bird angled away, and risk having branches in the background. Should have answered this morning. 😉

  • avatar Richard Curtin

    Foreground rock closer to owl. Would guess to the right.

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    Blood on the talons. That boy been hunting!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    ps: moving left would have resulted in a browner, darker BKGR.

    with love, artie

  • Artie
    It could be the marsh grass would have been to tall on the left and you wouldn’t have got the whole owl in the picture. Your only option would have been right. The sun is under the clouds so that should not have affected your moving.
    always with love b

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good on taking a second try 🙂 Answer is still right, the reason is still wrong 🙂

      with love, a

      ps: I was well over the foreground grasses with the big lens on the tripod.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Tom and the two Davids are wrong. There is a small clue in the I-phone photo. Bob got the right answer but his reasoning is incorrect.

    All are invited to take a closer look and try again.

    with love, artie

    ps: thanks to all who commented 🙂

  • Artie
    To me it looks like you went to your right with the background and the rock it is perched on to the owls left foot is sharp in the photo and if you had moved to your left it wouldn’t be and it would be possible to have the owls body intersect on the large rock to the right is my guess.
    I am in awh and envy of this photo and opportunity to capture something so beautiful, i would have loved to be there or for me just to see one here to get the chance to take photos.
    Always with love b

  • avatar Tom

    Left side. Angle of the rocks.

  • avatar David Pugsley

    Looks like you went left to put some of the brown in the background to contrast the white bird. Only a hunch, but going right might have been mostly sky and/or ocean in the background.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Amazing up close image of the owl! You certainly are having a great time.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Wonderful image. I think you were well to the left because of the color of the background.

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