Cluttered, Dull, Dreary Grays and Browns, Too High, and Relatively Boring/My First Screech Owl: the Eyes Have It! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Cluttered, Dull, Dreary Grays and Browns, Too High, and Relatively Boring/My First Screech Owl: the Eyes Have It!

What’s Up?

I walked Nickerson Beach and peeked in at West End, Jones Beach. There were no Snowy Owl anywhere. Then I headed to Massapequa Park in Nassau County on Long Island to look for the Screech Owl. That worked out a bit better.

Today in Monday 29 November 2021. It is cold and cloudy. I am headed to Westhampton to look for another Snowy Owl. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare and makes 22 consecutive days with a new one.

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Image #1: Photo Mechanic screen capture for the gray morph Eastern Screech Owl in nest hole image

The Exposure

Photo Mechanic shows the sky completely blown out. RawDigger showed 9,000,000 OvExp pixels. Yet, I considered this a perfect exposure. Any?

This image was created on 28 November 2021 at Massapequa Park on Long Island. While standing at full height plus a bit more, I used the no-longer available GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 2000. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/125 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 1:54pm on a very cloudy day.

Tracking: Flexible Spot AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger higher-res version.

Image #1A: gray morph Eastern Screech Owl in nest hole

Cluttered, Dull, Dreary Grays and Browns, Too High, and Relatively Boring

In short, it was a difficult situation. The nest hole was about 60 feet up the tree. There was no light. The owl had its eyes closed 99.9% of the time. Working with the 2X TC meant a high ISO along with low shutter speeds. When a squirrel ran through the leaves at my feet, the owl looked down and opened its eyes ever-so-briefly.

The problem was that the yellow irises appeared totally gray both in the raw file and the converted TIFF. I relied on various Eye Doctor techniques to yellow them up, but it took me a long time as initially, were too orange. Several times I went back and started from scratch.

Note also that I eliminated the large branch in the upper right corner and that I chose to leave the single, out-of-focus scraggly twig in the lower left corner. Would you have removed the latter?

I fully realize that the optimized image will not win any contests. But it is my first-ever screech owl, so I processed with with extreme care.

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You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

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7 comments to Cluttered, Dull, Dreary Grays and Browns, Too High, and Relatively Boring/My First Screech Owl: the Eyes Have It!

  • avatar Eric Larsen

    Arthur, what a pleasure to meet you on Dune Road today. Thanks for the time and stories, Hope you got those shots.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      ey Eric, It was great meeting and chatting with you as well. I got a killer small-in-the-frame take-off shot of the owl in sweet light. Like your bird, the one that I got was very shy; it did not like dogs!

      with love, artie

  • avatar Chris Davidson

    Congrats on your first Screech Owl, Art! Excellent image considering the circumstances.
    I’m not sure the irises of Eastern Screech Owls are that deep of a yellow, at least the ones I have seen and photographed. They seem to be more of a pale greyish yellow at best. Food for thought!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Chris, Thanks for commenting. You are probably correct on the iris color. I did my best to make the irises less orange and more yellow … I must confess that I am not very familiar with this species.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Great shot of the screech owl. Yes, I would have eliminated the scraggly branch.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Today is (not in) Monday. You said the sky was totally blown out yet it was a perfect exposure. That’s because you were photographing the owl, not the sky.

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