The Best Snowy Owl Image From My Northeast Trip? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Best Snowy Owl Image From My Northeast Trip?

Your Honest Opinion Please

Is today’s featured photo as good as I think it is? Be sure to click on the image to see the spectacular high-res pano version.

What do you think of the image? Of the image quality? What are the strong points? Does anything bug you? Is there any evidence of PhotoShop hanky-panky?

What’s Up?

Tuesday was a rare day at ILE — with rain in the morning and dark clouds for the rest of the day, I never made it down to the lake. Before yesterday, the last day that I did not make a single photograph was on December 2, the day I flew from Long Island back to MCO. Today is Wednesday 21 December 2021. I did my swim in the afternoon. That made 18 of the past 19 days I’ve done at least my 44 lengths. The weather has been amazingly warm for the past month; the pool today was at 91°. The forecast for today is for cloudy early, turning partly sunny and colder in the afternoon with a west/northwest wind all day. The temps, however, will be in the high forties by Thursday morning … With the cloudy forecast and the NW winds, Jim and I are headed back to Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland early for our three-mile photo walk.

Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took less than an hour to prepare, and makes 42 consecutive days with a new one.

Please remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Your Pick In-the-Field Sessions

The beauty of the Your Pick In-the-Field Sessions plans below are that I am free most days from now till mid-January. We can schedule sessions to coincide with the perfect weather forecast. They are ideal for central Florida locals or folks visiting the region for whatever reason. Interested? Get in touch via e-mail or better yet, try my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up. Inquire for couples and group rates.

I was glad to learn that Joe Casey, visiting from Texas, has committed to an afternoon/dinner/overnight/morning combo In-the-Field session here at ILE right after X-mas.

Indian Lake Estates In-the-Field Sessions

Two hours of intensive instruction: $300.00. Add a working brunch with image review: $100.00. Sunset shoot: $100.00. Guest room lodging available. Mix and match.

Sunny mornings with east winds are best. Likely subjects include ridiculously tame Sandhill Cranes along with Black and Turkey Vultures, Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, and more. Bald Eagle possible; chicks coming soon.

Lakeland or Circle B Bar Preserve

Two hours of intensive instruction: $325.00. Add a working brunch with image review: $100.00. Mix and match.

Sunny mornings with east winds are best at Lakeland. Likely subjects include point-blank American White Pelican, Anhinga, Limpkin, Common Moorhen, White Ibis, a variety of wintering ducks including Ring-necked and Wood Ducks, and lots more.

Cloudy mornings or afternoons (shooting session only) are best at Circle B Bar Preserve. Likely subjects include Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Common Moorhen, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Alligator, Wild Boar, and more. If you wish to mix and match, loving at ILE is available.

Sony Alpha 1 Bodies in Stock at Bedfords/free card offer!

Steve Elkins of Bedfords let me know late yesterday that he had several Sony a1 bodies in stock. If one of them has your name on it, please click here and be sure to enter the BIRDSASART coupon code check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. Right now, in lieu of the 3% credit refunded to the card you used for your purchase, you will receive a Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card, a $399.99 value!

Brand New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex Air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a 1, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager-to-please.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link immediately above). My link works with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

Please Remember Also

Please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

This image was created on 29 November 2021 down at Westhampton Beach, Long Island, NY. Standing at full height, I used the no-long-er-available GIT 304L/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted 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 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 3:51:44pm on a sunny afternoon.

Tracking: Zone AF/C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed well enough to produce two sharp eyes. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #1: Snowy Owl taking flight from dunes PANO

The Situation

I found the owl perched in a decent spot on the dunes at Westhampton Beach on Long Island. I was approaching slowly with the big lens on the tripod when I spotted a resident on his walkway just past the owl. He was heading to the beach. With his dog in tow on a leash. I planted my tripod firmly in the sand and got ready for a takeoff sequence. The owl saw the dog right after I got my tripod down. It took flight and turned away to the east. I fired off nine frames before the bird turned. All were in sharp focus. This one was the only usable image as the bird was blocked by the tall grasses in all the other frames.

Par for the Course Alpha 1 AF Performance

In e-mail #25 to the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Notes, I detailed two amazing AF techniques that I discovered only recently. One of these techniques makes the world’s best AF system for birds in flight even better. The other teaches folks working with lenses with DMF (direct manual focus) to acquire and maintain AF when shooting through reeds! In e-mail #26, I made one small change in my set-up and am offering an up-to-date CAMSETA2.DAT file so that those who have updated to Firmware V1.20 can load my setting to their a1 bodies.

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. Yesterday, two a1 folks in the group ordered their third a1! I am envious. The group is now up to an astounding 99 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. The best news is that the first e-mail you will receive includes a .DAT file with my a1 settings on it, and explicit directions on how to load my settings onto your a1; talk about convenience! (Note: I am now offering updated .DAT files).

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 group 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.


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

15 comments to The Best Snowy Owl Image From My Northeast Trip?

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    I Like the Pano look. You don’t see a shot with this look too often. Beautiful. I would guess there is some kind of cleanup attention to detail just from watching the blog post for sometime. I get the crop comments but I like what I see here.

  • “Wait until you see the original.”

    Very sweet image, including the pano crop, and it would make a beautiful large print above a sofa or similar in a Long Island beach cottage or mansion. Love the direct look at the viewer. But what you said about the original and Photoshop hanky-panky makes me think there’s a reason for the pano crop apart from artistic choice. Also, there’s a short, straight horizontal line in front of the talons that doesn’t look natural.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your insightful comment. You have good eyes. I never noticed that speck of a line. It is, however, in the original. I might be something that came up with the liftoff …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Virginia Hayes

    Virginia Hayes
    December 22, 2021 at 3:49PM

    An absolutely gorgeous image. Those eyes! So sharp and beautiful and clearly staring straight at you. Lovely left wing adds to the beauty. I also like that the color of the eyes is similar to the
    color of the grasses and that the two wings gently frame the owl’s head. I might crop a little (very little) off the left. The owl needs lots of room to fly.

  • avatar Joe Usewicz

    Wonderful image. Truly wonderful. No need to crop.

    Regards to Photoshop: Trying to convince myself that there is a repeat section on the horizon behind the owl and to the right corner. But maybe not. If so, incredible touch.
    Also some work at the left center section.

    The colors, the eyes, the wings. Fantastic.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Great image. I’d crop it. One of my own best snowy owl photos was made similarly. I crept up to an owl up wind and up sun from it and waited until a passerby spooked it, which I expected to happen. I wasn’t bothering it but a passerby eventually did and it took off toward me

  • Today’s image of the Snowy Owl is OUTSTANDING!
    And I especially like the bird’s eye alignment/contact.
    No obvious signs of Photoshop tampering.
    However, I’d like to see this image with a horizontal flip(?).
    That is, Westerners typically read from L-R, vs Asians R-L.
    That adjustment may be preferred, if you want my opinion.

  • avatar Doug Bolt

    My first glance told me to look at a wide pano, rather than the beautiful photo of a Snowy Owl, suggesting the crop is more important than the bird. How about a 16×9 crop with the bird’s eyes in the upper right cross-hairs of the rule of thirds grid?

  • What a superb pano. It shows habitat and gives the owl plenty of room to fly into. The pano makes it unique. Beautiful color, and the sharpness of the owl against the more OOF grasses grabs the eye and attention.

  • avatar Bruce Tuck

    A fantastic image! I really like the crop and the bird looking right at the viewer. No shadows to speak of and a real nice matching colour palate overall. I like the black tips of the grasses close to the bird but the horizontal darker grass strand in front of the owl does draw my eye a little.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    I like it very much Art, but I would crop it. If the owl was looking in the direction it is flying, I might not crop it. But, it is looking directly at you! I hope you will crop it.

  • avatar Jay

    I like it. Part of me is saying to crop it, and bring the bird closer to the viewer. But then, I think losing the grasses would take to much away from the image.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>