Photo Tips


Wingstretch Snowy Owl

Compliments of Wingstretch Photography Workshops

Owl Photography – Tips For Getting Great Owl Pictures.

  • Great owl pictures can and should be taken in a variety of lighting and weather conditions.  Overcast snowy days add contrast and mood to portraits and sunny days are ideal for flight shots that require faster shutter speeds.  So if you’re lucky enough to find a subject plan a few repeat visits in mixed conditions while at the same time trying not to disturb the bird as much as possible.  Keeping a healthy distance usually does the trick.
  • If you are after flight shots you really need to study up on the specific species.  While most owls are nocturnal meaning they are active at night there are exceptions.  For example the Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk Owl and Great Gray Owl are diurnal meaning they are primarily active during the day so that affords great opportunities for  a variety of owl behaviors including hunting and flight shots.
  • For flight shots F/8 is my preferred f stop but not at the expense of shutter speed.  The Great Gray Owls I have photographed are a great example to draw on.  I have found them to be most active just before and at dusk.  As the light falls off I will compensate by bumping the ISO to keep the shutter speed above 1/800 but eventually I drop back to f/4 (2.8 if you have it)  Of course if you are taking portrait shots where the bird is perched you won’t need to be as concerned about shutter speed.
  • As with all wildlife photography focus on the eye is key.  This is especially so with owls as one of their marquee features is their eyes.  The wide eyed saw-whet owl picture on the front page with the brilliant yellow eyes demonstrates this notion beautifully.
  • Whether they are perched or flying you need to pay attention to the background in order to get winning owl pictures.  I am always on the lookout for owls in pines, snow covered trees, a rock out cropping, etc. as they make excellent backdrops for owls.  Conversely, I avoid man made objects like telephone poles, fences, cars, etc. as they detract from the natural beauty of the image, but you already knew that one.