Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

A passion for Barn Owls

Barn Owl attack_1, originally uploaded by Tony McLean.

I must confess that I have a passion for photographing Barn Owls. I’m not sure if there is a cure or indeed, if I even wish to be cured. The good news is that the population of Barn Owls in the U.K appears to be on the increase. Their ghostly white form contrasts wonderfully against the rich colours of the summer landscape. The fact that they are crepuscular (a great word that means they primarily active at dawn and dusk) means that I have to keep pretty unsociable hours and this plays havoc with my sleep patterns.

Yesterday, the local Barn Owls were particularly active. In fact, in the morning, one flew directly over the top of the hide in which I was sitting and I swear that I could have reached out and touched it! The photograph above was taken at 8.30 pm. The light was fading fast and I had just removed the x1.7 tele-conveter from my 500 mm lens and replaced it with a x1.4. This gave me an extra half stop of light. Even so, I was still shooting at ISO 2500 in order to give me a shutter speed of 1/1250 of a second. A little work in Photoshop allowed me to reduce the noise and still keep most of the marvellous detail.

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