Photo of the day: Owl in motion

by DaniGirl on January 10, 2015 · 0 comments

in Life in Ottawa, Photo of the Day

You might argue that this is not a photo at all. It’s bits of two photos, actually, plus a filter, and a colour tweak, and some contrast.

The snowy owl is from a photo I took about this time last year. Have you ever driven the roads south of town, around Eagleson or Barnsdale or Leitrim, and seen the clusters of photographers with their ginormous lenses, shooting towards farmers’ fields? They’re likely on the hunt for a capture of the snowy owl, which is such a highly sought after prize in the local photographic community that people guard the locations of their photos with a ferocity matched only by the pride they exhibit in sharing their captures. I got lucky – we were on our way home from a ski trip and I had my camera in my car when Tristan noticed this snowy owl perched at the top of a telephone pole on Moodie Drive near Brophy. We’ve seen them often since – if you’re driving the rural farm roads south of town, just watch the tops of light poles and farm fenceposts and you’re likely to find one.

The background photo was one I took a week or so ago. Once again, it was Tristan and me in the car – he seems to be the one most indulgent of my occasional need to pull over and take a photograph. The sun was setting on a moody, chilly day and I loved the texture in the sky as the sun poked in and out of a film of clouds. I stopped on Eagleson just south of Fallowfield to snap a photo of the sunset with the silhouette of a farmer’s field in the foreground.

As we drove further south on Eagleson toward Manotick, we laughed to see not one but three clusters of photographers with massive lenses pointing towards tall poles. We drove by too quickly to be able to resolve the owls, but I’m quite sure they were there. I had only my wide-angle lens with me, and no mittens on a raw cold day, so it was easy to resist the temptation to stop. But I was inspired – how would my previously-captured snowy owls look against this dramatic sky?

Here’s the answer!

photo of a snowy owl against the sunset

I wasn’t completely in love in love with the composite, partly because the light on the owl was coming from the wrong direction and partly because I was a little sloppy with my selection and extraction but too lazy to go back and re-do it. I wanted something a little more dream-like and moody, so I added the painterly texture, and then played with the tones until it had this low-contrast, blue vibe.

Not so much a photograph as a digital painting, but I’m happy that I achieved the mood I set out to convey. Have you seen the snowy owls? It’s a fun afternoon out to go looking for them with the kids!

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