Images by Rina Miele

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Behind-the-Scenes at a Snowy Owl Shoot

Canon 5D Mark IV · 1/1000 at f/5.6, ISO 2500 · 600mm + 1.4x

Canon 5D Mark IV · 1/1000 at f/5.6, ISO 2500 · 600mm + 1.4x

I woke up in darkness and arrived at the beach about forty-five minutes prior to sunrise. With all my forty (yes, forty) pounds of gear, I allowed myself the time to walk from the parking lot to where the Snowy had been seen. Now, there was no guarantee I’d find the Snowy by the time the morning light set in. I mean, there was no guarantee I’d find him at all! (Which happened two visits later). But it’s always good to have extra time.

The weather was feeling a bit suspicious - dark clouds juxtaposed with vivid color. I had a decision. Walk towards the bright beautiful sun, or the murky foreboding clouds of doom. I went with my gut and chose the latter.

There was no one on the beach yet. It was early - early in the season and early in the morning. It’s good if you find the owl, to have alone-time with it. But it can also be trickier to scour that large beach all by yourself. Fortunately for me, this visit, the Snowy was in plain sight. He made it pretty easy. Though there are always bits of debris on the beach that throw you off.

I approached with caution and got several shots from a distance. (Usually I grab far shots and as I inch forward, grab a few more.) He seemed to be pretty unaffected by my presence. I was able to get pretty close, which he still felt comfortable enough to take a snooze. At that time a few more folks walked onto the beach - and spotted me immediately. They made a beeline for my position. I flagged them down, hoping they’d get my meaning: SLOW DOWN. Unfortunately, they did not and the bird became startled and flew off. He didn’t fly far and we followed him there. From that point on he rested on a piece of driftwood for quite some time, and I proceeded to shoot some video with my Canon EOS R.

Shot on the Canon EOS R + EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 IS II + 600 f/4 IS II at 4K

He did fly off after this perching - not sure why exactly - most people had kept their distance. Perhaps he just wanted a different resting spot. We saw him fly east but I decided not to follow. I usually don’t chase a bird after many flights. If he seems to have flown off because people are encroaching, I most certainly bail. If he just seemed like he just wanted to move, I may follow him. It really depends on the circumstances.

Canon EOS R · 1/25 sec at f/5.6, ISO 250 · 600mm + 1.4x

Canon EOS R · 1/25 sec at f/5.6, ISO 250 · 600mm + 1.4x

But it was a lovely morning. I enjoyed seeing this lovely Adult Male Snowy again and I certainly got several shots to work with. Good day.

Anything else you’d like to know about this shoot? Drop me a line.

Rina Miele