The Making of "Great Horned Owlets"

How the winning photo of the "Birds" contest was made

By bulloughphotography in Photo Contests on May 6, 2018

Thanks so much to everyone for your support of this image. It certainly is one of my favorites, and I’m pleased you like it too. The images in this particular contest were lovely, and given the quality of all of them, I’m especially happy you enjoyed these owls staring back at you!

As noted in my submittal, I was fishing along the Weber River, in Utah, USA, when I observed an adult Great Horned Owl flying to and from a nest in the distance. Upon closer inspection, I saw the nest was occupied by these three owlets. The next day, I returned with my camera gear. Despite trying to not alert them as I approached, they noticed my movement, which led to this wide-eyed image. Not wanting to disturb them, I took a few images and quickly retreated.

I’ve been a Pentax shooter since the 1970s and will continue to be for a long time. This particular image was made using the Pentax-D FA 150-450mm lens (a real gem!) with a Pentax 1.4x DA converter, hand-held on a Pentax K-3 body. As you can see from the EXIF data, the lens was fully extended to 630mm with converter, giving a 35mm equivalent of 945mm, and wide open at F8. For those who have questioned or debated the ability of this combination to capture sharp images, perhaps looking at this image will answer those questions. ISO was 1250, exposure was 1/1600s, white balance set to auto, and the image was shot in RAW.

The only editing done to the image was cleaning up a bit of noise, sharpening the image a bit, and adding a very slight vignette to draw the attention to the birds themselves, all done in Adobe Lightroom. Exposure was, as is almost always the case with my K-3, spot on and the focus was exceptional.

Thanks again for your support and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your incredible work in future contests.

- bulloughphotography

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