What a Hoot!!!

'09 Owl-

I’m always kicking myself when I decide not to bring my camera with me to work. However, today I lucked out and had thrown my gear in the truck just in case i got inspired. In the middle afternoon I received a call from a co-worker that an owl had taken refuge under and overhang that just happened to be in front of a large glass window. The owl was perched on a tree branch trying to take a break after digesting a meal while avoiding the large water and ice run-off coming off the roof. This forced him right up against the full length glass window which was semi-transparent. A few people have gathered around to see such a pretty owl up close, and he was quite aware of us looking at him. It was thrilling to be so close to an owl, and was fascinating to see his large human-like eyes stare right back at you through the glass.

I grabbed my camera bag and rushed over when i got the call, but unfortunately i was not able to just start shooting. Since the camera had been stored in my truck, and the best view of the owl was from inside, My camera and lenses were at drastically different temperatures. I was forced to take all my gear out of the camera bag and allow them to warm up and de-fog. With so many people passing by, I was growing anxious that the Owl would fly away before I could get a decent shot. I stayed calm, but placed the lenses in some sunshine to speed the warming process as well as wiped the glass surfaces with a clean camera cloth repeatedly to remove the moisture and streaks. Normally I wouldn’t touch the glass surfaces before the moisture had evaporated, but I was willing to take the risk in order to speed up the process. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the sensor inside the camera. I just crossed my fingers that the sensor either wouldn’t attract condensed moisture on it, or would warm up in such a way that it could be avoided. (My thinking is that the camera engineers would have thought about this problem and produced a sensor out of a material that would not be susceptible to moisture condensation).

Once the lenses seemed ready, I grabbed the first one and started firing. The viewer glass fogged immediately  on me, but I was pretty confident that the lens elements were clear. (Crossed my fingers anyways). As I was shooting, the Owl had inched higher and higher on the branch and was wedging itself against the glass and the underside of the overhang. I grew ever more anxious and swapped lenses rapidly trying to get a variety of shots to work from.

In the end, I only got a few decent shots i was comfortable with. All of them had some sort of  issue with the glass reflection, and I was unable to catch him before he had gone too high to compose a shot without the overhang being in the shot. None the less I cropped a few to minimize those unavoidable elements and I’m happy a few of the portraits. All in all, It was a perfect example of why I should carry my camera with me, and a quick lesson in adapting to changing environments.

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