Have You Ever Wondered What Photographing Gray Owls in the Wild is Like?

How many of you folks out there have actually seen an owl in the wild? If you’ve ever wondered what photographing them must be like, this video will take you through an evening in pursuit of owls in the Tetons.

In this video from Steve Mattheis we see what it’s like to be on the hunt with his camera gear for owls out and about in nature. We can also pickup some simple tips that can help us out if we ever find ourselves in a similar situation. I think that as one would expect, the real take away from this video (or any wildlife photography related topic for that matter) is that a lot of patience and a little luck are the name of the game.

The main thing we can glean from this one are distance from subject and focal length. Unless you are crazy lucky, you’re generally not going to get super close to owls, especially if they are out hunting for their evening meal. This means that your 50mm, 85mm, and 105mm lenses are not going to be your friends here. When you’re out birding (owling in this case, is that a thing?) you’ll want to longest telephoto lens that you can manage, greater than 300mm is a good place to start but the longer the focal length the better.

Have you ever seen an owl in the wild? I know that I’ve seen a couple here and there, usually around dusk flying from a telephone pole or something like that though they are definitely a rare sight. Only once have I seen an owl out in the forest hunting for food and it was epic. It was a chilly morning and I was out hiking and pretty much had the whole trail to myself. I saw something fly from one tree to the ground then back up to another tree. It was a huge owl, I could barely contain my excitement, and I pretty much stood there taking photos (despite being ill-equipped) for the next 30 or so minutes. If you’ve had the patience and good fortune to capture an owl before, drop the photo in the comments, I’d love to see what you found.

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