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Great horned owl closeups

Extreme closeup of a captive great horned owl taken with my Nikon DX 85mm micro (as in macro) lens. A couple more shots after the jump.


The pair of owls are captives at Devils Punchbowl Natural Area near Pearblossom in the high desert of Los Angeles County. The park is a 76-mile drive from downtown Los Angeles on the opposite side (i.e. the north side) of the San Gabriel Mountains, just to give you an idea the immense size of L.A. County.

Both owls are behind chain-link fence, which is a pain in the ass to shoot through. The great horned owl was extremely not shy and flew to a branch near me. I popped the macro lens on my D5100 -- it's not often you can get less than two feet from an owl. 

The first shot -- the extreme closeup of one eye -- is easily the best photograph because it's a unique view. The photo tells a story: an owl's eye is a pretty amazing piece of anatomy. 

The black-and-white shot works, too, because it also tells a story: this wild bird is a captive. 

The third shot helps explain the difficulty of working with macro lenses. The depth-of-field is extremely narrow. In this case, I was aiming to get the beak in focus and just missed; the base of the beak is in focus and everything else -- the eyes and the tip of the beak -- are slightly blurry. It was a mistake although I like the result. 

The final photo is a barn owl that was in the neighboring enclosure. Apparently both owls were injured as infants and became habituated to human rescuers, the reason they are still captives. 

One other note about the photo: They were taken at dusk and the light wasn't so great, meaning I had to bump up the ISO, which is hardly ideal. A photographer could easily spend a few hours in the afternoon at the enclosures working to get good photos in better light. 

All of these photos are available as prints at very reasonable prices, including mounted options that are ready for hanging. More info here. Please feel free to check out my SmugMug site for all my work.


All photos above are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

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