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Night Time Sentinel

Night Time Sentinel
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-03
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon F80, Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR
Exposure: f/3.5
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Silhouettes, Owls all over the world [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-11-16 18:21
Viewed: 4397
Points: 12
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I saw this guy while driving in the early evening. He stood out against the sky as a “Night Time Sentinel”. I didn’t have a tripod with me so basically l shut off my car, leaned against this and held my breath while I took the shot. I can’t remember the speed, but it was slow. The aperture was wide open.

Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) are found throughout much of North and South America. They are one of the most widespread owls.
They are a large owl standing 18 to 25 inches tall with a wingspan of up to 5 feet. The female is typically larger than the male.

They have large facial disks shaped like a shallow bowl. This shape acts like a parabolic dish, to help funnel sound into the ear openings. Owls have incredible senses of hearing, a trait that allows them to hunt at night. Their ears are located on the sides of the head, but are off-set, not symmetrical like human ears. The openings of the ears are slightly tilted in different directions; often the right ear is longer and set higher up on the skull. Plus, owls have soft feathers that surround the openings which they can spread to make a funnel for sound to enter the ear. This enables the owl to use triangulation to pinpoint the source of a sound, when the prey can not be seen. By tilting or moving their head until the sound is of equal volume in each ear, the owl can pinpoint the direction and distance of the sound. Great Horned Owl eyes are very large, allowing a great amount of light to pass through the pupil, so the owl can see in dark conditions. They can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees, thanks to extra vertebra in their necks. Because their eyes are fixed in their sockets they can't move their eyes up or down or side to side. When owls are awake, they use their hearing and eyesight to alert them of danger or possible prey. Owl feathers are very soft. This helps to deaden the sound of air rushing over the feathers while the bird is in flight. Also the front edge of the first primary or wing feather is toothed like a hand saw. This helps wind pass over the wings and keep the bird's flight noiseless.

From a quiet perch, the owl listens for sounds that betray a creature's presence. They may move about from tree to tree to get a better fix on the source of the sound. Once they pinpoint the sound, the owl silently swoops in, spreads its talons wide and pounces on its prey; this is known as the "perch and pounce" hunting method.
(from: http://www.desertusa.com/mag00/jan/papr/ghowl.html )

Post processing included lightening of the shadows, noise reduction (this is a scan of a slide shot with poor light), and some adjustment to levels. The final version was sharpened for this post.

horia, Shoot_Score, pierrefonds has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To horia: Horror MovieJPlumb 1 11-28 22:17
To Matt-Bird: Owl SilhouetteJPlumb 1 11-28 21:42
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi John,
Nice shot. The silohette of the trees are nice. At first I thought this is just an ok photo but when I saw the owl at the top of the tree it was like wow thats cool. The owl is a real focal point drawing the eye towards it. It has that feel that 'one of these things isn't like the others'.
Well seen regards

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2006-11-23 4:37]
  • [+]

Hi John

This really looks like taken from one of those horror movies! The composition here is magnificent!
You were indeed wuite lucky to catch it right on top...i saw plenty of them, but usually they were in the middle of the canopy.
The mood and lights here are great, the colors of the sky wonderful and the details nice and sharp.

Bravo and TFS

I am very much liking your capture of the Owl and trees in silhouette. Also nice colours in the sky.


Hi John,
a very nice touch is the bit of cloud in the LR corner.

I like silhouette shots and this one has a really nice focal poit in the owl! I can't ID the tree it is on, might even be dead... But for folks around the world who know next to nothing abt our < Canuck > forests you might wanna point out the needleless tamarack (Larix laricina) , oohoo eh! ;)

PS I got a pair of eagles like that on Big Island... But given the butes on TN,,, I'm holding that one for private viewing only ;)

Hi John,

A nice image of the owl in the tree, the photo has a good composition, DOF and nice colors. Thanks for sharing.


Hello John,
Interesting capoture of tree with owl!
That guy is probably waiting for the night, a moody capture with the silhouetted trees and the misty background...
Pablo -

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