Last summer I was fortunate to have some unusual visitors to my back yard. We had a cicada invasion, and the insects were crawling up out of the ground and making their usual racket. Siting in my office, I thought I saw a dog run across the clearing. On further inspection, it was Great Horned Owl! To add to my surprise, two juvenile owls waddled out of the underbrush. All three were after the tasty morsels emerging from their sleep.
Seeing a Geat Horned Owl around these parts is rare, and having two juveniles on the ground in one's own yard even rarer. I knew I had to get to work, for this might be a fleeting moment.
I had no idea what I was in for. It took me two weeks to get a usable shot. These guys earned their reputation as the top of the avian hunter chain, as they could see and hear my every move. I tried a Doghouse blind, laying on the deck, laying in mud, a Kwik Kamo blind–enough things to make my wife start muttering about "obsession". Finally I tried TWO Doghouse blinds, so the little rascals would be confused about where I was hiding.
Once I was able to keep the owls in the yard while I was in one blind, my problem became composition. What owl would look my way when nice juicy cicadas were on the ground in front of them? Any noise I made, including shutter noise, would make them look up and scurry. Then it hit me. The first shutter click might get their attention, the second shutter click could be my shot. That's how I captured the image above.
My lesson was: stay on point past the first shot. Don't line up your shot, only to pull away after your first shutter click. Stay focused and concentrate on what happens after your first click. Be there for the second shot, the third shot and more.
You never know what might happen after that first shot. The second one may the the one that nails it.
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