High ISO shooting can be fun!

This is the Great Horned Owl I believe is one of the new owls from last year.  Here’s the story, if you’re interested!

I arrived at the Ridgefield refuge at 5:30 this morning and there was a dark overcast on top of the fact that the sun hadn’t risen up over the ridge yet….i.e., it was very dark (photography-wise). This was in stark contrast to the previous 3 – 4 weeks of almost cloudless mornings when temperatures topped out at 95 – 100 each day.  To me, dark cloudy day meant 5D Mark III-time, for its excellent low noise performance.  With camera set up, I headed out onto the auto tour.  Taking a few test shots I realized that at my base shutter speed for birds of 1/1250th, I was going to need at least a 10,000 ISO setting at f4–and this was out in the open with no trees.  Not the most opportune conditions!

I entered the Ash tree forest at about 6 a.m. and after turning the corner past marker #9, I saw an owl’s silhouette on a branch against a relatively bright sky.  I was to the owl’s left side and it was probably 40 feet away, only 10 feet high.  It’s much darker in the forest, so I dialed in 1/100 shutter speed (for the static bird) and 12,800 ISO.  The owl was so dark I could not tell with the naked eye if it was looking straight ahead or turned at me.  Through the viewfinder I could tell because the faint yellow in the eyes was then visible.  I took a bunch of shots and hoped for the best.  At one point, I also observed a silhouette of the owl raising its right talon, against the light sky, with prey in it .  While I was shooting, I could hear many small birds around the owl making a horrendous racket as if they were very angry with the bird.  After a few minutes, the owl flew somewhere in back of where I was positioned.  About a half-dozen small birds–probably starlings–went after the owl and the forest turned quiet.  Maybe the owl had a starling in its talon–maybe not but it was a medium-sized catch.  I was fortunate to find a spot to shoot between the trees.

VIEW LARGE

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/100, f4, ISO 12,800, 500mm, 6:10 a.m.

 

This is the Great Horned Owl I believe is one of the new owls from last year.  Here’s the story, if you’re interested!

I arrived at the Ridgefield refuge at 5:30 this morning and there was a dark overcast on top of the fact that the sun hadn’t risen up over the ridge yet….i.e., it was very dark (photography-wise). This was in stark contrast to the previous 3 – 4 weeks of almost cloudless mornings when temperatures topped out at 95 – 100 each day.  To me, dark cloudy day meant 5D Mark III-time, for its excellent low noise performance.  With camera set up, I headed out onto the auto tour.  Taking a few test shots I realized that at my base shutter speed for birds of 1/1250th, I was going to need at least a 10,000 ISO setting at f4–and this was out in the open with no trees.  Not the most opportune conditions!

I entered the Ash tree forest at about 6 a.m. and after turning the corner past marker #9, I saw an owl’s silhouette on a branch against a relatively bright sky.  I was to the owl’s left side and it was probably 40 feet away, only 10 feet high.  It’s much darker in the forest, so I dialed in 1/100 shutter speed (for the static bird) and 12,800 ISO.  The owl was so dark I could not tell with the naked eye if it was looking straight ahead or turned at me.  Through the viewfinder I could tell because the faint yellow in the eyes was then visible.  I took a bunch of shots and hoped for the best.  At one point, I also observed a silhouette of the owl raising its right talon, against the light sky, with prey in it .  While I was shooting, I could hear many small birds around the owl making a horrendous racket as if they were very angry with the bird.  After a few minutes, the owl flew somewhere in back of where I was positioned.  About a half-dozen small birds–probably starlings–went after the owl and the forest turned quiet.  Maybe the owl had a starling in its talon–maybe not but it was a medium-sized catch.  I was fortunate to find a spot to shoot between the trees.

VIEW LARGE

Canon 5D Mark III, 1/100, f4, ISO 12,800, 500mm, 6:10 a.m.

 

2 thoughts on “High ISO shooting can be fun!”

  1. I really like your comments about the circumstances and technique involved in the pictures you post. Wonderful picture! Doesn’t even look like it has any grain at all.

    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Fred! Glad you like the information I add to the posts. That kind of stuff interests me so I hope other photographers might get a kick out of it, too.

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My Gear:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV & Grip
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Canon EF 500mm f4L IS II
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f4L
  • Canon EF 50mm f1.8
  • Canon 1.4X III Extender
  • Canon 2x III Extender
  • Canon 580EX Flash
  • Zoom H1 Recorder
  • Better Beamer
  • Manfrotto tripod/monopod
  • Manfrotto Gimbal Head
  • Sandisk Compact Flash Cards
  • The Molar Bean Bag by Vertex
  • Joby Gorillapod Focus & Ballhead
  • Canon EG200 Backpack
  • Storm Jacket Camera Cover
  • Kinesis Safari Sack
  • Original Bug Shirt Elite Edition

Software:

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  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic
  • Nik Color EFEX Pro 4
  • Nik Sharpener 3
  • Nik Dfine 2.0
  • Nik Viveza 2
  • Nik HDR Efex Pro 2
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