Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No Pain, No Gain.

This weekend instead of watching the Super Bowl I headed out to Damon Point in Ocean Shores, Washington to capture some images of the Snowy Owl, visitors from the Arctic, who, don't make it this far South.

Traveling around Ocean Shores is one of those places where if you don't know where you're going, then it takes awhile to get there.  Pulling up in the parking lot, getting the gear together, I asked a couple of passing photographers, where the Owls might be. They pointed down the beach and said, "you see that grassy area about 1 1/2 miles, that's the location, but then you have to walk another mile or so to reach where they are."

So, armed with a 400mm lens, a tripod, two cameras, and batteries I headed off.  Walking down a sandy beach with your feet sinking in the sand is bad enough, but carrying 50 plus pounds of photographic gear made the trek a bit more difficult. It was a nice afternoon and with the grassy area getting nearer, the walk because easier.

Once there, the owls were easy to spot, because of all the bird watchers and photographers gathered in one or another location. Still, I have to walk through the tall grass, over and around huge driftwood logs that were washed up on the beach to get near enough to take photos.

The owls were amazing raptors, sitting there on a piece of driftwood or perched in a tree,  just letting the hordes of people walk around their location. I set up my gear and was able to capture the two-and a half foot tall bird, until they either grew tired of people and flew to another spot.  Where they went, we all went. It was kind of like following a pro golfer up and down the links during a tournament.  Unless, you were in that right  shooting location  it was hard to capture them in flight. However, I did get some really photos of them in the evenings "magic light".

 My feet, shoulders, back and legs hurt from totting the gear to and from,  but before relaxing,  I needed to  download, edit, tone and caption images to send off to UPI before soaking my weary bones in a hot tub.

Waking up early even more sore and stiff from the previous day, I packed up, and headed out with hopes of capturing the owls in flight.

My hopes were dashed when a passing a returning photographer, who mentioned that she was able to capture a grouping of owls in one area, but they flew off in different directions. What a depressing thing to hear. I envisioned only capturing the same type of images from the evening before.  I almost gave up, turned around to head home, yet, I continued onward.

This time there wasn't  too many photographers and bird watchers, so I was able to get within a closer range to make images.  I only carried a 300mmf2.8, and 70-200mm f2.8, two camera bodies, extra batteries, a 1.4 and 2x extenders. No tripod today, I decided to hand hold my lenses making it easier to follow the birds when they took flight.

You can't image the excitement I felt while looking into my preview screen and previewing the landing, flying and taking off photos. I spent the  better part of the morning into the late afternoon following the birds, and even managed to caption some frames of two of them together and afterwards decided to head back down the beach to car. I was even more so tired and sore, however, I'm a firm believer in that old adage, "No Pain, No Gain!

Here's a few of the images I capture.