Back Modifications (3)
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Lethal Stare

By WeeGeordieLass    
I took the shot of this captive owl at Martin Mere Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. The bird was on a perch in a tent and, as I wanted to keep the shutter speed up to avoid camera shake, I upped the ISO to 800.

My two main objectives with this shot were to focus on the eyes so they were sharp, and also to expose the feathers correctly to avoid any blown out areas and to show the detail.

Could I have done anything different to improve the shot? I'd be grateful for any advice.

Tags: Pets and captive animals Wildlife and nature

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saeidNL 9 3 Netherlands
6 May 2012 7:51PM
Excellent and lovely capture,

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6 May 2012 7:58PM
Thanks Saeid. It was a beautiful bird - I'm glad you think I've taken a good shot if it.


6 May 2012 8:24PM
Personally i think you achieved your objectives as the detail in feathers are superb and the eyes are clear and well focused. Good work
6 May 2012 8:39PM
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Paul, and welcome to EPZ. I appreciate your positive opinion on the shot.


banehawi Plus
15 2.1k 4021 Canada
6 May 2012 8:53PM
Hi Elaine. A good shot.

You have achieved one of your objectives, and have come close to the second.

The exposure is really good, feathers detailed and not at all blown. The eyes however are not quite in focus. If you look closely at the shot, you will see the hairs just in front of the eyes are very sharp, then the eyes themselves soften a little.

This is likely due to the fact that the focus point you used was not placed directly on an eye, and the camera focused just in front of the eye. Make sure you are using a SINGLE focus point and not multiple points.

At 300mm, your shutter speed should have been around 1/450, though the slower speed hasnt caused lack of sharpness. (The handheld rule, shutter speed = 1/(focal length X crop factor). Crop factor for your camera is 1.5.

Also, try to stop down on stop from max aperture of 5/6 to f.8, - you would have needed much higher ISO, but with increased dof may have nailed the eyes (that sounds painful!)

Tried to get the eyes a little sharper in the mod.

I hope this is helpful.


mhfore 12 8 176 England
6 May 2012 8:59PM
Hello Elaine how are you ?

Elaine as you know I very rarely offer advice on how to take a shot so I can't help there but compositionally I think I would be tempted to crop some of the empty space from the left. We know about leaving room for your subject to look into but as this Owl is looking straight at you a tighter crop may work. You've taken a good shot here Elaine and all i've done in the mod is crop the left to place the eye's nearer a third, add "Overlay" in your blend mode and reduce the effect to 50% and a little lightening with the "dodge" tool to the eye's.

Good capture Elaine.

Take care
6 May 2012 9:12PM
Hi Willie,

Thanks for the mod - yes....the eyes are sharper!

I was using multiple focus points - I'll remember your advice about using single point for this kind of shot in future. Thanks for letting me know about the "hand-held" rule, and also for your advice on aperture and ISO...............oh heck there's so much to remember - maybe I'll get it right one day!

Your advice is much appreciated Willie.


6 May 2012 9:23PM
Hi Martin,

I'm good thanks - been a bit busy with work lately, so I've not been as active on EPZ. I hope you're good too.

Thanks for your mod. I see your point about the crop, and it's definitely something to consider for the final version. Using "Overlay" gives another option too - so thanks for that.

P.S. I think your Night Train shot is fantastic.

Cheers and thanks for your advice.

6 May 2012 9:30PM
Hi Paul,

The colours in your mod are great - on my monitor they look a bit more saturated............and the eyes are sharper and brighter.

Thanks for this, I'll try it myself.



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