The reward for getting up early.

24th June 2014
The last few nights have been really sultry and sleep at the moment doesn't come easy to me. I left my bedroom window open an inch last night in an attempt to let some cool air into the house. Some hope, it felt like being back in India! All that was missing was the smell of curry.
I did manage to sleep briefly until a Blackcap woke me at 03.50, singing from the Ash tree near my bedroom window. I could hardly complain about being woken up by such a prolific songster so I decided to get up at 04.30.
I made some tea and forced myself to eat a very small bowl of cereals, I knew I'd be hungry later. I got some kit together and I left home at 05.15, there was quite a heavy dew on the grass and a slight mist over the fields, however, this was burned off very quickly giving way to a glorious morning.
Soon I was walking through a local deciduous woodland, my boots were soaking with the morning dew and the sun was just coming up over the horizon creating a dappling effect through the woods. Suddenly I caught a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye, a dark shape floating between the trees. I stopped and saw in silhouette an Owl, I knew it must be a Tawny in this situation. Often heard but rarely seen these birds usually appear to a bird watcher in poor light unless they are lucky enough to come across a roosting bird.
However, just in front of me I could now see an adult Tawny Owl perched on a branch just ahead of me. I had my Tripod and Canon 600 over my shoulder but I had a 1.4 converter mounted on it in readiness for some small bird photography. I knew this would be too much lens for this situation so I very carefully lowered the lens and tripod, praying that I wouldn't spook this fabulous bird. I removed the converter and replaced the camera as silently as possible. This is always the time when you can't get the camera mounted back on the lens, thankfully it went on first time. This reinforces my point in a previous blog about an 800mm f5.6 lens not being as versatile as a 600mm f4.0. With the 800mm I would not have made this shot, Too much focal length and too small an aperture!!
There still wasn't great light so I pushed the iso up a little and under exposed by a stop, both to raise the shutter speed a little, you can always recover an under exposed raw image after doing this. This is where RAW has an advantage over jpeg.
Also I had the advantage of a solid tripod and head and a corded shutter release allowing me to shoot at still quite a slow shutter speed. This is where stability is everything!
The Owl remained still, glaring at me, I took a few frames and hoped for the best, after a few seconds it flew up into the canopy and disappeared, I could here it hooting but I didn't see it again.
What a dramatic start to a day!!