Yesterday I shared with you the first photo I'd ever taken of a Snowy Owl. Today I'm sharing with you the most recent photo I've taken of a Snowy Owl. It is fun to look back on photos through the years and see how my photography has changed - hopefully for the better!
This story starts out much like my story yesterday. I was out again with my trusty Scout in search of anything with feathers. We had gotten up waaay before the chickens and set off on our adventures...hot coffee in hand and excitement in our hearts - we are, after all, forever the optimists.
We arrived at our destination before the sun's alarm clock rang and began our search - which consisted of walking a few miles up and down paths and barren beaches - only to be blasted by the wind, snow and sand. After more than an hour of searching we decided to return to our original destination and try once again. While walking down the beach we met up with another photographer who informed us that she had seen the Snowy - about a mile down the beach. And so off we trudged again - and again we came up empty.
We decided to head back to the car, warm our toes and re-think our strategy. On the way back, we happened to glance over to our right and there, waaaay off in the distance, was this little white speck that looked like cotton on top of a Q-tip. I couldn't believe it!! The Owl was where we began our search before dawn! We picked up our pace, my heart was pounding with excitement - and with each step I was silently praying the Owl would be there when we got there.
We slowed to a crawl as we neared the Owl. My trusty Scout hung back to lessen our chances of scaring it off. I veered away from the path where the Snowy was sitting - taking slow, deliberate steps. I didn't dare even glance towards the Owl, hoping that it wouldn't perceive me as a threat if I didn't make eye contact. I cautiously walked to a position where I thought I might be able to get a nice, clean view of the Owl and then and only then did I dare turn my head her way. I prayed she was still sitting on the branch...and she was...eyes closed, not a care in the world (actually, I'm quite sure this Owl has many cares - which is why I always do my very best to remain respectful of wildlife and of the distance between us). I set my shutter to silent mode and slowly raised my camera for a shot. Success! It didn't even open it's eyes! I took a few more shots to check my lighting and then positioned myself behind a small bush - again hoping to not disturb this magnificent Owl.
And there I stood - once again freezing my little toes off - hoping to capture this beauty in a pose other than that of "sleeping Owl."
For those of you that haven't had the opportunity to see a Snowy Owl in the wild - let me tell you this...photographing Snowy Owls (or any Owl) is an exercise in patience. These Owls can sit for hours and hours and hours and hours and HOURS without so much as batting an eyelid. As long as they are not disturbed by your presence - they will happily sleep the day away, only occasionally opening their eyes to make sure they aren't missing a meal running by, or to adjust a feather that has gotten misplaced. It can be hard to maintain your mental focus when photographing such a subject.
Thankfully, I was paying attention at this particular moment (one of the few times she actually moved at all!) - although I'm guessing she might have wished I hadn't caught this on camera. Yes, she looks so graceful with her wings spread in the air - perhaps about to lift off into one of those magical, silent flights. But no...she was actually catching her balance. She lost her footing and almost fell off of this snag she was standing on while preening! But boy, does she look beautiful doing it!
I guess Epictetus was right. It really isn't about what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters - both for the Snowy and for me.
Snowy Owl January 2019 - New England