GMC Photographics at Gloucester Barn Owl Sanctuary

Yesterday I visited the Gloucester Barn Owl Sanctuary with Guy Edwardes and a posse of photographers to photograph lots of stunning exotic Owls and Buzzards in the surrounding fields. We started at around 3pm and the weather was less than ideal, over cast and showery…where we were hoping for clear skies and late evening sun shine. This meant that we had to delve deeper into our camera’s ISO abilities and work harder to compensate for our falling light levels. By around 9pm, the light was too low to get clean shots, so Guy got his 21 million candle power torch out…it’s like a portable sun! By the end of the evening, we were very cold, very wet but really thrilled to have captured some stunning photographs in the bag.

I used both my 7D and 5DII. The 7D’s AF is excellent, but requires very careful setting up to get it to lock quickly and track accurately in Servo mode. I found that a manually selected AF point with the enabled surrounding AF assist point worked best, and to get an early lock helped a lot too. The 5DII really only has the centre point with is of any practical use, which limits composition somewhat. But when used, the camera does offer significantly lower ISO noise, slimmer Depth of Field and bigger files. I find the files from the 7D are a lot more contrasty and colorful than the 5DII, which has a more natural balance. Most of the day I used my Canon 400mm f5.6 L, but I did a few shots with my 70-200/f4 is L and 200mm f2.8 II L lenses. Much of the day, I was using an ISO value of between 800-3200 and shutter speeds of 1/500 were mostly required. I certainly envied the 300/2.8 and 400/2.8 that others had with them. Those extra two stops would have been very useful. We Photographed a Buzzard, a Barn Owl, a Eagle Owl and a long eared Owl.

Here’s a few favorites from the day: