I didn’t see my first owl within the wild till I used to be an grownup. Owls had all the time been this kind of legendary creature for me. Maybe I wasn’t presupposed to see them. It appeared they solely grew to become seen when my eyes have been closed, and they’d vanish into skinny air once I opened them.

One of many first alternatives I needed to {photograph} an owl had a direct and long-term impression on me. I used to be out mountain climbing early one morning and observed a big chook fly between two timber, then land not too removed from the place I used to be standing. I raised my binoculars and noticed that it was a Nice Horned Owl. I used to be off-the-charts excited. I instantly ran again to my automobile to retrieve my digicam. Then I arrange my tripod, linked the digicam, checked the battery and reminiscence card, and set off to {photograph} this elusive chook of prey.

The owl was nonetheless on its perch once I returned. I slowly weaved via the comb to get into the perfect place to {photograph} the chook. As I reached the optimum spot, the owl flew from its perch into the open air above a treeless subject. Within the blink of a watch a dozen ravens launched their assault. They drove the owl at a staggering tempo, pulling at its tail feathers through the pursuit. They dove at it from above and under and from either side because the owl hastened its retreat.

I stood mortified. Did I simply do this? Did I flush that owl from its perch and topic it to that relentless assault from an unkindness of ravens? I swallowed arduous.

Within the ensuing years, I discovered an amazing deal from experiences like this—not simply with birds, however with bobcats, elk, and lots of different creatures I like to {photograph}. The primary lesson has been: Nearer will not be all the time higher.

On that morning with the Nice Horned Owl, my selfishness not solely blew my shot, nevertheless it had a profound impression on my topic. Owls are evening hunters. They relaxation through the day. They want to relaxation through the day. My method induced the chook stress and resulted in it needlessly expending vitality it requires for survival. What if this was a feminine on a nest?

This previous summer time I used to be watching a Nice Horned Owl nest from about 100 yards away with my scope. A gentleman parked his automobile not removed from mine, exited along with his digicam, and walked immediately below the nest to get a shot. The feminine owl grew more and more nervous as he approached. When the shutter began clicking, the mom flew from the nest to a close-by phone pole, exposing her helpless chick to predators.

Observing wildlife from a distance not solely greatest serves birds’ pursuits, however it will possibly present large advantages to our images. What we acquire most is information. By watching our topics for prolonged durations of time we’re capable of be taught patterns of their habits. Understanding these patterns permits us to greatest decide the place we will place ourselves to have the least quantity of impression on our topics and the place we’ve the perfect alternative to seize the specified habits.

Within the many hours I spent watching these Nice Horned Owls with out my digicam, I gained an amazing quantity of data. I discovered the place the pair hunted. I discovered the favourite perches they hunted from. I used to be capable of decide the path they have been almost certainly to fly after capturing their prey. I discovered that always the male would cache meals for a nesting feminine in close by branches. I then might be instantly able to shoot once I noticed the feminine depart the nest, figuring out she’d soar again in with a rodent in her mouth earlier than setting it within the nest to feed her chicks. This information supplies us with alternatives to seize extra distinctive moments in nature, slightly than simply odd angle pictures from under a nest.

Endurance additionally typically rewards us with the closely desired close-up photos. For instance, Nice Grey Owls that I’ve photographed wish to hunt alongside roadsides. They perch on low branches or fence posts and pay attention intently for rodents. In the event that they don’t detect prey in a brief period of time, they launch and fly parallel to the highway to a brand new perch the place they begin the method over once more. When you stay nonetheless, their looking sample could very effectively cross proper in entrance of you. I’ve had this occur a number of instances and have been capable of seize each in-flight pictures in addition to profitable hunts at very shut vary.

And whereas close-up photos of owls are thrilling, pictures that showcase topics of their pure setting could be much more so. Exhibiting an owl perched in a lichen-covered tree, or in good camouflage with the encompassing forest, can create gorgeous images. It additionally allows viewers to know the forms of environments birds dwell in, which can assist encourage conservation efforts. There are various photographers who’ve discovered unimaginable success focusing strictly on these ‘animalscape’ photos.

We will have a profound impression on the topics we {photograph} in nature. The urge to get shut will all the time be there. In some instances these photos really feel rewarding once we seize them. But it surely isn’t all the time higher. Contemplate taking a step again as an alternative of ahead. Contemplate the well-being of your topic first. Contemplate watching your topic to glean better understanding of its behaviors, so as to seize extra distinctive photos later. And think about if an environmental shot showcasing your topic is best for each your images and the animal.

Daniel Dietrich is a full-time wildlife photographer and proprietor of Level Reyes Safaris.