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Old May 25th, 2010, 10:13 PM   #1
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Strix Varia

So my UWOL 16 submission is very, very simply using the concept of "discovery" and how I came upon these owls in the forest. The title, "Strix Varia," is the Barred Owls' latin name, and is somewhat of a hat tip to Per Johan Naesje's "Strix Nebulosa" title for his entry from UWOL 9.

It is surprising and fun to find this kind of wildlife, albeit expected in a forest setting, in such close proximity to suburban developments. Growing up I often found myself down in these woods, but really spending time down there now looking for the wildlife, I'm discovering more and more interesting species that I perhaps only caught glimpses of years ago, or no glimpses at all.

I've mentioned in other threads how I really like the video podcasts that Earth-touch.com does and I simply wanted to do a similar type of video presentation for some of the stuff I was shooting, perhaps turning them into a series of sorts as either a simple web based series or eventually a video podcast. This is an abridged edit of what would be the first such episode. Enjoy this brief film.

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Old May 26th, 2010, 02:19 AM   #2
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Some amazing footage Ryan. I was wondering when the Owl was scratching, if it was fleas, or ticks.
Very precise and focused.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 10:30 AM   #3
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Ryan- Youíve captured some very nice behaviour shots. Good work. I have found this species to be somewhat habituatable. Since you live nearby I hope you continue to work with these birds. Think about enlisting the members of your local Audubon Society to help you locate the nest. I will be watching your vodcasts with great interest. I think you have the makings of an excellent first segment here. Good-luck!
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Old May 26th, 2010, 10:59 AM   #4
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What a magnificent bird you discovered there Ryan. You have captured some very good, clear shots of the owl. Well done.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 12:04 PM   #5
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Ryan:

Tremendous footage. May I ask what you were shooting with ?

I had an owl opportunity a few challenges back, and manage happen into a situation were it was on the wing constantly fly low around me. I managed to get what I thought was a decent shot. Your studies here are so much more . Great job.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 03:26 PM   #6
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Ryan,

Those owls are fabulous, aren't they? The eyes are so deep, I don't know, so spiritual almost. Almost liek they can mind-read (which wouldn't be hard if they were reading _my_ mind).

Your close-up sequences are excellent, really well framed amongst the leaves to add depth, and lovely colours.

Almost every shot is perfect, though I can appreciate the sheer difficulty of trying that slow motion shot - how on earth can you predict their path, where they will land, how fast they will fly? You did very well to capture what you did with that, I think.

And to have this so close to suburbia as well. It just shows you don't have to travel far to find wildlife.

I can't fault this. In fact, I'm off to watch it a third time.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 09:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Sims View Post
Ryan- Youíve captured some very nice behaviour shots. Good work. I have found this species to be somewhat habituatable. Since you live nearby I hope you continue to work with these birds. Think about enlisting the members of your local Audubon Society to help you locate the nest. I will be watching your vodcasts with great interest. I think you have the makings of an excellent first segment here. Good-luck!
I'm definitely much further along with my camera skills and knowledge than my naturalist skills and knowledge. But from what I've observed, these birds are indeed habitual as you mention. They have been reliably consistent in the same area for the past couple of weeks. I hope to do some more patient work where I really get some good flight shots.

I'll have to look up the local Audubon Society like you say. I'm curious about a nest as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
Ryan:

Tremendous footage. May I ask what you were shooting with ?
Hey Chris, I'm shooting with one of the new Canon DSLRs that have the video feature, the 7D. I'm using the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens with a Kenko 2x teleconverter attached most of the time. And then there is the crop factor of the 7D's sensor, so, as far as focal lengths are concerned, I'm getting a pretty long lens. I shoot at 1080p @ 24 fps. The slow motion shot was 720p @ 60fps. The DSLRs have their drawbacks, but for basic shooting, they work out pretty well.

Tripod is a Manfrotto with the 503HDV head.
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Old May 26th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #8
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I can only echo what others have already said, and I too have watched it 3 times. Great details and sharp footage.

I think your podcast series is off to a great start, I for one will want to watch !

Thanks

Chris S.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 07:32 AM   #9
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Ryan- I didnít mean to say that the owls are habitual in their habits, but rather that they are fairly easy to get habituated to your presence. When I was working with the Spotted Owls (sister species) I got them to accept me by following a routine. Every day I would go into their territory wearing the same hat and green shirt. I would sit quietly on the same rock for about two hours. If I saw the owls I would make no effort to move or obviously observe them and would try to look like I was ignoring them. After about two weeks they decided I was no threat and, for the most part, would ignore me. I could then just go about videoing them. Often if I did something different or brought in a new piece of equipment they would approach me- often to within several feet. Owls are very curious creatures. They will recognize you as an individual. Sometimes everything would be normal and then suddenly their attention would be focused. They could hear people coming long before I could and would melt away. After the person had passed they would return. I started doing this with a pair of Barred Owls. Barreds are inherently shier than Spotteds. After a month they would accept me but didnít really trust me yet. Another project called me away before that happened. I think with a little patience and persistence that you can do this.

I have another trick I sometimes use with unhabituated owls. I learned this from John Bax, an old 16mm master wildlife cameraman whose work you have probably seen on Discovery Channel. Carry a jar with a mouse in it in your pack. When you spot the owl quickly put the jar on the ground next to the tripod. Often the owlís curiosity about the mouse will overwhelm itís impulse to flush from you. Provide air holes and donít forget to feed and water the mouse. I hope this is a help. Good-luck!
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Old May 27th, 2010, 10:05 AM   #10
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Ryan,

The owl shot at 57 is truly a beautiful shot, a money shot so to speak!! there were lots of nice shots but the one mentioned just does it for me!!!!!

This is a great start to a wildlife pod cast site. You keep up work like this and I would go to it often.


I second everyting already said as well.

Thanks for sharing you nice video with us!!
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Old May 27th, 2010, 01:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Sims View Post
Ryan- I didnít mean to say that the owls are habitual in their habits, but rather that they are fairly easy to get habituated to your presence.
Oh ok, I see. Thanks for the advice. It seems I'll have many more opportunities to film these owls.
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Old May 27th, 2010, 02:42 PM   #12
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Hi Ryan,

Very nice and interesting film you have. Loved the close up shots of the owl.
I like the podcast concept. Go for it!

I found some of your film a bit too dark. (like the sequence from about 2:30) Maybe you could add some brightness in post?

Hope to see a follow up - episode of this.
Thank you for sharing!
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Old May 28th, 2010, 10:53 AM   #13
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If you want to gain naturalist skills, the best things you can do are observe, read, and go out with people who know about the subject. I can see that you're already working on the first of these. This is a pretty good attempt, and proof that it's possible to make a film about birds in trees from the ground.

Look forward to your next one.
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Old June 5th, 2010, 09:42 AM   #14
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Ryan, congrats as the second runner up for this round in the competition! Very well deserved!

Owls has amazed me for some time and watching your video told me that the Strix varia, which I havenīt seen before), had a behaviour almost the same as Strix nebulosa (my uwol9 challenge).
If you know where they are, they are quite easy to approach. As you tell in your film, they are most active at dawn and dusk and even night here in Scandinavia during the summertime. In the film it seems that most of your footage are taken during the day. Did you try to do some footage at late night or early morning?

Itīs nice to hear that you shoot this with a 7D as this is exact the same camera as I got and will start to use when I got a decent viewfinder. Watching the slow motion of the owl was nice, wish I had this kind equipment 2 years ago!

The footage and ambient sound was very good, good exposure, colors seem naturally. Was you recording sound into the camera or did you use any sound recorder?
Your editing phase was good, the sequences was nice fit together. Could have hope for even some more close-up of the owl!
Your VO is very good and professional executed.

All over a very deserved second runner up place.
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Old June 6th, 2010, 07:32 AM   #15
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Hi Ryan

Firstly excuse the delay in revewing your film I have been away for the last 10 days.

I really liked your footage. I'm certainly a sucker for Owls and this had lovely views of the Barred owl. I am really surprised how it sat tight with you below. I am assuming from your VO that you weren't using a hide? I liked the loose format you used with it feeling a very personal fly on the wall experience. I also liked your relaxed VO although I did find it a little monotone in places. I'm quite impressed with the quality of the footage considering the use of a 2x conv on your 100-400. In my experience these usually throttles zoom lenses. I also would have liked a little more story in the piece, just something stronger on which to hang what you have.

All in all a nice look at this species. Many thanks
Mat
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