Getting the perfect shot of a Barn Owl {or not}

Spot the Hares in the field...

If you have a DSLR do you mostly shoot on manual or auto?
Although I post lots of photos on my blog and I really like taking pictures I still haven’t really taken the time to properly learn how to use my camera. I mostly shoot on manual because I like being able to control how much light is getting into the camera without the flash automatically popping up all the time. However, I’m not at the stage where I really understand and instinctively know what the setting should be just from judging the conditions. It’s mostly just trial and error!
This is fine most of the time because it’s normally okay to take a few photos and work out the best aperture and shutter speed settings to use but sometimes you only get one shot at a photo and having the right settings really matters.
One such occasion was when we were on holiday in the Peak District. Josh and I decided to go back and try and see the Barn Owl that we’d had fleeting views of the day before. The weather and light were great and the wind was in a perfect position for sneeking up to the barn unheard and unsmelt.
When we quietly crept up to the barn there it was…sat up in the rafters – a perfect view. I’ve seen Barn Owls a few times but this was by far the closest we’ve ever been. What a privilege to see such an elusive and beautiful animal.
However, after a few minutes I of course wanted to try and get a photo but I knew that I only had one or two shots before the shutter noise scared him off. I raised my camera quietly, zoomed in and click! He flew off.

Do you want to see my amazing photo?
I was SOOO frustrated! I had the shutter speed up way to high and so even though there was plenty of light in the barn I got this dark photo.
I quickly edited it up when I got home and just look at the potential for this photo if only I’d just had the settings right!? ARGGGGHHH…so annoying!
barn owl
You win some and you lose some I suppose – I’ll learn for next time!
We managed to track him down in the field and spent a lovely half hour watching him in the trees.
Who can see him in this one?
Photography is wonderful but it’s so easy to get caught up with getting the ‘perfect shot’ and forget to actually enjoy the moment you’re in. It was a beautiful evening and I enjoyed walking round the countryside with my love and watching some amazing wildlife.
At least I have the memories even if I didn’t get a perfect photo!

Linking with Oldies but Goodies


  1. I love the photo of the Barn

  2. I shoot manual... so much better!

    Do a few weddings. You'll get way faster at getting those settings right! :)

  3. Och, I feel you! I'm trying to only use manual as aoften as possible, but I'm very much trial and error with my camera, too. The shot of the owl peeking through the leaves is great, though!

    Marco and I went for a weekend in the Peak District a little while ago, but our wether was not nearly as gorgeous. It stormed and rained sideways! But we still had a good walk.

  4. I shoot in manual mostly. But sometimes i have an event where the lighting isn't great & I have a hard time getting good pics - when that happens i just switch to auto. I had to learn that the hard way after not getting ANY good pics at some events b/c i refused to go back to auto! Haha! But you're right. Definitely trial and error!

  5. You should enter the BBC Countryfile photo competition! bbc.co.uk/countyrfile.
    Anne B.

  6. I shoot in manual. It took me awhile to understand everything and when to move the meter but I really love and enjoy it. Give yourself some time, you'll learn everything. :)

    I think that barn owl shot is still pretty cool! And I feel like your pictures were a 'where's waldo' book. I spotted the hares and owl in the tree! I win!! haha
    Emily at Amazing Grapes

  7. Gosh what fantastic phots Rachel. Yes we saw him/her! My eldest popped his head inside the barn and it flew off - to that tree in your picture I think. I've known that area all my life but never done that walk. A friend is a bit of an ornotholgist and let us know about them.

    Brilliant pics - thanks for sharing.

  8. I love the last photo! It's beautiful! All the colors are perfect (blue/green is my favorite color combo). Looks like you had such a nice time!


  9. wow the shot of the barn owl staring through the trees is amazing x

  10. I so agree with you. I'm often berating myself for not enjoying the moment but faffing about with my camera instead (usually for the purpose of my blog!). The final shot is pretty awesome though - well done :)

  11. Some great shots. I like the owl in the dark even if it wasn't quite as intended

  12. Beautiful animal - well done for getting a shot at all

  13. Beautiful animal - well done for getting a shot at all

  14. Wow - owls are so beautiful and I love your shot through the trees. I'm a terrible photographer and spent ages trying to get a shot of the swallows in our barn without a lot of success. This was as good as it got: