Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Snowy Owl in Grass

Availability: Limited Edition Print; RM Stock (??)

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In the Field

Snowy Owl in Grass. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 22, 2004.

During graduate school (many, many moons ago) I participated in a long term Snowy Owl study for a 4-year period. We saw literally hundreds of snowies over the years, but I never managed to capture a decent image of one. Ironically, I went on a photo expedition to Cape Churchill a few years back with the goal of photographing Polar Bears and Arctic Foxes. And, one of the first images I captured was of this Snowy Owl! It just shows that you never know what nature is going to deal up for you...

This snowy was most likely a female (males tend to be almost pure white) and was sitting quietly in the grass just off our trail. I was immediately struck by how well the colour of the grasses matched the eye colour of the bird. The owl seemed completely unconcerned about our presence and continued to sit and look around (mostly with its head turned AWAY from us!) until we left about 20 minutes later.

Behind the Camera

Snowy Owl in Grass. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 22, 2004.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 200.

Nikon D2H with Nikon 200-400 mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR lens @ 400 mm (600 mm equivalent with digital conversion factor) supported on bean bag. VR turned to "On" and in "Normal" mode.

1/180s @ f5.6; +1.0 stop exposure compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Snowy Owl in Grass. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 22, 2004.

RAW Conversion, including first-pass sharpening, exposure compensation, and tone curve adjustment, using Phase One's C1 Pro.

All further digital correction on 16-bit TIFF file using Adobe's Photoshop CS, including selective saturation enhancement, tone curve adjustment, and selective sharpening for web output.


Snowy Owl in Grass. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 22, 2004.

Ten percent of the revenue generated by this image will be donated to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk.

The Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca) is a heavy-bodied and large-headed owl that breeds in the Arctic tundra. They winter throughout most of Canada on snow-covered grasslands, marshes, coastal beaches and dunes. In some winters Snowy Owls stray far to the south of their normal winter range and may be found in appropriate habitat in many of the northern states of the US. At present Snowy Owl populations appear relatively stable and healthy, but in years where they winter south of their normal range heavy mortality has been observed.

The Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative seeks to ensure that the world-renowned wilderness, wildlife, native plants, and natural processes of the Yellowstone to Yukon region continue to function as an interconnected web of life, capable of supporting all of its natural and human communities, for current and future generations.

*as determined by COSEWIC: The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada