Hi and welcome to my Blog, my name is Paul Riddle and I live in south Leicestershire, UK. Back in August 2007 my quest began to locate as many local Little Owl territories as possible. The driving force was a reported decline in the uk numbers so I thought I would do my bit and conduct a study in my area. After 7 years and countless hours out in the field I have detected over 200 different sites. With a thirst for a greater understanding of the owls a more comprehensive monitoring and nest box programme then commenced. This also now includes monitoring the local and very sparse population of Barn Owls, please pop back occasionally and catch up with the life and times of my owls and any other wildlife that I come across. I hope you enjoy your visit!!!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Good light and bad!

It has been just over 4 years now since I picked up my first digital camera, it has been a massive learning curve and almost every time I take it out I learn something new. But there is one thing for sure, good light goes a long way in making and average image a better image.

Therefore when ever I am out I will always take time to work out where and when would be the best positions so as to make the light work in my favour. Sometimes getting into a better position means a longer wait and maybe no images at all, but it is a gamble of which I am prepared to take as the final outcome is nearly always more rewarding.

A typical example of this is the two images below, both were taken this evening and believe it or not within 30 minutes of each other. In the first image almost everything was perfect, light, background and the closeness of the owl. The only other major variable that could spoil such an opportunity was the camera operator! I knew I could have positioned myself at this owl site where there would have been far more chances of getting an image but the light would have been coming from behind the owl, something I didn't want. So in this case  I worked myself into a position where I knew there was not going to be too many chances of getting a decent image as the owl didn't land on this particular perch very often, but today the gamble paid off as the owl obliged for a few fleeting seconds.   

The second image was taken at a brand new site, No 209 near to the village of Newbold Verdon. My mate Hoodie gave me the heads up on this particular site a few days ago, cheers mate! I know he perhaps won't believe me but I have stopped and looked in this tree on many previous occasions, well you have to with a fantastic owly crevice like that.

Anyway, the light levels were still pretty good when the new owl was spotted, but due to the sun being in totally the wrong direction it was in complete shade. They were really horrid conditions to get decent image let alone a record shot. I had to bump up the ISO to 1600 which allows for a lighter image but then the image gets all nasty with a grainy effect, as you can see for yourself?

But as they say beggars can't be choosers and tonight this was all about getting my first image of an owl at a new site.  

I have now studied the site and worked out what time of day would be best for photography purposes, but what this meant was I'd have to be in the adjacent field! Then my task was to find out who owned the land and could permission be obtained for access?

After a bit of networking I met Tom and his Dad Dave, and may I say a couple of very hospitable gents they turned out to be! Access was granted, for me and for my Landrover.......what a result!

But then things got even better, a second Little Owl was seen, brilliant a pair! But that's not where things ended, it turns out that Dave has had breeding Barn Owls in his back garden too, so a deal was struck. Dave will allow me access to his field (and he gave me a key to the lock!) and in turn I will be putting him a brand new box up in his barn...........a good deal or what?


  1. Some people are just absolutely wonderful aren't they. What a result!

    Cracking image (the first one of course).

  2. Great approach to things Paul. Great first shot.

  3. Hallo Paul

    De eerste is een hele mooie foto maar de tweede zeker zo belangrijk voor je gefeliciteerd .
    Zelf mag ik binnenkort ook dichter bij een koppeltje steenuilen gaan kijken, super lijkt me dat !

    Gr Michel

  4. The first picture is stunning of course!
    And I agree, the locations, light and subjects' habits have to be studied carefully before great pictures can be taken!
    A lot of time and dedication involved!
    Congratulation for your work!