I was photographing on a private ranch in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas for an “iron-man” wildlife photo contest (30 wildlife categories and at least 3-4 winners in each category). One of the categories involved camouflaged animals – how they use their cryptic coloration/plumage/etc to blend into their environment. The ranch owner knew of a favorite mesquite tree cavity where an Eastern screech-owl would often spend the day resting and “contemplating its universe.” She took me to the location, pointed at the tree and said, “There he is.” Well, it took me 15 minutes of hard staring, and I finally saw the owl when it blinked. This had to be one of the best examples of blending in that I had ever seen. I spent an hour photographing this little raptor, finding different compositions and views to capture both the owl and the tree to show the surroundings and where he lived as well as close-up images of the bird itself. He never moved the whole time, just blinked once in a while. I left a happy photographer. – Dave Welling
The close up version of this image is available as a print here. See more of Welling’s work at his website, www.StrikingNatureImagesByDaveWelling.com, and follow him on Facebook, Fine Art America, Google+ and Behance.
Equipment and settings: (Close up) Nikon F5 with mirror lock-up and cable release, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR telephoto lens, Nikon TC14B 1.4x teleconverter, Arca Swiss ballhead, Gitzo tripod, FUJICHROME Velvia 50 – rated at ISO100, pushed one stop in film processing – 01/160th @ F/8 – (In Habitat) Nikon F5 with mirror lock-up and cable release, AF ZOOM-NIKKOR 35-70mm f/2.8D zoom lens @ 60mm, Arca Swiss ballhead, Gitzo tripod, FUJICHROME Velvia 50 – rated at ISO100, pushed one stop in film processing – 01/160th @ F/8