Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Philippine Scops-Owl at ISO 12,800

For some time now, in the early evening, I've been hearing a strange bird sound at the mango tree in my mother's backyard. I long suspected that it is an owl species, and a few nights ago I couldn't contain my curiosity anymore when I heard the call again.
 
I grabbed a bright flashlight and scanned the branches of the mango tree. True enough, there's an owl perched on one of the branches with a newly-caught prey (a fat, juicy mouse). I quickly rushed back to the house to get my camera, and returned with the domestic boss in tow to hold the flashlight while I shoot. 

It looks like a Philippine Scops-Owl (Otus megalotis) to me, but I could be mistaken and would welcome any ID correction. I'm sure though that I haven't photographed this owl species before, so it's a much welcome photo-lifer (my 279th species).  

I'm very impressed with 7D MII's IQ even at ISO 12,800 - yes, noise is there but it's fine grained and responds well to a simple noise reduction routine. If forced by low light, I wouldn't hesitate at all to shoot at this high sensitivity. I did expose to the right (ETTR) to mitigate the noise. 
 
The camera was on AWB and the white balance as captured was too "cold" for my taste. Since 100% of the illumination on the bird was provided by the flashlight (torch), I simply had to shoot a white sheet of paper under the same light later to aid me in setting a "click white balance."
 
_____
 
Philippine Scops-Owl (Otus megalotis, endemic, provisional ID)

Habitat - Forest and forest edge in the lowlands.
 
Shooting Info - Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union, Philippines, November 29, 2015, EOS 7D MII + EF 400 DO IS II, f/4, 1/250 sec, ISO 12800, manual exposure/flashlight, hand held, near full frame resized to 800 x 533.
 

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