The Flight of the Owl

Flight of the Owl by Robert Pyne Photography

Personally, I think that ‘Flight of the Owl’ is one of the best photos I’ve ever taken since taking up photography. Technically it’s not the greatest one, but it’s certainly the most surprising scene I have ever captured.

Flight of the Owl

The images were taken on a drive to Wangaratta near Peechelba. Everyone who drives this route knows it can be a boring experience but this day was to be very different. I noticed some distinct lines in the clouds. As I always carry my camera with me, I jumped out and started clicking. To my astonishment, the lines spanned right across the sky. I decided to capture the cloud formation in a series of five shots, with the view of creating a panoramic image on my return home.

It was only once I’d stitched the photos together that I realised what I had captured.

To this day, I still remember being blown away when the full panorama appeared before me. What emerged was a giant owl in full flight, made up of clouds spanning a huge portion of the sky.

I captured the owl using a Canon 7D with a Tamron 18-270mm lens. The photos were shot at 100-ISO, F11, 1/50sec and 18mm focal length. I then ‘stitched’ the photos together using a free open source application called ‘Hugin.’

When I look at this image I am amazed away that it was actually taken by me. I’ve long admired photographers like Ken Duncan & Simon Beedle who get to travel around the countryside, capturing images or moments in time for a living. Simon is a particular inspiration to me because like me, he is self-taught. He started out in macro photography but soon realised that capturing a landscape was much more satisfying.

It’s no accident that landscape photography is my passion, considering that I first discovered photography during a four-wheel drive tour of the Red Centre. I visited sites like Uluru, Kings Canyon, The Olgas, Stanley Chasm and Palm Valley; the colours and vastness were like nothing I’d ever encountered before.

Photography has got me through some tough times as well. A few years after my outback adventure, I found myself in a pretty lonely place. I was living in Elsternwick in Melbourne, in a tiny unit that felt like a prison cell. To cope, I spent a lot of time exploring the beaches and streets of Brighton and St Kilda. I soon realized that there was so much to photograph, so many things that stirred emotions. Taking photos helped me to feel more connected to the world around me, to see beauty and details more keenly.