Unusually Intimate Owl Portraits by Brad Wilson
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Owls!
It is notoriously difficult to photograph an owl.
The stately birds tend to be close-taloned with their trust, requiring several months to become comfortable with even one human handler – a fact that explains both the rareness of intimate owl portraiture, and the magnificence of these shots by photographer Brad Wilson.
These portraits belong to a project Wilson calls "Affinity," a series of images that has grown to include more than 65 species – including an Arctic fox, an Egyptian vulture, and a capuchin monkey – photographed at uncommonly close range. (To truly appreciate these photographs, you'll want to enlarge them by clicking the magnifying glass in the upper left hand corner of each image.)
Wilson says if he needed the owl positioned a certain way, the trainer would have to try and move his or her body accordingly. "However, this was always a tricky proposition, since owls can rotate their heads approximate 270 degrees, they tended to prefer looking away from me and towards the black background."
"The frontal gaze was by far the hardest shot to get," Wilson says, "but, in the end, was the most compelling."
"There's a starkness to it, a sense of isolation," says Wilson in this behind-the-scenes featurette on his work. There's a sense, he says, that "you're on equal playing field with this animal. You're inhabiting a space with it in a way that's much more immediate... than you get when" looking at, say, a photograph taken on safari.
Ha ha, ha ha!
I thought you'd like that! Is owl one of the new pets you want too?
Yes! We'd be friends by day and and at night as I sleep it would be my watch owl, alerting me to danger.
But wait, what do I feed it?