NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EMERGING NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER: JORIS VAN ALPHEN

Male barn owl photographed by Joris van Alphen

Male barn owl photographed by Joris van Alphen

It was a sunny afternoon, 15th of July 2011. A thrunk filled with camera gear, thermos with coffee and Booka Shade vibrating through the air. In a little blue car Joris and I are heading down the highway towards France. Goal: photographing a Barn Owl.

In the past we’ve made a photo about violence together and this time I joined Joris on his adventure to capture a Barn Owl in flight. A small look behind the scenes:

Where do you expect to find a Barn Owl? Exactamento. In a barn. Luckily Joris happened to know a barn in Autreppes. There was a small window in the barn through which the owl could enter and exit. If the owl was going to fly out that night we should be able to capture him on chip at that spot.

Camera was put on a tripod. Camera remote controller attached. Nice composition was made. Flashes were setup in softboxes and other diffusers. All LED lights on the flashes were taped, so it wouldn’t scare the owl. Test test test with the remote control. All set!

At dusk we settled in our secret hideout spot and waited for the owl; Joris with the remote control held firmly in his hands. And waited.. and waited…. and waited……. Staring at the window in the barn. Did I see something moving?? And waited.. and waited…
We decided to play some owl sounds to attract him. And waited.. and waited…

Everything happened in a split second. The moment we were about to give up, a bright white Barn Owl appeared, Joris quickly pressed the remote control and the camera was triggered! ……..a bit too early……. When we retreived the camera we saw that only a wing was captured…

Slightly disappointed, but exited I went to bed. Sure next time would do better!

The field station of Centro de Conservación Cetacea, Chili; photographed by Joris van Alphen

When you check out his website you’ll see Joris managed to capture the owl with infra-red triggers. He made a great photo series which secured his nomination for the National Geographic Emerging Nature Photographer Award. Which he has won after a final round in Burgers Bush!! Congrats Joris!

He has just returned from Chili to document a blue whale conservation project for the Dutch National Geographic Magazine, so keep an eye on his blog!

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