Dave Gignac is a wildlife and nature photographer in Temagami, Ontario, Canada. His work has been published many magazines and other publications, including Canadian Geographic Magazine, Detroit Free Press, Photolife Magazine, and Bird Studies Canada.

Editor’s Note: This is the second time that the talented Dave Gignac has shared a photo story with us. His first, about the story behind his remarkable lynx sighting, can be found here. Even among an impressive collection of snowy owl photos, this incredible portrait of an owl taking off still stands out. A big “thank you” to Dave for taking the time to tell us how he was able to create it.

Dave’s photo story: This is one of my favorite images from the winter. I was in Ottawa, with a few bird-watcher friends who told me of a snowy owl who had spent the last few months on a farm just outside of town. They had been seeing it every time they went to visit, so I thought I would join them with my camera, hoping to get a look at one of the beautiful visitors from the north that can be found in the Ottawa Valley this winter.

I positioned myself, lying in the snow to try to capture as much of the golden glow of sunset as I could.

We got there late in the afternoon, just before sunset. The owl can normally be found sitting on fence posts, hunting for prey in the ditches and fields. We found it sitting in the snow, just finishing off a mouse. Hoping it would fly back to the fence, I positioned myself, lying in the snow to try to capture as much of the golden glow of sunset as I could. After a few moments, the bird took flight, and I was rewarded with this image of it lifting off – a great end to a great afternoon.

dave gignac snowy owl

They say [that] in photography it pays to be in the right spot at the right time. This is true – very true. However, in this case it paid to know about the behavior of my subject. Knowing what the bird’s favorite spot to sit was enabled me to place myself in the perfect position for this shot.  Knowing as much as you can about your subject, whether it is a bird or a person, is the best way to get rewarded with a great image!

Tech info: Canon 6D, 500mm f/4 L IS2 lens, ISO 320 1/1000 at f/5

Dave Gignac sells fine-art paper and canvas prints of his wildlife and nature work from his home area of northern Ontario.

Photo Stories is a series that provides a look at how our favorite images were made.

About The Author

Heather Nilson was editor of PhotographyTricks.com from August 2012 until November 2014. She has a background as an academic geek, with a degree in biology and work history in biology research. This was followed in 2010 by a complete career switch from laboratory research to writing, photography, and travel. She specializes in travel and fine art photography, and loves spending her computer time continually learning more about photography and creativity. Heather lives in Denver, Colorado, when she is not traveling. Like her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/LightAdventurePhotography

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