How do you photograph an owl at night?

Taking a picture of an owl can be tricky but worth the effort. However, how do you take a picture at night? Can you locate them without using artificial lights in the dark? 

We will answer all of these queries in the article below. So, keep reading to see what you should do about clicking owl pictures in the night.

What is the best time of the day to photograph owls?

If you think logically, the animals are the most comfortable at night. The same goes for owls since they are wide awake in the night. Therefore, it only makes sense to click photographs of an owl in the night-time.

However, taking photographs at night is a challenge in itself. Therefore, when you do go photographing owls at night, be prepared for the worst. You can even go a little early in the evening to get a great sunset shot with an owl as your main subject. The sunset compositions would give a crazy great background for the owl to shine in the photograph.

Camera settings for photographing a night owl

The appropriate camera setting for capturing a night owl is:

  • Maintain a focal length of 500mm if you use a telephoto lens. Also, remember to bring a wide lens for a wide shot of the owl flying, and they are genuinely giant birds.
  • Tripods are yet essential equipment for photographing in the night with low-light situations. You would be using long exposure and low shutter speed to focus if you set the camera on a tripod.
  • Buy pop-up blinds or body blinds to camouflage in the environment so that you do not make your presence known to the bird.
  • See if you can buy a camera with a silent shutter so that it does not alert the owls before.
  • Use continuous Autofocus mode or put the focus on Manual and set the whole picture in focus.
  • Keep the ISO as high as possible
  • Raise the shutter speed to at least 1/1600seconds to capture the owl with enough lighting. In case it flies, then the ISO will ensure a clean shot.
  • Try different angles if you want to get creative but only if your tripod can support the position.

Tips and tricks to creating the perfect shot of an Owl

  • Inquire about the animal species – Read thoroughly about an owl before you even think about taking their picture. See what kind of shots you can take and what suits you the best. 
  • Plan your work according to the environment – since you’re entering the wildlife, you must prepare yourself for the photoshoot and yourself. In addition, you risk going in the wild since there are other dangerous animals. So remember to draw fire before doing anything.
  • Ensure that your owl is not aware of you – the essential advice you should remember is never to show your presence to an owl as it could result in the owl flying away scared. Also, if the owl is scared, you won’t be able to click a good photograph as opposed to an adorable owl.
  • Read about their behavioral patterns – do your research on how the owl lives in its habitat, feeding habits, hunting habits, and birthing habits; read everything about them before you click a shot of the owl.
  • Don’t trick the animals – some people try to feed the owl before getting a shot which is a bad practice. Feeding them our food would disrupt their livelihood as they will hunt for our food more than their own. Also, it could lead to accidents, and their instinct might die down.
  • Maintain a distance from the owl – it goes without saying that Owls respect space away from people. We are fascinated by them and their beauty, but we can’t say the same about them. Therefore, click from a safe distance and use a tripod to get a good and stable shot.
  • Do not bring a pet of your own – Never bring it to work as they may scare away the owl before you even set up for a shot because owls are scared of dogs. Their energies might not match, and you may miss a very precious opportunity.
  • Try not to use any lighting at night – some studies suggest that artificial lights in the dark can ruin the night visions of various species, such as owls. Therefore, you can place a fire around the owl nest and then use the flash so that their eyes get adjusted to the lighting, and you get the perfect shot.
  • Keep a respectful distance from the animals – Animals are susceptible to new species entering their comfortable space, much like us. However, if you are trying to capture them, take their pictures from afar to get the most perfect and natural shot. If you cross the boundaries, you might ruin the shot for other people as well.
  • Become keen observers –   When you stay in the shadows and carefully observe, then only you will be able to capture the owls at their most genuine behavior. However, an owl is one bird species that is the most sensitive to voices and visions at night. Therefore, if you are not careful, they could suspect your presence and fly away.
  • Be wary of a nest. – This shot would be the most priceless shot since capturing a parent owl nurturing their babies is a dream. However, you have to be careful not to alert the owls as they may never return to their nest if they suspect your presence. Furthermore, this act could prove harmful and life-threatening for the baby owls as they may get abandoned by their parents.

Frequently Asked questions

How do you take a picture of an owl at night?

Use a continuous mode of autofocus and high-speed continuous shooting. Keep the ISO as high as possible with shutter speed starting from 1/1600second.

How can I spot an owl?

Talk to the park staff and inquire about their usual spots or look for the owl’s prey. You can even try bird-calling to track an owl or search the internet about likely areas where you can find the owl.

What is the best time to photograph an owl?

Peak hours for an owl are the dusk and dawn when you can click their amazing pictures. Unfortunately, you cannot click their pictures in the night but if you do, be alert not to scare them away.


Since you are taking up bird photography and night photography, you really need to prep before going. Also, when you deal with a living subject such as a bird in the wild, you should keep some guidelines handy and use them. 

One of the most crucial guidelines that you should always follow is that the animals living in the wildlife should not be disturbed at any cost. You can take a whole day or a whole night for the shoot around them but do not hassle them to take their picture.

Also, always be a little prepared about the bird you’re trying to capture and read about their standard behavioral patterns before you embark on this beautiful journey.