DT6C8626 (1)

Snowy owl school


I like how the snowy owl fits so perfectly on the post that it seems like an extension of it. And, oh yes, the light hitting that eye is all right too.

Sometimes life is like … trying to photograph snowy owls. I’d like to share four and a half important life lessons I learned along the way. They may just hold the keys to success in any endeavor.

1. Make a good plan to guarantee success …

The first few steps in most any plan are pretty straight forward and I followed them carefully:

DT6C8669, snowy owl

OK maybe I could have saved this for the butt collection but I loved the way it flew so close to the ground against a dark sky. Absolutely gorgeous even without seeing the eyes.

  • set a realistic goal
  • come up with a good plan
  • execute the plan

However, just before the step of evaluating beautiful photos that were supposed to come out of this wonder-ful plan, I hit a giant Saskatchewan pothole. I couldn’t find any snowy owls.

The days and kilometres clicked by and … nothing.

2. Be inspired by others’ success …

Meanwhile I kept hearing reports of snowy owl sighting and my Facebook news feed was practically overflowing with snowy owl photos. I began to wonder if I was the only wildlife photographer in Saskatchewan who hadn’t seen a snowy owl! Maybe everyone else had used up all the sightings.

3. Feed off an optimistic spirit …

DT6C8709, snowy owl

With the owl’s head turned away from the direct light, I got some nice big eyes. Did I mention that they are nice?

I knew that perseverance was necessary so I kept going out hopeful and kept getting skunked. It became a badge of honour that my camera didn’t leave the case.

Frustration eventually gave way to despair. Hope had all but vanished but one nice day I decided I had nothing better to do so I took another drive in the country and decided to bring along the camera. If optimism and a positive frame of mind had any influence, there was no chance of any wildlife sightings.

4. Wait for success to come in small doses …

A funny thing happened when I was out for that drive. I found one snowy owl. Euphoria. Then the sun came out and scattered amazing light against a deep blue sky. I was overwhelmed by three more sightings in rapid succession. The odd thing is they all happened in the same area where I had been before. I finally had snowy owl photos and a huge smile!

4.5. Expect everything to turn out different than planned …

You may have noticed a slight disconnect between the lessons and my real life experience. I keep discovering that life has a funny way of turning out different than I expect or plan.

It reminds me of the old TV show The A-Team. It wasn’t exactly high-brow drama but there was a great line often used at the end of the show. After dealing with all kinds of unforeseen events and deviating wildly from the original plans, the group’s leader, Hannibal, would inevitably emerge victorious and say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Ya, me too.


So long and bon voyage.

Latest Comments

  1. Beth Walsh's Photoblog says:

    Good things always happen when you’re not looking. Congrats…wonderful shots.


  2. mflahertyphoto says:

    Love the shot of the owl flying away!


  3. whichwaynow101 says:

    Beautiful! Was it patience or serendipity?


  4. hannele says:

    Whoa, that eye! I admire your patience; and I’m thankful for it, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      The eye really is amazing. Glad you like it too. The funny thing about patience is that we all have it varying degrees and whatever I have patience I have I continually wish I had more.


  5. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    Great photos! Those eyes are really incredible. That was one of my favorite posts.


  6. FeyGirl says:

    Such fascinating and amazing creatures… And you’ve captured them beautifully! Just stunning.


  7. Hebrew of Yhwh: stranger, sojourner, son says:

    There is no way that creature evolved from pond scum. It was created and made in the day that is was made.


  8. anotherday2paradise says:

    What a gorgeous creature!! Your photos are really stunning, Lyle.


  9. Mike Powell says:

    There is something almost alien, otherworldly about the snow owl and your shots that show its eyes seem to magnify that trait. A lot of folks seem to have seen snowy owls this year, but I don’t think that I have seen any better images than yours. Wow! I couldn’t help but laugh when I read about your efforts to plan and how things turned out differently. It reminds me of something my pastor at church likes to say, “If you want to give God a good laugh, tell him about your plans.” From what I can tell of your personality, you are driven to be organized and to make plans, but it’s good to see you have a healthy appreciation of the significant role that chance and good fortune (vice the plans) play in your success.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I like your alien descriptor. I think it’s that unique look that really draws me in to this wonderful creature. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

      Guilty as charged on wanting to be organized and have plans that actually work. I will definitely remember your pastor’s wise quote as one more reminder that life has a way of turning out quite different. Thanks for passing that along.


  10. Laurie Murray says:

    Great photos , Lyle you take . But I am still in a drought seeing Snowy owl , maybe next year . Keep up the great photo’s .


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Glad you like them. I was really hoping you had found a snowy owl. It’s been such a mixed bag on SK Wildlife Photographers since lots of people have found them and others have been quite frustrated. I guess that’s all part of wildlife photography. Some days I really wonder about the effort required and then I find something and get all stirred up again.


  11. Sue says:

    Absolutely stunning! Like you, I have been waiting all winter, watching others get great photos, and still I wait here, with no snowy owl photos, and not for lack of trying. You have inspired me — I’ll go driving tomorrow and see what I can find.


  12. Honie Briggs says:

    Stunning creature! I wouldn’t want to get into a staring contest with one of those guys. I’m with you on the life lessons. Plan, follow the plan, adjust the plan, reevaluate the plan. Optimism is contagious, isn’t it? Did you happen to see this? http://www.npr.org/2014/03/11/288762497/the-great-snowy-owl-invasion


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That’s a great link – as it worked out I had just started to read it and got called away before you commented. The snowy owl truly is stunning and it’s ability to see a mouse at a distance is unbelievable. Yesterday I had the good fortune of seeing one spot a mouse over 100 yards away and nab it. Optimism sent me out again so it is contagious but so is pessimism. Right now I’m riding higher.


  13. Michelle at The Green Study says:

    Beautiful photos! I hadn’t realized that there were diurnal owls, but it made sense when the Snowy Owl range includes the Arctic and so few night hours in which to hunt. I enjoyed the tie-in with the lessons and know the absolute truth of #4.5!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks. It sure makes them a lot easier to photograph during the day! Sadly I end up living too much in 4.5 which can be a little frustrating for someone who wants a little more control – especially when I have a really good plan.


  14. RobynG says:

    Great captures Lyle! Such a beautiful and intriguing bird!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks so much. I’ll take your two adjectives and agree whole heartedly. It’s hard to believe I could just stumble upon them around here rather than some exotic place.


  15. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wow! Did that plan ever come together! Super photos of this amazing owl and that first one with the one eye look is a particular stunner!
    I would trade you three alligator, two bald eagle, and one spoonbill photo for just one snowy owl pic. I have never seen one but hope to some day.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I’d take that trade (you just had to sweeten the pot with that spoonbill knowing I’ve never seen one!)

      Happy to hear you enjoyed seeing my amazing friend. I agree that the first one is the best, helped along with some impressive light. Hope you get to see one some day, they truly are majestic.


  16. westerner54 says:

    I so appreciate that you ended with 4.5. I seem to live in a constant state of revising what I thought was a good plan. Oh, and these are the best snowy owls photos I’ve seen, too!


  17. Anarette.com says:

    Wonderful shots and story.


  18. Sreejith Nair says:

    Nice post, and splendid shots… 🙂


  19. Mind Margins says:

    Stunning photographs of a gorgeous bird. Wow!


  20. Kerry Statham says:

    Congrat’s! Perseverance pays off!!


  21. Seenorway says:

    Those are wonderful shots, Lyle. Makes me want to move to Canada!!!


  22. kerlund74 says:

    what a beauty:)


I'd love to hear what you are thinking ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s