There are so many talented photographers, and sometimes they pop up in unexpected ways. When scouring a Nikon Z8 Facebook group while writing the story about the Nikon Z8 strap lug issue, an incredible image of a Great Gray Owl carrying its prey through the air popped up.
The photo, captured by Washington-based photographer Betsy Carmona, spurred a conversation with Carmona, where PetaPixel learned more about her photography and how her new Nikon Z8 helped her make the stunning wildlife image.
It is always exciting when the work of a photography enthusiast, someone who is genuinely passionate about capturing images, catches a PetaPixel writer’s eye. For example, while wildlife photographer Ateeb Hussain has a fairly large Instagram following, his incredible shot, “A Mother’s Desperation,” caught PetaPixel’s attention on Reddit.
Not to take anything away from the incredible work of established professionals with huge online presences, but there is something special about seeing a breathtaking shot in places other than Instagram or a pro’s website.
Photographer Betsy Carmona Captures Stunning Great Gray Owl Photos
Carmona’s Facebook feed features multiple excellent photos of Great Gray Owls. Carmona tells PetaPixel that she made a few trips to photograph this family during a recent trip to eastern British Columbia. She made three visits to the area during a four-day trip. “We spent about one to one and a half hours per visit. We went at times when we knew they would be active and kept our visits short and spread out.”
The image at the top shows the owl family patriarch bringing a meal to his children, which Carmona says he was doing nearly nonstop all day as the owlets cannot yet fend for themselves.
“Dad does most of the wing work getting meals to mom and the kids until they fledge, but he’ll keep feeding them until they can hunt on their own. Mom tends to be the lookout and protector and keeps her ears open for predators. They have remarkable hearing. She’ll get out and feed them when they are more capable,” Carmona writes.
Carmona’s favorite subject is wildlife, although she describes herself as a “generalist” who “likes to shoot everything.” Aiming to accurately reflect nature as her camera sees it, Carmona explains that she tries to “get the best capture in camera” and perform only “light editing.” She tries to “present nature as I saw it,” Carmona tells PetaPixel.
Carmona’s Move to Mirrorless Has Resulted in More Keepers
The Nikon Z8 is Carmona’s first mirrorless camera, and she says that it is her fastest transition ever to a new camera. “It’s a new and super-improved D850,” Carmona says to PetaPixel — her most recent camera was the Nikon D850.
“I’m a hand holder and was shooting with a D850, with a grip, and it weighed between seven and eight pounds. Since switching over to the Z8, I have dropped around two pounds. The compact form of the camera and its lighter weight makes it easier to maneuver the camera in hand,” Carmona explains.
She had previously used the D850 with the optional battery grip. “One of the reasons I had a grip on the D850 was to get those two extra frames, but now it’s a non-issue, and I have solved the battery issue by attaching a power bank to it, which I keep in a shoulder bag.”
“I have seen the light,” Carmona tells PetaPixel of the move to mirrorless. She says she had been a longtime holdout as she was worried that Nikon’s mirrorless cameras could not quite match the image quality of her Nikon D850, which Carmona describes as “a good soldier.”
“The Z8 is outstanding for wildlife, a big improvement over the D850 on keeper rate. Coming from a D850, the autofocus on the Z8 is outstanding,” Carmona says. “But the camera is not a mind reader, and you have to choose the right autofocus for the conditions and be flexible to make changes on the fly.”
Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF Lens is a Lightweight Dream for Handheld Photography
Carmona captures wildlife photos with the popular Nikon 500mm f/5.6E PF ED AF-S Nikkor VR lens, a very compact and incredible super-telephoto prime lens for Nikon F mount. Nikon’s FTZ adapter lets photographers use F-mount lenses on Nikon’s mirrorless Z cameras. Given that she moved from a D850, Carmona’s suite of lenses for that DSLR will work perfectly well on her new Z8.
The Nikon Z8 and 500mm f/5.6 PF lens make for a very powerful, lightweight combination. Being able to easily handhold the kit allows Carmona to accurately follow owls in flight. While a photographer’s talent and perseverance are always vital to making great photos, Carmona’s new Z8 mirrorless camera has helped her find additional success.
For now, the best place to see Betsy Carmona’s photography is on her Facebook page. She is currently working on relaunching her photography website.
Image credits: All images © Betsy Carmona