Photography is a family affair, in a way, for Seth Owens

Photography is a family affair for Seth Owens, an avid bird watcher and aspiring wildlife photographer in his first year specializing in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology at UND. Owens’ younger sister Sydney has a thriving photography and video business in their hometown of Hillsboro, North Dakota. But where his specialty is people, his older brother says he continues to focus on birds and other wildlife.

“I’m still relatively new to photography and still learning,” Owens said. “She was able to help me a lot. I borrowed a lot of (equipment) from him and borrowed a lot of knowledge. Even though she is my younger sister, I admire her for my photographs. She knows more than I do.

Here’s a look at the photo equipment Owens uses on his birding tours:

  • Camera: Nikon D500. “It’s very nice,” he said. “It becomes difficult with the cold. It works great in the summer, but sometimes the batteries run down quickly in cold weather. You just have to pack some extras.

  • Lens: Sigma zoom lens 150 to 600 millimeters. “It lets me zoom in, and it’s choppy, which is good,” Owens said. “When I get the birds up close, I’ll bring it down to maybe 150 millimeters.” When I have birds far away or if I want to fill the frame a little more, I open it up to 600. “

  • Tripod: Avant-garde Alta Pro. “I’m looking to upgrade, but they don’t come cheap,” Owens said. It also uses a gimbal head, which absorbs some of the weight of the large lens and makes it easier to move the lens freely. “I think the gimbal heads are great because you can move around so easily when they’re not locked,” he said.

As with everything, developing skills as a wildlife photographer takes practice, and Grand Forks, with its variety of habitats, provides a perfect classroom for learning the ropes, Owens says.

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“I learned a lot just by training, and that’s how I got really comfortable with this camera and this setup,” he said. “For just about anything, it just takes time.”


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