Wildlife Photography | The Fox and His Vixen, Part 2
I almost gave up. Five days later and I had convinced myself that the fox didn’t come to be known as “cunning as a fox” for no reason. I came up with all these reasons in my head why this was a fools errand (there is no way to mask my scent in this heat and with the lb of Deet I sprayed on myself, the lighting around 9pm is horrendous and wont be worth the effort, they will hear the shutter click and bolt).
Than I came across this recent Nat Geo post about how the photographer spent three weeks in pursuit of a photograph of a mountain lion. 3 WEEKS! Which is actually nothing when you think about the videographers who helped create the Planet Earth and Africa series for BBC and Discovery. They spent months (and years) in trying to get certain behaviors on film.
So I needed to put my big girl pants on and get over the fact that it wasn’t going to happen instantaneously. Wildlife photography is certainly not like wedding photography where you can show up with your gear and everything unfolds so beautifully and effortlessly.
On my fifth day, as the last of the light crept out of the forest, I heard some light movement. And then all of the sudden the forest became very quiet. No longer were the wood thrushes singing and robins chattering away.
Then they appeared. I could tell from the video on the trail cam that they would be small, no taller than the fern fronds. But it was still surprising how small they actually were. Another surprise, I wasn’t photo-stalking a Red Fox this whole time.
It was a pair of Grey Foxes that I have been unknowingly watching.
I wasn’t able to use the tripod and remote trigger (that would have allowed me to use a slower shutter speed, letting more light in) which meant I had to hand-hold the camera. I also had to manually focus because it was dusk in the forest and the sensor was unable to determine what we were trying to isolate. (I say ‘we’ like me and my Nikon are a team, haha. We totally are.) There is a lot of noise on the images, and that is because I was shooting around 4000 ISO in attempt to bring more light into my dark forest images.
These images aren’t going to win wildlife photographer of the year or anything, but for me it was a victory over self (my lack of patience and need for immediate gratification) and problem solving (I noticed something different in my woods, determined what it was, figured out a solution for being able to see them). I set out to photograph them and I did. Now I think I will work on getting better quality images. I think it is important to always be thinking forward, you have to keep thinking about what’s next. Identify the next goal and draw a road map on how to get there, not just in photography, but in life. Otherwise life gets a little stagnant and you become just this passive being who’s being taken for a ride. That’s no way to live, and it takes purposeful action, but I digress.
They used to be more common than the Red Fox until urban and agricultural development eliminated the Grey’s natural habitat and allowed for the Red to become more dominant. The Grey fox only stands about 15 inches tall and weighs a whopping 7-11 pounds. I told you they were small. Even more cool as a trait to the Grey fox is that they are the only dog family member that can climb trees because of their strong legs and curved claws.
The two of them have been moving through the swamp together. I realized after I downloaded the images that I never really got the both of them in the same frame. Something to aim for next. I assume it is a male fox and his vixen. One is slightly bigger and definitely more bold and defined in his movement. The other smaller and very timid as it moves and interacts with the forest it passes through. However, you never should make assumptions with wildlife because I suppose it could also be a pair of siblings who haven’t parted territorial ways yet since kits are born in the spring.
Either way, I am happy with accomplishing my goal and I have defined new photographic goals to work on with my new resident grey foxes. It would be really cool if they set up shop permanently in my woods and I was able to find next spring’s den and kits to photograph.