Project success!Six weeks after starting Project Fox I finally managed to get the type of shot I was hoping for when I started the project. I ended up using two off camera flashes, one to provide a harsh key light from the right (I had no idea she would be facing it) and the second to bring out a little of the shadow side so that the image didn’t look too harsh. I practiced a lot with one of my dogs toys in position, the dog wasn’t keen on being a model for me.
My top tips for fox photography;
- Pick a wide angle lens to give a decent depth of field.
- Unless you want to spend the whole night watching you’re going to need some way of being alerted to the arrival of your foxes. I tried all sorts including an eye-fi card in my camera trap set to upload new pictures to my laptop. I then set my laptop to alert me when new images arrived using directory watching program. Final solution was a little box of tricks from China which had a motion sensor and would call my mobile phone if it spotted movement (albeit with a 1-2 minute delay).
- Using a flash is probably essential, but for my local foxes it was a bit of a surprise. I ended up using Yongnuo RF-603N II wireless flash triggers, one on each flash for my lighting setup acting as receivers, one on the camera acting both receiver and transmitter and the final one in my hand ready to trigger the lot.
- Peanuts (unsalted bird feeder type), the foxes love them and they take a while to be eaten. The fox can’t just run off with the food. If you are photographing on grass chances are the peanuts will be hidden in the grass.
Here’s a picture of my test subject, the dog was a bit annoyed that I was borrowing his favourite toy to set up my shot but the white toy was pretty important to ensure I didn’t over expose any white fur on my foxy subjects.Things I learnt the hard way;
- If the temperature drops below freezing whilst your kit is out chances are your lens will frost over. Very frustrating as the image in my mind when I pressed the shutter button was a beautiful frosty garden scene, instead I had out of focus haze.
- Don’t smear food over your cheap Chinese motion sensor, at best it will get chewed at worst it will be stolen by your fox.
- Using a flash will make your foxes jump out of their skin, they do slowly get used to it but keep the flash settings low and try and use a camera with a quiet shutter. My foxes were slowly getting used to it, but the 1st few times they jumped a long way!
- Your model will never go exactly where you would like so plan for multiple positions of animal. i.e. use a smaller aperture than you think to ensure focus or a wider backdrop in case the animal is at the edge of shot.