I just returned from another fantastic trip to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark National Park. Well known for its grizzly bears, my favorite image wasn’t a bear this year. Instead, it was an image that caught a dramatic moment between a red fox and vole. The fox was hunting the vole, and finally caught the vole in some open grass. Rather than just eat the vole, the fox seemed curious for a few minutes before the inevitable happened. But lucky for me, I was following the fox around hoping for something different.
What makes a good wildlife image? After taking numerous wildlife headshots, photographers seek out something different that will elevate their image above the rest. For myself, I look for behavior, environment and interaction. In this case, I got really lucky. What really excited me about this shot was the fox wasn’t just staring down at the vole, but instead decided to get at the vole’s ground level to face off with it. Following the same theme, I quickly got prone and took this image with my lens about 4 inches off the ground. This gives the image a more intimate angle, we are a part of this dramatic encounter rather than a spectator (standing up shooting from a tripod). One thing I love about the new Nikon 500mm F5.6 PF is how light and small the lens is. I can quickly lie on the ground and get a shot like this…I would have missed it using a bigger telephoto.
The next time you see a wildlife moment developing, remember to be patient. Wait for that gesture or interaction that is unique. And don’t forget to find a perspective that puts the viewer right where the action is.