This is the blog for Brett Trafford Photography based in Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands. More information can be found on the web site, Brett

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Photographing fox cubs

Let me start by saying that I have being trying to photograph fox cubs for over 15 years, even on my wedding day, so it has become a bit of an obsession.

Why Foxes, well in the UK we don’t have many animals that can provide such a challenge, they are the closest thing to a wolf that we have, extremely clever, very observant and normally will try to keep away from man. On the plus side they are photogenic and as beautiful as you can get.

The first stage of the hunt starts in the depth of winter, only then can you spot tracks, paths and holes that in a few months will be hidden by undergrowth. So after many cold day spent wondering the woods and fields you will, hopeful, have identified a number of holes, maybe you have even see a fox or two.

The next step is to wait until late April, early May, and then revisit the holes looking for cubs or signs of activity; feathers are normally a good sign, but not for the bird. The draw back is that foxes move holes and can hear you coming normally before you see them, so every hole could look empty, patients is now the order of the day, keep trying until you get lucky.

Then it happens, you see a hole and from nowhere a cub bounces into view, its always just appears, one minuet nothing the next, cub. Now the hard part starts, first, cubs are small, the size of a small cat, second, they are very a where of the dangers around them, and will vanish at the slightest sound and lastly, they do tend to be in places you cannot sneak up on.

My kit for taking these photos is very basic, a Nikon D80 with a 70-300 zoom and a 600 mirror lens, a camera bag that doubles as a tripod (I’m normally lying down and rest the camera on the bag) and a camouflage jacket and old trousers. The approach in these photos was on my belly over a field covered with cow pats (so it was a bit of a zigzag) moving a foot at a time when they weren’t looking (a bit like a kids game). Even with the long lens and bright light the camera was still set to 800iso and was at the limit for hand held shots.

As for the picture I will let them speak for themselves, mum went walk about after ½ an hour and so the cubs amused themselves and I got a bit closure. Around 6 months work and preparation for an hours shooting, I would not have changed a thing.