Foxy Time

Towards the end of April through to the beginning of May, I arguably had the best two weeks of photographing wildlife. From Grasshopper Warblers to White-tailed Eagles and from Otters to Red Foxes. Sometimes if you’re lucky everything coincides and you get to live your life exactly how you want to and those two weeks were exactly that - traveling none-stop and photographing amazing wildlife. In those two weeks I accumulated several thousand images including species I’ve never been fortunate enough to photograph before but despite the backlog of raw files, I have never felt better! Travelling for wildlife is something I wish I could afford to do all day everyday, however having a trip planned for every other month keeps me excited for the next adventure. The Netherlands was a last minute idea but a destination I had wanted to visit for years to photograph the Zandvoort foxes. I have seen and heard from several photographers just how curious the foxes are and because I had never photographed foxes I knew I had to go…

Gear wise, I took the 600mm F4 VR, 300mm F4 and the 14-24mm F2.8, needless to say the 600mm stayed in my bag the entire time and I was constantly switching between the 300mm and 14-24mm. It’s a very long walk to the foxes but as the first Fox ran towards me and took me by surprise I quickly and excitedly grabbed my 300mm, only to realise the fox was still running, it got closer and closer… until the point where it was too close to focus. As I looked up, away from my camera, I was amazed to see the curious fox stood no more than two feet away from me! I quickly fumbled for the wide-angle and began shooting. I had dreamt of this moment for as long as I could remember and I also remember thinking just amazing these sort of encounters would be and I wasn’t wrong… Shooting so wide at 14mm I have always had issues balancing the exposure between sky and subject without the use of fill-flash. For the foxes I chose to under expose the images, gaining more texture and detail in the sky and then in post upping the shadows accordingly. For the first wide-angle fox image featured in the blog I did add a graduated filter in Adobe LR just to make the sky pop that little bit more and to look more dramatic which worked better. It was rare I used the 300mm but on the several occasions I did use it, it proved to be an essential tool for the job. The first session with the foxes really couldn’t have gone any better, I shot predominantly wide angle images but all-in-all these were the best views I had with foxes and with the light rapidly fading it was unfortunately time to leave them.

The second session with the Foxes welcomed gorgeous blue skies, polar opposite to the previous day. It was an early start to visit to famous tulips at Keukenhof gardens and then a quick blast into Amsterdam for some much needed food and just a general look-around. After getting the train back to Zandvoort I collected my gear and once again headed to photograph the foxes. The walk to the foxes doesn’t get easier, but the sight of Cuckoos and Grasshopper Warblers spurred me on. Sure enough the Foxes were already about and once again I dived on the floor to get eye-level as one individual ran towards me… Knowing that on the previous session I had some good wide-angle images I opted to use the 300mm lens more to create tight close-up portraits. The sun came with its downfalls, creating harsh shadows, but it was easy to work around and didn’t hinder the photography too much. Before heading to Zandvoort I never really thought about the types of images I wanted. I just knew I had to make the most of my time there and shoot everything I possibly could and because the foxes are so content any image imaginable is possible (within reason!). One shot I knew I had to have was of the fox curled up napping… I was amazed to see this, I didn’t quite expect it and the amazing close-focusing of the 300mm allowed me to capture intimate portraits. As time went on more photo opportunities arose and I was soon filling up my cards with dozens of images. It really was exciting. Yawning, stretching, playing, drinking, you name it, it happened… It was hard to leave the foxes knowing I wouldn’t be coming back the day after , but both sessions were unbelievable and major successes. It was a last minute trip with only a little bit of planning but it turned into an amazing photographic holiday! I left The Netherlands in a state of awe, I was truly taken back by the foxes and the other amazing wildlife. Next up is a trip state-side and then fingers-crossed to Oz, but hopefully after those adventures a trip back to Zandvoort to photograph the foxes would be a dream!