I am so excited to share with you my new personal project. This project will hopefully interest and appeal to a lot people, but it is potentially controversial.
When I arrived home recently, my mum and dad had told me they had found a fox den on the flower banking in our garden while they gardening. (There had also been a lot of talk in the dog walking community of Rodley that foxes had been spotted on walks, in gardens, and even on the rug of a living room, looking at the occupier). Admittedly, my dad told me he had filled the hole back up with soil. In his opinion (and I’m sure others’ too) they are a pest. They are digging up his flowers, Cassie’s dog toys are going missing and are potentially dangerous to dogs and other pet as well as a number of other things. When I went to look, the den was clearly back in action and used on a more than regular basis. I took this as an amazing opportunity to photograph a WILD urban fox. This is something I have never done but have wanted to do for a very long time.
‘Red foxes have successfully colonised urban areas throughout the world. They are widespread in many Australian, European, Japanese and North American cities.In Britain, foxes were first established in cities such as Bristol and London during the 1940s. More recently, cities such as Cambridge and Norwich have been colonised. Similar patterns of colonization are found worldwide. Foxes were recorded in Melbourne as early as the 1930s and were widespread in many Australian cities by the 1970s, but in Zurich, Switzerland, urban foxes only appeared during the 1980s.’ http://www.thefoxwebsite.net/urbanfoxes/
I firstly wanted to get a better insight to the routine of the fox. When is it most active, when does it leave and return and so on. While I was thinking about the best way to do this sat in the garden (on an unusually hot day in Yorkshire) I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. To my huge amazement and delight, I saw a fox cub scurrying past the side of the house. I ran inside and grabbed my GoPro and I knew the wide-angle, size and nature (action camera) would be perfect to determine the foxes’ activities. I attempted to use the GoPro for three evenings/nights, however I came across a number of problems.
Abandoning the Gopro, I eventually moved on to my Nikon D810 (which I love). I decided to set my camera to ‘interval shooting’ so that it would take a photograph every 2 seconds for as long as I wanted, in my case I set it to stop shooting after it reached 2 hours. I changed the settings so that I was shooting in aperture priority which deals with the changing light better than any other setting, and heightened my ISO to around 3200. The model of camera is brilliant at dealing with this amount of noise. My settings were as follows: f/4-5 which allowed me to achieve a shutter speed of around 125th of a second (fast enough to freeze any movement).
I placed the camera on my Sirui tripod which allowed me to get very close to the ground and keep as hidden and out of the foxes’ way as possible. Around the camera, I placed a plastic food bag just in case it rained (which, let’s face it, is more than likely in Leeds). Despite knowing that the Nikon D810 is brilliantly weather sealed, an incident involving water with my previous camera scarred me for life, so precautions all the way. I manually focused the lens I was using which was the standard Nikon 24-85mm lens. The focus was located between the lens and the edge of the den as I believed this is the most likely place the fox would be. I left the camera taking images and went inside.
Around 2 hours later I went to check the camera and to my huge delight, there was a baby fox on the back on my LCD screen. Naturally, I ran inside screaming ‘MUM!’ who came running after thinking I had been mauled by the fox. After telling her I had got a picture she sighed with her hand on her heart which I thought was happiness and delight… It turned out to be disappointment as I had disrupted her game of candy crush! Despite this she looked at the image and was very interested!
Excitedly, I quickly uploaded the images from my SD card on to my computer, changed batteries and put the camera straight back outside. Being so excited and eager for more images, I forgot to change the settings and so naturally with the evening progressively getting speedily darker, the camera was making the pictures as bright as it could, meaning the shutter speed had fallen a huge amount. When I looked at my camera this time, there were many images of the fox but all motion blurred. This was however a great learning curve.
I am hoping to get a lot more images and even footage during my stay at home. I can now confidently (sort of) attach my GoPro to my camera as I know it will be light enough to see the footage. This way I will have a supporting film to go with my pictures.
Note: To achieve these image I have changed the image from RAW quality to JPEG in order to get more images onto the SD card. When I am confident that I can photograph the foxes personally and that they trust me enough to be in my presence, I will change the quality back to RAW which will allow me to get some beautiful images and edit them fully.
A Brief Edit
That’s the hope anyway! Please stay tuned if you’re interested in my blog or comment if you have any questions or opinions, I would be so interested to hear anything from you!
Thank you all and watch this space!