Throughout the Easter holidays, I set out to attempt to capture this photo of a wild Red Fox peering into a litter bin to offer a new perspective on the creature that is well-known to many. Whilst the composition and lighting were planned, the rain shower was not, but thanks to durable waterproof camera gear, the resulting image was a success and the 'frozen-in-time' raindrops provide a perfect backdrop to the image, mistaken by some for stars. Whilst this image is a step in the right direction, I am still not 100% happy with the image - compositionally, I feel it is a little unbalanced with the fox slightly too offset/distant for my liking, whilst the lighting is fairly harsh and needs to be softened somewhat in future attempts - but for now, it will do given this was the single image I managed to capture over a period of 4 nights.
So how did I go about capturing this image? This style of shot is known as a 'camera trap', whereby a camera can be left to independently fire in presence of a animal. The crucial piece of equipment used was the Camtraptions PIR Motion Sensor trigger, a device that connects into the camera and fires the camera when it detects motion in the form of heat (i.e. any warm-bodied animal will be able to trigger the camera trap system):
This allows the photographer to compose an image having understood the character and behaviour of the wildlife to identify their track and position in relation to the rest of the frame. In this instance, the camera trap was set up in a back-garden in a suburb of West London whereby it was known that a fox was a regular visitor through the garden, entering though a small gap in the fence, and making it easier to predict where the fox would be stood when within proximity of the camera trap. So let's have a look at the actual set up of this photo:
The set up for the photo: 2 wireless flashes (one on a tripod to give an overhead light, another on the ground to illuminate the fox's face); my Nikon D600 camera placed inside a litter bin looking out; the Camtraption PIR Motion Sensor trigger to the right of the bin, pointing directly at the food (a selection of chicken and peanuts).
The litter bin was laid on its side with my camera placed inside at the back looking outwards, with litter strategically placed in the opening of the bin to provide some foreground interest in the shot - this also provided an ideal way of concealing the food, placed down to lure the fox over, from the camera so as to not ruin the image. To balance the lighting, I used 2 wireless flashes (Nikon SB28), with one set up on a tripod to the right of the bin to illuminate the entire scene (including raindrops, thankfully!) whilst another was set up on the ground pointing upwards on the left hand-side of the bin to illuminate the features of the fox as it came closer to the camera. The PIR Motion Sensor trigger can be seen set up to the right of the bin, the flaps drawn together to create a narrow beam of 'detection area' within which the fox will have to move through in order to trigger the entire system, the cable plugging into the camera in the bin.
Thankfully, after 4 nights of setting up the camera trap, I was finally rewarded with the shot I had set out to capture; whilst not perfect, I am still proud of it and it is a photo that has caught the eyes of people due to its unusual composition and perspective. Over the summer I hope to attempt further camera trap images of various wildlife, using the simple techniques described above, which will require immense patience I can imagine...