Blog - ChrisBrinkman

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welcome home
In late spring of 2015, I spent two weeks in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. About half my trip was spent watching and photographing a Red Fox den in the Tetons. While I spent time at two other dens, this particular den site had something special: This female Red fox had bred with a male Cross Red fox, which resulted in both Red and Cross offspring. A Cross Red fox is a partially melanistic color variant of the Red Fox. This distinctive type of Fox has a long, dark stripe running down its back and a second stripe intersecting over the shoulders. On this particular evening, there had been little activity at the den site. Both parents were away hunting for food. Around 9 pm, with the sun setting behind the Tetons, Mom returned to the den site with dinner. However, the kits seemed more interested in playing with mom and each other than eating the rodents she had brought them. One kit in particular had a habit of jumping on Mom's back to nip at her ears, and this evening was no exception.

One more drink

One last drink before migration

The Shot you want

Things have been slow with the local wildlife these last few weeks. I have spent a lot of this time trying to catch up on my backlog of images, and August was busy with my show. So now here we are in September, and it’s time to start working on finding new wildlife, and landscape to shoot. Here is some insight into how I go about finding new locations, and critters to photograph.

I have found over the years that wildlife in general has a pulse so to speak. Every day is different, but there is always something going on. You just have to figure out what that something is. Nature is full of patterns something I often refer to while doing talks about wildlife photography. Animals have a habit of returning over, and over again to the same spot. They have their territories or even invisible freeways that they trust, and use daily. The key to good wildlife photography is patience, and observation over hours or sometimes days . Watching for these patterns is the key to putting yourself into position to catch the shot you want.

An example of this is a few days ago I was walking through one of my favorite local parks. While out walking I went through a manicured garden full of flowering plants. Walking through the garden I noticed a few Monarch butterflies tending to the flowers on one particular plant. This was one of the first times I had seen Monarchs this summer so I stopped, and set up to get some shots. Soon after I was set up I noticed Hummingbirds also visiting the same plant. Now here is where this gets interesting. I noticed that the sprigs of flowers that the monarchs were on were the same ones the Hummingbirds would visit when making their rounds. It dawned on me that the Monarchs, and the Hummingbirds were after the same thing “nectar“. Now anyone who has ever photographed Hummingbirds knows that they move about quickly, and don’t linger long in one place. However Monarchs tend to take their time moving over the flowers not nearly in as much of a hurry. Hummingbirds have to visit hundreds of flowers a day to keep up with their ferocious appetites. So now that I had made my observations and had some idea of what to expect at this spot the time came to set up my shot. I began to watch one particular bunch of flowers hanging off to the bottom of the bush. There was enough distance between the flowers and the background to get a very clear bokeh and isolate the subject. I also had pretty good light still at this time for an adequate shutter speed at a reasonable ISO. This bunch of flowers had also been very heavily trafficked by the Monarchs as well. I pre focused on the area, and got my settings ready. I knew if the Hummingbird came in to this spot I would only have a few seconds before it would be gone. Now comes the part of wildlife photography that is the toughest part the waiting!

After about an hour of pretty much waiting and watching this one branch. I finally saw a single Hummingbird moving it’s way to the bush. I got ready to take the shot if the bird went for the branch I was watching. Sure enough it did I had already placed my hands on the camera, and lens and moved so close to the eyepiece that I could quickly acquire the subject in the prism. The pre focusing paid off and my focus point was right were I wanted it to be. I fired of a burst of shots while it moved from flower to flower, but making sure that I kept refocusing on it’s eye as it moved about. After a few seconds the Hummingbird flew off, and I was left to wonder did I get the shot I wanted. A few years ago a photographer said to me if you saw it you missed it. This statement is based on how a dslr works as the mirror is blocking he viewfinder when the image is being captured. So often subtle differences are not noticed in images until they are reviewed. However after a quick review of the shots I took I knew I had gotten the shot I wanted. I know this is just a quick overview of many factors but I hope that these little clues and tricks help you with your images as well. Always look for the patterns to help you get the shot you want.