Anatomy of a wildlife shot

There are strange things done in the creation of a wildlife shot.

It’s late afternoon, early June in Kananaskis, Alberta. I find myself driving down a dusty road with my camera comfortably perched on my lap. The clouds have rolled in making it much darker than normal for the time of day.

I’m scanning the roadside for any wildlife, but secretly hoping for bears. It’s been an enjoyable day but the wildlife has been more scarce than I’d hoped. That’s probably why I stopped a few kilometres back for two ducks in a pond. Back in Saskatchewan there are ducks everywhere but not here. I got a shot of a duck just off the water as it flew away. It would be ironic to get that shot here after so many attempts back home.

The trees drift by as the dust billows behind the truck. I begin to think I may not see anything else on this day.

Suddenly some movement catches my eye. Well ahead of us, something is running across the road but I can’t make out what it is. I speed up to get a closer look and anticipation builds as I recognize the coyote shape. It’s now rapidly walking through some bushes and heading toward a hill on the side of the road.

I make a quick decision to stop the truck, balancing my desire to get closer with my fear of missing everything if I drive too far. I open the driver’s door, stand between the open door and the truck, and raise the camera to my eye.

Fortunately I spot the coyote in my lens right away. There are low bushes obstructing my view but I begin firing off shots anyway. I quickly check my camera settings on the camera back and return to shooting.

The coyote climbs up the hill but remains mostly hidden. I know my camera is focusing on branches in front of the animal in shots I will delete later. I need a clear view!

The coyote reaches the top of the hill and stops in a small clearing to survey the area. Yes! Time stands still as I fire off six shots while thoroughly enjoying the view of this beautiful creature against a wonderful backdrop. Two seconds later the coyote turns into the forest and disappears. I start to breathe again.

I slowly lower my camera and shift into my truck seat with a big smile on my face. That … was a lot of fun.

Is it possible that driving aimlessly for five hours could be worth two seconds with an unobstructed view of a carnivore? Only a wildlife photographer would call that priceless.

Latest Comments

  1. Michael Flaherty says:

    I get it. I want to be somewhere where you can be eaten by some of the animals again. I don’t know why, but I do.


  2. Arlene L Martin says:

    so worth the wait – and the picture (end result) is amazing!! I refuse to stand and wait in long, noisy line-ups at Costco or Wal-Mart, but this – wow, now THIS is different!!


  3. Intrepid Explorer says:

    Oh, yes! Totally understand. What’s 5 hours for this memory. IE


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