Foxes can be found in many locations across the UK, in fact you may be able to spot them in your garden as many have started moving into towns and cities because of how easy it is to access food.
However, unless you're a fan of late nights, the best chance you have of spotting one is by heading to a wildlife centre or nature park where they are in enclosures so are easier to photograph.
Photo by SurreyHillsMan
Out on location, and even at wildlife centres, you can't get particularly close to the animals so a longer lens (300-400mm or more) will be needed.
If you're planning on sitting in a hide, watching an area that's baited with food, you won't have a problem with using a tripod. In fact a support such as those available in Vanguard's award-winning Alta Pro range
, will give you somewhere to rest your camera and heavy lens while you wait for the fox to appear. For more flexibility in movement and control, try using a ball head such as the BH-200
. When not working in a hide you'll probably find it easier to work hand-held as it'll be easier to compose quickly when moving around enclosures.
When To Photograph Foxes
April - June is the time when cubs are being born which means there will be plenty of 'ahh' factor shots in the making and it'll be easier to capture shots of the adults as they'll be out in search of food. Out in the countryside, early morning and evening is when you'll see cubs playing outside the den.
Watch And Learn
Even if you're not photographing wild foxes, understanding their behaviour and looking for patterns and routines will make it easier for you to capture a good photograph. Taking the time to watch them rather than picking up your camera and hitting the shutter button straight away will give you better results and hopefully less failed images you'll have to look through once back home.
Working quietly and keeping movement to a minimum is important both out in the countryside and next to an enclosure. Be prepared to wait and do turn off any bleeps or other noises your camera makes as they can startle your subject.
Think About Your Focus
As with all portraits, shots where your subject stands out from the background work well so use a shallow depth of field to blur the background out of focus. The compression effect you get from lenses with longer focal lengths will also help with this. If you have several foxes in frame or want to show a single fox in its environment, looking for food, on a street etc., you'll want your shot to have front to back sharpness rather than blurring out of focus.
Choose Your Angle
Barriers and fences may keep the foxes safe but they can be a real pain for photographers. You can take your photos with your lens above them, looking down on your subject but this angle doesn't produce very interesting shots. Instead, get down low (if possible) and take your photos at a more head-on level.
Fences Are a Problem
You may find some enclosures are surrounded by a fine wire mesh that often rises above eye level. So you often have to take photos with the cage in front of you. If you don't adjust the camera's settings and position you will have poor photos with a blurred grid. To compensate you need to move as close as possible to the fence. Position the camera so the lens is pointing through one of the gaps or, when the fence has small gaps, make sure that the face of the animal you're photographing is in a gap.
If the camera has manual exposure control, adjust the aperture so it's at a wider setting, this will reduce depth-of-field (front to back sharpness) and throw the fence out of focus. Hopefully the fence will be so blurred it won't be seen in the photo.
If you can't shoot through or throw the fence out of focus you can often clone it out later using an image editing program.
Composition And Framing
When you're not out in the wild, you can make the animal look as though it's in the countryside by choosing your position carefully. Look around the frame to spot distractions, avoid fence posts coming out of the top of the head and watch out for other unwanted items from spoiling your shot. It's always worth having a walk around the enclosure so you can find the best vantage point before you pick your camera up.