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Atmosphere, light and foxes

I recently spent another week at Anna’s Veranda and found some new residents in the Inlet Beach Dune Preserve. They would only appear in the last minutes of sunlight when the weather and atmosphere has its greatest effect on the quality of light.

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Florida Red Fox, August 10, 8:40pm (Vulpes vulpes), © T.W. Meyer 2011

I went to photograph them on 3 evenings, but my longest lens was an 85mm 1.8, and the light was almost non-existent when they would suddenly appear from under the scrub and palmettos. The first two nights I hand held the camera, and worked iso 400 at insanely slow shutter speeds, bracing on the railing of the boardwalk and watching for that still moment to release. iso 400 pretty quickly became 1600, which the D700 handle pretty well. And they are so fast… and then there’s the wind.

But the really magical thing that overlayed my excitement at being so close to these thoroughly wild creatures, was the wonderful shifting qualities of light in late summer on the gulf shore of the Florida panhandle. Every night the coastal sky presented a rapidly shifting range of color, from a deep clear blue to a fiery orange glow to an almost completely neutral silver.

In preparing this images, I tried to remain faithful to the impression of those moments, if not to an empirical reproduction of the twilight’s actual spectrum. Each of these images of the foxes was made on a different evening, and the color they have is my best recollection of the experience. I’ve included some photographs of the sky, just to give you an idea of what the illumination was like, in the surrounding minutes. There was no way for me to empirically identify and record the color temperature without a color meter, and I wouldn’t have used one, had I had it. Well, maybe I would have, but I just set the white balance to “fine weather” which gave me a constant standard to work from, had confidence in the fluidity of the raw files, and kept my attention with the foxes.

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Florida Red Fox, 8:55pm August 8, 2011 © T.W. Meyer 2011

Monday – 2011.08.08 at 8:55pm, iso 1600, f1.8 @ 1/8th second, 85mm f1.8 Nikon AF-D

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Florida Red Fox, 8:20pm, August 10, 2011 © T.W. Meyer 2011

Thursday – 2011.08.10 at 8:20pm, iso 800, f3.5 @ 1/400th second, 85mm f1.8 Nikon AF-D

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The sky above me and the foxes, 8:31pm, August 10, 2011 © T.W. Meyer 2011

Thursday – 2011.08.10 at 8:31pm, iso 400, f4.5 @ 1/250th second, 85mm f1.8 Nikon AF-D

Florida Red Fox, 8:43pm, August 10 2011, © T.W. Meyer

Florida Red Fox, 8:43pm, August 10 2011, © T.W. Meyer

Thursday – 2011.08.10 at 8:43pm, iso 800, f1.8 @ 1/25th second, 85mm f1.8 Nikon AF-D

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The sky above me and the foxes, 8:47pm, August 10, 2011 © T.W. Meyer 2011

Thursday – 2011.08.10 at 8:47pm, iso 800, f2.8 @ 1/10th second, 20mm f2.8 Nikon AF-D

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Florida Red Fox, 8:31pm, August 13, 2011 © T.W. Meyer 2011

Saturday – 2011.08.13 at 8:31pm, iso 400, f2.2 @ 1/30th second, 85mm f1.8 Nikon AF-D on a tripod (finally)

You can see more on my Facebook page from this trip.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Miranda #

    Gorgeous shots of foxes and skies! Foxes are SO shy. Not only did you catch them, some of them are relaxed. That’s amazing!

    The best sunset I’ve ever seen was on Clearwater Beach with a huge thunderstorm over Tampa Bay (to the east) that was being lit by the sunset colors. No camera unfortunately (though I’m totally amateur), but as Phil says just catch that picture in your mind. We were there with a bunch of good friends, adults and kids – it was a GREAT shot!

    2011.08.22

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