Prior to getting started with this post, I feel it may be necessary to define a term:
Shatscatter (noun): 1) An irregular and/or unexpected dispersion of shat. 2) Any voluminous mass consisting in whole or in part of decaying vegetable matter, macerated life forms, mammalian offal, or excrement which can be splashed, sprayed, fallen upon, or diffused in alarming fashion.
If you have never knelt down in a sulpherous shatscatter while wearing a really nice pair of jeans - you may not have engaged in extensive wildlife photography.
This Spring I was fortunate to happen upon a den of red foxes, which is a first in my lifetime of outdoor pursuits. Numerous trips were made to the location as the kits were actually using two dens, separated by several hundred yards. One spot was well-suited to morning light from the East, while the other was only approachable from the West and best photographed late in the evening.
Den #2 was an elevated mound in the middle of considerable, swamp-like shatscatter ranging in depth from 4 to 12 inches. Having scouted the location I brought shat-proof boots that I knew would allow me to approach the den to within 20 yards or so. The kits had been spending most of their time on top of the den, so I planned on being able to shoot from a standing position, putting me at eye-level with the young foxes.
I setup while the kits were inside the den so as not to alarm them one evening. To my surprise, as all seven of them emerged to play in the cooler temperatures of dusk, the group became extremely curious. Three of the foxes left the elevated area behind and moved towards me onto a much smaller mound only 4 yards from my lens and much lower than my line of sight. Animal portraits are far more engaging when captured from an eye-level perspective, so I knew the only option was to kneel down and sit on my heels.
In one fluid movement, I descended into a shatscatter that would give a muskrat a fit of the dry heaves. This was the type of fetid ooze that a pair of pants never fully recovers from, and that potentially can fracture a marriage upon returning home. The result was that I avoided casting a shadow into the frame and was able to get the imagery I was chasing.
A number of the images are landscape orientation and best viewed larger than my blog format accommodates. If you are interested click on over to my Flickr set where these shots and others can be seen in higher resolution:
Red Fox Set on Flickr
Happy 4th of July everyone - get out there and step in something.