I spotted this fox out of the corner of my eye as Sandi and I drove back to our camp at Yardie Creek after a late afternoon outing to photograph kangaroos and euros. The light had faded to the extent that we’d given up on 'roo photos for the day, but I decided that as I don’t often encounter foxes I should take my chances with the camera regardless of the poor light. Of course, zoom lens or no zoom lens, this was never going to be as easy as winding down the car window and clicking away while he posed obligingly.
Sandi pulled onto the shoulder of the road and, seeking to emulate a dashing and much younger David Attenborough, I leapt out of the passenger's seat dramatically (I've always wanted to do that!) and took off after Reynard as he turned in the direction of the nearby escarpment. I must say, he didn’t seem too concerned at the sight of an unfit, middle-aged Two Legs pursuing him with a camera and he trotted off sedately, safe in the knowledge that I’d only ever head him off in my dreams. Even in the dim light I’m sure I detected a grin on his face as I stumbled over the rock-strewn slopes. The degree of difficulty was enhanced by the fact that in the increasing gloom I wasn’t game to take my eyes off him in case he melted into the rocks and shrubbery for good.
My meagre reward for risking life and limb was three or four not-very-good photographs, the last of which features his rear end as he finally grew tired of our little game and disappeared over a ridge of rock, leaving me out of breath and grinning stupidly below.
Where the resulting painting is concerned, I began it with doubts in my ability to portray the scene successfully given the state of the light at the time and a poor reference photo. However, with the encouragement and guidance of e-friend and fellow blogger Dean Richards, I've exaggerated the contrast a little and will try to suggest a last glimmer of sunlight so that the fox - and the viewing public - are not left entirely in the dark.
My rationale for not featuring the fox more prominently has to do with the circumstances under which I spotted him; he allowed me a glimpse at best, which is often my experience with the animals I encounter. In that context then, the painting reflects this reality and reinforces the fact that we don't always find wildlife when and where we expect to.
With luck I'll complete this painting tomorrow. As a final step, I'll adjust tonal values - hopefully without losing the sense that the setting is at dusk.