Dave Gignac is a wildlife and nature photographer in Temagami, Ontario, Canada. His work has been published in many magazines and other publications, including Canadian Geographic Magazine, Detroit Free Press, Photolife Magazine, and Bird Studies Canada.

Editor’s note: This is the third photo story contributed by Dave Gignac. See the first photo story here, and the second one here. I always look forward to hearing how his shots were made and to his different wildlife stories. I don’t know where he finds the time to contribute these posts, but I’m very grateful that he does. I also love hearing from photographers like Dave, who go out and do what they do so successfully and prolifically. Dave Gignac lives on a remote lake in Canada. Many people (even in major cities) fret that they can’t make a go of photography because “the industry” isn’t established where they live. Other people, like Dave Gignac and some others I could name, just go out and do it. Those are the people who have stories to tell.

Dave Gignac

Dave Gignac’s story: The fox kits illustrate several lessons for photographers. The first is: get known; get the word out that you are looking for wildlife. The opportunity to photograph this fox den came about when a friend who sells my work at her gallery called me, and told me one of her good friends had been watching a den with some fox kits, and she wondered if I would like to bring my camera, and come take a look.

I didn’t move for the entire time I was there. The kits came out, and their initial curiosity eventually led to total comfort with me being there.

“YES! Yes, I would!” was my answer. It’s good to have friends who spread the word of their sightings, and my interest in finding new things to shoot! My first trip to the den did not disappoint. Knowing that kits are most active early in the morning (when they like to let the morning sun warm them after a long cool night in the den), I arrived before sunrise. Sure enough, one by one, out popped the kits. An hour or so in the sun, and they retreated back to the den for the day.

Dave Gignac

Day two did not go well. I arrived at the same time, only the kits were already out. My car coming down the road scared them back into the den, and they didn’t return above ground for the hour I sat and waited. My bad.

Day three was fantastic. I arrived, found a comfortable distance, and using my car as a blind, lay down next to one of my wheels. I didn’t move for the entire time I was there. The kits came out, and their initial curiosity eventually led to total comfort with me being there. Any sudden motions would have scared them back into the den.

Dave Gignac
I find lying on the ground to be a great way to do two things. With animals, it makes them far more comfortable with your presence when you are down at their level, not towering over them. Secondly, and far more importantly, it brings your camera to eye level with the subject. These images would look totally different had I been standing when I took them. The foxes would look tiny, and my downward angle would not reveal any of their chests and paws. The same holds true with whatever you shoot, whether it be a dog in a park, a fox, or children.

Try it next time you take photos of your kids, and see what difference is made by changing the height of the camera. The lower the better.

Dave Gignac sells fine-art paper and canvas prints of his wildlife and nature work from his home area of northern Ontario.

Photo Stories is a series that provides a look at how our favorite images were made.

About The Author

Heather Nilson was editor of PhotographyTricks.com from August 2012 until November 2014. She has a background as an academic geek, with a degree in biology and work history in biology research. This was followed in 2010 by a complete career switch from laboratory research to writing, photography, and travel. She specializes in travel and fine art photography, and loves spending her computer time continually learning more about photography and creativity. Heather lives in Denver, Colorado, when she is not traveling. Like her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/LightAdventurePhotography

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