Specialising

By: Arjen Drost

Mar 09 2013

Tags: , ,

Category: mammals, nature, Photography, Polar

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Aperture:f/5.6
Focal Length:600mm
ISO:800
Shutter:1/59 sec
Camera:Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Arctic Fox – blue morph in Iceland

Another thing I wrote about in my interview for the Photographer of the Month on Nederpix was my specialisation. I think it’s good to specialise in a specific part of nature photography. That way you know more about your subject, its behaviour, special moments, which allows you to make better pictures. It also means you spent more time with a specific subject, which means you are more likely to be there when the light is good, or when something special happens. And finally, by knowing your subject, it allows you to take pictures without disturbing vulnerable nature. You might be able to judge by the behaviour of the animal if he starts to feel disturbed or recognise vulnerable habitats that you can better stay out.

In the interview I wrote I’ve picked a rather strange specialisation, one for the Polar Regions. This won’t come as a surprise for many, I suppose. After coming to Spitsbergen for the first time in 1999, I fell in love with the Arctic. In 2001 I became a guide, which made it easier for me to return each year. Over the years I tried to capture the Arctic in all different aspects, from the scenery, to the flowers, the birds and the wildlife. As an ecologist I’m interested in relations between different species and their environment, which I also try to capture in my pictures. By capturing all these different aspects, I’m much better able to tell the story about what’s happening there.  Different food relations, the effects of climate change or just the beauty of the area.

People often ask me if I never miss the sun. My reply to that is that I’ve got 24 hours of sun every day when I’m up there in summer. But the true answer is no, I don’t miss the warmer climates. I don’t mind the cold, can dress warmly and enjoy those higher latitudes. I do like to get to know the area better though, see more of the taiga or different Arctic places like Siberia, Kamchatka, Franz Joseph Land or Canada. There is still enough to discover for me. And if I want to go south, I’ll head down all the way, to Antarctica and use my Polar knowledge down there.

As the frequent followers know, I’ve been able to get really nice Arctic Fox pictures last summer on Spitsbergen. On Spitsbergen however, almost all foxes are of the white morph. Those foxes are brownish in summer and turn pure white in winter. Only a small percentage is of the blue morph. I’ve seen a few over there, but was never able to take pictures. On Iceland however, things are reverse. Blue foxes are the most common, while the white ones are the rarer ones. So I was really happy to capture this one, my first blue fox (even though they are never blue), another piece of the Arctic story.

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