Anatomy of a photo #34: Trio of otters

Otter clan at the end of the day

Some of my favorite animals to watch and photograph in the wild are the North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis). Part of what makes them fun, is what a social creature they are, often intertwining and climbing over one another, touching each other and interacting in a familiar and  playful way. They are hardly ever completely still, always eating, playing, grooming or just saying hello to one another. They are the embodiment of energy.

I was fortunate to be able to capture these images, as the sun had already set behind then coastal hills that I was kayaking along, when I saw this family of otters. I knew it was a likely area to find them in, as I’ve come across them in the same area before. I atched them playing in the water, swimming and diving for fish and crabs. Occasionally, one would stick its head from the water, tilting its head back, as it crunched away at some choice tidbit. Finally, three of them climbed onto a rock that was especially exposed by the low tide. They rubbed themselves on the rock, scratching themselves, and perhaps leaving a little territorial scent, before they gathered together, and watched me.

Wildlife photography can often be tricky, in that you have little control over the situation. Lighting is subject to well, um, where the sun is, natural features such as trees, hills, cliffs… where the wildlife is in relation to the photographer and the natural lighting. This last is the only way we can affect the lighting when taking the photograph, by moving ourselves to where the animal is in better light. We can’t direct the animal or the sun, so we must direct ourselves- something which also holds true for the finding of the wildlife. While we can make educated guesses as to when and where we will find wildlife, there are by no means any guarantees. We must take our chances, and try our best to stack the deck in our own favor, by visiting places where it is likely to come across subjects to shoot, familiarizing ourselves with our cameras, and by respecting wildlife and not encroaching on their comfort zones.

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in Anatomy of a photo, kayak photography, marine life, nature photography, otters, photography, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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