Anatomy of a photo #46: Young Raccoons on the rocks

Two young raccoons found on the rocky shores of Tomales Bay

Early morning, extra low tide, the long days of summer… Put them tgether, and it’s the perfect time to find and photograph raccoons as they search for crabs and tidbits by the first light of the day. The other time that seems to work well is toward the end of the day, as the world starts to get a little sleepy, and the nocturnals begin to awaken.

It was fairly late in the day when I found these two youngsters searching the shoreline for crabs, by feeling under the rocks, just as their mother had recently taught them. (I could tell these two were young from two different factors- short tails that weren’t as fluffy or darkly banded as an adults, and by their more diminutive size.)

I’d been paddling for a little while, and was hugging the shore as I headed north. This can be both good and bad for photographing wildlife from a kayak. It can be possible to get very close to wildlife, however you have no warning before you are upon them (which can make it tricky to get a picture before they scurry off and stress the animal). You can also miss seeing something much farther up the bay or lake, because your view can be cut off by the shore itself.

When you paddle from a little farther off shore, you can scan up and down the rocks and beaches so that you know what to expect and can plan for it. Many times wildlife on the shore doesn’t pay as much attention to things on the water, but you are very much in the open if you see an animal and try to approach more closely.

These two young raccoons I had no warning of. I rounded a corner, and suddenly there they were. And there I was, a little too close for their comfort. They quickly scurried into a hole in the rocks, but nearly as quickly their youthful curiosity and inexperience got the better of them and they had to pop back out to see what I was… So of course I took photographs.

I was using a telephoto lens 300mm plus a 1.4x converter, so that I had at least some distance from my subjects. My depth of field was set to the lower mid range- f8.0 so my depth of field was not too narrow, allowing both of the juvenile raccoons to be in focus. Shutter speed was fast, 1/800th of a second to make sure I captured all of the action.

The two youngsters emerged and resumed their hunting, finding a few tidbits to eat (here is a picture of one of them eating something here. I did not want to acclimate them too much however to the presence of people, so I did not stay long, and left them there foraging in the rocks.

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, nature photography, photography, Raccoons, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Anatomy of a photo #46: Young Raccoons on the rocks

  1. Karly Robin says:

    Awh, pretty babies! You’ve captured something beautiful.

  2. Cute. I bet they wouldn’t let you pick them up.

  3. janechese says:

    That is so cute! Hard to believe how ferocious they can be. Appreciate the fact that you did not want to impose your presence upon them . Enjoy your work. J

  4. Maggie L R says:

    They are such sweet looking creatures. Great capture. Thanks for the tips and hints and explaining how you set up for this great shot.

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