Can­did cam­era – in the wilds

Ply­mouth pho­tog­ra­pher cap­tures close-ups of an­i­mals us­ing spe­cial­ized equip­ment

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY SUEANN MU­SICK

The per­fect na­ture photo is wait­ing to hap­pen, but it might take days or months to cap­ture it, says hobby pho­tog­ra­pher Al Muir.

The Ply­mouth res­i­dent, who has many cam­eras in wooded ar­eas, said when an un­be­liev­able im­age is cap­tured it is worth the many treks in the woods to ad­just the lens, study the wildlife and ex­change cam­era cards.

In par­tic­u­lar, he re­mem­bers one photo in the win­ter of 2011 that cap­tured a doe nuz­zling up to a buck which he says to this day is one of his favourites.

“I worked re­ally hard for that picture,” he said. “I had a trail packed down in a spot and there was food there be­cause that was the only way to get them to come that lo­ca­tion. I would go in for a pe­riod over months and each time it snowed, it would cover the trail into the woods so I could only fol­low an out­line. I would walk in with a 75-pound back pack on my back and if I fell off the trail, I would be in deep snow. It was a long process but it was worth it to me.”

It is hard to be­lieve that out of the 500,000 pho­tos he now col­lects each year from his trail cam­eras that one still holds top prize, but he said this is prob­a­bly a photo not one would ever see oth­er­wise.

His love for na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy started 40 years and his own skills and tech­nol­ogy have ad­vanced over this time.

Muir said some peo­ple be­lieve tak­ing a trail photo is a mat­ter of set­ting up a cam­era and walk­ing away from it, but in fact a pho­tog­ra­pher needs to learn about na­ture, what an­gle to shoot from, feed­ing habits, mat­ing rit­u­als, and so on.

“If you know how an an­i­mals be­haves, you know how it ap­proaches an area and you can say, ‘OK, it will come at his an­gle.’ If you are be­ing par­tic­u­lar, a per­son can be as fussy as you want to be.”

Muir had his trail pho­tos in the pro­vin­cial hunt­ing guides in the past, in­clud­ing the front cover of the 2017-2018 guide fea­tur­ing a buck with a rare choco­late-coloured rack. He said he learned that deer antlers are coloured by the tree they rub on so he is a bit puz­zled as to what this deer was rub­bing against to ac­quire the colour.

He started tak­ing pho­tos for in­ven­tory pur­poses, but it has pro­gressed into a na­ture study such as his fo­cus this year on a young buck in dif­fer­ent stages of growth.

With 40 years of knowl­edge in na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy now stored on his com­puter and other backup de­vices, he said the an­tic­i­pa­tion of what is on the cam­era card still keeps him go­ing back for more.

“That is one of the best things about it,” he said.


Out of some of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of pho­tos Al Muir has taken with his trail cam­eras, he still be­lieves the buck and doe picture is one of his best.

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