Fall in Montana is one of our favorite times of year, and one of our favorite locations, too. Shooting wildlife models, captive predators that are normally or very, very rarely seen in the wild, is always fun and rewarding, but it's best done in perfect mammal light - cloudy bright conditions. A lack of contrast - shade or cloudy conditions, or even rainy conditions, are generally the most favorable for shooting, and it seems that this is the type of lighting (low) that most predators are seen in. This year, Montana was blessed, or cursed, with a very dry, very sunny summer and fall, and for our four day shoot we had what could be the worse conditions possible - bright sunlight.
This could be viewed as a real negative, but we turned it into a wonderful positive. Some of our subjects - the African lion at sunrise in gold, almost Botswanna like light, the running puma, the grizzly bears against a mountain bluebird sky, all worked well with direct, bright sunlight. Other subjects, like the running wolves - which we've shot in over-the-shoulder light in the past, we shot again that way, but added a twist and shot the wolves running in the river backlighted, in silhouette with the water splashing in silver droplets. Other subjects, like the Siberian tiger, looked magical in the shade of an aspen forest, creating wonderful dappled light backgrounds.
Color was just coming in, and we shot a wonderful wolf backlighted against this glowing foliage. We did a red fox in a similar fashion, although many in our group also shot the fox side-lit and front lit as it wandered across a rocky ledge. One of the highlights of the trip this year were two young puma kittens that we filmed in two different locations - our favorite being a rocky ledge where for over an hour the kittens wrestled and wandered about in the shade of an otherwise oppresively hot sun.