Porcupine Tails or Tales?
Closeup of a porcupine
If you have not seen a porcupine up close you are missing something special. These rodents have adorable faces that are very expressive. So you would think if that is the case why are there not a lot of photos of porcupines out there. One answer - they are difficult to photograph!
Photographing porcupines is about timing and patience. First porcupines are nocturnal, so you are always working in low light conditions usually just after sunset or before sunrise when photographing them.
Second a porcupines defense is its quills. When it is feeling threatened it turns its back to the threat and lifts up its quills. Contrary to popular belief a porcupine does not shot its quills they are released upon contact.
Porcupine about 20 minutes before sunrise in a field in the summertime
Third, these guys scurry quickly and are rarely motionless except while in trees, so low light and a moving subject make it even harder to get nice sharp images.
On my last encounter with a porcupine, I spotted him in the field just before sunrise. I knew the porcupine needed to work its way back to the cover of the forest and into its den hidden amongst the trees. The snow was deep and the porcupine had a well-worn path from numerous days of travel. I positioned myself in the ditch opposite of where the porcupine would pass and to the side as to not be in its direct path. Laying in deep snow trying to keep my camera from resting in the high banks, I waited.
Porcupine as it emerged from the field
The porcupine slowly made its way back. As it come off the field I readied my camera, ensuring to optimize my settings to minimize blur while working in low light and thus slower shutter speed. I had about 30 seconds of photographing him as he moved from field to forest, a fleeting moment early one morning, and then it was gone.