Curious pedestrians, false alarms and mistimed focusing all add up to another cold and lonely evening for the photographer as he stalks the shadowy suburbs of Bristol in pursuit of Vulpes vulpes, more commonly known as the red fox.
Bristol has become a well-known location for many interesting elements. It’s roots in music, graffiti and media have made the city a particularly cultural experience for visitors and residents alike, but it is the famous foxes that are of interest to the photographer tonight.
The media’s positive and negative portrayal of these controversial canines is what brings the photographer out on the streets. Conflicting arguments of the fox’s place in urban society have forced him to make his own opinion on the issue.
Less than one mile from the centre of Bristol sits the wealthy suburb of Cotham. Large, Victorian houses, overgrown gardens and small patches of green areas all overlook the lights of this urban metropolis from their raised vantage point atop the slopes of Upper Bristol.
Visitors to the area may be more inclined to visit the popular bars and restaurants a few streets away in the Gloucester Road area, indulging in some of the more social aspects of English culture. For the residents, this is their home and there are few finer locations in Bristol with the accessibility, variety and visual appeal of Cotham.
For the photographer this is his project, he has been coming here regularly over the past six months and has found few better locations to encounter some of Bristol’s fox population.
Residents and commuters pass through the area in the form of cars, bikes and on-foot pedestrians, filling the streets with a regular torrent of activity, enough to keep the cautious fox in the safety of the shadows where he can remain undiscovered.
The fox’s nightly schedule commences as the sun begins to set. Charlie is his name, and his search is now beginning.
The photographer’s pursuit takes him back to a familiar location as he once again scans the gardens, roads and sidewalks for the whereabouts of the fox, recently arisen from a full days rest and feeling hungry.
Charlie’s somewhat predictable routine and noticeable limp distinguishes him from others of his kind.
A telephoto lens and a warm combination of clothing are the photographer’s companions this evening as he navigates the streets.
The speeding car, the blinding headlight, the slammed door and the abrupt disruption in silence from passers-by in conversation, Charlie must stay wary of his surroundings as he searches for tonight’s meal.
The photographer knows the light is swiftly diminishing beyond the capabilities of his telephoto lens. If he is to capture anything in the natural light still available he hopes it is soon.
Bushes, gardens, driveways and parked cars give the fox no shortage of places to hide at the first sign of trouble, but he has come to know this area well. The human has become as much a regular sight to him as the other unfamiliar elements of this human environment, therefore appearing unmindful of the various happenings around him.
The camera struggles to focus on its gloomy surroundings. Passing individuals look back over their shoulder curiously as they speculate why the photographer is so concerned with some unknown person’s front lawn.
The photographer circles the same block for the fifth time, still no fox. Sudden movements keep catching his eye but on closer inspection are revealed to be the area’s the less exciting cat populations.
Charlie carries on, weaving in and out of each property as he advances towards the crest of the slope. He looks casually across to the opposite side of the street where he sights another of the humans that regularly hinder his nightly activities. This one is different; this one sees him too, both remain motionless as the human aims some unknown instrument in the fox’s direction.
The photographer must act quickly, this is his chance, and the only chance he is likely to get this evening. His finger fires on the trigger as the fox acknowledges his presence with a brief pause in his movements.
The camera struggles under the available lighting, uncertain of its target as the lens focuses on the figure across the road with some difficulty.
A passing vehicle bathes the fox in light before Charlie grows tired of this interruption and continues his limped pace towards the top of the hill and out of the photographer’s line of sight.
The photographer pursues, hungry for more. Like the fox he is also yet to have his fill of his evening agenda. As he reaches the top he is pleased to still have the fox in his sights. Some distant shots our added to tonight’s selection before his subject disappears somewhere he cannot follow.
The fox continues with his covert explorations as the photographer makes his way home, content with the night’s encounter and confident in the thought that he will see Charlie again soon.