Night-time photography has its challenges. On this photography outing to Desert Photo Retreat in Marana, Arizona, we tried something different. We tried “Wildlife Camera Trap Photography**,” with the help of Ron, the owner.

What was different?

We were setting up our cameras to “trip” or to “shoot” an image based on a sensor.  The sensor would let us know when a critter walked into our focus area. The sensor would then send a signal to fire two flashes to light up our subject then at the same time signal our camera to take a photo. Initially, it sounded complicated, but Ron quickly stepped us through the process and helped us set up our cameras. Jeff and I were each at a different location on the hillside. The first set-up had a water drip and log, the second with a small reflection pool. Both areas were generously stocked with treats for potential critters. After all, we wanted them to “smile” for the camera.

The capture possibilities included a bobcat, a fox, javelinas or even a mountain lion. I was hoping for the mountain lion.

At dusk with Ron’s help, the setup was quick and easy and we returned to camp to relax. Perhaps, it was too easy? The camera would work all night when triggered by the sensor and we could sleep. This sounds like a much better way to do photography. I could get into this.

One of the dozens of mice we captured in the light

At dawn, we retrieved our cameras. Jeff first. His camera took so many images, the chip filled and the battery ran out. Unfortunately, he was disappointed.  The sensor had run amok and fired almost continually. In the 4000 images taken, all Jeff captured was a couple of mice. If you know Jeff, he hates mice or anything rat-like. He’d gotten skunked for sure.  So much for “easy” critter photography.

Next we checked out my camera setup. I captured a few mice, too. But for better or worse, I actually captured a larger critter. In fact, he visited  three times over the course of the night. I too, got skunked.



This striped skunk is almost cute wouldn’t you say?

What a beautiful tail, thank goodness it’s pointed away from the camera!


The next night Jeff and I switched our camera locations. Maybe tonight he could get skunked. And I, now being further from camp I’d be more likely to get my mountain lion. (But between you and me, I would have been happy with a bobcat photo).

Again at dawn we retrieved our cameras. Jeff first. Success, he’d gotten skunked. Not by one but by two different skunks. Then up to my camera.

A quick scan of my photos revealed – another skunk!

Skunk and his reflection

It seems that someone didn’t want their photo taken as my lens was smeared with mud. Humph, I guess critters can be sensitive about their appearance.

But the smudge was not from the skunk, but from a Javelina. I had over 250 photos of javelinas, at times up to 4 or 5 trying to crowd in for a photo. Did you know that a herd of javelinas is  called a “squadron”. This squadron was certainly not camera shy!

These three were all well-behaved

Notice the little baby on the right side.

And who says Javelinas don’t smile?

And here is the vain Javelina who didn’t want his photo taken.

Yes, that is a snout!

 I was unsuccessful at capturing a mountain lion, but a “squadron of javelinas” sounds impressive, don’t you think?

Remember it’s all about the light and in this case, the skunks it reveals.


**For those of you who are critter sensitive, a couple of notes. The critter treats were all natural. The flashes were set on low to minimize or eliminate any stress to the critter.  The animals were not “trapped” in the environment, but free to wander in and out of what is there natural habitat.