Netherlands-based Edwin Kats has a knack for capturing small critters in an incredibly cute way. Within a 10 mile radius of his home in Nunspeet, Holland, you can find Kats hunched down as he shoots squirrels and hedgehogs from ground level. "I like squirrels and hedgehogs, in particular. because they all have a different character," he tells us. "I’ve met cheeky ones, shy ones and some really curious ones. Both animals are very active in the autumn and it’s also my favorite season because of the vivid forest colors. The squirrels especially make me laugh, at times, because they try so very hard to annoy me by never doing what I hope they will do."
Kats has to wait a particularly long time to capture red squirrels, flying in mid-air. "It’s very hard to describe how many days, even months it took to get the flying," he says. "To get them flying is not the hardest part but capturing them in focus is. The autofocus of my Nikon D4 is fast but squirrels leaping towards the camera are just too fast for my camera. By pre-focusing and then locking the focus, it made it a bit easier. I just wait for them to jump and then I fire the camera. By using the widest aperture (f/4) the focus area is very small but it gives me the fastest shutter speed and nice out of focus background."
When asked if he could give advice to fellow photographers, he told us this. "A thing I learned along the way is that you can get great results by sticking to just one subject for a long time. Try to get to know your subject and follow it through the seasons. Try to get them in the snow, against autumn colors and with a nice back-light on a sunny summer morning. Another advantage is that the animals, even the very shy ones, will get to know and trust you. The best possible feeling I can get is to be accepted and trusted by a wild animal - lions, hippos and elephants not included, of course."
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