The Focused Wolf
Jim Brandenburg’s iconic shot of half a wolf’s head peering out from behind a tree, arguably marked the moment that wildlife photography became art. All those that ply Jim’s trade have much to thank him for – after all that single image – which can never be repeated – elevated the business of taking top tier wildlife imagery to an art form that was collectable.
I often ask myself to articulate what was so special about his photograph. I tend to home in on the simplicity of the image as well as its menace and the rule breaking incompleteness. It nails the character of the animal and the behavior that defines it.
Wolves may indeed have menace , but they are also unquestionably beautiful. I can’t compete with the Brandenburg shot and nor when I went to Montana, did I want to even try. There is no mileage on borrowing ideas, but I recognised the power of simplicity.
There are two aspects of my picture that make it quite special. Firstly, the limited depth of field brings every human eye to the wolves eyes – this was mathematically necessary as the low early morning light required opening up the lens aperture, but it was also the way to play the idea. A nice coincidence.
The other aspect to me is that the wolf is such a smart and focused animal and therefore I wanted to be sure that he was portrayed with crystal clear focus too. There is no room for lack of sharpness – that would not do this alpha animal justice.
It was very cold , but I guess that is conveyed.