Low light Coyotes in snow

Coyote running across a snow driftCoyote running across a snow drift – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

In my post yesterday I shared a Coyote photo in the snow and wanted to share a few more of the Coyotes I saw on Antelope Island State Park on Monday. It is a challenge to photograph in low light and snow, exposure compensation is key so that the subject isn’t too dark and the snow isn’t too bright. I opted to go light on the subjects in these images and brought down the exposure of the snow in post processing.

I mentioned that I spotted two Coyotes, one pale larger one I believe to be a male and a darker, smaller one I believe to be a female. The female never came up close like the pale Coyote did, the picture above shows the pale Coyote running through the snow as it came closer.

Coyote sniffing for volesCoyote sniffing for voles – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 328mm, natural light, not baited or called in

The pale Coyote was hunting, it would often stop and press its muzzle into the snow to sniff out voles. Just after the image above was created the Coyote stuck its nose into the snow drift. It was aware of our presence but didn’t seem bothered by us as it came so close I wasn’t able to focus on it at times.

Snowy Coyote portraitSnowy Coyote portrait – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 357mm, natural light, not baited or called in

I was able to zoom in and get some portraits of the pale Coyote with snow covering its muzzle and face.

Coyote and snow drifts panoCoyote and snow drifts pano – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

The Coyote that I believe to be the female because of its smaller size was more cautious than the paler Coyote and hung back, in front of her the pale Coyote’s tracks are just barely visible. She never came in close to us.

Coyote sitting on a roadCoyote sitting on a road – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

The pale Coyote sat on the road and appeared to be waiting for the darker one to catch up but after a few minutes it was clear to us that she wasn’t going to and we passed the pale Coyote on the road. Later on after making a loop to the south of the island we saw them together again on a hill-side.

I know some people may not care for these images because they are high key but I find them; and the Coyotes, very appealing.



  1. Female Short-eared Owl on a snowy day January 28, 2014 at 6:28 am

    […] with fresh fallen snow and there were near whiteout conditions at times, I also photographed Coyotes and Chukars in very low light […]

  2. The pale male Coyote and his injured mate January 13, 2014 at 5:06 am

    […] I had photographed this pair recently and that this was the female to the pale male I wrote about here.  The female did not have an injured leg when I photographed them at the end of […]

  3. Julie Brown February 1, 2013 at 4:04 am

    I really enjoy seeing the Antelope Island coyotes through your lens, Mia.

  4. Humming bird Lover January 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Hi! Love all of the pic’s, but the head & nose shot I love best! Keep up your great shots!

  5. M. Firpi January 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Your coyote images show so much sensibility towards this animal. The third portrait close-up of the animal touched me deeply, you have gone so deep into its character and soul. I love the sense of scale in the fourth image. Its muzzle is a prodigious wonder from nature.

    • Mia McPherson January 31, 2013 at 6:27 am

      Thanks Maria, I feel an attachment to Coyotes and hope that shows in my images. They are often maligned but they are simply doing what their nature calls them to do.

  6. Ingrid January 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    This series so makes me wish I could have been there! So beautiful in capturing the coyote spirit, Mia.

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      I wish you had been here Ingrid, what fun that would be. Thanks for commenting on these images.

  7. Bob Bushell January 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    What a beautiful Coyote it is, you bring out the wonderful coat, cheers Mia.

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks Bob, they do have wonderful coats.

  8. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    The composition of the photo of the dark (female?) coyote is absolutely gorgeous. Notice how the branches form subtle arcs down to the animal. She certainly appears to be “queen” within herself. That portrait is such a pleasure to examine of the pale coyote…. All the photos are a document in the lives of these animals and of the ecosystem within which they survive. Truly treasures.

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks Merrill, the composition of the female Coyote was very appealing to me, a sense of isolation and stoic determination.

  9. lauren January 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Adorable, so love the one with snow on his nose.

  10. biobabbler January 30, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Oh, man, I can’t imagine not appreciating these lovely shots of such a cool animal. Some of my favorite film visuals were the blowing snow shots in Fargo. LOVE that snowy desolation.

    Man, and that super close shot of his face, what a TREAT! =) Glad you decided to share more. And glad to learn they reunited. =)

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks biobabbler, I loved getting the close up shots too. Especially with snow on its face!

  11. Scott (@NESASK) January 30, 2013 at 7:45 am

    !!! Awesome images, Mia. Terrific closeup. The coyotes must feel very comfortable there in the park. It’s great that you are able to capture such close shots!

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks Scott, the Coyotes on the island don’t get hunted so they are some what less wary of humans.

  12. Sherry in MT January 30, 2013 at 7:24 am

    You know I like the low light on these guys, kind of softens them. I absolutely adore the expression on the last one!

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Sherry, the low light does soften them some. Thanks for commenting.

  13. Beverly Everson January 30, 2013 at 7:14 am


  14. Susan January 30, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Beautiful images Mia, too bad the female was so shy:)

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Thanks Susan, hopefully I will get images of the female soon.

  15. Chuck Gangas January 30, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Wonderful images Mia- just a superb job on exposing the subject. And I love your high key approach to these winter scenes-very nice work.

    • Mia McPherson January 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks so much Chuck! Hope to see you back out here soon.

  16. John Randall January 30, 2013 at 6:22 am


Comments are closed.