Nature photographer Arielle DeMerchant has been playing candid camera cat and mouse with a pretty big cat since last November.
After months of observing a lynx on trail cameras she set up near Scotch Lake, about 30 kilometres north of Fredericton, she finally landed her dream shot April 23.
New Brunswick-based DeMerchant tries to observe animals in their natural habitat as part of her hobby. She looks for behaviour that humans wouldn't see if present in person to startle the animal.
She started out looking for coyotes in the area, but things got a bit more interesting when a certain wild cat started appearing on the scene.
"I didn't at all expect I would get a lynx."
The right gear for the job
DeMerchant picked this particular spot because of a deer carcass that she expected would attract scavengers.
She caught the lynx feeding and then returning to sniff the bones on her trail camera once or twice a month through the winter.
Over Christmas she worked on a technique she saw on the internet to photograph animals in their natural habitat.
She took a "low-end" DSLR camera, a $200 motion sensor and two external flashes and then waterproofed them with Tupperware. A coat of camouflaging paint later and she had a rig ready to catch her elusive subject in its element.
The gear sat in the wild for weeks at a time without getting damaged.
The waiting is the hardest part
After checking her camera roughly every five days into the spring, DeMerchant eventually hit the jackpot.
"I almost had a heart attack when I checked it and saw it," she said.
She says the photo is a fortunate confluence of good light, a fortuitous glance from the lynx and a quick pass through Adobe Lightroom.
"It's just that gaze in its eyes, looking so intently at the camera. It really took me aback," she said of the lynx's reaction.
It's now her personal favourite, supplanting a prized puffin shot taken on Machias Seal Island.
DeMerchant has made photography trips to Iceland and Alberta, but spends most of her time looking for subjects within an hour's drive of Fredericton.
"I like to get off the beaten path as much as I can. It's always nice to be near water features," she said. "It seems to have helped my success."
She hopes she will have another encounter with her new favourite subject before too long.
"Can't stop now," she laughed.