Earlier this week, photographer Eric Smith was making a cup of coffee at home when he spotted the perfect shot out his kitchen window. A pack of coyotes was moving through the hills behind his Los Angeles home, perfectly silhouetting themselves against the Hollywood sign. He grabbed his telephoto lens and ran for the door.
"I carefully opened the front door as they passed by, and climbed the hill across the street," says Smith, a creative director at CBS EcoMedia. "I knew when he passed in front of the Hollywood sign that I was going to have a special picture. There are at least 30 images in this sequence, but I chose this one because I like the coyote’s profile with his eyes closed, as well as the juxtaposition to the letters behind him.”
Coyotes are a common sight in the Hollywood Hills, where Smith lives—along with mountain lion, deer, and hawks—but they're mostly afraid of people and fairly elusive. Still, wild animals are such a presence that Beachwood Coyote Watch has become a popular group on Facebook where neighbors discuss and commiserate. Missing dog posters go up daily on telephone posts in the neighborhood. A local mountain lion called P-22 was photographed in front of the Hollywood sign a couple of years ago. Lately, he’s been hanging out in people’s basements.
This isn’t the first time Smith has successfully captured wildlife on his camera. Last year he photographed a humpback whale surfacing next to a boater engrossed in his smartphone. You can see more of Smith’s photos on his website, or follow him on Instagram.