Well it’s that time of year when the Ladies of the Prois Posse are getting it done in the field. Here are a few tips and reminders about how to capture the best pictures from your hunt so that you will have a memory and keepsake to last a lifetime.
Most people are really impressed when they see a great photo of an animal you shot. The photo can make the animal look really good or really bad. It’s well worth a little extra effort to take the time to set up a shot to make it really worthy of a place in your home rather than under the visor of your truck. For many of us that can’t afford taxidermy, this is a very cheap way to preserve the memory ot your hunt.Here’s a few tips to take a quality photo. We have borrowed these great tips from Africahunting.com!
1. Clean up the animal
A shot of animal with blood all over its face or a bloody tongue hanging out is disrespectful to the animal and will put off many folks that you share it with. Also showing huge bullet/broadhead holes with guts hanging out of them may seem cool if you’re 15 and want to start a hate thread, but would you frame a picture of guts and hang it in your house? Take the time to clean up your animal. Always have some paper towels, water etc. handy for the shot.
2. Pick a location for the shot
Animals don’t always die in a picturesque spot. Move the animal to a nice looking setting with something interesting in it (Rocks, cool trees, old tractor, broke down old fence etc.) to make the shot more interesting and capture the outdoor setting where you hunted. Interesting backgrounds make interesting photos. Don’t make the background the star of the shot but have it featured in the shot. Use your imagination.
3. Pose the animal
Set the animal up like you would with people in a portrait. Prop your buck up on its belly with feet supporting it and stretch his neck out so you can turn it, facing the head different ways for different angled shots.
4. Compose the shot
Composition is probably the most important thing that you have to LEARN to take good pictures. After you choose a good location, clean the animal up, stretch the animal out and pose it, and sit the hunter behind it, you have to frame the shot correctly.
Shoot at the hunter and animal from their level or below them. Get down on the ground or even lay down in front of them. If you can pick a spot where you can put some SKY behind the horns to really showcase them. Antlers/horns with tree branches and weeds behind them get lost in the shot. Have the hunter sit on the ground behind the animal leaning on it or holding up the head from behind, but not sitting directly behind the horns. Sit off to the side of the antlers so you can see them separately.
Have the sun light the shot for you. Face the hunter into the sun in the daylight and tip your hat back if the sun shadows your face so you can identify the hunter rather than seeing a black shadow for a face. Use your flash if you have to to light the hunters face, even in the daytime. One cool effect is for a low light shot (Sunrise or sunset) shoot the sun in the background so you see the colored sky and use your flash to light the hunter and animal.
FILL THE FRAME! when you take the shot. Shoot the hunter and animal right up to the edges of the frame. If you stand 50 feet away to take a shot and feel like the cool old tree way over there should be in the picture too, move the animal over to the tree and sit in front of it but fill the entire shot with the interesting subject matter at hand. Lots of people see a picture and say that would be a killer shot “if you cropped all of this junk out of it” Crop the shot in your view finder before you push the button.
Don’t sit ten feet away from your trophy to make it look BIGGER! Be proud of what you shot and get in the picture with it. You will probably have to show them the antlers at some point anyway and they are invariably disappointed when they see the real thing after seeing your photo.
5. Take LOTS of shots!
Especially with digital photography, it doesn’t cost more to shoot too many pictures anymore. Keep shooting, shoot from several different angles and even different backgrounds. Shoot the animal by itself. Shoot it with the hunter behind it, holding it up, standing in the background, shaking hands with your buddy, with your kids being happy with you etc. etc. Just get lots of shots.
It pays to have too many rather than not enough. You can always cull through them and get rid of most of them when you’re done and the odds that you’ll get that perfect shot that is an absolute home run are better if you have a pile of them to sort through.
By Gretchen Steele
Now that most hunting seasons have come to close, many of us want to stay in the woods and keep our scouting, tracking, patterning, and stalking skills intact. One of the best ways to do this is to hunt with a camera.
These days, my work as an outdoor communicator finds me hunting with a camera more days than I hunt with a gun or a bow. Rarely a day goes by that I am not in the field, with a pack full of cameras and lenses, my shooting sticks strapped on to use as camera rests. Thanks to the high quality and durability of the Próis line one worry I don’t have is that of durable, well fitting, technical outdoor clothing. Whether I am lying in a snow covered field photographing incoming geese or sweltering in the swamps photographing snakes, salamanders, and wading birds; Próis has me covered. Literally.
Many hunters and outdoor enthusiasts ask me how to improve their wildlife photos. The short simple answer is treat it like hunting. Just like hunting with a firearm or bow, hunting with a camera requires many of the same skills. Whether I am putting a trophy on the wall or an image of that big buck, the process is the same.
Good wildlife photos don’t just happen – it takes time and effort. Here are a few tips to help you improve your wildlife photos.
Scout – Scout, scout and scout some more. You can’t photograph the creatures if you can’t find them. The added advantage to hunting with a camera is that one can access areas that are closed to hunting. Burn the boot leather, and figure out where that flock of turkeys is roosting, when they come down, where they are strutting.
Pattern – Pattern the creatures that you wish to photograph. Learn their habits, watch them long enough to know when and where they usually feed, drink, and bed down. Soon you will know that every evening just before sunset the elk come down out of the trees to a meadow pool to drink and eat sweet fresh grass.
Stalking – Yes, wildlife photographers routinely use long focal length lenses, but often the cost and sheer need for a pack mule to haul around those giant heavy weight lenses makes the need to get close and fill the frame an often utilized skill. Just as a bow hunter needs to close the distance, so does a wildlife photographer. The same methods that you employ as a spot and stalk hunter are exactly what you will use when it is a camera in your hands versus a bow.
Concealment – we all know that concealment is key when hunting. This is no different when hunting with a camera. Thanks to the camouflage patterns offered by Próis I can stay well concealed in a variety of settings. Conceal that camera too. My cameras and lenses have camo covers that keep the glaring white of Canon L series lenses from blinding everything in the neighborhood. My black camera bodies and lenses will stick out like a sore thumb in a snowy cornfield, so again, don’t just camouflage yourself, camo up that camera as well.
Use a blind – Like it or not, just hunkering down in brush pile, the tall grass, or a clump of cedars won’t always work. I’ve spent just as many hours in a blind with a camera (I’m inclined to think more actually) as I have with a bow or gun. Just like a day in the blind hunting, some days I leave with cards full of images, the photographers version of tagging out; sometimes I come home with odd shots of the mouse in the corner, a mockingbird in a nearby tree and way too many of my boots.
Learn to call – Just like calling in the geese, the ducks, the turkeys to get them within in shooting range – I need them to be in camera range. Being able to use a range of different calls effectively will work well to bring the creatures in close. Using calls can also be an aid for enticing the creature to “look at the camera”.
By the time the cute babies from spring have grown into gangly teenagers, and the rest of the hunting community is ramping up for the next season, I have often become part of the landscape to the animals around me. They are accustomed to my scent, they are accustomed to my presence, and in many cases they have come to trust me. One would think I would use this to my advantage as a hunter.
Tempting as it might be, I try to not hunt the areas where the animals trust me the most. That just seems patently unfair. Instead, since I have been out there every day of the off season watching, patterning, and clicking away I still have a pretty good idea of where the best hunting will be.
Do my skills as a hunter make me a better wildlife photographer? Or perhaps my skills as a wildlife photographer make me a better hunter? I say neither – the skill set is essentially the same.