Published by CLB on 31 Mar 2008
In the heat of the moment when we are hunting sometimes we forget to document our successes with a field photo or two. Nothing brings back the memory of a hunt like a well taken photo. Alot of photos end up being taken in the back of the truck or on the garage floor. These types of photos while documenting our deer do not capture the essence of the hunt like we really want them to. It only takes a few minutes to get good field photos and the photos will last a lifetime and bring back a flood of memories like the hunt happened only yesterday. Field photos do not require any special equipment and even a point and shoot camera in the backpack will work. What is really important is how you set up and compose the photo. In the next few paragraphs I will try and set out a few guidlines for taking good field photos.
The first step in getting a good field photo is to clean the animal up a bit before taking the photo. Blood is a natural part of our sport but excessive blood can be distasteful even to other hunters. Wipe off as much blood from the animal as you can and clean up around the mouth a bit. Make sure the tongue is not hanging out. If the tongue will not stay in the mouth you can go as far as cutting it off. If you can, tuck the legs up under the animal for the photo. This is not always possible if the animal has stiffened up or it is a very large animal like a moose. Next try to have the animal in its natural landscape, not in the truck or on the garage floor. Have the animal set up so that there is not too much clutter in the background. Clutter in the background such as bushes will make the antlers hard to distinguish. If possible try and have the antlers against a clear sky. Also make sure that there is no clutter in front of the animal. Try and clear any debris such as sticks, grass or other items which may cover any part of the animal.
When setting up to take the photo try and get as low to the ground as possible. Even lay on your belly if you have to. Getting down on the animals level will give a more natural aspect to the photo and fully show off your trophy. Try not to stand over the animal and hunter and shoot down on them. Try and keep the sun at your back if possible or off to the side. Taking photos with the sun at the hunters back will cause you to lose detail in the photo and can cause unsightly lens flares and can totally black out the hunter and animal with point and shoot cameras. One thing to be careful of, as the photographer with the sun at your back, is to make sure your shadow is not in the photo. If the hunter is wearing a hat the sun may cast a shadow across his face which will black it out in the photo. If this is the case have the hunter remove his hat for the photo or use fill flash to brighten the hunters face. If it is dark out make sure to use a flash or if possible you can wait and get photos the next morning. This is not always an option with bowhunting as many times it is quite warm out and taking care to salvage the meat is very important. Take many different angles of the animal and hunter, this way you will always get an angle which will look the best in photos. Fill the frame with the hunter and his or her trophy. Having the animal and the hunter too small in the photo brings too many other distracting objects into the photo and makes the hunter and animal hard to see. Try and not have the hunter hold the animal out at arms length in an attempt to make the animal look bigger. This just gives an unnatural appearance to the animal. Do not have the hunter straddle the deer. It is best to have the hunter kneel or sit in behind the animal. Try and have the hunter smile, this should be a happy moment. If you are alone in the feild you do not have to go without a field photo. Carry a small tripod with you or use a log or your backpack as a rest and use the self timer on your camera. This can sometimes take a little time to get a good photo but with digital cameras it is easy to check your photos and make sure you have a good one.
Field photos do not have to only be of the hunter and his or her trophy. Photos of the hunter as they are hunting or sitting in their blinds or treestands also make great memories of the hunts. Photos of your hunting buddies sitting around the camfire after a day hunting make great keepsakes. Take photos of your hunting dogs or decoy spreads while bird hunting. Anything that will help you remeber the day makes a great photo. Hopefully these tips will help you capture that special moment the next time you are out hunting, and you can look back on your hunts and remember them for years to come.