Ten Tips for better hunting photographs.

As some of you will know, I enjoy pressing the trigger on a camera about as much as I do a gun. In fact, photography was a large part of the reason I got into hunting in the first place. Here are ten quick tips to ponder over next time you are out and clicking away.

Understand the Equipment

CoplandThe last thing you want to be doing when trying to capture that fleeting and critical moment on camera is trying to figure out how to change a setting on the camera. Spend time before you head out learning to understand the camera and any additional equipment you are taking.

It should be to the point where the camera can come up to your face (DSLR with a viewfinder), and you can change the settings without having actually to look at the dials.

Practice around the home, around the garden, anywhere you can. Children make great subjects for learning how to focus as they are animated and moving around rapidly.

Consider the Content

Do you need to put up that photo of a deer with the back of its head blown out?

Consider the larger reaching implications of what you may be putting up online, publically. How does it reflect on the hunting community as a whole? I am not worried about the ‘anti-hunters’ out there – no matter what you do they are likely to be against it, but more, for those either on the fence or not aware of the hunting life, what message and image will your picture convey?

Include Context

A long time ago, I had the difference between a photograph and a snapshot explained to me like this – “A photograph can stand on its own, and not require the photographer to be there explaining the shot. No additional information should be needed to fully appreciate a photograph.”

Now, this doesn’t mean it can’t be abstract – but it shouldn’t require you to be saying – ‘Oh, just to the left of the frame there was this remarkable thing that you can’t see but I can tell you about…’

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Camera Shake

This ties in a lot to the first point. Understand shutter speed and its impact on your photography. Nothing screams amateur like an out of focus photo, and it is something that cant be fixed in post. Talking of post…

Keep it Natural

Yes, yes, we all know the first time you see an HDR photo it looks awesome – but trust me – all those heavy filters that you like to put over everything in photoshop? Yeah. You will regret it in a couple of months time.

Individual photos lend themselves to post-processing – but make sure the photo, not the filters, stays the focus of the image.

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Learn to pose – you, and the animal

Stop, clean up excessive blood, push the tongue back into the open mount, position and pose the animal to look as natural as possible. This ties into respect for the life you have taken, and the content you are putting out there.

Get down behind the animal, and consider using a lower angle to get the viewer more involved in the photograph.

Understand Composition

Claudia-Nature-Baby-1-of-7Read up on the rule of thirds and understand how composition, framing and perspective can help tell a story a certain way. Be aware of what is in the background – don’t let it distract from the foreground or the focus of the image. 

Trees popping out of the back of a head are a personal pet peeve of mine.

 

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Crop, crop hard.

While I have already warned you about over processing your images, also be aware of how important cropping can be. But cutting out the edges of a frame, you can often focus down the picture – sometimes changing the original composition quite drastically for the better. In aid of this, if I am unsure, I will often pull out of a photo slightly when taking it – to allow me to make the final cropping decision later.

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Stay Safe

As always, make sure that firearm is safe before you start getting all excited about taking some photos. We don’t need that video going viral for the wrong reasons.

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Take more photos

That is my secret. I will put up a batch of pictures and people will tell me how good they are. What no-one gets to see is the five hundred bad photo’s that I deleted to get the ten good ones. Since we are no longer using film, and memory cards are getting cheaper by the day, click away and ruthlessly edit out the bad ones later.

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