Hunting is a great pastime, but after the hunt is over we often want to find a way to preserve those memories. Getting some high quality shots of you and/or your kill can really add to and preserve the experience.
However, taking a great photo is just as nuanced as taking a great shot— it’s not as simple as point and click. These tips will help you to preserve your memories with professional quality photos.
- Get close to your subject.
- Use the golden rule of “thirds.” Look through the viewfinder, then divide the scene into thirds horizontally and vertically. Place the subject’s eye or other focal point where these lines intersect.
- Clean up the clutter. Make sure trash and other visual clutter is removed from the scene.
- Watch the background and avoid power lines, telephone poles, etc. Make sure foreign objects do not look like they’re growing out of your subject’s head.
- Take photos that show action and illustrate a point (putting a tag on your animal, walking toward the downed game).
- When people are in photos, focus on their eyes or face and try to avoid taking photos where people have their backs to the camera.
- Encourage your subjects to show pleasant facial expressions. Smiles are great!
- Shoot with the sun at your back.
- Shoot in the early morning or late afternoon for softer, warmer light.
- Use fill flash to eliminate shadows.
- Shoot 100 ASA print or slide film.
- Brace yourself, so you’re steady when you take the picture.
- Shoot a camera like a rifle; use a rest, watch your breathing and squeeze the trigger.
- If you don’t have anything else to rest the camera on, brace your elbows against your stomach.
- Squeeze the shutter release; camera shake causes blurred images.
- Use a camera with at least 3 megapixels of resolution.
- Avoid using digital zoom. Choose a camera that has a higher optical zoom
- Always set the camera to the highest resolution possible.
- Set the camera at the lowest compression available.
- If available, shoot Raw or Tiff formats for the highest quality photos.
- Search for an exciting background (gnarled tree trunks, rocks, flowering trees, etc.).
- Keep the animal in good shape after the kill. If you’re going to photograph your trophy turkey, for instance, make sure the feathers are in good shape.
- Try to avoid posing the hunter behind the animal. Use the exciting background to pose the animal and hunter.
- Clean blood off the animal and subject. Place an animal’s tongue in its mouth or remove it all together.
- Keep firearm muzzles and arrows in a safe direction and the action open.
- Don’t be afraid to turn your camera on a vertical axis. A scene may look better vertically than it does horizontally. Shoot both ways.
- Centered is not always better. Sometimes the focus of an image looks better when it is not centered in the frame.
- Vary your shooting angle. Shoot a scene from as many angles as you feasibly can. This not only means from all sides, but also at different heights.
- Experiment with different exposure settings. Shooting at different exposure settings above and below the camera’s meter reading is called bracketing. Sometimes your camera’s meter can be fooled by extremes in light and shadow.
- Shoot at different focal lengths. Zoom in and out on a subject. Get close-ups as well as wide shots.
Taking great photos isn’t easy. Just like learning to shoot, you’ll need to get in some practice to hone the art. Just keep at it and you’ll be taking the kind of photos your used to seeing in the hunting magazines.