Hunting is a rugged, dirty activity only fit for the strong-hearted. However, if you’re willing to brave the wilderness, you can capture dozens of breathtaking photographs and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Here are seven simple tips for photographing the hunts and getting the most out of your trip.
Optimize Your Carrying Method
Hunting involves a lot of walking, so you need to have a flexible camera-carrying bag that won’t inhibit your movement. Plus, you never know when the opportunity for a good photo might emerge. Your camera needs to be ready at a moment’s notice to capture the scene before it disappears.
Bring Cleaning Supplies
You need to bring some cleaning supplies – both for your camera and for the trophy photos. Pack a professional camera cleaning kit in a waterproof bag and keep it in an accessible backpack pocket. If/when you get a kill, wipe down the antlers and bloody spots with wet wipes or other disposable cleaning devices. Blood can add character to the setting, but a cleaner kill makes for a better photo, as a general rule.
Some hunters even bring an extra set of clothes just for their trophy photos. If you want to look sharp for the occasion, make sure your clothes fit well and match the scenery.
Know When/Where to Find the Best Lighting
Lighting is one of the most critical elements of a great photo. With that in mind, look for pictures in the first hour of the morning and the hour before sunset. These “golden hours” provide warm, glowing light that complements skin tones and casts long shadows, creating a more exciting environment.
If you want to avoid shadows and take more consistently-illuminated images, focus your efforts on days with overcast weather. The clouds will eliminate sun glare, and they usually give you a longer timeframe to work with.
Use the environment to alter the lighting of your photos. For example, you might use a canopy of trees to filter sunlight or create a reflective effect with a body of water. Every setting allows you to be creative with lighting and capture unique photos.
Turn on the Flash
If you need to take a picture under the full noon sun, turn on your camera’s flash to block out the glare and reduce unwanted shadows. Check your camera’s instruction manual and see if it has a pre-programmed flash mode for outdoor settings. Even if you have great natural lighting, the flash can help illuminate the subject and highlight noteworthy background details.
Take Some Action Shots
Trophy photos are naturally the most coveted hunting pictures, but every stage of the journey has opportunities for great candid photos. Take some action shots of your companions, the wildlife and weather changes so you have lasting reminders of every moment. Simple nature shots should make up the bulk of your gallery. You’ll thank yourself for taking them later on.
Use slower shutter speeds to emulate movement and make your photos more active. Speeds like 1/50th and 1/30th seconds slightly blur the subject and put the background into focus, while motion techniques like panning sharpen the subject and blur the background. Mix up your photography methods to take a wider variety of action shots.
Try Unorthodox Angles
Standard photography practices like the rule of thirds will help you capture basic photos, but you can get more creative than that. Try more unconventional angles below or above eye level to establish a new perspective. For example, a picture of a hunter from ground level creates the illusion that the photographer is a small, insignificant observer watching the hunter walk by. If you hunt from a treestand, you can get fantastic overhead shots from that angle.
You should also shoot both vertical and horizontal photos. Vertical photos are better for action shots with clear subjects, while horizontal photos capture vast landscapes. Turn your camera around and change things up.
Move Up Close
This advice primarily applies to wildlife. If a plant or animal catches your attention, zoom in or try to move as close as possible for a more detailed shot. We can’t truly grasp the complexity of life until we get up close and personal. Allow your camera to capture those tiny details that make nature so beautiful.
Make sure you take plenty of close-up trophy shots as well. Get pictures of the animal’s fur, antlers/horns, hooves and the other features that make it unique. Honor your kill by giving it the attention and appreciation it deserves.
Immortalize Your Hunting Trips
Hunting takes humanity back to its roots. We scour our natural environments for food, and when we manage to track and kill an animal, the feeling of accomplishment is unmatched. Immortalize these moments with photographs from start to finish. Every movement and every landscape is an opportunity for a great picture. Remember these tips and you’ll capture all of them.