You’ve just killed the buck of a lifetime and now you’ve got the chance to capture the moment for all of your friends and family to see. Don’t blow it with amateur photography. Follow these tips to take better field photos.
Always carry a camera. The best time and place to take a hero shot is in the field immediately after recovering game as it accurately records the mood and location. Animals are fresh and more attractive before field dressing and more maneuverable before rigor sets in.
Check your batteries before you leave home to make sure they’re fresh or fully charged and that your camera has a card with sufficient available space.
Remove dirt, leaves, blood, and saliva from the hunter and the trophy. Smooth ruffled hair and remove clutter from the foreground and background. And for Pete’s sake, stuff the animal’s tongue in its mouth.
Skyline the antlers to show off the tines and ensure that the horizon doesn’t cut through the hunter or the animal.
To produce vibrant images, shoot during periods of the softest light–early and late in the day. From late morning to late afternoon, avoid direct sunlight. Pose in full shade (not dappled sunlight), and use a flash. Use a tripod to prevent blurred images, and make sure the camera is plumb and level.
Pose creatively. Take shots facing the animal as well as crouching behind it. Pose the head in different positions to accentuate various characteristics. Grasp antlers near the bases with your fingertips rather than your full hand.
Take multiple shots of different poses, from various angles, and bracket the image if your camera has that capability.
Skip the tight focus. Leave plenty of space around the subject; you can always crop the image later if you have to.
Never pose in a truck bed. You’ll look like a rube.
Don’t straddle big game. It’s not a horse. Show a little respect by kneeling beside or behind the animal, and smile.
Tricks of the Trade
Keep a few moist wipes in a resealable plastic bag to wipe off blood and moisten fleshy parts, like the nose and eyes.
Use a fill flash to counteract distracting shadows.
Position the subjects to lead the viewer’s eyes from left to right to make a more visually appealing picture.
Shoot from a low angle where you’re even with or, if possible, below the animal. This helps enhance the trophy’s size. And silhouetting against an open skyline will sometimes produce dramatic results.