by Troy Adams
The hunting part of your quest is now over and your trophy is lying on the ground. After you have completed your “happy dance” and before you start to field dress the animal it is important to take time to capture the memory of the day on film. Some hunters give little thought to this important part of the hunt. I look at it this way, most avid hunters will have plenty of opportunities to shoot game and go on hunting adventures. The field dressing has got to take place sooner or later and isn’t going to go away. However; a person only has “ONE” chance to take field photos at the location the animal was taken.
Looking at the photographs later that were taken on location will help to stir up all the great memories of that hunt, and memories are all we really have in the end. Well composed photographs make those memories more enjoyable and also more acceptable to show to friends, especially those that may not hunt. Poorly composed or offensive blood and guts type photographs cast an unpleasant mist over the moment. One may end up spending more time apologizing for the lousy photos than talking about the hunt. My goal is to help hunters avoid such a negative experiences while showing the success...photographs of their hunt.
There is some preparation that should occur before ever pulling the camera out. The first thing to remember is that photography is all about “light” and what that light is doing in your photograph. You want your subjects placed in a way that they are well illuminated by either sunlight or the camera flash. The absolute best time for most photographs is during that first or last hour of sunlight, but that is not always an option. If you do have a choice, take advantage of those two prime hours. Try to avoid having the sun at your subject's back. Granted, with some animals such as moose, buffalo, or large African game this may be darn near impossible. They are so big you more or less have to take photographs of them where they fall, but most other animals can be maneuvered around to some degree. Try to angle the head of the hunter and animal towards the sun, but not necessarily directly at the sun. With antlered game it is usually better if you can find a way to use the sky or a contrasting background behind the horns or antlers. Again this may not always be possible due to the animal’s size or the terrain, but if possible a sky backdrop looks very nice and puts the focus on the headgear.
Although the hunter has a very nice buck in this example it is hard to tell where the antlers start and stop. They are lost in the busy background and the hunter’s camouflaged jacket.
Use this photograph above as a comparison of what a difference it makes having a non-busy background against which the antlers stand out in contrast from the background. There is no question where the antlers start and stop and the main focus is on the buck.