Deer Photography

Most of you should be familiar with the story of how my development with deer photography began.  For those who aren’t, it bears repeating.  My first deer photographs didn’t impress me, nor would they impress many people.  So I asked a friend, who happens to be a professional photographer, what I could do to get better shots?

River Deer IV

Her befuddling reply has, over the years, both annoyed me and made me chuckle.  While I hoped for insights on how to take better pictures or how a camera works, instead, what I got was a question.  “Can you get closer?”

Recently, someone asked me for advice on how to get better deer photos.  So I decided to write this post, which, hopefully, will help her and anyone else reading this to get better deer photos.


First of all, accept that you will make mistakes.  It was frustrating knowing I completely blew this shot of a pair of fawns, especially since I was so close to them.  Yep, even when you get close enough, things will go wrong.  All you can do is learn from it and do better the next time.


Secondly, learn their behavior.  This big fellow liked to come out in the evenings to feed, which presented me with opportunities to get buck pictures.  I hurried this shot and basically missed the photo because another hiker was approaching, so I popped the shots before I was ready, knowing as soon as he saw the other person, he would split and he did.


Thirdly, know your gear.  If you know what your gear is capable of, then you won’t be disappointed by those times when you know you’re pushing your gear to its limits.  I’m currently using a Canon 7d and my primary lens is a Canon 100x400mm.  For deer photos, if I’m within fifty yards/meters I can get some pretty good deer photos.  The above photo was taken at about twenty yards/meters.


Fourthly, forget everything you’ve ever learned about light.  Most of the time the deer will be so far down inside brush there won’t be any direct lighting.  Also, you’ll have to learn how to adapt to light, because wild animals will not cooperate.  They won’t stand still.  They won’t approach from the lighted side, so you’ll have to break the rules of lighting with deer photos to take shots that shouldn’t but sometimes do turn out.


Like this shot, which is directly into morning sunlight while shooting through grass.  It shouldn’t have turned out, but it did.


Fifthly, this could be included with knowing your gear, but most digital cameras have multiple ways to set the autofocus, from multiple focal points to single point focus.  Set the focus to single point focus, that way when you have your camera pointed directly at her nose, it will be using her nose as the focusing point, and that way when you catch her chewing on some leaves it will show up nice and clear in the picture.  Go ahead click the image and you’ll see the leaves.

Lastly, and this should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.  Have fun.

I would like to thank Kristin (the professional photographer) for her patience and help.  Had I not met her, I probably wouldn’t be photographing anything.  Also, I would like to thank Shutterbug Sage at http://ayearofpics.wordpress.com/ who had to ask.


11 Responses to “Deer Photography”

  1. 1 carolinebakker
    August 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Well done, looks great 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2 Randy Roberts
    August 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you and you’re welcome.

  3. August 18, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I love that morning shot! Thanks for the information too.

  4. 4 Randy Roberts
    August 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Me too.

  5. 5 Shutterbug Sage
    August 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

    I LOVE this post! Thanks for being so willing to share your wisdom and more great deer pics!

  6. 6 Randy Roberts
    August 19, 2012 at 5:41 am

    You’re welcome…it was my pleasure.

  7. 7 narhvalur
    August 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Nice photos! It’s interesting to compare your Deer to our Roe Deers!

  8. 8 Randy Roberts
    August 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you…that’s the best part about these blogs. Seeing your world.

  9. 9 narhvalur
    August 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm


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