Archive for August, 2012


Young Bull Elk



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 who had to ask.


Osprey in Flight



Sandhill Cranes: In Flight


I had far more wildlife diversity this year as I learn more about how and where to find Wisconsin’s wildlife.  Whitetail deer are prevalent and easy to find.  So easy, in fact, I saw one on the way home from work one morning about three to four blocks from where I live.  Right in the middle of town!  Shooting Wisconsin’s elk has become an annual trip and then there’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.  Close enough to where I live so I can photograph there almost any time.


Because of this years draught the water levels have dropped significantly, so we had fewer appearances from eagles and ospreys this passed weekend, but the sheer numbers and types of birds still there left plenty of opportunities to shoot.


I had been going over to Necedah on Thursdays or Friday mornings, but this passed weekend I went over on Saturday.  I noted an increase in the numbers of people moving in and around the refuge.  Couples with children who didn’t have the patience required to see anything and of course the official state tourists from Illinois.  A couple from Iowa who travel all over the United States trying to get a look at the whooping cranes.  They stayed for awhile but left just before a pair of whooping cranes flew in.  I also met a newly Americanized kiwi.  A photographer from New Zealand who had just became a naturalized citizen.  I hope all these folks got a chance to see and photograph what they were looking for.



Wisconsin’s Elk

I’ve had a lot of fun shooting this Summer, including shooting Wisconsin’s Elk, which are probably the most studied Elk in the US.  This is the second attempt to reintroduce Elk back into Wisconsin in the past hundred years.  The last time they fell victim to poachers, and, while this second attempt is much more successful with the original twenty-five having multiplied into about two hundred, wolf predation continues to be a problem.  I found this young bull grazing one morning and he kindly allowed me to photograph him.



A Fawn in the Bush


So you’re still hanging out here.  Well, thank you for your patience.  I have many photos from this Summer to share.

The Whitetails are getting more active now that the heat has let up.  Especially the little ones.  They get more active because they’ve begun exploring their surroundings.  Whitetail mothers leave their fawns hidden when they feed.  They’re still doing that, but now the little ones are old enough and beginning to get brave enough to explore, which makes them especially vulnerable to cars.  Fortunately, if you have a camera handy, they make for some nice shots.

August 2012

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