How to Photograph Deer
Deer can be difficult creatures to capture so follow these tips for a clear photo!
- Use the right equipment
You don’t need a chunky SLR (though it wouldn’t hurt…) but you certainly need a camera that has a good lens for a clear, crisp photo.
Try and get a day that’s slightly overcast. Sunshine creates too much contrast and too many shadows. Pictures taken late in the evening don’t come out too well either. If you’ve got the mode (and time - deer are flighty animals), play around in a manual setting where you can get at the aperture. Take what you believe is the right aperture and then go one f-stop above and below just in case.
- Never harass a deer
This should go without saying, but you mustn’t upset the deer you’re photographing. If you see any tell-tale signs that the deer is upset (like a stiff, raised tail, stomping hooves or raised heads initiating a stare-down) you should back off or prepare for a few bruises.
- Look for details
Details in your shot will set it apart from others. Try and see the subtle details in nature and environment around you. There may even be a centipede on the ground so take a few shots of that. It’s still wildlife.
- Don’t be afraid to get grubby
A lot of good shots may be at a low angle, so you’ll have to get down on the ground! Try getting on one knee or lying flat - you’ll find it will make a difference.
- Have patience!
Deer are very cautious creatures and can jump at the slightest sound. You should be prepared to do a bit of waiting and settle in. Choose a vantage point and look for your subject. Make sure that you can grab your camera at any given moment.
- Avoid the flash
Up close, use of the flash can startle deer and other animals, which can make them act unexpectedly and possibly putting you in danger. Far away, it will have no effect, so it’s best to ignore it.
- Focus on the eyes
One of the most interesting things about wildlife photography is that we look at an animal photo the same way we look at people - our eyes are drawn to their eyes! So when taking that photo try to get an unobstructed view of your subject’s eye for the best results.
- Don’t restrict yourself to just the subject
Your subject’s surroundings are likely to be very interesting too, so don’t neglect them.
- Capture action and emotion
The most interesting photographs are of action and emotion because photos tell stories. Try and get a shot of your subject showing human characteristics (including funny ones!) or showing how wild and powerful they truly are…
Take a trip to the zoo
Deer in the wild can be difficult to capture straight away due to their nature. Go to the zoo and practice taking photos of the animals there.
If your deer won’t look at the camera…
Try snapping a stick. This will cause the deer to look at where the noise is coming from, giving you the chance to get a few shots. But be warned! The deer may become startled and flee.
Keep your camera on you
The worst thing that could happen is that you miss a shot because your camera is in a case or bag. By keeping your camera on your person, you’ll always be ready.
No shot is worth more than your safety
While nature has some amazing sights to see and photograph, your safety should always come before your shot. Make sure you’ve got protection if a deer has it in for you.
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