Deer are magnificent and graceful creatures. They are also experts at camouflage and are extremely elusive. This makes them a challenge to photograph. If you’re hoping to take pictures of White-tailed or Mule deer or elk, these seven tips can help you capture gorgeous shots.
It is not always possible to focus in on the entire animal. The best way to capture a great image is to focus on their eye that is closest to you. It is our natural inclination to look others in the eye. This also works in photography. Focus in on the animal’s eye and take the picture.
If is more than one animal in the shot, focus on the animal that stands out the most. Focus in on the eye of that animal and frame the picture. You may be very lucky and discover the elk or deer is looking straight at you. When that happens, focus in quickly on both eyes and snap the picture.
Bottom line: Focus on one of the animal’s eyes so it is super sharp. This will produce a great image.
To enhance your shot, try backlighting. This will help you highlight the animal’s furry edges. This technique works especially well when a deer or elk is still in full velvet. Their antlers will look awesome.
Most photographers have been taught never to look directly into the sun when taking a picture so this technique goes against all they’ve learned. It still works well when photographing deer or elk since they present such a strong form against the backlighting.
Photograph Deer And Elk In The Fall
Elk, Mule deer, and White-tailed deer are all in full coat during autumn. They are in prime condition and look their best. As the males ready for the rut or mating, their coats are thick and their antlers are in tact. They are producing extra testosterone which fills out their necks making them even more impressive.
The does also look their best during the fall. The babies from the spring are getting ready to leave their side and the does are entering their estrus cycle. These females are incredibly beautiful so make sure you’re carrying several lenses that allow you to capture their beauty.
You’ll want a lens that will capture all the gorgeous details but should also have a landscape-friendly lens in case you get a chance at a meadow or woods shot or want to take a photograph of several animals framed against the glorious autumn colors.
Capture Deer And Elk Movement And Behavior
One of the best ways to really capture the essence of these beautiful animals is to photograph them while they are moving or interacting with others. This usually means you’ll need to slow down, be very quiet and wait for the perfect shot. Spend some time observing a group to determine the best time to get a good shot.
You’ll need to be very patient, but it will be worth it. Try visiting a national park in the fall when it’s cooler. You may be fortunate enough to see a herd of elk or deer right without having to leave your warm vehicle.
If you do, always have a bean bag handy. This can be used to steady your camera on the window of your car so you can wait until the shot is right. If you are out of your vehicle, use a good tripod that has a Gimbal head so you can quickly reposition if necessary. Photographing wildlife takes many of the same skills as photojournalism. You can capture a compelling image of animals or people doing ordinary things.
Work The Light
Deer and elk tend to be most active in the morning and in the evening. Coincidentally, the light is most dramatic at these times and makes for a great photo. These animals see better in a lower light which is one of the reasons they are “crepuscular” animals which means they are more active at dusk and dawn. Wildlife photographers can capture beautiful photographs of these animals in the sweetest light of the day.
Wait For The Rut
When it comes to photographing elk or deer, the prime time is during the rut. These animals look their best and are the most active. For deer, the rut will normally run early November to early January. For elk, the rut will start in early September and run through most of October. These are estimates since there are many factors affecting the annual rut including temperature, available food, and weather. Also, the rut will vary depending on location, so check with the local Forest Service or Extension office before heading out.
One of the best action shots is of dueling males. This happens often during the rut as the males fight for herd dominance. Never get close to two males fighting. They aren’t paying attention and can end up hurting a photographer who gets too close.
If you’re going on a few days of a trip to find photographs of deer or elk then it’s an idea to find the best tents to use for hunting and also other similar hunting gear. After all you’ll be doing all the same stuff as a hunter, aside from using bullets.