Taking Quality Photos

 In General


In some areas, deer season has already begun for Westervelt hunters. For others, the season is fast approaching. Hopefully all of our hunters will have an opportunity to harvest some great deer this year. One of the best ways to preserve the memory of a great hunt is taking pictures of the game harvested. A quality photo can be shared with friends and family for many years. Unfortunately, many hunters do not take the time to take a quality photograph after the hunt. Hopefully all of our hunters know that Westervelt has an annual quality photo contest. We invite all of our hunters to submit a picture of their harvest and the winner receives a $500 gift certificate to the sporting goods retailer of their choice. In addition to the contest, we also use these photos in our newsletters and for entry to the Westervelt 140″ Club. Unfortunately, we are not able to use many of the photos we receive for the contest or our publications. The main reasons are poor lighting and set-up, too much blood, or not enough information. All photos submitted should include the name of the hunter, location and date of harvest, and as much information about the hunt and animal harvested as possible (weight, number of points, antler spread, etc.). The most important thing to remember when taking a picture of your harvest is the setup. Any animal harvested should be cleaned up before the photo is taken. Special attention to the tongue and blood on the mouth, face, and entry/exit wound is needed. Remember non-hunters read (and print) our newsletters too! Good hunter ethics involves respect for ones quarry and this should include photographs of harvested animals. Additionally, it is important to move the animal to a natural setting for the photograph. Some of the worst photos we receive are pictures taken on the tailgate of a truck, back of an ATV, or hanging from the skinning rack. Remember, a quality photo will help document a successful hunt and provide years of memories. For one of our hunters, it will also pay for some new hunting gear this year!

Tips to Improve Your Harvest Photo:

  1. Move harvested animal to a clean spot to photograph. Remove them from the truck or ATV and away from gut buckets and bloody slabs. Try to set the body in a clean, natural position and take photos before field dressing if possible. Leave tobacco, beverages, and other trash out of the shot.
  2. Clean up the harvested animal before the photo. Wipe the mouth, nose, face and entry/exit wounds with a paper towel of damp rag to remove as much blood and dirt as possible. Put deer tongue back inside the mouth or remove it.
  3. Consider lighting. A camera flash will help brighten the picture, even when it may not be needed. Additional lighting (flashlight, headlights, etc.) may be needed for photos taken at night.
  4. Consider backdrop. Try to use something that won’t “drown out” or hide features of the animal harvested. Hold head and antlers up so the points and spread can be clearly seen. A good tip is to use the sky as the backdrop. Other good locations are food plots, water (lake, pond, river), young pine stands (green needles), or a wall (camphouse, barn, etc.).
  5. When possible, try to include the hunter in the photo. In some cases you may want to include others involved in the hunt.
  6. Consider different photo angles. Take lots of pictures from different angles and positions. You never know which ones will turn out the best. One of the best photo angles is from the ground, looking slightly up. This may require the photographer to lay on the ground. This angle can also cause the sky to be a backdrop.
  7. Remember, this is a quality photo contest, not a big buck contest. One reason that you see so many big deer win the contest is hunters are proud of the harvest and willing to take the time to ensure quality photos. This should be the case for any animal harvested!
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