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From Harvest to Gallery- Smartphone Photography Tips That Capture Hunting Memories

blocker outdoors smart phone and hunting

In hunting, capturing the perfect photo to immortalize a successful harvest has long been a tradition. Yet, in the past, achieving such quality often required expensive camera equipment and technical know-how. When I first entered the realm of outdoor writing and photography, I recall a veteran outdoor writer requiring that I use slide film in my camera because the quality of photos was much more professional. Twenty years later, a photo taken with my hand-held cell phone blows some of the best slides out of the park. This shift in technology has empowered us all, allowing even the most amateur of photographers to capture stunning images.

With the advancement of smartphone technology, the landscape has shifted dramatically. Now, armed with only your trusty smartphone, you can capture stunning images that rival professional photographers. Even though I admit I use a quality camera for print and digital publication demands, the quality of smartphone pictures has allowed the everyday hunter to create stunning, successful photos of their harvest and capture countless memories along the way. Memories we can look back on at any given time. We are all guilty of conversing about a past hunt only to confirm our stories by pulling our phones out of our pockets and showing off the photos we have captured. Most of us are also guilty of using the moments after a successful hunt to immediately post photos on social media for everyone to share in our excitement. If you want to have better-quality photos to help keep those detailed memories fresh in your mind, here are some tips and techniques to help you master this craft and preserve your hunting memories for a lifetime.

Lighting & Portrait Mode

Let’s start with the cornerstone of photography: lighting. Light can make or break your shot, whether you’re snapping a picture of your prized buck or a majestic turkey. For the most captivating photos, aim to shoot during the golden hours – early mornings or late evenings – when the light is soft and diffused, casting a warm glow over your subject. Additionally, harness the power of your smartphone’s portrait mode to create professional-looking photos with beautifully blurred backgrounds. Remember to get up close and personal with your subject when composing your shot, capturing every intricate detail with clarity and precision. Position yourself at eye level with the hunter and animal to establish a connection and evoke a sense of familiarity in your photos.

Respect The Animal

One aspect of wildlife photography that cannot be overstated is respecting the animal. Gone are the days of gory, insensitive snapshots taken in the back of a truck. Even when I was a young teenager, taking successful photos with a cheap 35mm film camera, I refused to take a photo of my harvest in the back of a truck bed. Instead, take the time to honor the beauty and majesty of the creature you’ve harvested. Before snapping your photo, carefully clean up any blood or debris, allowing the animal to shine in its natural splendor. For deer, take the extra step to groom the fur, tuck in the tongue, and remove any traces of blood. I have witnessed some outdoor writers carrying spray window cleaner to help clean blood from the fur because it doesn’t leave the hair matted, as well as a set of taxidermy eyeballs. After a deer has sat for a few hours, the eyes often shrink or wrinkle deep into the eye socket, resulting in horrible-looking success photos. Taxidermy eyes can be slipped in, like that of contacts in humans, and make the deer look natural in photos. Likewise, with turkeys, smooth out the feathers, spread the tail fan and wings, and showcase the bird’s magnificent plumage. By treating the animal with reverence and dignity, you not only elevate the quality of your photos but also pay homage to the noble spirit of the hunt. Let’s all remember to respect the animals we hunt and capture their beauty in a way that honors them.

Tell The Story

Beyond mere snapshots, strive to tell a compelling story with your photos. Instead of opting for generic backdrops, choose settings that reflect the essence of the hunt – whether it’s the rugged terrain of the mountains or the tranquil beauty of a sun-drenched field. Incorporate elements that add depth and context to your narrative, such as the weapon used for the harvest and the attire worn during the hunt. By including these details, you transform your photos into vivid memories that transport you back to the moment of the hunt, evoking a sense of nostalgia and camaraderie. Remember, every photo has a story; it’s up to you to capture its essence and preserve it for generations. Let your creativity run wild and inspire others with your unique hunting stories.

Unless you are making a living as a professional photographer, the era of expensive camera equipment and complex lenses is a thing of the past. With nothing more than your smartphone and a keen eye for detail, you can capture breathtaking photos that rival those taken by seasoned professionals. By mastering the art of wildlife photography, you preserve the memories of your hunting adventures and celebrate the beauty and majesty of the natural world. So grab your smartphone, head into the great outdoors, and let your creativity run wild – the perfect shot awaits!

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