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Field Photo Tips & Techniques

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FIRST OFF, I'm a tyro with any camera compared to some Members here, whether hobby photographers or professional. But I thought a Tips and Technique thread on field photos might be interesting for the average person toting a basic digital camera or smart phone. This isn't about resolution or any special techniques or for print publications. Just decent photos posted on Boards and social media.


My 2 pennies.


I made a career in commercial art, graphic design and spent countless hours on product Photo shoots art directing the photography. I didn't take the photos but set up the shots. With that said, UNDERSTAND, I'm talking field photos, not tweaked and photoshopped later, but some general layout/techniques are the same.


Creating or staging a decent bird, guns, dog photo isn't all that difficult or time consuming. It can be done with any smart phone. And it only takes a few minutes. Taking just a little time, rather than quickly standing over birds and dog for a quick photo, or spreading bloody and slobbered birds on a tailgate results in what I think is a more pleasing photo. This can be done during a break in a hunt or after a  hunt.


My three biggest Tips:

  • Get down/kneel to ground level and dog level when taking a photo
  • Crop photos, eliminating a load of extraneous background.
  • Get the dogs attention somehow for an alert expression



Decent shot, even with too much light. Using a whistle lanyard tied to a leg, to quickly hang a bird against a stump etc. can result in a basic but good photo. Biggest tip is to get down on knees rather than standing up for photo. Getting down at ground or dog level is always a good idea.



Set up in a good shaded even light. Against a downed apple tree limb, etc. Again at ground or low level. This photo still needs a little cropping of outside edges.



Not a great shot, but by talking to Cash; "Where's the BIrds!" puts him in an alert, ready to book posture, resulting in a hint of "drama." Note, I am at his level not looming over him and birds.



Again, took no time to look down and find a piece of birch, lay down gun, position birds and take the photo. iPhone 5, no adjustments, enhancements, etc. except for Cropping the photo.  Still could crop off a little more at top.



Having the dog not looking at camera can result in an interesting photo.


Happy field photo taking.



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Adding people to a field shot is more challenging. These show the getting down to their level technique. And making any sound to get the dogs attention. You don't have a lot of control over the persons expression.

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Great topic ! I always overlook this when I'm in the field, even though I usually have my camera. Thanks for the tips and reminder to take a minute to record the day !

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Very helpful. I look forward to hearing more insights as this topic is of interest to a hunter who uses a smartphone camera and looks for simple staging setups in the woods/field. 

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Another good example of framing shot I think. Didn't need to crop.




Bad light and rushed because he will only pose for so long but low level with bird in foreground etc.

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Good advice from Brad! 


The thing is - you could write a book about this, especially if you include the technical stuff.  Since I'm not gonna write a book, I guess I'll talk about just a few basic "tips".


1.  The first one is get close to your subject.  Then, get closer.  Fill the frame with your subject to the extent possible.  Panaromas with a tiny hunter or dog certainly can make good pics where the subject of the image is the setting itself, but not if the hunter or dog is the subject.  Good pics can also be taken with telephoto lenses.  But, generally speaking, such photos are boring and/or of poor technical quality.


32474360220_9f3f241e70_h.jpg2-10-17 -Joy working the switchgrass - 4 by Greg Hartman, on Flickr


2.  Composition is very important.  Think of an image, not as a documentary record of something, but see it instead as only lines, light and shadow, interplay of colors or B&W tones, etc - and how all of those things push attention toward your subject (or, if you don't do it right, take attention away from your subject).  Can you see the how the lines of the brush, trees, etc; the colors and the light and shadow all direct attention to the subject here, in addition to showing the setting?


32760254616_820740404d_h.jpg2-8-17 - Joy pointing a cockbird - 3 by Greg Hartman, on Flickr



3.  Try to bear in mind the "Rule of Thirds" and don't simply place your subject smack in the center of the frame.  Imagine the frame divided by two equidistant lines running vertically and two equidistant lines running horizontally.  There will be four intersections of those lines.  Place your subject on or near one of those intersections and you will have some attention getting dynamism or tension in the image.  Obviously, this rule is meant to be broken more than followed slavishly, but it will help you avoid centrally placed subjects, which can feel static and boring.


36550494304_8af065fa4a_h.jpg9-22-17 - 18th Century ruins by Greg Hartman, on Flickr


Hopefully, these little tips will be of some help.




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Super tips Greg from a real master of the art.  Thanks once again as your work  continues to push me toward becoming  more proficient with my cameras.



Mike 🍀🇺🇸🇮🇪

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I find I never drag my Canon 7D around when hunting so have been told I'm getting an Olympus TG-5 in a couple weeks for my birthday. That is small and rugged enough it will get carried every hunt. Need to start taking more pics of the pup in action. 

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Good stuff. My main point and the advice I've tried to bestow is that decent photos for web posting can be taken with a simple smart phone. Again, I am no pro-photographer, not as talented as many here, but the photos I posted were all taken with an iPhone 5 with no post photo tweaking except for some basic cropping on some. (The photos of people with dogs were taken with a cheap compact digital camera that I no longer use.) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some great tips/advice offered here.


A couple more tips that come to mind:


You will often get better exposures shooting earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon and evening -- or during overcast days. Bright noontime sunlight can be harsh and can throw heavy shadows.


Evening sunlight -- especially the low-angle sunlight in the fall -- can be very dramatic and gives photos a golden, saturated glow.


If you're shooting photos with a smartphone, try a couple using the flash either on auto or full flash. The flash can fill in deep shadows, for instance, or brighten up your subject's eyes.


-Rob J.



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  • 1 year later...
Don fischer

I always try to get down on my knee's to shoot a photo of a dog but bad knees stops me to many time's. I also always center the subject then crop out what I want later. Just can't seem to get the focus to focus then let me move the camera to fill the frame! No clue why, I could with my old film camera. Another thing about cropping out later is I then apply the rule of thirds. One more thing I found about cropping later is I can make panoramic's of some of the photo's. Discovered I like them better. Pano is the way we see things naturally. Have some 8x16 pano's of dog's I really like. Do a bunch of different ones from 4x8 up. Need to find some 13" wide roll paper to make some 13x26 photo's! Found out I'm a lot better off raising the ISO rather than using a slow shutter speed and trying to shoot things. I'm sure many of my photo have that distortion people talk about in them but I don't know what to look for to see it. I think, for me anyway, I'm best off just trying to get photo's I like and the really good one's take care of themselves. Oh one tip I found. If you want to get your dog alert in the photo, just before you snap the photo, toss your hat in the air. Snaps the dog right up!


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  • 8 months later...


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Edited by 1971snipe
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