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Fair Chase Spring 2010

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Field Photography Tip No. 1 Taking a presentable photograph of your bear trophy is one of the most difficult shots to achieve, but with a little determination and planning you will end up with a photograph you will be proud to share. The photograph above submitted by Douglas J. Roffers of the grizzly bear (24-9/16 points) he harvested near Shaktoolik River in Alaska is an excellent example of a high-quality field photograph. Following are a few key points to remember the next time you’re in the field: n

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Bears generally photograph better belly down with their legs to the front and back, not on their sides. Do not stand over the bear. Get your camera down to its level for the best shot. We frequently receive field photographs of bears that are hanging or with the hunter sitting on the animal. Neither of these shots are flattering to the bear or the hunter.

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Remove any visible blood on or around the animal.

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Make sure the tongue is not visible and the mouth is closed.


Fair Chase Summer 2010

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Field Photography Tip No. 2 Sky is a field photographer’s best friend, especially blue sky. This typical mule deer was taken by Kevin S. Dixon in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico and scores 184-6/8 points. By sky-lining your trophy’s antlers you accomplish two things. For one, you will capture a clear account of the trophy quality of your animal. Secondly, by consciously putting blue sky in the background you will also avoid the tendency to sit right behind your trophy’s antler, erasing any benefit of taking the time to skyline his rack. Kevin also did a nice job of sitting to the side and slightly behind his buck with the buck’s head tipped forward instead of level or nose tipped up. This is the best head position for a tall racked buck. Some do not like seeing firearms/bows resting on the animal, but in this case the rifle helps frame the left side of the photo to balance the hunter and the tree behind him to the right. Shade across the face from the bill of caps is hard to work around and even harder for the hunter to detect. It’s the job of the person behind the camera to have them tip their cap up. The next time, if big sky is available, try positioning your trophy to take full advantage.


Fair Chase Fall 2010

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Field Photography Tip No. 3 Field photos are intended to be memories of the hunt and the hunted. Beyond the animals taken the country in which they lived and you visited are equally valuable to keep with you past the hunt. This is an excellent example of capturing a snap shot of sheep country and the display of a fine Dall’s ram. Mountain rams are regal animals and positioning them, legs folded under as they do when bedded is a natural pose showing the utmost respect. The removal of hunting gear and equipment adds to the natural setting and does not draw the eye away from the memorable background or the animal. Next time, if you have the vista, take the time to include it in the photograph with your trophy. You will not regret the added memory.


Fair Chase Winter 2010

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Field Photography Tip No. 4

The one-on-one quest of man versus prey and the elements are what we associate with hunting, but this is not always the case. Family and friends can and often do join in the action, especially if a young hunter is involved, the hunt takes place in rough country where there is safety in numbers, or the hunt may be with a very special tag in hand. Highly coveted sheep tags and the hunts for mountain rams are where we most often see a group accompanying the tag holder. Some are there for an extra set of eyes behind optics, some to help render a field-judging opinion, some hoping to be part of the packing out chores, and some just wanting to tag along on a rare opportunity to hunt sheep. For field photography on such hunts, there always comes a time where the call goes out for everyone to get into the picture, adding to the memories captured for posterity. Group photos can therefore present a composition challenge, but one that is easily overcome with a little extra effort. Naturally, the ram should be the focal point. To answer the question for the observer who the hunter is, the tag holder should be the one closest to and holding the ram. Participants should then be evenly distributed around the ram and the hunter, with as much equal billing as possible. Typically lost in these group shoots is any background of the location from trying to make room in the frame for everyone. The above example has it all, including smiling faces, and is a good reference when setting up a field photo for a hunt accomplished by committee.

This desert sheep was taken by Michael A. Davis in 2010 while hunting in Culberson County, Texas.


Fair Chase Spring 2011

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Field Photography Tip No. 5

Black Smoke, The Closer, Auto 5, The Heater, WMD, Hog Leg; giving nicknames to our favorite hunting instrument dates back even before Fess Parker’s, Davy Crockett and Ole’ Betsy. But what of field photography with Ole’ Reliable? Is there an appropriate way to display your trusty companion and your trophy in a field photo? Given everything on our minds at the time, this minor detail may be why we all have seen images either showed a disrespect for the animal, unsafe positioning of a firearm, barrels in front of faces, or ones that dominated the photo as to say, “Here’s my rifle or bow and the critter I got.” Truth is, your gun or bow was an important part of the hunt and the memory. Posing with them is therefore a natural. Here a few suggestions. Safety is always job one. In the heat of the moment, double check to make sure your firearm is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction for the photo taking. In days gone bye putting a rifle between the antlers of a trophy must have been considers a yardstick of accomplishment of sorts. These poses seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent times. Laying you gun or bow on the animal is certainly more appealing, but simply holding your rifle or bow behind the animal tends to make for the best composed, safest and most respectful field photos. If you chose this, the last thing to check for is making sure you weapon is at your side making you and your trophy the focal points of the photograph.

David J. Gerland took this barren ground caribou, scoring 377-48 points, while hunting near Echooka River, Alaska in 2010.


Fair Chase Summer 2011

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Field Photography Tip No. 6 We often times poke fun at photography of yesteryear. Just look back at your high school yearbook or prom photos for examples that will hit close to home. Across time or culture changes, our societies change, we change, and so does the equipment we use to take pictures. More often than not, photos we see taken back in the good old days are amusing by today’s standards, but this is not always the case. While it’s true, the B&C record archives are full of photos that illustrate just how far we have come, there are others that would seem out of place if not for being in black and white and demonstrating the dress or weapons of the day. Here is one example. P.A. Johnson and J.N. Brennan took this fine Dall’s ram back in 1950 from Johnson River, Alaska. His ram ranks #21 All-time at a score of 180-3/8. Well-known Alaska guide M.W. “Slim” Moore is pictured with their ram.


Fair Chase Fall 2011

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Field Photography Tip No. 7 Look at the Camera. Smile. It’s a natural response. You’re here with your trophy. The cameras’ over there. Where do we always look? At the camera. The straight on, looking at the birdy, pose is certainly a mandatory shot to take. One we can do without even thinking. But while you’re at it try looking admiringly at your trophy for a few takes. You might be surprised which photo will stand out as not only being different than all the rest, but it might just be the one showing you and your trophy’s “best side.” Larry J. Landes is seen admiring his trophy typical whitetail deer. He took this buck in 2010 while hunting in Lyon County, Kansas. It scores 175-/8 points.


Fair Chase Winter 2011

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Field Photography Tip No. 8 Help ‘em Smile. Taking field photos is serious business, but not so serious that you should hold back showing how good you feel about the decision you made, the effort you put in, and the trophy that resulted. To steal a phrase from of fishing brethren, the grip and grin is where it’s at. Nothing lights up a field photo like a big smile, not even fill flash. Next time you have the opportunity and you notice your buddy’s expression showing more angst over the pack out than the job at hand, help him relax and get him or her to smile. They’ll thank you for it in the end when the memory card gets loaded. You can see how happy Dean D. Dayton is with his trophy typical Columbia blacktail, scoring 128-1/8 points. He harvested this buck while hunting in King County, Washington during the 2010 season.


Fair Chase Spring 2012

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Field Photography Tip No. 9

BEYOND THE SHADOW OF A CAP Hunters wear caps. Its part of our culture, even when we don’t need them to keep the sun out of our eyes or keep our heads warm and dry. We might forget our binoculars or cartridges, but when was that last time you forgot your cap? In field photography we’re taught to use the available sun angle to light our subject. This means facing the sun and this often times means cap shadow, sometimes to the point the hunters face is completely in the dark. There are only three remedies for curing cap shadow, 1) Remove the cap… hat head, 2) Tip it back to the point the brim is not casing a shadow… goofy plus squinting, or 3) Use the fill flash on your camera. Even if the light is good, going to full flash with fill in those shaded areas and not blow out the exposure. Try a few shots next time you notice your buddy’s face in the dark. Brian L. Johnson’s face is shaded by his hat in this photo with his desert sheep. His trophy ram, scoring 169-7/8 points, was take in 2010 while hunting in Yuma County, Arizona.


Fair Chase summer 2012

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Length Counts

Field Photography Tip No. 10

If you’re a student of the B&C Scoring System, you know length matters. What you may not know is tine length in mule deer represents 69% of a buck’s the final score, so it matters a lot. If you’ve taken a buck that has the length, show it off. The next time you’re running through various field photo poses, take a profile photo or two. The straight on, “How wide is he?” photos don’t always give a buck’s rack justice when it comes to length of points. While you might make a screen saver out of a traditional front shot, having photos of your trophy from other angles will come in handy when its time to reflect back on a great deer you have taken. Jasen Louma shows his trophy typical mule deer’s length with a profile photo. His buck, scoring 197-7/8 points, was take in 2011 while hunting near Great Sand Hills, Saskatchewan.


Fair Chase fall 2012

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Field Photography Tip No. 11 Take a Stand For big critters like elk and moose, spool a few shots standing with your trophy. Our natural reaction is to get down on the ground with them for all the photos, but with big head gear species you might be surprised how well the photos will come out with you standing. This was very much an old school approach to field photography when camera first arrived on the scene – now seeing a revival of sorts. Michael P. Campos is pictured standing with his typical American elk scoring 371-2/8 points. He harvested this bull in Nye County, Nevada, in 2011.


Fair Chase winter 2012

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Field Photography Tip No. 12 Assets Forward Face it. We look at field photos from an “antler/horn first” perspective. We’re hunters, this is what appeals to the eye first over scenery and smiles, composition and lighting. That said, every trophy has his strong points and these assets should be brought forward. This mountain caribou has tremendous palmation in his tops. We may not of known this from only a straight on angle.

Debra E. Stuchlik took this mountain caribou, scoring 384 points, while hunting near Aishihik Lake, Yukon Territory, in 2011.


Fair Chase spring 2013

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Field Photography Tip No. 13 Get Close For smaller antlered game and horned game, some of the best field photos come from getting right down on the ground close to the animal with their head positioned between you and the camera. Sometimes this is done out of necessity (note cliff in this photo), but often times even with the room to move around the tendency is to sit to the side, or in some cases in back of the animal. We call this B&C score enhancement poses. Unless you’re 6’ 5” and 265 pounds, you won’t detract from the size of your trophy and being close is a great way to honor your animal.


Swarovski Field Photo Tips