Greg Deutscher is an active Field & Game member who hunts ducks and quail and gets to at least two clay target shoots a month, but in recent years he’s spending more and more time behind a lens and says photographing birds feels like a natural extension.
A lot of hunters carry a camera with them, but Greg says he does more photography than hunting.
“I prefer action shots to sitting birds. I run the camera in manual mode so as to have high shutter speed around 1/2000, aperture most of the time 7.1 auto ISO is the only thing that can vary,” he said. “I will slow the shutter down in bad light so the ISO doesn’t go too high.”
Greg uses a Nikon 810 with a 600 mm lens, but to get his stunning pictures he often has to use his hunting craft. “Most of the time when I go out to take pictures, I just drive to a spot where I know there will be some bird life around,” he said. “Once I spot a subject from a distance, I use whatever cover is available to get as close as possible. If none is available, I just take my time and usually try the walk straight at approach which works half the time.”
Of course, an understanding of bird behaviour honed over years in the field helps. “I’ve been keen on birds all my life. I used to read bird books cover to cover and could name everything,” Greg said. “There are a lot of places like Barmah, where birds are more used to human activity and you can get close enough to get a good shot. Most of what I chase these days are the eagles and the raptors, and near where I live Wedge-tailed eagles have a nest just the other side of Minyip.”
Given that Greg’s main aim is to get birds on the wing, he reckons the skill set isn’t that far removed from hunting or clay target shooting. “I’m either out there hunting them or photographing them. Using a camera or a shotgun is the same principle; you need to get on the target when it’s flying,” he said.
“It is a satisfying substitute.”
All photos by Greg Deutscher