Walk the stalk
Struggling to shoot deer? Here are six top tips for getting a stag in the bag
01 Go long
Ideally, you’ll need a focal length of at least 400mm on a full-frame camera. (Remember that D-SLRs with APS-C sensors will turn 300mm into 450mm.) A teleconverter can be useful, as it increases the focal length of the lens, usually at a cost of one stop in aperture.
02 Go fast
As a rule of thumb, your shutter speed should be at least one over the focal length of your lens to prevent camera shake. Most of our shots were taken at 1/1000 sec, with the camera set to manual exposure mode and Auto-ISO, and with the lens’s VR stabilisation turned on.
03 Use back-button focusing
Try using the rear AF-ON button to trigger autofocus (available as a custom function on cameras without a dedicated AF-ON button). You can then set Continuous AF to track the movement of the subject using the back button, and use the shutter button to take the shot.
04 Work the angles
Your position and camera angle are often dictated by the deer, but work the angles if you can. If the deer are lying down, you might be able to move around them and create interesting shapes with foreground and background detail, or position the herd behind the subject.
05 Look for contrast
Animals evolved to blend into their surroundings, but brown deer against brown trees aren’t very interesting, so look for ways to create contrast between subject and background. Get down low to frame the animal against a bright sky, or shoot them with an area of shadow behind.
06 Shoot in burst mode
Animal activity can be sporadic. There are long periods of waiting, and then perhaps a few seconds to get your shot. You don’t want a sudden movement to spoil things, so set your CH (Continuous High) drive mode and shoot in bursts to increase your chances of getting a great shot.