Walk the stalk

Strug­gling to shoot deer? Here are six top tips for get­ting a stag in the bag

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

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.

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