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Driftwood Outdoors: Hunting fun with a camera

Driftwood Outdoors: Hunting fun with a camera

Photography enhances outdoor experiences

March 2nd, 2014 by Brandon Butler, outdoors columnist, in News

Taking pictures of mallards is almost as fun as landing them in a decoy spread.

Photographs are part of hunting and fishing.

If you catch a big bass or bag a big buck, you take a picture. When a kid catches their first fish, you take a picture. Sometimes you might even stretch a bit and snap a shot of the sunset.

These are the basics, but taking outdoor photography to the next level isn't difficult. Here's a few tips on how to capture better photographs.

Trophy shots are cool, but they shouldn't be the only outdoor photographs you take. Landscapes, trees, flowers, animals, birds and fish all become trophies when you capture them in that perfect photograph. Add a person you care about to a beautiful photo, and it becomes a treasure to save for a lifetime.

You can take good photographs with a point and shoot camera or a smart phone, but if you really want to capture outdoor experiences, then you want to invest in a DSLR. DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex, but all you really need to know is that these are the cameras that allow you to switch lenses. The ability to switch lenses allows you to capture photographs close up and far off. DSLR prices vary, but you can purchase a high-quality, yet entry-level DSLR combo with a zoom lens for less than $500. Mounting a deer head costs about $500 and doing so gives you one trophy for the rest of your life. A DSLR of about the same cost will give you countless ones.

The camera you buy will likely come with a lens that zooms in and out. This means you can focus on objects up close and further away. However, the lens that comes with the camera probably won't zoom out far enough to capture objects very far away, like a deer at 100 yards. Because of this, you also want to invest in a longer lens, like a 300mm. You can pick up a good zoom lens that goes up to 300mm for another $200 or so. This gives you the option of shooting pictures of deer across fields, birds in treetops and boats across the lake.

You can pick up the right DSLR camera at a department store or a camera shop. Either way, you can turn to the Internet for tutorials on how to operate the one you choose. But the way you really learn is to get out and shoot pictures. Shoot lots and lots of pictures.

Once you start feeling comfortable taking pictures, you'll start to see different opportunities to frame them. Don't always take the straight-on photograph. Get off to the side and shoot from odd angles. Shoot real close up and from a good distance away. Shoot in different lights, but always remember the "magic" happens at dawn and at dusk. Professional photographers rarely bother shooting during midday when the sun is beating down and casting shadows.

Also, keep in mind a true professional photographer will shoot 1,000 shots to come away with just one great photograph. You need to shoot, shoot, shoot. You're not buying film, so it doesn't cost any more to take 20 photos than it does to take two.

Taking good photographs adds another element to spending time outdoors. Investing in a quality DSLR will capture your experiences and save those memories for you and your loved ones.

See you down the trail ...


Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at