Russell A. Graves
Focus on the Eyes
As a hunter, wildlife photographer and writer, Russell Graves has traversed the Texas landscape in search of wild things. He recently published a photography book, The Big Book of Wildlife and Nature Photography.
What’s your typical process of photographing whitetail?
Graves: “I approach it like a hunter. I grew up in a hunting family and learned early on how to get close to animals, utilize tools available like camouflage, and the techniques of wind and scent control. I study maps and make a plan of where the deer will be, identify food sources and bedding cover. Once you identify those, you need to think from a photography standpoint of being in a place where you can see the animals coming, have a good background, and the wind and lights. All those things combined jumpstart the process.
“To get a good picture of deer, you have to be on the ground and in their element. It takes a good amount of biological knowledge as well. Whatever you photograph, take time to learn about its habits and nuances. From there, you put the odds in your favor of getting good photographs.”
Why is the “hero” shot so important and common in deer photography?
Graves: “It shows the power and gracefulness of the animal. For as long as there have been people and deer in the same habitat, deer have fascinated people. Anytime you get a mature, heavy-antlered deer and have them in a power pose where his ears are alert, his head’s up and he’s looking, that attracts people to the animal.”
Any other tips on whitetail photography?
Graves: “One of the key tips for wildlife photography, especially deer, is to focus on the eyeball. If the eyeball’s not in focus, the picture’s not going to be that great. Then, make sure you have a good understanding of your camera equipment because whitetail deer are dynamic and always on the move. Capturing shots that show dynamic behavior happens quickly. The less time you spend fumbling with your camera, the more you can concentrate on capturing the behavior that make whitetails so endearing.”
A GUIDE TO WHITE-TAILED DEER
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