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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to take good pictures of tracking dogs with recovered big game

Compiled by Jolanta Jeanneney

At the 2011 United Blood Trackers Trackfest at Pocahontas I had a short presentation about how you can improve your skills allowing you to take better pictures during tracking and hunting season. What follows is a summary of this powerpoint talk. 

A good visual presentation has become even more important in the last few years. It is not a secret that with a growing popularity of social media, more and more people communicate visually. Pictures and videos are omnipresent.  

And let's face it, if you have recovered a wounded deer and you are proud of your dog and your own effort, nothing is going to preserve you memory better than a good picture that you can share with others.

So, if you'd like your picture to look like this 

and not like the one below, read on. Feel free to share your own advice through comments.

Choose your camera wisely

  • Don’t count on your cell phone to take good pictures under difficult conditions
  • A small point-and-shoot camera should be just fine.
  • Don’t be too concerned about  a lot of megapixels! You do not need a huge number of megapixels unless you are planning to do a large format printing. For example a 14 megapixel camera will take a 4320 x 3240 picture at a full resolution. If you printed at the resolution of 200 dpi, this would give you a picture over 20 inches long. Most likely you will not be pursuing large formats like this. Magazines usually require pictures at the 300 dpi resolution, and for 5  by 7 inch picture, you'd need just 1500 x 2100 pixels. To get a really nice print 8”x10” at the 300 dpi your file needs to be 2400 x 3000 pixels, easily achieved with a 7 megapixel camera. So, the bottom line is that you do not need a camera with a very high number of pixels, and more is not necessarily better.
  • Good performance in low light situations and decent flash needed
  • Rugged design
  • You do not have to spend a fortune to get good pictures!
  • Reviews of cameras are available at  or
  • Know your camera and practice in advance!

Areas Of Concern:


  • Take time to compose the shot
  • If possible, pick the uniform background
  • Get close to the subject, fill the frame
  • Make sure you are not cutting off heads, feet, etc
  • Remove branches obscuring a clear view of deer, dog, people
  • Take multiple shots from various angles
  • Make sure that people’s clothing is OK
  • Check the dog’s position, hide the leash
  • Position recovered game in a natural pose, fold the legs underneath or set it up on its belly.
  • Look at the deer or dog, don’t look straight into the camera
  • Take shots of various combinations
    1. hunter with deer,
    2. dog with deer,
    3. handler, dog and deer
    4. hunter, deer, handler, dog
  • Experiment with different depth of field. Try a “portrait” setting to make background not as sharp as main objects.

Avoid too much gore
  • Clean up the animal, wash blood off
  • No animal tongue hanging out
  • Pick the best side (exit holes are messier than entrance holes)
  • Cover wound hole with a leaf or two


  • Early morning or late afternoon diffused light works the best
  • Avoid too much contrast, take few shots with flash (fill flash)
  • Use anti-red eye flash feature
  • Avoid photographer’s shadow
  • Take hats off or at least raise the brim so as not to create a strong shadow on the face.
Other Tips

  • Take few pictures of the animal exactly as you have found it – showing everything.  It may come in handy for determining something you wish you knew later.  Especially if you plan on entering the animal in a record book.
  • Every time you save a Jpeg file, you lose resolution. So don’t save the image every time you look at it. You can save photos in other formats (tiff, png) that are not impacted by this, but they may take up more memory.
  • Keep your image files organized well.
  • Get decent software like Adobe Photoshop Elements for editing and improving your images. Learn how to use it.

1 comment:

Brady said...

Great info Jolanta! Keep the posts coming. As season approaches, I hope to see more frequent blogging. I get withdrawals when the posts are spread out a week or more :).