By Mark Fike
Photos by Kristy Fike
Spring turkey season is just around the corner! Each year we all see the same types of photos of turkey hunters and their harvests. In fact, many of them are so similar that if you blurred out the faces you might not be able to tell them from another photo. This season when you make a new memory and bag a gobbler, change up your photos and do something unique to celebrate the accomplishment!
Angles make a HUGE difference in photos. My daughters are very skilled photographers. They are also young and not as lazy as I realized I had gotten. Last year one of them was laying on the ground taking photos upwards. She was shooting through grass and weeds and tree branches to get those super photos. She also got a ladder and stood on it to get a photo from above. The unique angles made photos of our turkey harvests so much better! We have gotten lots of compliments on the photos and I have to get her the credit for being willing to get down or up high to catch the right pose.
Sunny days or late morning or afternoon hunts can be tough on a photographer. When we get a turkey and the sun is out and bright, I go looking for a completely shady spot in the woods or on a field edge. Sunny conditions wash out photos. These bright conditions also cause shadows under hat brims, which in turn makes a photographer ask the hunters to tilt them up unnaturally and then the hunters squint into the bright light. The photo is then officially ruined.
Find a completely shady spot where no sun is peeking through or very little is peeking through. Keep the sun at your back when you do shoot a photo. There are exceptions though.
If your bird was gotten very early or late and the sun’s rays are peeking through a hedgerow or fence line and you can see just the spot where the sun hits the ground or will “spotlight” the hunter or the bird, give it a shot. With a cell phone or digital camera you are only out a few minutes trying. Cross lighting in this fashion can be incredible, particularly early morning light as the sun is coming up should you be fortunate enough to bag a gobbler early. The glow of the patch of light hitting in just the right spot is something to behold.
Take a few minutes to get a close-up, like very close in, and take picture of the spur of the bird with an empty shotshell next to it, a close up of the bird’s colorful head (blood wiped off) with the call next to it and maybe the shotshell or turkey call. Take these pics in colorful locations. A bright green grassy area is an awesome choice. Take along a spray bottle and spray and wet the vegetation to really make it pop. Be sure to arrange things and mind the angle and lighting too! Take the shot from near ground level and play with the angles some.
Black and White
Set your camera or cell phone to black and white and you will be amazed how these nostalgic photos look. If you have a foggy day they are so incredible you will swear you turned pro on the photography front!
We all see the birds fans spread and wood lines behind the grinning hunter. There is nothing wrong with those photos. But, why not make them stand out? I found an old barn that we often take photos next to. The rough cut sawmill wood planks give our shots a totally old time look. We shoot some black and white on these backdrops too.
What about a huge tree that you noticed in the woods. A massive oak tree would definitely be worth taking a few shots. If you know a farmer that has a few round bales, those make great backdrops too, particularly if you were able to get your turkey in a field nearby.
Old cabin front porches are also great to use. I like to take a piece of paracord or baling twine from a hay bale and tie it to the turkey legs and hang the bird from a barn side, front porch column, or from your massive tree. That way your effort is not spent holding up the bird. You can arrange the fan as you wish too. You can get your photos from below you shooting the shot upwards at the bird or pose you and your hunting partner on either side, one with a call and one with the gun.
Last, streams make great backdrops, particularly if the stream is moving and bubbling. Watch your lighting and try to find a place where the opposite bank lends itself well to the photo.
This season make those memories permanent with the photo worthy of the hard work you put into harvesting your turkey. Not only will you be proud to show off your harvest, but you will be proud of the photo. Even your non-hunting friends will be interested in a well composed photo that has all the attributes of a great shot.