By RON KOLODZIEJ
For the Recorder
We're rapidly approaching that time of year when loads of deer and bear photos begin arriving in my email or snail-mail. Perhaps this is a good time then to remind you of the various photography tips I offered in this column about a year ago.
There isn't room to print all of the photos I receive, or even those submitted directly to the paper, so it becomes a case of survival of the fittest -- only the best photos will have any chance of appearing in any publication, and they may not necessarily be of the biggest buck or bear. To increase your chances of seeing your photo in print here are some easy tips to remember and follow.
1. Choose your photo background carefully. Those taken in trucks or on game poles rarely turn out well. Take some time to "set up" your shot and look for a background that's appropriate for that type of photo, preferably with no buildings, vehicles or other distractions in view. Remember that the reader's attention should be drawn to the critter and the hunter.
2. Make sure the animal is clean. Remove any sign of blood and, if you can, take the photo before you field dress the critter. If you can't do that, at least face the body cavity away from the camera. Also, don't have the animal's tongue hanging out -- that makes for a very unappealing photo.
3. Take several photos at different angles, preferably at eye level of the person in the photograph. Try to be a bit creative with your photography and keep the sun over your shoulder or back when you're taking the photo, but avoid shadows on the subject. Be aware of shadows and where they may fall in the photo. If the sun is high or directly overhead, ask the hunter in the photo to move his or her hat brim back so it doesn't cast a shadow on their face. Use the camera's flash if necessary -- it can help soften or even dispel some of the shadows.
4. Try to include items that tell the story of the hunt. The hunter should be dressed in camo or blaze orange hunting togs, and don't hesitate to include the weapon used -- provided it's unloaded and pointed in a safe direction. A professional wildlife photographer once told me that if possible, every photo should include some red in it somewhere - autumn leaves; a red hat, vest or shirt, etc. The red may not appear in the newspaper photo since they're generally printed in black and white but you may also want that photo for your own album and it'll look much better with some red in it for contrast. Try it -- you'll be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes. Red sumacs, yellow cornfields or spruce trees covered with snow are also usually good backdrops for buck or bear photos.
5. Never trash up your photo - no beer or soda cans, lunch bags, gut piles, cigarettes or cigars, etc. Never pose for the photo with a cigar or cigarette hanging off your lip.
6. Getting a good photo of a black bear presents a series of unique problems since they're so hard to photograph because of their uniformly black coloration. I've bagged, and photographed, eight black bears so far and I doubt I've taken more than four or five photos that I really liked, despite the fact that I may have taken 30 or 40 photos of those bruins. In most of them, the bruin looks like a black 50-gallon drum with legs. A bruin just doesn't photograph well, but try putting them on a slight downhill angle and have the hunter kneel behind the critter, helping show the animal's size. If the bear has a white "blaze" or throat/chest patch, try propping up the head so the patch shows. At least that will provide a bit of contrast. Just do the best you can with a bruin and take loads of photographs, preferably both with and without flash, and at different angles and distances. At least a few of the photos will be good enough for your album and perhaps they'll even be good enough for publication.
7. In digital photography you can take a photo or two, review them immediately, and then even take a half-dozen more if necessary until you get at least one you're happy with, and you can take those photos while the hunter and the critter are still posed. Above all, don't settle for one photo even if that photo looks good. Take several, or a bunch -- both vertical and horizontal, and with and without a flash. The more you take, the more apt you are to have at least a few that have all the elements you want.
Remember, once the critter is delivered to the processor, the only things you'll have left to remember the hunt by are memories and any photographs you've taken.
Dave Allen of Dave's Bait & Tackle, Bunker Hill Road, Mayfield, has announced the September results of his monthly fishing contest.
In the walleye category, Keith Simonds of Gloversville took first place honors with a 23 3/4 incher, followed by George Keohan of Mayfield with a 22 3/4 incher and Dave Palmeri of Amsterdam with a 19 1/2 incher. Keith Simonds of Gloversville also took the top, and only, spot in the northern pike category of the event with a big 41 incher.
Keith Simonds took top honors in the trout division with a 16 1/2 incher, followed by Dave Harper of Rotterdam with a 14 incher, and Jen Whitting of Rotterdam with a 13 1/2 incher. Dave Harper of Rotterdam also took first place honors in the yellow perch division with a 12 1/2 incher, followed by George Albert of Rotterdam with a 12 incher and Keith Simonds of Gloversville with a 11 1/2 incher.
Dave Harper followed up his win the the yellow perch division by also bringing in a 12 1/2 inch white perch to take top honors in that division as well. George Albert of Rotterdam was a close second with a 12 1/8 inch white perch and Dave also took third place in that division with a 11 3/4 inch entry. Jen Whitting of Rotterdam took first and third places in the bass segment with 19 5/8 and 18 inch entries, respectively. Keith Simonds of Gloversville took second place with an 18 1/8 incher.
Dave Allen, proprietor of the bait and tackle shop, recently returned from a bowhunt for whitetails in Ohio and in a few weeks I'll also have some information for you on that hunt.
Last Saturday's Youth Pheasant Hunt sponsored by the Montgomery County Republican Club was another resounding success, though youth participation was down a bit from last year. That's understandable when one considers the weather patterns that weekend. It rained Friday and then rained sporadically on Saturday as well.
Another event to keep in mind and to plan on attending is the Sunday, Oct. 14, Montgomery County Republican Club-hosted Fourth Annual Veteran's Pheasant Hunt at Sand Flat Orchards, just off Hickory Hill Road, north of Fonda. This hunting opportunity is provided for any area veterans with valid hunting licenses who may wish to participate in it. Guides and dogs will be provided but if anyone has a bird dog they'd like to run, that's OK, too.
A full buffet breakfast will also be provided free of charge beginning at 6:30 a.m., at the orchard, prior to the hunt. There is limited space available, so, if you're interested in participating, you should call Tom Georgia in Tribes Hill, at 258-9448, as soon as possible, to register. I'm not certain how many vacancies are available but it's worth a call if you'd like to enjoy a morning of pheasant hunting. If you're a bit short on available time that day, the hunt should be over by around 11 a.m.
Most of you are already very much familiar with the various small game seasons so let's take a few moments to review the upcoming big game seasons.
The northern zone muzzleloader season opens next Saturday, October 13 in most of the Adirondacks and then again on Monday, December 3 in the peripheral Adirondack area. The regular big game season opens in that zone on Saturday, October 20. The regular big game season in the southern and western zones opens on Saturday, Nov. 17. The late bowhunting season in both those zones opens on Monday, Dec. 10, as does the muzzleloader season.
These season changes are getting a bit complicated so please check your new 2012-2013 Hunting & Trapping regulations Guide before making any plans. Incidentally, don't forget that your new 2012-2013 sporting licenses are now valid. Change the backtag in your holder to the new one.
DEER SEASON PREDICTIONS
In a nutshell, the northern zone season is expected to be a good one, helped along by last winter's mild weather and reduced winter mortality. Reduced mortality means higher winter survival, hence more deer. Of course, the numbers will never be high because of few areas where Deer Management Permits are available but overall tallies will include the lake counties where deer populations are generally higher.
Overall prediction: Take should be up, higher than last season, but still conservative.
The southern zone take should be a bit higher that last year, helped along by an increased number of Deer Management Permits in most areas, plus last year's mild winter.
Overall prediction: Generally more deer, but perhaps fewer bucks because of the added areas now in the Antler Restriction Program which now includes Wildlife Management Units 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K. 4G, 4O,4P, 4R. 4S and 4W. Bucks taken in those areas must have at least one antler with three or more points, including brow tines and main beam, and all points must be at least one inch long.
The western tier counties are expected to repeat their standing as real deer-producers. Populations are high and Deer Management Permits have increased so look for even better numbers this season. This area of the State also has a reputation for producing the biggest mature bucks as well.