How I Got the Shot: Deer in Falling Snow


Whitetail Deer in Falling Snow, near Tupper Lake

Exposure Data:
Exposure: 1/500 second, f/2.8, ISO 400
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 80-200mm lens set at 200mm.

Famed National Geographic photographer Galen Rowell referred to commonplace subjects such as this deer as “mature”—we readily recognize them even if we don’t see them in full detail. It’s not necessary that my deer be in sharp focus; I chose to present it using some artistic license. I found it walking by a backdrop of trees in a steady snowfall. I took several shots of the whitetail in sharp focus; rather uninspired, they were basic deer-in-snow shots. So I decided to change my focus point to the falling snow in front of the deer, putting it slightly out of focus. To do this I switched from autofocus to manual focus. I shot handheld at a fast 1/500 second to freeze the snow’s motion, and at my widest aperture to allow the rest of the image to pleasingly blur. In the waning light, I had to boost the ISO to 400 to get a good exposure given the shutter speed. The technique gave the image a dreamy quality. It’s fine that the deer is blurred and the curved hill hides its legs. We know it’s a deer—now rendered as an artistic impression.

Happy Holidays!

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a much sought-after public speaker, offering presentations to camera clubs, environmental groups and others. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute (API). He will lead his annual winter photography workshop February 9-12, in Inlet. For details see API will post its full schedule of 2017 events soon. For more on Mark’s workvisit


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