Frankly My Deer, I Give a Damn

Hold on, just give me a second or two to swat these cobwebs out of the way.  It’s been awhile but truth be told I’ve been doing a lot of post processing to get ready for this month’s round of posts.  Not to let the suspense down, but this month will (hopefully) be the final push to get through the remaining animals captured during our Yellowstone National Park vacation Linda and I took back in October.  The weather is finally starting to cooperate with my running schedule allowing me to hit the pavement for my training runs (YES!).  Last Wednesday’s 5 miles and today’s 7 miles (both in the hills) were an excellent start.  In honor of that, I figured it would be fitting to start with creatures that must laugh at the running (in)ability of humans – the ungulates.  For the city dwellers, that is a fancy word for mammals that have hooves (although that definition has a varied past) – charge up that Volt drive 24 miles outside of town .. charge it up again overnight and then drive another 24 miles further out (repeat until you can see stars).

Let’s start with the only decent shot of an Odocoileus hemionus I was able to get in Yellowstone.  On our way back from checking out the wolves at Lamar Valley, this particular mule deer was found grazing among the evergreens.  Lucky for him the wolves were preoccupied with a cow elk they had trapped in stream at the confluence.

Mule deer are slightly different from the deer we have around here.  They tend to be a little more grey than our white tailed deer but the most distinguishing feature is their ears.  They are significantly larger than those on the white tail which tends to make them less appealing than their brothers.  I do sympathize with them having to go through their childhood with large ears probably taking abuse from all the other animals in the park (except of course the rabbits).  Note, light was starting to fall when this was taken making it an ISO battle – I think it cleaned up okay, but would have liked another shot at it.

On our way back from Yellowstone, we stopped into Custer State Park to check out the wildlife opportunities there.  For the longest time we were the only car to be seen providing a good opportunity to shoot Odocoileus virginianus Yes, that would be the White Tail Deer.  The first group we stumbled on were pretty cautious of our arrival and preferred to stay in the safety of the forest.

Hopefully you noticed the smaller ear size than the mule deer.  Living in the country in Big Buck territory of Illinois, we have the opportunity to see these animals nearly every day.  At times they’ll come through 10-12 thick in search of fresh acorns and saplings (unfortunately, that includes a fondness for our landscaping which is why we have no problem with a controlled hunting program).

I have to give Linda credit for the following crop selection.  I was debating back and forth and she walked in, looked at it for two seconds and then made an excellent recommendation.   Kicking myself for not taking the time to move a couple steps closer to push out the close evergreen branches (blurred items at the bottom) – not sure the doe would have stood for that though having already become agitated at how close the camera was already.

Hit the jump to see the rest of the deer set.

Of the set, this next one has to be my favorite.  The buck was walking with a doe (which was ahead of it).  Once it spotted me (and The Beast) it directed its attention to the doe- watching her move ahead of him back into the safety of the woods.  Once she was in the safe zone the buck immediately turned back as if to say “What are you looking at!… or that shot will cost you $2”  not sure which.  I debated long and hard about leaving the left tree in and eventually decided it gave a nice feeling of depth to the entire shot.

What I didn’t mention earlier is we were shooting in mid-day harsh light.  This didn’t impact the shots into the woods, but it did rear its ugly head when we came across the following buck standing in a field.  Major recovery going on in the post processing to try and dampen the light and bring out some details on the back and legs.  I spent a lot of time on these shots trying to save them the best I could, but then noticed something and decided to let it go.  Note, as with the previous buck, this one was watching his does that were hiding out in a small tangle of trees (there is a shot of one below and you can see another if you go to the Eddiesoft gallery – link here).

Linda actually likes the following composition better.  What’s your preference?

By the way, the thing that I noticed was I was shooting through a branch.  Actually, if I recall correctly I was shooting though a bunch of trees into the opening.  The Beast does a good job of focusing through those, but you can see a couple of the branch shadows if you look close.  Since it was such harsh lighting, I figured it would be best to just let these go for now (although, next time I bring up Photoshop I might just tweak those a bit).

And finally for a closing shot, here is one that got away.  I literally worked on this composition for a long time out in the field and was busy trying to get the angle right.  The dead branches were providing a natural framing for the doe as she was looking back to her buck.  Linda wasn’t exactly excited about it, but it came out as I had planned it (and yes, I like it).

Buuuuuutttt I blew the focus.  You can’t tell it in the smaller version, but  in the one up on Smugmug you can tell it isn’t tack sharp.  Guessing the tiny weed grabbed the focus right before I snapped it messing up the shot.  Slightly bummed, but I’ll just have to keep the prints small.  Maybe I should take Rick Sammon’s idea and take a whole bunch of similarly blurred shots and call it a style!

Welcome to March everyone – hope you enjoyed the deer shots.

3 thoughts on “Frankly My Deer, I Give a Damn”

  1. Nice compositions, all of them. I liked Linda’s composition the better of those two, but overall the best one, I think, is the one that in which you rightly included the tree in the back left for depth. Looks like a studio shot! Muted colors, relaxing to look at. And warm colors, like I like.

    Ron

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  2. Hey thanks but I am starting to see a trend here … going back into my comment archives it appears that every time there is a choice between picking something Linda prefers vs something I prefer everyone keeps picking Linda’s choice. I have decided it is a conspiracy! is there some kind of behind the scenes payment scam going on here or what? me thinks there’s some investigating to be done. I know you like the warm treatments and I was actually thinking about that when working with the temperature sliders. As a general rule I tend to go warm on brown toned animals and definitely fall scenes since it pops the autumn leaves nicely. If I remember correctly there is a mixture of temps in the upcoming post that will give a better side by side comparison – I actually prefer the cooler tone on winter scenes and definitely on mist/fog shots because it gives an eerier feeling. Thanks for taking the time to comment … especially with what may be a new record two post output on your own blog!!

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