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First Buck

I took this hand held at the Algonkian Golf Course. I have been shooting deer here for a little over a year. This trip I was stalking a herd and noticed a buck among the doe. I moved within 40-50 yards hiding behind trees so as not to spook him. The photo was shot as the sun was going down
While I feel this is a nice shot, there are always things to learn, so I welcome your input.

Tags: Deer Buck Wildlife and nature

'Portrait Photography' Competition - Win A Samyang 85mm F/1.4 FE II Lens!


Squirrel 15 471 7 England
5 Feb 2017 11:01PM
Hello George.
I like the way you have handled this. The golden light gives a warm quality to the image. Your use of aperture f6.3 has blurred the background allowing the viewer to focus on the Stag. Good catchlight in the eye and the face is sharp and is the lower part of the chest. The nose looks very wet. There are couple of harsh shadows across the antlers and the top of the head but a bit of dodging in Photoshop or the programme of your choice could sort that out. The light areas in the background look like gaps between the trees look a little bit bright to me but that may be my monitor. Try a little bit of burning to reduce the brightness.

regards Jacq
5 Feb 2017 11:38PM
Love this one 😊
6 31 1 United States
6 Feb 2017 3:31AM
Hi Jacq,
I reduced the brightness on the antlers a bit already, there was a little bit of wash out I couldn't control.
Thanks for the input.
6 31 1 United States
6 Feb 2017 3:31AM
Thanks Camilla
paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2017 8:02AM
It is a nice image, but it is slightly soft. A Sika stag I think. You have done well at 1/125 hand held with a heavy lens but you are at 800mm and the edge is just off. Almost certainly a tiny touch of shake.

You needed to be at 1/500 even with stabilisation and f6.3 is too wide with both the Sigma and Tamron long lenses. The performance is good, but not fully sharp wide open. I would have been at ISO800 or even 1600 with a modern camera. That bit of extra would give both f8, a better aperture and a shorter shutter speed.

Natural history must be sharp in the right places. A bit of noise is far better than a soft image. Having said all that, this is close, but if you blow it up, the slight softness becomes apparent.

6 31 1 United States
6 Feb 2017 1:31PM
Hi Paul,
Thank you for the input.
I wanted to blur out the background with this.
There is a lot of clutter out there. Wouldn't F8+ have made it more noticeable?
banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4319 Canada
6 Feb 2017 3:14PM
Quite nice George.

I would suggest minor tweaks, not a huge amount.

I notice you applied a +4/3, and since you were using Shutter priority, this may have had little or no effect as the min aperture is f/6.3 and cant go lower.

The image I loaded is a bit brighter, apart from the very bright (and unavoidable) spots; the orange tone is toned down; its rotated to get that fence in the distance level.

The F/8 suggestion is to improve sharpness, and yes the depth with have increased, but a very small amount. You were very close to the deer, so you can afford a smaller aperture. Faster shutter reduces risk when shooting wildlife, as the subject can move, or be moving a small amount, and optical stabilisatio has no effect on this movement.

Good effort overall.


paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2017 4:08PM
As Willie says. The f8 is to get the best from the lens rather than consider background blur, but it is far more important to get the subject pin sharp than to worry about background. That is a secondary consideration.

The very long zoom lenses up to about 1500 will tend to be a bit soft at the longer focal lengths and especially at full aperture. Thus try and stop down one or two stops. To get superb full aperture performance at 500mm you pay 7K for a Canon 500. that is if you are making a living from it or win the lottery!

My current Fuji 100/400 is the sharpest 'cheap' lens at full aperture that I have ever used and remains just as god with the 1.4 convertor.

6 31 1 United States
6 Feb 2017 4:52PM
I uploaded a JPG of the original file.
Thanks everyone. The comments help me put items in priority.
dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 825 England
6 Feb 2017 7:56PM
I saw this the first time you uploaded it in the main Gallery George, and it's a pleasing enough image as shown by the fact it got 15 votes. So, well done for then having the courage to put it up for critique.
I can't add to the good advice above.
6 31 1 United States
6 Feb 2017 11:57PM
Thanks Keith.
I am going to head back out next weekend, weather permitting, and see if I can find him again. If so, I will use the advice to see if I can get a better shot.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
7 Feb 2017 5:52AM
The full frame is interesting, and I'm glad that i didn't arrive until it was up.

It shows that you are shooting with the subject absolutely central in the frame, and then cropping later (this will cause soem loss of sharpness, by the way).

You need to take control of your focus points (and also look up a technique called 'back button focussing') so that you can compose the shot (more or less) as yo uwant it to turn out.

Here, you have a lot of wasted space, and the legs are cut off, though a portrait-format shot, with the camera on end, would have allowed you to put the feet on the ground, or to go in really close.

There's a definite tilt to the original, and my thought is that it's not entirely corrected in the final version.
6 31 1 United States
7 Feb 2017 11:39AM
Hi John,
1-cropping later (this will cause soem loss of sharpness, by the way). I didn't know this. Is this universal or can it be affected by camera, lens, technique etc.
2-you are shooting with the subject absolutely central in the frame. The intent was to crop to the image and not show the entire deer. I know the lens can be soft on the edges.
3-I am familiar with back button focussing. I use it with smaller lenses that I find easier to control. Clearly I still have technique to master.
4-The lens looses IQ beyond 500mm and there wasn't any coverage beyond the tree I was behind. I couldn't move closer because I didn't want to spook the buck.
5-The tilt is due to the tarrain and no attempt was made to correct it. In all honesty, I didn't even think about it. Thanks for pointing it out.

This is why I stay on this site.
I appreciate your input, I have learned a lot and continue to do so.
Thank You all.
dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
7 Feb 2017 9:50PM
Hi, George -

If you have a lens that resolves a certain number of lines per millimetre, and you crop half the image away, that halves the number of lines. As you magnify, so the quality drops in direct proportion. Filling the frame keeps the quality as high as it can be.

Excellent technique helps, as it gives a sharper picture to begin with. Each part of the system - the camera sensor, the lens, your technique - is a limiting factor. that's why I shoot portraits with an Alpha 7r Mk II and a Zeiss Planar 85mm rather than using a kit zoom lens on my old Dynax 7D. There is a lot of technical and practical stuff behind all of this, of course!

If your technique is good, then the falloff in image quality at the edges may not matter too much. Have you found this in practical tests, or have you just read a review? Try it and see...

Keep shooting, keep uploading, and keep reading...
6 31 1 United States
8 Feb 2017 3:01AM
Hi John,
Nice Camera and Lens. A little more then I have to spend though.
Although for a 40+ MP Camera, it is very reasonable.
I wish I could have gotten close enough to shoot the shot with an 85mm lens.
I however understand what you are saying about the cropped image and IQ. I never considered it before.
Using an old crop sensor 18mp camera purchased second hand and a super Zoom, I guess I will just have to improve my technique.

Regarding the softness at the edges, I have intentionally stayed away from shooting there because of the reviews I have read. I will give it a shot with a bunch of shots and let you know.

Thanks as always for the input, info and encouragement.
paulbroad Plus
15 131 1294 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2017 9:31AM
One of the main reasons that I only occasionally submit to the main gallery is that voting and awards seem to be very biased to content rather than a generally top quality image. It is clear from comments that a large number of viewers pay little attention to the technical side and possibly struggle to understand what a high quality image actually looks like. They should use the critique section more!

For me, and most serious photographers, technical quality is mandatory except, possibly, for certain hard news images. Customers and libraries look first at quality. Why buy high quality modern gear, then not use it correctly? Exposure and subject sharpness must be a basic and mandatory requirement in any fully successful image.

dudler Plus
19 1.9k 1948 England
10 Feb 2017 9:48AM
One additional thing worth mentioning - for some shots, sharpness isn't everything. I have a lot of creative fun with a couple of Lensbaby optics, and with a Sixties Canon telephoto lens that has rather good sharpness, but truly awful contrast and flare. Models love it!

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