Back Modifications (7)
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Proud Stag

By YvonnesViewfinder
First post to ephotozine. Visit to Tatton Park (Cheshire), missed the rutting season, although it did mean I could get close up to these magnificent animals.

Modified the Highlights. Shadows and Clarity, but wanted a more moody post processing image, not sure that the vignette works either.

Tags: Stag General Tatton park Wildlife and nature


dark_lord Plus
17 2.9k 793 England
11 Nov 2021 5:25PM
hi Yvonne,

Welcome to epz and to the Critique Gallery.
Thank you for describing your processing and asking a speific question. It would be helpful fo us to see an unaltered original, which you can upload as a modification using the tabs below the image, so we can appreciate what you've done and lo to allow others to make processing suggestion.

The vignette does ocus attenion on the deer but is a litle heavy for me and a more fradual transition would still have the same effect but be less noticeable.

As for mood, it's taken in flat overcast light in the open so there's nothing moody to start with so you're up against it there. The end result will be moe a dull representation than moody. Mood is created by the lighting on a subject or scene and when it's very even as it is here then there's little in the way of mood. That said, mono may be worth a try.

Those lighting conditions are great for recording detail and you've captured a nice pose.

Hi - thank you for taking the time to provide detailed feedback. As I am new to the group I'm still finding my way around the site, so may take a while to upload the unmodified image (but will now know for next time) . I agree with vignette is heavy. I understand your comments about flat overcast lighting, its a good reminder when someone actually tells you though. Glad you like it. Cheers and thanks.
dark_lord Plus
17 2.9k 793 England
11 Nov 2021 5:39PM
My first mod uses a Levels adjustment to give a full range of tones and avoid the flat look, with a small boost to Saturation. This has given it a bit more punch and hlped with the mood.
My second mod is a mono conversion but I think in this case I prefer the colour. As I said, worth a try.
I have just found the modifications tab Wink - thank you for taking the time, I really like the first modification you have done. Great
pamelajean Plus
15 1.7k 2242 United Kingdom
11 Nov 2021 6:09PM
Welcome to epz and its Critique Gallery, Yvonne.

Here we give you constructive feedback on your photos. The alternative is not to check the "critique wanted" option, then your image goes into the main Photo Gallery where it can gain votes and even awards.
I hope, however, that it was your intention to land here in the CG.

This is a fine image of a beautiful animal and you captured it well. Some of us would like to do modifications and give alternative processing suggestions, and so it would be helpful to have the untouched original. You can upload it here, so that it comes to us with this upload, using the blue Modifications button underneath your picture. Click on Modifications, click on Upload Modification. Browse computer, find the original. Give a short description, i.e. this is my original, then click on Add Modification.
Hope that's clear.

In the meantime, I have done a modification which brightens the image. I felt it was a bit dark. Perhaps you were trying for that moodiness, but you can now see the difference that some brightening can make. I don't think you needed a vignette, there is no doubt what your subject isSmile!

pamelajean Plus
15 1.7k 2242 United Kingdom
11 Nov 2021 6:27PM
Hello again, Yvonne.

Just an afterthought.
Compositionally, it's often more pleasing to offset your subject in your frame instead of sitting it in the centre. So I have done a further modification to show you how it looks with less space behind the stag and more in front of it, giving it room to "move into". It's called Negative Space and is a useful compositional guideline.

banehawi Plus
17 2.6k 4281 Canada
11 Nov 2021 7:53PM
Its a nice shot. As it appears here, its underexposed quite a bit, bit it might have been due to some of your processing.

I did a simple modification with exposure increased, set black level a little lower, reduces noise a little, and increased the vibrance slider in Photoshop. The colours overall are still quite mute, which probably suits the weather at the time.

Keep in mind how you view the image may differ from what we use, so the impressions may differ.


Hi Pamela - thank you for your feedback, modifications and how to upload the original image with the modification added, I appreciate the time to respond. I normally off set to the 3rd and leave negative space most of the time, but now and again I do like the centre and this was deliberate, but good to see your modification with the space to breath. Thank you again Yvonne
Hi Willie - thank you, I did post process for the darker side, but appreciate the feedback on setting the blacks at a lower level, and the vibrancy which I didn't alter on this occasion. Cheers and thanks Yvonne
dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1891 England
11 Nov 2021 9:57PM
Welcome from me, too.

I've got a couple of questions, in general terms: you have serious kit, and you've used it well, I think, to nail a sharp shot in poor light. The question is: are you on top of exposure in the same way? If not, Aperture or Shutter priority, or auto ISO might be a better choice to avoid exposure issues. But I accept that it may be the processing!

I'd avoid all but the subtlest vignette for most subjects, to be honest. Certainly, if it's obviously been done, it's overdone with the vast majority of pictures.

Moody... That's the big question. Very often, that's something you can address with Levels, moving the midtone slider to the right, but it's a problem when the subject is darker than the background. Catching the animal against the trees rather than well-lit grass would help a lot...

For a very left-field (maybe in the UK we should call it offside?) approach, I used the Imagenomic skin-softening plugin - it does a lot on tones as well - and I cropped to put the eye roughly on the top right third. The Rule of Thirds isn't infallible, but it beats slapping the subject in the centre.

By the way - your responses to earlier comments make the whole process fun for the Critique Team - we love conversations, we don't enjoy writing into a vacuum! Thank you.
dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1891 England
11 Nov 2021 10:00PM
Addendum... If your membership gives you a choice of backgrounds, black often works far better than white - especially if you process with a white border, which is only visible when one downloads the picture to play with.

Generally, on the web, big borders don't work well - they just eat up space.
Hi - great to obtain so much constructive feedback in a short space of time.

To be honest I used to shoot AP for wildlife photography for many, many years. Having started a foundation degree in photography and also joined a camera club, I would say I have been using manual setting for about 18 months (longer if you take Covid lockdown into account). I know that doesn't mean manual is the be all and end all though. The exposure issues that have been pointed out our post-production, i have pushed the Highlights, Shadows and Clarity, trying something different, appreciate its not everyone taste. I also have a massive learning curve on post-production, so its good that everyone has mentioned similar observations.

I do like negative space, and it works, so why I decided to place in the middle I'm unsure, possibly to use the space to show the massive size of the stag.

I will definitely look at the levels (and moving the mid-tones to the right) something I hardly use to be honest, just on very rare occasions for landscapes mainly. Thanks for the tip on boards too, camera clubs prefer black boarders, which I like for prints - I think I will take the advise of no boards for the web - good call, cheers.

And finally I will have to look up Imagenomic skin-softening plugin, as I have not heard of that before.

Again, thank you for taking the time, interesting points and learning. Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
15 3.1k 2475 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2021 7:55AM
A warm if belated welcome from me too, I hope you are finding ePHOTOzine and the Critique Gallery useful. I always reckon that one of our functions is to help people to think about what they are doing and to explore wider possibilities. Thanks for your feedback above, it helps so much when we get a conversation going!

My thoughts here are very much as above, so I'm really just going to reinforce a few points.

First, presentation: before adding a dark vignette, think about why, what it does. It isolates a subject and creates an enclosed, private place. Whereas this image is about the freedom of wide open space. That's why the vignette doesn't work, it's at cross purposes with the image.

The word photography means drawing with light, we need to be constantly aware of light - when taking a photograph, when processing it. Light defines shapes and surfaces... The area of your software that allows light enhancement is the most important, and the place to start work.

Central placement can look bold, commanding. It can also effectively block the viewer's access to the frame, say 'Keep out'. And it can simply look pedestrian, boring. If the stag was looking at us, it would work here. (Have a look at one of the 19th Century's favourite paintings.) Here, looking to the side, it needs space to look into; whereas space behind a head (human, animal, flower... ) is usually wasted space.

I hope we shall see more from you, we can help you to advance!
dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1891 England
12 Nov 2021 10:50AM
Imagenomic is quite expensive, and fairly specialist: I find it's really useful for nudes and portraits, which are my primary interest. But there are, periodically, special offers, making it merely costly - still rather more than Nik Efex, and far less versatile. But for some things, itís really good!
Moria - thank you for the feedback, and agree with the over powering vignette, I was trying for isolation, however I also agree that the image is about freedom and wide open space, so understand your concerns and conflict here.

Having embarked on a foundation photography degree I have completed many assignments on "drawing with light" and it's good to hear the same language in the critique. I think I have mentioned I was happy with the exposure triangle and light when taking the image, but was experimenting post production. That said, I am happy that the members' have taken time to modify my images so I can see how others would have processed, and they all have a common tread in this area.

Again thank you for the comments on the central point, some interesting reading hear, on how the stag is looking in the image. Smile
dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1891 England
12 Nov 2021 11:58PM
Thoughtful, focussed, knowledgeable, and keen to learn more. Our perfect CG contributor!
chase Plus
16 2.3k 598 England
15 Nov 2021 1:43PM
Hi Yvonne, I'm late but sometimes other things get in the way Sad
A magnificent creature in natural surroundings and well isolated from the bg.
I, like most, find this a little dark and I too am not convinced you needed the vignette, but, I can understand why you added it.
He does need a little more space in the frame, Pamela mod demonstrated that really well, somewhere for him to look into rather than quite central in the frame.
Just a couple of tweaks here and there would really make this image pop from the screen. Lots of good suggestions above, maybe you could have a few goes trying slightly different processing and see what you think ?
A good start, thanks for joining in the conversation, that makes such a difference for us.
I hope to see more from you.

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