Back Modifications (9)
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Red Deer Stag (Cervus Elaphus)

By admphotography  
Red Deer Stag (Cervus Elaphus), Bradgate Park, Leicester

Tags: Wildlife Nature Animals Stag Uk Deer Male Outdoor Mammal Standing Red deer Leicester Antler Rut Species Wildlife and nature Cervus elaphus Herbivorous land mammal

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


pamelajean Plus
12 1.0k 1996 United Kingdom
12 Oct 2017 8:22PM
It's an excellent shot, Andrew, warm autumn colours to the background and a fern-adorned stag doing his rutting roar, so well timed.

My only suggestion is a crop, to take space away from behind the stag, and to place his eyes on a thirds line. Done in my mod.


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Thanks Pamela I wasn’t sure weather to go with black & white or colour
dark_lord Plus
14 2.1k 525 England
12 Oct 2017 8:31PM
This is a nice capture Andrew.
The stag in full bellow, bracken on his antlers and a background that gives us environmental information but without distractions.
The soft light has allowed detail to be retained, which is good.

However, it is not absolutely sharp and the reason is a slow shutter speed for this subject. Forget VC and even using a tripod to ensure sharpness when you have a moving subject. That stag will move its head in 1/40 just enough to take the edge off sharpness if you're ucky, with movement blur very possible otherwise.

There's no reason to be at ISO 100 here. You have a recent camera so ISO 400 should be no problem and I'd even go to ISO 1600 where you should still have decent image quality, a shutter speed of 1/320 and a much greater possiility of getting sharp shots. Not that this is bad but it could be improved on.
In my mod I've selectively applied sharpening to the head and body of the animal ad that appears to have worked quite well. Not that you should rely on software to fix things but in borderline cases it can help.

My mod also warms up the image to make the most of the browns. Relying on Auto can produce a cool looking result. If you're happy with Auto, or prefer it that way, then fine, but be prepared to do some tweaks later.
Finally I used a Curves adjustment to improve the contrast to avoid a tonally flat look.

Natural history subjects look so much better in colour. the mono is weak, and the reason is that there is very little tonal difference between the greens, yellows and browns. Good appealing mono relies on good tonal separation (amongst other attributes such as texture, shadow line, shape and so forth) which is lacking here.
In my second mod I pushed the red and yellow channels almos to their maximum, reduced structure and boosted contrast. The stag does stand outmore but the tones in the image are degraded so it isn't particularly smooth.
Thanks dark lord the mods look great 👍🏼
dudler Plus
14 683 1288 England
12 Oct 2017 9:08PM
As Keith says...

Good timing, nice light - but 100 ISO and 1/40 @ f/7.1 is asking for trouble at 188mm. I'd say - IS or not - aim for 1/500.
banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3849 Canada
12 Oct 2017 9:22PM
I think youve done quite well when comparing the original to the image you uploaded.

You are still up[loading with Adobe RGB, - you need to convert to sRGB for the site.

Colour is my preference, but maybe a toned, autumn look would work for a mono?

I would think cropping the left side is a better option than the right, simply because its the direction the stag is looking.

Its good for 1/40th, but you are depending completely on VC, and hoping the animal doesnt move, so you have no margin for safety. The lens focal length was 188mm, which is a 35mm full frame equivalent of 300mm. Tamron say 4 stops of VC, to that would be down to 1/15th, but it does not take into account a live subject.

Ive loaded some mods cropped as Ive suggested.

mrswoolybill Plus
11 1.2k 1887 United Kingdom
13 Oct 2017 8:02AM
It's a very good take! I've uploaded a modification based on the original, with three adjustments.

Crop - You did well to get rid of the darker bits at the top of the background. I cropped to square, because this is about the stag. I don't think the space on either side adds anything. The crop also puts the open mouth on th intersection of thirds, I'm not tied to the rule of thirds but I think it works here.

Light - I lightened shadows very slightly then made a Levels adjustment moving the outer sliders in until they touch the rise and fall of the graph curve. That increases tonal range, which in turn gives a more 3-dimensional feel. You'll notice that it also improves colour - I haven't touched saturation.

Finally I added a tiny bit of sharpening. I would advise that you go easy on that, if you enlarge the main upload, the twigs in the foreground have the look of tiny wriggling worms - that's a sign of slight oversharpening.

While I see the world very easily in terms of black and white, this isn't an obvious subject for conversion. There's too much tonal similarity between the stag and the background. I'm working on a conversion lightening the yellow and green channels, darkening the red channel, that will follow soon. I think it's the way to go with this one, if you want mono.

paulbroad 10 123 1234 United Kingdom
13 Oct 2017 8:19AM
It is quite well done and amazing for 1/40 sec. That, as Keith says, is the problem though, you have subject movement. Doesn't matter how firm the camera is, at such low shutter speeds subject movement becomes a problem. You needed to be at 400 or even 800 here for a decent shutter speed and to freeze movement.

Robert51 9 7 62 United Kingdom
13 Oct 2017 8:41AM
Super image Andrew. All I think it needs is a little levels adjustment then crop to suit. Very minor changes to bring out the best in the image.
dark_lord Plus
14 2.1k 525 England
13 Oct 2017 10:08AM
I should have guessed Moira would go for a square crop! Looks fine though.
thanks people for all your comments i really appreciate your feedback

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