Fog can actually be a welcome weather condition, and since England this morning was almost as foggy as this article I decided to seek out some deer, knowing that the fog, haze and mist would add a little atmosphere to the images.
We may not have the elk or the moose of Colorado but one thing we have in abundance is deer, and red deer especially can be mighty and regal. The rutting season has started so the males are actively grunting and duelling to keep possession of their harems. Ah, what a life (bit like my life, really, but with less grunting).
Of course I won’t presume to try and educate anyone about wildlife photography, there are eminently more qualified guys on the PL team for that. I’m just a simpleton who likes taking pictures. I’m not a fan of early morning starts either but I dragged, nay hauled, myself out of bed, grumbling and cursing into my car in the dark of early morning and asking her to cut through the impossible fog.
With autumnal colour still piercing through I knew finding the deer in the fog wouldn’t be a problem; their loud grunts and calls made them easy to locate. And they were as majestic as ever. I had photographed deer, both red and fallow, during previous autumns and winters but these shots are all from this most recent endeavour.
Far from obscuring the shot, fog can lend mood and emotion to a scene. Sometimes there is as much revealed in what you don’t see. Having said that, on this occasion I used the fog more as a backdrop to the deer, conveniently obscuring their background to help isolate and emphasise them. Sadly, sunlight was sorely lacking so not much happened in the way of low, early morning backlighting. That was the one missing element.
All the images were taken with the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 with the MC-14 teleconverter attached, and mostly at the widest possible aperture of F/4.0 where the combination is still surprisingly sharp. I shot in aperture priority and let the camera pick the shutter speed which, tied to a maximum ISO of 1600, was always plenty fast. And that’s about as sophisticated as my set up and equipment get – just a guy in his boots with a camera and one lens. Sorry I can’t regale you with a ton of accessories. I had a couple of other lenses with me in a tiny backpack but frankly I just couldn’t be bothered to take this lens off, save for one brief interlude photographing some water droplets on a spider web. That shot was taken with the Olympus 60mm F/2.8 Macro lens.
The deer are probably used to people wandering around their territory but I still maintained a respectful distance, crouching in the freezing wet grass. Having the zoom allowed me to do that.
In terms of processing, all were done in Lightroom, improving contrast, clarity and the black point slider to bring the deer out of the fog. Curves adjustments also helped.
I also managed to shoot a few other wildlife species.
Well, anyway, I’m reasonably satisfied with how they turned out. Even if they don’t teach you anything I hope they’ll encourage you to go out shooting (deer or not), even in inclement weather. Cherish that fog!
Stunnig pictures. I’m “reasonably satisfied” with them, too :) Interestingly, it’s the 3rd one that I like the most as a composition.
Thank you kindly Judit.
Awesome shots Mr. Whiskey! I’m envious.
Thank you John! That means a lot coming from you! :)
These are inspirational photos (as are all the others you have posted). In reference to your next article, clearly you possess a great amount of talent. Just out of curiosity, how close were you to the deer?
Thank you Stephen. Not very close at all, hence keeping a zoom and teleconverter with 420mm reach on the camera the whole time. The deer happily ignored me and seemed utterly oblivious to my shape in the fog.:)
The mist gives these photos such a magical touch, they almost look like paintings; the denser fog whitens the background and isolates the deer – had the conditions been clearer they might have blended with their surroundings and become lost. Great series.
Thank you polizonte :)
Cheers for that. Interesting article.
Rest assured I kept my distance and none of the deer interrupted their activity on account of my presence. Furthermore it was so early in the morning I was pretty much the only one around and the fog surely obscured me as much as it did them.
But jolly decent of you to contribute.
Great photos Sharif. They look very dreamy and other world like. As i see them i think of book covers. The deer photos would serve as covers for children’s books. Like fairy tales becaise of the foggy environment and soft colours.
The droplets in the spider web can definitely be a cover for Dan Brown’s next book.
Thank you Muhammad! :)
(I’ll bear that in mind for my fourth children’s book)
Sharif, these photos really have a wonderful mood to them. I can smell the dew feel a chill in the air! It’s enough to get me leaving my first comment after a year or so of reading PL. I would love to pick up that 40-150 for my E-M1 but it’s hard to justify unless I get rid of my old 50-200.
Also I just wanted to note (since you mentioned it) that your red deer are indeed closer to our elk in North America, in the same genus. What we call deer are a different genus altogether, and they are majestic in their own way, but not nearly so much as an elk or European red deer.
Thank you so much, Chris, and I’m truly honoured that you would leave your first comment on one of my articles! You’re indeed right about the deer.
The 40-150mm is a great lens (as is the 50-200mm by all accounts). I’m sure either one will reward you with terrific images.
I would love to see more inspiring wildlife images taken with mirror less cameras. I enjoyed your shots, thanks mate!
Some shots of seals taken with my mirrorless gear can be seen here and of of course more nature and wildlife on my blog :)
Great shots as usual, Sharif! And I particularly admire the ways you have chosen to develop them. The muted tones and faded tone-curve really lend well to the abundant softness the misty morning provided for. Well done, indeed! It would have been a real shame to “de-haze” these images, were you able to with your version of Lightroom… kind of defeats the purpose of intentionally shooting on a foggy autumn morning :)
Thank you Brian.
Nice work. I wish I could go there and find the wildlife posing like that in Wisconsin. It usually takes a blind and lots of butt time to come that close.
Question: Using the camera you did which I assume was a mirrorless model … how big of a quality print (not canvas) do you think would be had using the ISO you did? Why I ask … I currently have Nikon D800E and a variety of lenses out to a max of 600mm but I am thinking about down sizing my weight load for my wildlife work. I normally do not print larger 20×30 but mostly in the 16×20 size. Thanks in advance.
I think it depends on the image and the ISO. I’ve printed some images at ISO 6400 at 16×20 size and they look fine, others at the same ISO wouldn’t look as good even in a smaller print. I think for a maximum of ISO 1600, which is what I used here, I would expect them to easily print to 16×20. Having a sharp lens certainly helps.
I’ve always been very happy with the prints I’ve made from this camera.
Actually, you’ve given me the idea to put these images in a calendar as a potential Christmas gift :)
For a simpleton who likes taking pictures, you certainly know how to take a photo and how to generate mood with your subject.
Thanks Tim! Sometimes all it takes is to go out and shoot :)