Critique A couple from the weekend

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Hi all
As the weather was so nice this weekend, I thought I would try and get some photo of deer (and an obligatory Robin), however really not pleased with how they have turned out. Would anyone be able to share some tips/critiques on how to give these photos more character. I can't help but feel they are just too flat, which is a shame as I had an amazing opportunity with the deer/stags.

I did a little playing around with Lightroom - but am really new to this, so not actually sure what I'm doing with it yet!!


Thank you!
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I'm not a wildlife photographer, but on general principles the lighting in the deer pictures is either dull or they're in shadow, they lack fine crisp detail and most of all the background is utterly unsympathetic. I'm being a little harsh because a few years back I took some pictures very much like these and was disappointed, just as you are.

Compare your deer pics with these to get an idea (not my photos) :

OTOH the robin is OK for that type of shot, albeit not in a 'natural' environment and looking just a little over-processed. I'd probably drop clarity/structure & raise both shadows and highlights a touch.

Nothing wrong with taking pictures like this as holiday snaps, but just think about what makes any kind of photo interesting - great lighting, subject doing interesting things against a background that adds to the image - and then look for scenes that allow you to capture those things.
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For me it’s the light that’s the biggest problem. Bright sunny daylight isn’t the best for deer photography. Sadly there isn’t much you can do in post. I think we have all started in this way and slowly learnt how to make improvements (it’s taken me years to make small improvements each year).

For deer I’m out at sunrise or sunset and usually only for an hour or so. If you get the chance to revisit go out at the end of September during the deer rut you should get so activity as this time of year that are sitting about not doing much. Getting low or at least to eye level helps to improve an image. Checking backgrounds is worth it too. I like to avoid any man made features such as fences or fence protection cages. They are my biggest pet hate photographing in deer parks.

You can see some of my deer images in the link below.

There are more in my Flickr album too:

They were all taken at my local deer park and mostly during the rut. I have some blog posts (called ‘photo stories’ on my website) about my trips out photographing deer. During the 2017 rut I posted a weekly summary about the 6 weeks I spent photographing the rut. Hopefully it may give you an insight into what I get up to photographing deer with a few pointers too.