Shyly curious

July 23, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Shy Spy I've always liked this image, both for the subject and the composition.  I made this way back in 2007, soon after purchasing my first "real" digital camera system.  Following some good advice I invested in lenses that gave me my desired focal range as well as sharpness because I knew I'd be photographing wildlife.  One frustration from earlier photography years was looking at an image and seeing that the animal I wanted to be a bold statement in the picture only took up a small percentage of the overall image.  With longer and sharper lenses I expected to remedy that problem.

Near our house there's a local park that surrounds a flood control lake and the whole thing is big enough a herd of deer pretty much make it their home.  They're only partially wild - carloads of people cruise the park roads in the evening to watch the deer graze on the edge or up on the hills and they rarely give the vehicles a passing glance.  Stop and get out of the car, though, and they will trot away pretty quickly.

Which made me feel very lucky this day.  I'd parked at one of the picnic areas to just walk around and see what might show up.  It was autumn and the prairie grasses were very tall, almost over my head.  I was literally standing at my car getting the camera gear together when I saw this doe slowly sauntering along the edge of the parking lot, periodically glancing through the grass to see what I was doing.  She wasn't particularly perturbed at me being there as long as I stayed by my car.  Fortunately I'd mounted my long zoom lens first so I was ready to reach out and touch her - the focal length was around 250mm for this shot.

This was before my summer in photo school but I did know enough to set a somewhat wide aperture (f/5) to get most of the grass in front of and behind her to be blurred.  My shutter speed was 1/30 sec. and I was concerned she'd not stop - that's not fast enough to prevent blurring of a walking animal.  Lucky for me as I rested the lens on my open car door she stopped to see what I was doing.  I made 4-5 images and this one was the best, catching her eyes through the stand of grass with just a hint of the rest of her body fading into the prairie.  I remembered to place her face in the upper right third of the frame.  As her eyes are at one of the "power" spots of the composition and about the only element sharply focused, the viewer's eye goes right to her face first.

It was a late fall afternoon and with my white balance set to sunlight the original image was pretty cool in appearance.  I warmed it up in Lightroom to give it a more natural appearance, did a little sharpening and very little cropping to make sure the doe was the obvious subject (no more small animals in my photos!).  And that's all that was done.

What a joy to download the image and see it on the computer screen.  I'd intentionally purchased a camera system to photograph wildlife such that the subjects would be a big part of the composition and now here in front of me was the fruit of those decisions.  I felt putting my camera on the shelf out of frustration would no longer be happening.

 


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