First wildlife outing | Epic Fail | Story time

sscarmack

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After seeing all this Wildlife photography I decided to give it a try.

Sine I live out in the "country" now I decided to just head out in my back yard, roughly 20 acres wooded.


I walked down the street about a mile to start at the rear of the property and work my way forward, flanking maneuver.

After about 15 minutes in the woods, walking at snails pace. I had my first spotting. A squirrel. I got super excited and went to get the shot but he scurried off and out of sight. Dang.

I walked another 5 minutes and saw a little shed, so I started walking towards it. And just then a Deer popped his head up and took off like a bat outa hell. DANG!

So I started tracking this deer, broken limps, prints in the ground. Watching every step making sure I don't step on anything crunchy.

After about another 20 minutes I was starting to lose hope so I decided to stand still and just look around. After looking around for a few minutes I heard a 'sneeze' like sound. Roughly 50 yards away through some branches there was the deer looking right at me. Two sneezes, I heard a second sneeze coming from the distance. There are now two deer!

My camera was at my hip, this deer has a razor sharp stare right at me. I never moved so slow in my life, barely moving I reach for my camera and slowly raise it to my face. My camera never felt so heavy. The deer started raising its hoofs and slamming them into the ground.

I was able to grab one shot before the snap of my shutter roared throughout the calmness of the wild like a tree snapping after a lightning strike.
$20140619-008_zps84c550a9.jpg


My heart is literally now racing. Three deer darting into the greenness of the 'forest' now. Like any adrenaline junkie, I started after them again, this time at a faster pace but watching every single baby step making sure to not make any noise or give any sign of my presence.

After 10 minutes of moving 20 yards, I felt each heart beat and every breath I took. Sweat began slowly dripping from my neck. I reach the next clearing and slowly make the turn, and to my surprise both deer are standing there feeding about 50 yards away.

I waited until their heads were done to make another step. Each step felt like it'd be the last as they would dart off. I was able to get about 25-30 yards away before the one spotted me. Ears up, eyes pin needled, sharp as a whip.

Here is where I made my ultimate mistake, that reminds me I am not a Wildlife Photographer, and honestly a complete newb when it comes to nature photography.

I was ecstatic that I was able to compose this beauty of a shot. Two deer, looking dead at me. Within 30 yards, one slightly in front of the other. Beautify scenery.

And wham, wham, the shutter snaps close, and snaps close again. The deer, without hesitation dart off jumping 4 feet in the air as if a bullet just grazed through their lungs.

$20140619-010-2_zps03f6beea.jpg

I never reset my exposure going from the woods to the clearing. Didn't once think about checking to see where my exposure was. My heart was racing, I was watching each and every step. I failed to check the single most important thing. Exposure.

I usually I do not share my fails, but I decided to share because the only way you can learn is from mistakes.

Now, I did shoot in Raw, so I was able to pull back some details, but this photo is completely blown out and I'm disappointed in myself for making such a stupid mistake.

$20140619-010_zpsfbd4f4fb.jpg


What did I learn from this experience?

Deer are extreme skittish animals and it takes extreme patience and sneakiness to get even within 50 yards of them.

DSLR's have a built in exposure meter for a reason, use it. Right before you snap that shutter, glance your eye to the right just to make sure your within a couple stops of what it thinks is right. Of course it will not always be right, but its often pretty close.

Thank you for reading my experience


The end!

Sean Scarmack
 

pjaye

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I think you did really really well recovering that picture. I never approach quietly, but then, maybe Ontario deer aren't so skittish?

We've all blown some shots, I still blow shots. It happens. You did well!
 

sm4him

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That last shot is a perfect example of why I started using the auto-ISO function. I keep my camera in manual, so I can set both the aperture and the shutter speed myself, but when I KNOW I'm going to be in a place where one second I may be focusing on a bird perched in the trees where it's really shady and the next second, I may want to aim straight at the cloudless sky, I use auto-ISO so I at least have a CHANCE of getting a reasonable exposure. It's not a cure-all, and lately, I've sometimes found myself frustrated with it for other reasons, but it can help in certain settings.

However, you recovered the deer photo QUITE nicely, imo, plus you also got a very entertaining story to boot, so it was definitely NOT a complete fail! :D
 

Braineack

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I put my camera in quiet mode around deer. Works well, having a "Real" shutter doesn't help.

I also use auto-iso when shooting most wildlife.


the worst is being this close and ending up with such a god-awful shot:

DSC_2135_5.JPG

this is not a crop...
 

robbins.photo

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Deer suck. No doubt about it. Most of the good shots i've gotten of them have been pure dumb luck. The last one I got I really liked, I didn't sneak up on the deer, she snuck up on me. I was shooting some geese at the lake, turned around and there was this fawn right behind me.


20140401 1126 by robbins.photo, on Flickr

Oh, I also use Auto - ISO and shoot mostly in shutter priority, if I have the time I'll override the ISO to get the desired aperture/iso combo - but always nice to know I can get at least somewhat close to a proper exposure regardless.
 

Mandolin

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Oh, deer...nice recovery! I was at the park with the kids one day...had my camera set on full-auto b/c the kids were taking pictures. Then I saw this guy! Grabbed my camera and snapped a couple shots before he bounded back to momma.

$deer1.jpg$deer2.jpg
 

PixelRabbit

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Great writeup! I bet every single wildlife shooter could share a similar story from when they first started chasing animal butts (believe me there is no lack of butt shots of animals hightailing it no matter how long you shoot lol)

I had a scary deer experience early on. I was on a trail between a pond and marshy area here, it has a blind corner at both ends and I was in the middle shooting flowers when a Momma and her baby came around the corner and surprised both of us. She chased the baby off into the woods and turned her attention back to me....
She made her way quickly into the marshy area to attract my attention away from where the fawn went and started stomping and snorting at me while I planned my escape if she decided to charge me, she was MAD!!
I raised my camera and started shooting, I wasn't turning my back on her, she eventually decided she made her point, tossed her tail in the air and went back the way she came. Talk about adrenaline rush!

IMG_1875 by Judi Smelko, on Flickr


IMG_1891 by Judi Smelko, on Flickr
 

pjaye

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Todd, Deer do NOT suck. Besides, they will eat peanuts from your hand. We all have *that* deer shot. I have several deer butt shots. Scott wants to frame them and put them up on the wall, then have framed pictures of their heads on the other side of the wall in the other room.

I specialize in wildlife butt shots :)
 

robbins.photo

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Deer suck. No doubt about it.
Aww! Don't say that. Our neighborhood deer are sweet! They will eat from your hand.

Well my little town is a veritable Mecca for deer hunters. Every deer season they come in droves, truckload after truckload of gun bunnies in the huge camo 4x4's with the lift kits. They basically make a tremendous nusiance of themselves by shooting at just about anything that moves. Buddy of mine told me he wouldn't even step outside his house during deer season without a huge bright orange vest on, I told him screw that. I'm getting a deer costume. I've seen plenty of stories about these idiots shooting each other or some other hunter, I have yet to see one of them actually hit a deer. Lol.

So as a result the deer around here are more than a bit skiddish. Everytime I've actually gone out with the intention of photographing deer, I've never come back with a shot I consider a keeper. The only time I get deer pictures it's completely unintentional, I'm out shooting something else and I just happen to run across a deer.

Todd, Deer do NOT suck. Besides, they will eat peanuts from your hand. We all have *that* deer shot. I have several deer butt shots. Scott wants to frame them and put them up on the wall, then have framed pictures of their heads on the other side of the wall in the other room.

I specialize in wildlife butt shots :)

There is apparently a real following for animal butt shots on Flickr, judging by an earlier posting on the subject. Lol

But I'll follow up with another chance encounter shot:


20140511 013 by robbins.photo, on Flickr
 

TheNevadanStig

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Deer aren't too bad. Cougars and bobcats are much worse. Even worse than those for me have been mink. All I ever get to see is a dark brown blur diving down in it's hidey hole. If you think you really want to get into it, a $50 blind goes a real long way in helping. Apples work great as a bait, bringing in bears, coyotes, and deer.
 

Braineack

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It would be bad for me to encounter a big cat, cause I'd walk up to it with the preconception that it wants to cuddle and take selfies with me.
 

TheNevadanStig

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It would be bad for me to encounter a big cat, cause I'd walk up to it with the preconception that it wants to cuddle and take selfies with me.

Thats actually better than running. Cats are cats, and they have strong instinct to chase fast moving things. If ever one gets aggressive, it's better to actually face it and challenge them. The bobcats are small and cuddly though, nothing scary about them. Bears with cubs are the real code-browns you need to worry about.
 

IzzieK

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What a great story Sean...I've personally seen one of our members in the MB car club feed deers in his hands. One came in his yard and he started feeding her, then more came and more came...He was ready for them...

But then when in a Kansas farm, the men shoot them for meat. The best shot always comes from an 11-old granddaughter. Shes very good with an AK 47. Always beat the men at their game. Me? I just came for the ride, watch them bumble up their targets...maybe this year I'll go for the photoshoot instead of target shoot...and help cook.
 

baturn

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Great story. I don't share them but I also have a good collection of critter butt shots. If you have the opportunity shoot from a vehicle . Most critters in North America are used to seeing automobiles and don't run until the door slams.
 

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