Deer in the Forest

If you go down to the woods today and all that…..

What do you think the chances are of getting a shot like this…?

Slim, in my estimation.

Something I do very rarely – frankly I don’t have the imagination or the time or the skill – I have enough trouble getting the photos I take looking right, or at least to my taste.  Okay, so this is a very simple composite.  The original forest picture is perfectly satisfactory but there was this light gap which felt it needed something to fill it.  I remembered a picture of a deer I’d taken, it wasn’t quite up to scratch, a bit of camera shake, but perfectly sufficient for the purpose here (in actual fact I think I should have knocked the focus back a little for this size image).  I’m not 100% sure of the scaling.  But now the picture has a true single point of interest, before the eye hunted round looking for something to fix on.

Does it matter it’s a composite? Does knowing that fact detract? (yes)  Would it be dishonest not to own up? (dunno – as photographers, do we worry about how a picture was created more than appreciating the finished article, do we look for vertical verticals, level horizons before looking at the picture?



36 thoughts on “Deer in the Forest

  1. This could start a nice discussion here, I think… 😉
    I like the picture a lot… it has a feeling as if a druid would come walking in any time, a feeling of a time we had no cars, no factories… When life was slow, at its natural pace. And I don’t think it would give me that feeling without the little addition. I might like it still but my eyes would be looking for something to rest on for a moment. So, I wouild say, why not?

    I have somewhere an invisible line – can it be done in the darkroom or not… But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like crossing even that line… fantasy is something to be cherished.

    • as to ‘invisible line’ – I always have in the back of my mind Oscar Rejlander’s image “The Two Ways of Life” that he made back in 1857 – if I recall he used 30 negatives to produce a larger ‘photograph’. The most interesting point to me is the ‘devaluation’ of a photograph when one knows it’s a fake.

      • Mmm… What exactly is fake is the question… If you take a shot from a certain perspective, point, you will be telling something quite different than the next man, telling something about yourself, your point of view at the same time. And how many times does it happen that you see pictures of a place and when you get there it looks so very different from what you imagined? Isn’t that a bit fake too? Or is it just a ‘point of view’? I think you can stretch this to any tweaking.

        And about telling people, when I got stuck with a white sky in my pre-RAW time, I used to pick some appropriate clouds from my clouds db and work it into the picture if the rest of it was what I wanted. Should I tell everyone I did that? And if the playful mood strikes and I do something creazy like a girl crawling out of a tuba, that is obvious enough without comment… So it remains a personal decision each time anew, I think… Swaying, as you call it… 😉

        I see some very interesting comments here… so thanks for bringing that about – this is one case where telling people turns out to be a positive experience 🙂

  2. Over the years I’ve had to put up with a few people who thought that treating a picture even a little bit in Photoshop, even for something like adjusting the exposure or increasing the contrast slightly, disqualifies the photograph itself. I’m at loss for words sometimes. Post processing is (and has been) as much a part of photography as focusing on an object and clicking the button to open the shutter in a camera. That makes a complete picture, and the skills to do that properly make a complete photographer.

    Yes, as Nil has put it, there is an ‘line’ which one should avoid crossing. Too much post-processing makes the picture look cartoonish and phony, but even that is necessary at times. What else would you do if you have only one shot of your coveted old high school group in a reunion, and 2 of the 6 people have their eyes closed or the hand of a passer-by is spoiling the shot?

    Both images, the as-far-as-possible natural one and the cropped / composite one have their places in the visual world, and both should be appreciated keeping this in mind.

    Case in the point: We went to see ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Avatar’ in the theater knowing fully well that everything in them (including the story) was totally fake. We relished the graphics that a few people in New Zealand created using a computer, and essentially it was the USP of those movies. How about that!

    • Clearly you have been in similar discussions to myself. But fundamentally, does this particular picture become devalued in your mind because you know it’s a composite? Does the sense of ‘hush’ that the picture might have had it been ‘real’ disappear – the deer was never there. At the end of the day, it becomes more about how the image was created than the image itself – a bit like knowing how the magic trick is done – is it no longer magic?

      • Firstly, I loved reading the comments from others on this post. It imparts a lot of perspective to the issue at hand.

        You used the word ‘magic’. Remember the magic shows we attended when we were kids. We were awe-stricken. Now we know its all a hoax. So does that devalue the art of the magician? Or the magic show itself? No, it doesn’t. It has its own time and place in the world, and its called ‘childhood’. It has its own audience. It has its own charm. The same logic applies altered and natural pictures. As “speeddemon2” has mentioned, the deer adds a storyline to the picture, and that in itself is an art. Now it ceases to be just a scenery. Without the deer it would have been another perspective entirely, which is okay, its still a great picture!

        The thing is, as you’ve mentioned in the post, should the photographer declare the alteration and categorize the picture accordingly? Whether to own up or not, that’s up to the individual himself. It depends on a lot of parameters, none more important than his ethics. I would, and I think so would a lot of other photographers, amateurs and pros. A bit of correction is fine. Adding stuff to create a story is okay, until it trashes the overall picture quality making it too ostentatious. We shoot RAW for a reason, don’t we? 🙂

  3. Personally the photo is no less magical to me than it would be if I didn’t know how it was created. In fact, it really just compels me to learn more about the possibilities of this technique for creating art. If the image existed in your mind’s eye, isn’t that just as authentic? I guess it depends on who you ask. There are always purist perspectives that seem to be somewhat continguent upon dictating to others, which seems rather antithetical to art in my view. Who gets to decide?

    • Thanks for your input Dan.

      I suspect most people who are likely to view this particular photograph will have their own view – I’m not about to try to influence the way they think – I wouldn’t be that pretentious – but I am interested in individual views. Personally, I sway this way and that and round about, but that’s me. 😉

      • I agree totally but I think it’s getting harder to figure out what that is. When you get your RAW file in Lightroom or Photoshop and you tweek the contrast and the colour saturation, I wonder where you draw the line, how you decide just what is a ‘clean sheet’. I’ve been doing quite a bit with HDR recently, mainly because the drab grey conditions and poor light that we’re suffering under at the moment don’t make particularly interesting photographs. It’s a difficult one. I’m sure it’s a debate that has been carried on since the first photographer processed a negative and a print and realised he had pretty much total control over how the picture turned out.
        As I said, your little bit of photoshop magic produced a great picture and that’s what it’s all about.

  4. It is a process and a journey, the end is not always the entire story, it is just the last stop along the way. And I do not believe you have to tell anyone your methods unless you want to. There is no “cheating” in art except for claiming someone else’s work as your own. But then again as a concept I suppose some crazy artist has done that successfully too. Your work is lovely, and I enjoy looking at it. I am happy you posed the questions at the end, because it gave me something entirely different to ponder. Great post.

  5. The biggest advantage is that You had to tell everybody that it’s a composite (by the way a perfect one because nobody -including me-would tell). I think the story or message that we wan’t to tell is the most important aspect, not the fireworks (although they are cool :D).

    Post processing, retouching, photomanipulation, etc. is probably as old as first artworks made by humans. Nobody want’s to boast hunting a squirrel, but an mamut – indeed 🙂 Kings and Queens had always beautiful and perfect portraits. Also the first daguerreotype images had to be retouched because the extra time needed to irradiate deleted the possibility of catching the model eyes opened (Nobody can keep his eyes opened for min. 30 minutes

  6. I had to give this some thought. I find myself more and more of the opinion that photography is another art form, and that the moment one chooses the settings on the camera, one has “altered” the image. There’s an argument for the notion that allowing more or less light into the camera, or using a longer or shorter shutter speed, is no different than later adding color or highlighting certain parts of the resulting image. I’ve never done any of that “post-processing”, but only because I haven’t taken the time to learn how.

    I recall being hugely disappointed to learn that some (most?) of the Hubble Space Telescope images were false color and composite and taken over lengthy periods of time. It was only upon further study that I realized such things were necessary to have there be anything of value in the Hubble images. Seeing an image of a nebula as our eyes would see it would be a real bore, because our eyes don’t have the ability to process the light well enough to get anything (never mind the lack of telescopic ability). In those cases, the photographs are as “arsty” as they are for very real scientific reasons.

    Oh – I like this photo very much. I think there are quite a few of my daughters’ storybooks in which this shot would fit very nicely.

    • Thanks. I guess the story book side of things was where I was originally aiming. That sort of feeling you get when you encounter a wild animal unexpectedly, the everything stopping, keeping still, don’t breathe moment as it watches you watching it – before it inevitably moves away. (we don’t have bears and wolves and other beasties where it would be more prudent to move away myself!:) )

      As a matter of interest, I shoot in RAW and set my camera with all the defaults to zero, no sharpening, saturation and anything else there might be, choosing to do everything on my workstation at home – but I always try to get as much right in camera as I can – because it’s the moment of firing the shutter that I’m really putting my ‘concept’ into motion (and it saves work later.)

  7. It’s an interesting question. Most photographs are not what the eye actually sees, and by choosing the exposure, and in pre- and post-process setting things like white balance, contrast curves, colour balance, etc, we are manipulating the image to our tastes rather than to the actual reality. And besides, vision is highly subjective.

    Photography is an art form, so in my opinion anything goes – as long as the photographer is truthful (ie not presenting a manipulated image as being unmanipulated). Myself, I’ve never superimposed extra elements into an image (other than textures), but I often do airbrush unwanted elements and people from my images.

    Anyway, it’s a great image.

  8. This picture is not in the least devalued in my mind because it is a composite. I tend not to be impressed with composites made from stock images but when all the parts of the image were made by the photographer who put them together, I have no problem at all if the composite creates an image that appeals to me, as here. Your addition of the deer was completely right for this image and I like it a lot.

    • Thanks for your take on it. I can’t say I’m particular confident or competent to do these sort of shots, but I’ve found that the tiniest detail in the right place can significantly change a shot – whether we take it out – or in this case put it in. Most photographers I know ‘clean up’ with the clone brush, I’m not so sure that’s so much different.

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