Visibly different, part 27

yearling white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus peeking from roadside
My oldest image of a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) dates from… actually, I have only a vague idea of when this was taken, which is somewhere around 1990-93, and no recollection of where. I scanned the negative a few weeks back and now can’t recall if the frame edges were rounded (which would indicate that it was taken with the Wittnauer) or square (Pentax) – probably the former, given the distance and quality. It was a grab shot taken from the car, but really, that’s all that can be said.

Given how common this species is across the continent, I have surprisingly few images of them – far, far fewer than of mantids and treefrogs. And among those are few behavioral images, which I really should correct, but deer don’t motivate me as much, perhaps because so many people have photos of them that I aim for slightly more obscure species. Nonetheless, the quality has improved over the years.

white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus fawn approaching up driveway
Dating from 2007 now, this was taken with the Canon Pro-90 IS, cropped a bit. Another grab shot from the car, but this time in the driveway on my way into work while a curious fawn slowly approached the vehicle; this makes it, like, three times closer than the above frame. From what I’ve observed, fawns seem to need to learn the ‘headlong flight’ behavior that the adults often exhibit, and when young enough will show little discretion, but this may be an aspect of the trait they possess when very young, where they will lay down in a spot of their mother’s choosing and remain there regardless while the mother forages, presenting a frequent issue with people ‘rescuing’ ‘abandoned’ fawns. When they’re old enough to get around dependably, then they learn to flee questionable circumstances.

white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus doe at edge of property
Now we’re up to 2010, using the Canon Digital Rebel at the very edge of my rental property. Deer were semi-frequent visitors, but again, I didn’t spend a lot of time chasing images. This doe was quite close and I was using a longer lens (the 75-300mm,) but this is also cropped a little – it appeared in the early days of the blog in a slightly different framing.

white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus buck, about six points, looking at photographer from developing fog
Perhaps the most fartistic of the collection, which isn’t saying much at all, this dates from last year – I just liked the twilight fog and the white clover flowers. This was now taken with the Canon 7D and the Tamron 150-600mm, and by all rights it should have been worse than this given the poor light and long focal length, handheld well after sunset. Still didn’t achieve a really scenic background, however.

white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus fawn peering from trees
And this… is just eight days old, quite likely the same fawn as seen vaguely here, though no adults were in sight. I spotted the fawn (well, no, it was already spotted) just outside the fence as it fled, and knowing that it wouldn’t go too far before pausing to assess the situation, I fetched the camera – same rig as the previous image – and quietly followed its path, getting rewarded with a couple of frames of suspicious looks before the fawn fled again. The light quality, the focus isolation from the background, and that teen-hipster beard all make it work much better than the others.

The major differences? By the largest margin, just the accumulation of opportunities. Again, these may have demonstrated much more improvement, within a shorter time span, had I dedicated more effort towards pursuing the species; great images can just happen, but making the effort to improve the odds will usually mean they happen much more frequently. I know that’s not a really deep insight, but occasionally we need the motivation to make the effort. Believe me, once you snag some wonderful shots after spending a lot of time in the pursuit, it gets easier to do – you have proof that it works.

Meanwhile, they’re all dead-on portraits, aren’t they?

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