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Needing advice

I took several photos of these two bucks 'having a talk' in my neighbor's backyard.

My question is, see that pink wound on the shoulder of the one on the left? Would you leave it in and paint it or make it look like there is no wound? Second, would you try and lighten it up a bit or paint it the way it is? Also, would you get in closer to the faces and antlers? Thanks!


  • Paint the wound realistically. Can you post the other pictures of the "talk"?
  • @Melissa There are actually two wounds. I personally like it without the wounds but @Kingston makes a good point. In terms of light and dark I think the image is well balanced.

    I took the liberty of removing the wounds to show you.

  • Melissa said:

    Also, would you get in closer to the faces and antlers?

    ZOOMING OUT would make for a better painting.

  • @Castillo Good point. I took about 80 photos so I will continue going through them to see what's what. Thanks for the advice, All. I will post more photos soon.
  • I would also tame the brightness of the grass. It's kind of odd that the grass is lighter than the top part of the photo where we would see sky. So, in photo shop, I would darken the ground and lighten the snow. I've even put a person on a completely different background to make a stronger painting. It can be done if you are conscious of the lighting angle, intensity of the color, and know your perspective well.

    Even if this isn't the best photo to be painting as in "painting worthy", it is a great opportunity to do different textures, outside lighting, and obviously the normal things: drawing, color matching, and painting.
  • I believe there is a big difference between painting reflections in a pitcher when leaving them out would be obvious to the viewer, and leaving out a flesh wound that might gross out some people. An object that has a reflective surface with no reflection is an obvious, glaring error. If I leave out the wound and no one sees the original photo, who's to know?
  • I like the photo, but it is taken from the shadow side, making the foreground both darker and duller than the background. Did you have any opportunity to get some picks from the lit side?
  • @MeganS‌ What do you mean "where we would see sky"?

    @Melissa‌ The photo is very overexposed aside from the shadow-side of the bucks. I know you can't do anything about it now, but this is good example of where shooting in raw would have made such a big difference. In raw, you would have exposed for the ground, had the bucks way too dark (underexposed), then pulled up the exposure of the bucks only (shadow slider or black slider). Or you could have take multiple shots with different exposure and used both as a reference, one for shadow colors and one for highlight colors, but used only one of the shots for the composition.

    All that white and color burn in the photo you posted is going to make the painting look very "photographic", and you can't get the colors back by simply darkening those values because all the blown out areas and color-burned areas are not accurate. If you "tone them down", you will have to make the colors up (don't try match the colors and darkening them, you'll get weird colors). And don't trust the relative values on any portions of the image which are 100% white, as those values are really 100% OR BRIGHTER, though the photograph can't tell you HOW much brighter.

    None of this is probably help, sorry. All the above aside, it's a cool photo!
  • @Martin_J_Crane unfortunately no. It was in late afternoon and they were in my neighbor's yard. I had to up the light going into my camera for both the lens I was using, and the shadows. Photos were taken from my yard through chain link fence.
    So, what do you think? Go down a few steps for the foreground and up some on the boys and the background?
  • @David_Quinn_Carder lol I read that too (where there is sky) but your response is much better and more concise than mine would have been. Also, I WISH I could shoot in RAW. Every time I try, I cannot get the photos from camera on to computer. And, as I write that I think, 'well what about taking the memory card down to a photo printing place?' so, duh, Melissa! lol Yes, there is much that could be improved upon on the photos and maybe none are 'paint worthy' as Kingston said but it sure was exciting to photograph them! I had waited soooo long for an opportunity like that. Maybe I should just do a graphite drawing? Not DMP but still something. :P
  • @Melissa Just curious, have you ever used fill flash? One way of overcoming this problem in the future would be to underexpose slightly and use a flash to fill in the shadows. I used to shoot quite a lot of wildlife shots a long time ago and I used a flash all the time.
  • @MikeO I did not think of that as I usually only use flash indoors and it was such a bright day (just not where I was shooting!) . I will have to try that next time. Thanks! I did see someone else's set up though one time for hummingbirds. Surprised they did not get cooked!
  • edited January 2015
    Melissa, I think you may have some misconceptions about the RAW format and what value it holds for us as painters. Maybe I can explain. When your camera takes a photograph, it grabs the information that is seen through the lens and captures that information. Now, you can have your camera set up to use RAW format or .JPG format and sometimes some other formats. If you are shooting .jpg format, the information that was gathered by the lens is "processed" in such a way as to compress the file size of the image and do so (hopefully) without badly impacting the appearance of the image. But much of the information is discarded. When you shoot in RAW format, ALL of the information that was gathered by the lens is KEPT. The resulting file size is very large compared that of a .jpg image but we don't care about file size in this context. So now when you decide to make adjustments to the relative darkness or lightness or color in a .jpg image, there is only so much information left there to do so. Basically most of the "decisions" regarding color, exposure and sharpness have already been made by the algorithm that made the image into a .JPG. But with a RAW file, when you decide to make the areas that seem too dark a little (or a lot) lighter, you can REALLY make big changes since ALL the information that was gathered by the lens is present in the file. (For .JPG, the camera's image processor will adjust the contrast, sharpness, color saturation and white balance BEFORE the image is saved to the memory card. When you shoot a raw image, this processing is deferred until the file is opened in a computer, allowing YOU to make these adjustments.) You do need photo manipulation software that is capable of editing the RAW format images and you do need to ultimately convert the RAW format over to a printable format. But in the end, shooting RAW allows you to create a photo that is far more useful for the purposes of painting. I'm attaching a shot that I took in RAW format (which I accidentally badly underexposed) below and also the same exact photo after I adjusted it (including cropping) in Lightroom (my photo manipulation software). There is absolutely no way to do this kind of correction if you start with a .JPG image.
    Martin_J_Crane[Deleted User]mariebbluenose
  • @David_Quinn_Carder‌ and @Melissa‌

    Most outdoor wildlife paintings have a lighter top part of the painting vs. the bottom part of the painting. At first when I saw Melissa's photo, I assumed the snow was sky, but later realized that it was shadow covered snow. It's odd IMHO. Certainly there are exceptions, but most paintings do not have the stark contrast from the ground that is evident in her photo. That is all. The deer are a bit gray. I'm unsure how much you want to deviate from your photo, but I would try to give more warmth to the deer, darker grass, and lighter snow in the background.
  • @opnwyder, Great explanation of benefits of RAW.
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