Wildlife Photography Workshop for Photographing the Deer’s Cry in Charente-Maritime - September 2016

Learning the Techniques of Approach and Blind

The buck’s cry began later than expected in Charente-Maritime. For this workshop of wildlife photography which occurred throughout the last week of the month of September, the deer have just only begun to cry out. As observed, the elevated temperatures of this autumn’s start haven’t provoked the doe’s heat, whom still remain with their last year’s fawn. Even so, the 5 participants of this workshop were able to seize the key opportunities to realize wildlife snapshots with magnificent decor as background.

The participants of the wildlife photo workshop (from left to right): Raphael, Sylvie, Gregory, Pascal and Guy

The participants of the wildlife photo workshop (from left to right): Raphael, Sylvie, Gregory, Pascal and Guy.

A Late Cry

This year of 2016 was marked by a late cry in the region of Charente-Maritime. The excessive heat of this beginning autumn (over 90 degrees certain days) held back the red deers’ does’ heat. It is these temperatures that provoke the rise of testosterone of the deer and therefore of their cries.

Climate change is a reality that we can verify every day while on the terrain. The periods of excessive heat and intense draughts follow closely behind times of heavy and abundant rains. This year of 2016 will remain in the records as with having experience a very dry summer and very hot autumn.

It is therefore with great tardiness that the deer’s cry commenced during the last week of the month of September. But we must also recognize that the late heat allowed for the vegetation to continue to develop and grow. The backgrounds were magnificent. The ferns, still quite tall have just begun to turn a few shades warmer. These surroundings will be perfect for the participants to create magnificent photos.

A Peculiar Pedagogic Experience

This first photography workshop of the autumn of 2016 is a bit peculiar. Of the 5 participants, 2 had already previously come. It was Pascal’s third time and Raphaël’s second. I have to adapt and present them with an special educational plan that is tailored to their more advanced experiences. It is out of the question that I simply give them a rehash of what they’d already learned in last year’s program.

I therefore opted for a learning progression based on the creative aspects of deer photography. This year, I emphasized on the utilization of a series of computer apps under Lightroom in order to realize photographs of a creative nature. It is a guarantee that a 6-day course is always to short to learn and immediately put into practice what is taught but I believe that the basics stuck. The participants left with the elements essential to use and follow up their teachings at home.

Exceptional Lighting Conditions

We repeat it often: The Charente-Maritime possesses exceptional weather conditions. It’s for this reason that it’s a paradise for wildlife photographers. Throughout this week, we were able to once again verify that it is perfectly suited to our needs. Every morning we experienced mists and fogs upon the ponds and the prairies. The atmosphere was one of mystery and enigma.

We arrived very early before the sunrise to install our hides. It is certain that we did not see the animals because of the obscurity but they too had a harder time to identify us within the darkness. Each day, I assigned areas to the photographers. We were dropped off by 4x4 to avoid the unnecessary walks by night. Then, it was enough to wait for daybreak to witness what Mother Nature had reserved for us.

Every time the surprises were up to par. Some witnessed a buck and his herd crying out towards the sky. Others does and their fawns. Certain even caught wild boars and their piglets eating roots red handed before leaving to hide within the woods during the day.

Each morning was different but the images of quality were at the meeting point for the participants.

Autumnal Colors for the Decors of Dreams

The surroundings are an essential component of wildlife photography. To realize photos of the deer’s cry and large mammals, the autumn colors are choice ingredients. Shades of red and orange give warm tones to photographs. They allow to place the animals’ beauty into perspective. The green colors of spring are totally different. The tones are cooler and permit to but the animals hide and furs into greater contrast.

With the warmer tones of autumn, the snapshots are softer, more nuanced and in degraded harmony.

Charente-Maritime and particularly the region of Haute-Saintonge offers wildlife photographers a large palette of color selections. You must know how to take advantage of and use this gift. It is not always easy. A certain amount of experience is necessary. It is an apprenticeship that is a bit arduous but necessary to make best use of nature’s beauty.

In the End, A Successful Workshop

Despite this year’s late cry, the participants’ results were up to the event’s standards. It is certain that the weather conditions which favored the magnificent decors were a real bonus. The group of very homogenous photographers, as well as the healthy emulation between them, were beneficial factors in the creation of highly creative photos.

Testimonials of the participants

Gregory Gregory.

My impressions on this wildlife photography workshop consecrated to the buck's cry are very good. I discovered nature of an exceptional wonder. I listened to the opinion of a professional photographer on my work. I really appreciated this group of photographers with whom I lived and shared in the same passion as I do the art of photography.

My goals for this workshop is to better learn how to use my camera. I had given up as I wasn’t able to successfully take certain types of photos. Now, I know how to perfectly use it thanks to your advice. My other objective was to learn to understand the realm in which deer live in the actual nature. I wanted to observe and photograph them in favorable conditions.

All my goals were reached.

Your technical exposes during the workshop were very well done. I really enjoy the photograph analysis sessions. Your professional photographer’s point of view is important. We also share cliches and snapshots with the other photographers. This gave me several ideas pertaining to composition.

The fact that you also accompany us and provide us with many explanations brought me much while on the field. It would be easier for to find places with animals in Belgium.

One of this workshop’s key strengths is that we spend lots of time out on the field. In arriving, I believed that there would be a lot of theory and little time doing actual fieldwork. It’s the opposite.

The feelings we experience on the prowl very early in the morning in pitch black nigh are extraordinary. We arrive somewhere and there’s no light. It’s the moon which provides us with a tiny light. We try not to make any noise. We set ourselves up as best we can in the hide. We let ourselves amazed facing nature and wait for dawn to break.

Night is also exceptional but there I made the most approaches, the use of hide was minimal.

Haute-Saintonge is an exceptional region. The savage landscapes are inspiring. It’s an authentic region without human presence. The nature is beautiful.

This workshop will have allowed me to envision wildlife photography in a different manner. I am more creative. I maintain my lenses. I see more clearly. Now I use my camera in manual. I would have never thought in possible with animal wildlife. I have many more successful snapshots with your technique than the aperture’s given one at the start.

We were very well received in this house reserved for only ourselves. We eat very well. It’s important as I’m quite the pleasure seeker. Living with photographer for 6 days is important as we really share the same passion. We always talk about photography. It’s awesome.

If I had to hold onto a nice memory, it would be one set two days ago. It was 6:30 in the morning. It was very dark. I was in a prairie near the wood’s edge. I’d seen a wild boar in the distance. He approached me. I started to realize a few photos. In photographing the boar, I noticed a buck in the distance begging to approach. Magic did its work. The sun roses. The doe arrived. And that was exceptional.

Sylvie Sylvie.

This animal photography workshop went by very well. I’ve could comprehend the difficulty it takes to approach wild European animals (I’m a veteran of wildlife photography trips in Africa). I learned techniques to better my approach. My impressions are very positive.

By coming on this workshop, I wanted to learn how to approach dear because it was a technique which I had no knowledge of. I think that I’ve understood how to switch between hides and my approach. I don’t nail it every time but I’ve gotten a good grasp on the needed tricks.

The hardest thing for me when nearing European animals is to not make any noise, be well camouflaged, and approaching while thinking of the wind and sun. But I recognize that the most difficult of all is how to handle the wind during my approach.

This workshop is rather encompassing between the apprenticeship and usage of the camera that I wasn’t aware of, the understanding of the terrain, the lives of the animals. I appreciated the part where we focused on the development of the photos because I didn’t know the programs you taught us to use on the computer. It’s a real plus because I’ll now be able to correctly develop my shots.

Now, I’ll be able to go it alone in the wilderness to photograph deer and wild boar. I feel ready.

Now, I see wildlife photography from another angle. First, you’ve already got to find the animals, get close to them enough to take great snapshots. I arrange my framing differently. I can still improve but I’ve already really progressed. I now try to avoid snapping pictures for nothing. I’ve become more demanding and more selective of the scenes I want to capture on camera. I pay more attention to the background and the animals demeanors.

The week with the other photographers went by well. The group’s atmosphere was great. We ate really well. I like the fact of being with the other because we spoke the same language about our technical elements such as the cameras.

If I had to hold onto a single moment from throughout this week, it would be a scene with multiple deer and fawn in a prairie. It’s as beautiful an image as a pastel artwork.

I didn’t know the Haute Saintonge in Western France. I found that this region was very beautiful. There are places with forests, lakes, ponds, zones with many ferns. The surroundings for photos are very diverse. I’ll especially remember the red sunrises and sunsets which are impressive with their beautiful crimson colors.

I really enjoyed leaving in the morning despite it still being dark out. We get to see daybreak but more importantly its a surprise to discover whether there are animals when it’s light out.

I spent an amazing week. Thank you.

Raphaël Raphaël.

It’s my second workshop on the buck's cry with you. I came this year as last year I had really progressed. I wanted to continue this road. I wanted to manipulate my camera even better. I really appreciated the technical exposes devoted to the better development of photos. You prepared these said exposes for me and Pascal. It was nice. Thanks to your courses, I yet again learned and progressed.

During this workshop, I broke new ground. I will achieve better success when treating my images. The follow up that you proposed to us is much more powerful than Lightroom.

Last year, I was an amateur. We worked a lot on framework and composition. This year, along with everything we’ve seen on the camera’s usage, I’m a lot more creative.

All my objectives this year have been attained.

I came back this year because I really appreciated last year. We were once more well received and we ate very well.

The group ambience was awesome yet again. We don’t know each other but we can immediately sympathize. We’re good here.

This year, you prepared us some more technical exposes. This permitted me to develop my creativity. We have more time to work our shots and to follow the technical exposes.

This year you also innovated with the positioning of the hides in pitch black night. Even though we didn’t always get the animals in front of us while the day was breaking, it was still a beautiful experience.

The first moment that would have marked my week was the photo of a deer whose back is turned but looking at me. It was a beautiful unexpected encounter. I only did one image of this scene but it was a winner. Technique flexed its muscles.

Following this workshop, I will have to further improve on my technique. But I feel that it’s progressive quickly.

Guy Guy.

This wildlife photograph workshop consecrated to the buck's cry is a beautiful discovery. Haute Saintonge’s nature is beautiful. The animals are magnificent. There are so many things that I can’t number them all.

My objective was to see the deer up close and crying out. I wanted to make a few close ups of the deer and doe. I didn’t achieve it all the way because there were mornings where I didn’t catch anything despite the setup and despite the hide. Near the mornings’ end I caught sight of a few but the lighting was off. Multiple times I came up blank but it’s nature and the animals are wild.

I was unfamiliar with Haute Saintonge. It’s an extraordinary region. The nature is beautiful. There are many animals and abundant sunlight.

What I learned during this workshop devoted to European animals is that they’re always afraid of human beings. We always have the feeling that they’re fleeing us. It’s very difficult to capture them on camera. There’s a lot of walking to do in order to find and see them. Nothing more than a sound and they’ll scatter even with a proper approach.

For this workshop, I wasn’t expecting to receive as much technical explanations as I did, whether it be on the camera itself or relevant computer programs. It was nice as I learned many things. For example, I thought I knew the ins and outs of my camera and in the end, I realized that I in fact knew nothing. This workshop was a real discovery.

Thanks to your explanations, I now see wildlife photography in a new light. My photos are totally different. Now they are better framed, better composed. I pay closer attention to the lighting. I better handle my backgrounds. I previously payed no attention to these elements. I hope that in the future I’ll be more creative.

The group’s atmosphere was quite pleasant throughout the trip. We ate very well. Everyone was great company.

The organization that you proposed with the 4x4, the hides allow for effective use of the terrain. I was never to tired.

If I had to hold onto a grand moment of this workshop, it would be my encounter with several does and their fawns. They must have been watching me for some time ever since I’d emerged on the terrain. They were curious. I was looking to my left as I thought that I’d glanced them to that side. I turned my head to the right and there they were. These animals were at some 50 yards and looking at me. I had no issues in taking my shots. It was extraordinary.

Pascal Pascal.

It’s my third wildlife photography workshop with you devoted to the buck's cry. If I’m coming back it’s first because the region is magnificent. I can photograph magnificent deer in total liberty without any danger.

The second reason is because I can therefore continue to benefit of your technical counseling that you expose all throughout the workshop’s duration. I once again learned two new modes on my camera that will serve me well.

This year, the development techniques that you taught us helped me a lot. I don’t always use Lightroom but it’s a short-term project. Considering the versatility and utility of the suite of computer programs you showed us, I’ll get started right away. Your demonstrations opened my eyes to new horizons. These technical exposes were a real plus.

If I had to hold onto two moments of this week look workshop, the first would be one from this morning. I was on the prowl. When I turned around, I saw a herd pass in front of me. The buck, their leader, cried out. It was frankly extraordinary. The lighting was magnificent. Only in this region could we assist to such spectacle in total liberty with these magnificent animals.

The second big moment that I’ll no doubt keep in mind was our first session. I was near a lake. A dear was crying out. The mist totally covered the lake. The morning colors were magnificent. It was extraordinary.

This year, you innovated with your workshop’s organization. We always left for the woods or prairies while it was still dark. For me it was perfect because I knew the terrain and key spots well. To prepare my hides everything went well. But I put myself in those who didn’t knows place. They were certain to be a bit apprehensive. But it’s really a plus because we can set ourselves up wherever we want and prepare to capture some snapshots before the dawn breaks.

This third workshop on the buck's cry was extraordinary. I was calm. We’re pampered. We’re dropped off in 4x4. People come back to get us. I experience less fatigue than usual where we had to walk back by foot. The organization that you put in place this year was top notch.

A gallery of the participants' photos

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