July 2017. Wildlife Photography Project Dedicated to Fawns and to Red Deer with Velvet Antlers
During the month of July 2017, after spending four weeks to photograph birds in the wetlands of La Dombes, we went to the department of Charente-Maritime to photograph fawns, as well as red deer with velvet antlers.
As wildlife professional photographers, we have a deep passion for deer. Every year, we spend several weeks photographing the rut of the deer. Even though this show evokes many emotions against the backdrop of the meadows and forests of Charente-Maritime, the end of spring offers even more beautiful opportunities to create interesting animal photographs. The months of May and June mark the birthing period of fawns and piglets. It is also the season when the antlers of the deer grow back. These antlers are covered with a velvet-like texture.
Red deer in Europe have antlers that fall annually between February and May. While the elder red deer’s antlers fall between February and March, the younger red deer’s antlers fall between April and May. As soon as the antlers have dropped, new ones begin to grow, eventually reaching full development at the time of the rut, also known as the slab of the stag. These new bony antlers are surrounded with a velvet-like texture that nourishes the new antlers through many blood vessels. For a wildlife photographer, the velvet season in spring is as important as the fall season when the antlers are dry. Indeed, the coat of the deer is more vibrantly orange in spring time than in the fall period of the slab. Also, in spring, the deer are in full health, whereas in the rut season of the fall, they can lose up to a third of their weight.
Spring is synonymous with greenery, flowering trees, and meadows covered with dewy grasses. These are ideal surroundings for high-quality environments to highlight the animals. It's also one of the reasons why we spend a few days of spring each year photographing deer with velvet antlers.
The spring of this year, 2017, was particularly hot with temperatures often exceeding 35 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). These temperatures are hard to bear when searching for deer, but they allow us to make dreamy pictures when both deer and does come to bathe in the fresh cool water of ponds. During the day, the deer and does find shelter from the sun’s rays in the woods. In the late afternoon, when the sun is lower on the horizon, they journey to ponds to bathe. The main difficulty is to know which pond they will choose. It is luck that will decide. If we have chosen a bad area to set up our blind, we cannot immortalize this extraordinary moment. However, if we chose the right place, then it is a jackpot. In wildlife photography, luck is a major factor in making photographs worthy of interest.
Spring, as we have said, is the birthing period of fawns. It is often difficult to observe a birth because the hinds (female deer) move away from the herds to find quiet places. Also, being artistic photographers, we have found photographs of births to be irrelevant. We believe that these photographs are more relevant for photo reports or a naturalist’s perspective. Nevertheless, fawns are exciting and interesting subjects after their birth when they begin to discover their environment. We experienced very strong emotions in front of a fawn that watched a bee foraging a flower. His erect ears and his large eyes intricately narrated his astonishment when contemplating the insect.
Fawns are not the only ones born in spring. It is also the birthing period for piglets. Piglets are more difficult to observe since their miniature size is hidden by the tall meadow grasses. When walking, it is necessary to look for the black backs of the female wild boar, who plow up patches of land in search of tender roots. In general, piglets are located relatively close to their mothers. Wild boars are easier to observe in prairie lands during springtime rather than in autumn. During autumn, wild boars seek safe refuge in the woods, away from the slab period of the stags, thus avoiding encounters with deer antlers. Indeed, deer are very excited and unpredictable during their rise of testosterone. Approaching a company of wild boars to photograph them is easy enough when you are in good wind and you approach silently. If the sun is to our back, then we have a good chance to create excellent photos. Wild boars have sharp hearing and a strong sense of smell. The wind is certainly their best ally because it carries all odors. Once a photographer is near a company of wild boars, the ideal position is to stand still while making a blind. Indeed, piglets are small. They are often masked by tall vegetation. It's best to remain silent and hidden while waiting for the piglets to venture out of the tall grass.
Spring is a beautiful season for photographing deer, does, and wild boars. The decors have strikingly deep green colors, nicely contrasting with the red coats of the deer. Nevertheless, we must carefully choose our environments, because the abundance of foliage can easily hinder the construction of the scene and the reading of the photo. It is for this reason that when we are on the field at this time of the year, we take great care in choosing our sets.
2017 was not the best in terms of creativity because of the excessive heat. Despite this, we will take some interesting photos that will be added to our collections of art photographs, whether in the theme "shades of blacks and whites" or in the theme "lights and colors".
All these photographs come directly from the cameras. Post processing and framing were done with the tools of the cameras. These photos will be developed more finely to feed the collections of art photographs.