Wildlife and OOF foreground elements

This is a wild mustang shot in Sand Wash Basin in northwest Colorado.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Always open to all critique.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

It’s often difficult to get clear views of wildlife so my shots often have out of focus foreground elements. I’m not sure I would have wanted to raise the ISO enough to get enough DOF. But regardless, I am curious if advanced wildlife photographers consider OOF foreground elements to be shot killers.

Any pertinent technical details:

1/400, F7.1, ISO 400, Canon 7d II shot @400mm, Canon 100-400 II (cropped about 35% all sides to lessen OOF foreground), handheld

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

I like the inclusion of the environment for this image. Horse is a bit centered for my tastes, but OK.

Your question of OOF foreground elements. Shot killers: no, Helpful, no. In this image the really OOF foreground elements do grab my attention and I’m sure that isn’t desirable from your photographic intent. I wanted to see what the image might look like without them so I did some very quick cloning (not all that careful either). I prefer the image without the OOF elements.

Thank you, Keith, for taking the time to show an edit. I do like what you’ve presented and with that environment I think even I could pull of a decent cloning job.

The OOF foreground is something that I’ve ended up with in a lot of my shots and something I’m thinking I need to pay more attention to at shooting time in order to bring my photography to the next level. Not all are so easily fixed in post.

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Hi Terri!
I think you executed the shot very nicely and all the elements in the frame are nicely placed.
I may crop off a thin slice from the bottom and it will make the horse look less central.

Secondly, I don’t mind the oof background, on the other hand I like it. In most of the wildlife pictures, you have a subject and a background, normally two dimensions. By adding a foreground you add a third dimension, thus more depth. to the picture.

Jagdeep Rajput

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I don’t shoot too much in the way of “wildlife” except birds, Terri, but avian has the same issue. Out of focus foregrounds aren’t usually helpful, but even a casual look at Hans Overduin’s portfolio shows that it is far from an image killer. It’s just a matter of how you use it. While you could clone over the oof area in this image, I think I agree with Jagdeep that it adds depth. When I opened the largest version of your image, it just happened to get cut off just above your logo on my screen and that seemed to work better than the original post. It still left enough to give the sense of depth, but I didn’t find it nearly as distracting.

A very nice image.

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OOF foreground isn’t a shot killer in my book… but it obviously depends on how it works with the subject and background to balance the image.

In this case, I think cropping the light grass off the bottom would’ve been the way to go. As others have noted, it’s a distracting bright tone and needs to go, but I think cropping (rather than cloning, if you’re into that) helps get the horse out of the center of the frame anyway, so it has an added benefit.


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