I’ve not posted on here for quite some time (four months apparently, having checked my last post) and there’s a reason for that – a new venture that’s occupied a lot of my time over the past two or three months.
Back in spring, I joined a group on meetup.com that organised walks for photographers. I’ve mentioned it before in some earlier posts. There are numerous groups in my local area but I concentrated on just one group, making it easier to repeatedly meet the same people and get to know them better. I attended four or five walks and found them immensely enjoyable. It got me thinking that maybe I could run a similar group with a slightly different approach.
This is how Surrey Photography Walkabouts was born.
I started by taking small groups of three to five people to photograph the deer in Richmond Park, which is in Surrey, UK and only about half a mile from my home. Small groups are easier to deal with when following deer, by keeping track of where people are and making sure we don’t stress the deer, either by approaching too closely or being too noisy. It also allowed me to offer a pickup from the nearby train station to anyone without their own transport.
I would circuit the park by car beforehand to identify the best spots to find the deer so we wouldn’t waste any time searching as a group, and because I know the park so well I could then decide on a route to take us on a pleasant walk to finish the outing.
I’ve found these meetups very enjoyable and it’s great to meet and chat with other photographers with similar interests. It’s also been fun to share images we’ve taken on the Meetup website. I also help out any beginners in the group who want advice on camera settings etc., and also with suggestions on composition or techniques for approaching the deer without spooking them and staying safe as well.
I’ve also organised a few countryside rambles of three to four miles in the Surrey Hills, such as Box Hill and Ranmore Common. Nothing too strenuous, as with all the stops for photography (and coffee & cake!), we only average about one mile per hour! I think the longest route we’ve managed so far was 4.8 miles which took around five hours!!!
When October arrived, marking the start of the annual deer rut and happily coinciding with a sensible sunrise time and the potential for misty Autumn mornings, I arranged a couple of sunrise shoots. Starting at 7:00 a.m. in the centre of the park, conditions on the first day were fantastic with plenty of mist and soft early light and lots of deer activity with the stags fighting over the hinds and bellowing their dominance. The next day was overcast and just a bit too windy for mist to form, so conditions weren’t the best for achieving great shots, but we were very lucky to find a stag with two hinds that were relaxed enough to allow us to approach very close and sit quietly watching and snapping away as we leaned against a tree observing them.
The images in this post are all mine, taken on several of the walkabouts, but you can see other people’s images in the various photo albums on the Meetup website.
The group size continues to grow having over 170 members as I write this, although I’ve probably only met around 30 to 40 of them so far, I hope to meet many more in the future.
Update: I eventually closed this Meetup group after two very enjoyable years as it became too time consuming finding new locations for a variety of country walks. However, I still continue with deer photography walks and details of these can be found on the Funzing website.