Deer Photography – Part 1: Stealth

Red deer stag with spring antler growth – 140mm with 1.4x extender (196mm equivalent); ISO 400; 1/950 sec; f/4 (click image to view larger size)

Over the past few years, I’ve photographed the deer in Richmond Park on many occasions, so I thought I’d write some articles that may provide useful information to other photographers who might be interested.

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In search of deer … and light!

Stag or Stick?

Stag or Stick? – 135mm; ISO 400; 1/25 sec; f/5.6 (click image to view larger size)

One evening last week I took a stroll with my camera in Richmond Park, hoping to find deer in a pleasing woodland setting with some nice late sunlight. It was a venture destined with failure!

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The day I became a wildlife photographer **

Autumn in the woods

Autumn in the Woods – (ISO 400; 250mm; f/6.7; 1/350 sec)

The day was October 2nd 2011. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Which is strange, as quite often I can’t remember what I was doing yesterday!

It started off just like any other photography outing. I was in Richmond Park before sunrise, a routine I had become well accustomed to.

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Snowdrops

Snowdrops - 60mm; ISO 400; 1/200 sec; f/4.0 (click image to view larger size)

Snowdrops – 60mm; ISO 400; 1/200 sec; f/4.0 (click image to view larger size)

This was the first time I’ve attempted to photograph snowdrops. Nursing a bad back, I haven’t managed to do much photography lately, but this morning I headed out with just my Fuji X-T1 and a 60mm macro lens so I could travel light.

I’d seen some snowdrops in Richmond Park previously and I was lucky with the light. Although mid-morning by the time I arrived and the winter sun bright in the sky, these snowdrops were in partial shade with dappled light coming through overhead trees.

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DSLR Photography magazine cover

Sunrise Imminent

Sunrise Imminent – 29mm; ISO 200; 1/50 sec; f/8.0 (click image to view larger size)

No, I didn’t manage to get one of my images as a magazine cover photo, it’s just that I instantly recognised the location where this image was taken:

Digital SLR Photography January issue

Digital SLR Photography January issue (cover image by Helen Dixon)

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Bellow in the mist

Bellow in the mist

Bellow in the mist – 300mm; ISO 100; 1/90 sec; f/11 (click image to view larger size)

Richmond Park is a wonderful location, especially in the autumn when the Red Deer rut is on. I’m sure most wildlife photographers would admit that the combination of rutting deer, mist and soft dawn light is definitely a winner!

On the morning I captured this image, the mist was so thick you could not see the deer. Luckily there was plenty of bellowing, so following the sound I knew I would find them easily enough. The hard part was avoiding walking into them!

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Purple Dawn

The story behind the shot:

Purple Dawn

Purple Dawn – 18mm; ISO 100; 1/2 sec; f/8.0; -2EV (click image to view larger size)

For some time now I’ve enjoyed photographing at Pen Ponds in Richmond Park (see location map at the end of this post). It’s usually quiet around sunrise and weather conditions can be great in September.

The overnight weather forecast predicted clear skies and I knew from experience that this location might have some mist, so I decided to head out early the following morning.

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