Whilst staying at my brother’s to attend WildPhotos, I knew I had to seize the opportunity and visit Bushy Park before I returned back home. My brother lives a five-minute walk to Bushy Park and with the deer rut starting, I was at the Park as it started to get light at 7am. I had hoped for a sunrise, golden light and a light mist…. instead I found myself in drizzle, leaden skies and certainly no golden light! Walking along the path, hood firmly up and camera tucked away inside my coat, I could hear the deer roaring through the gloom… quite eerie, but exciting!
I made my way through the park, following the loudest roars in a tall bracken patch. I used one of the wooden tree enclosures to hide behind and, as the drizzle had stopped, I got my camera out to see if there was enough light to get some shots. I had to push the ISO up to 1600 to achieve 200th of a second! I knew the images were going to be grainy, but I was keen to have a go. The light had started to lift a little and there were a number of stags moving around the bracken roaring. The autumnal colours looked amazing and I couldn’t help but imagine what a bit of sun would have done to enhance those colours!
The deer completely ignored me and showed no indication that they were at all worried by by presence. This is the great advantage of shooting in a park environment, where they are used to humans. You still have to remember, though, that these are large and powerful animals and they are wild, even if they tolerate humans. I kept at a safe distance and always used a tree or fence to photograph from behind. I was using the 100-400mm lens that I have just had repaired and it easily gave me enough reach to get almost full frame, or to zoom out to put the stag in context with the wonderful autumnal colours and textures.
I tried to compose my shot carefully, thinking about the positioning of the deer in the shot as well as looking for backgrounds that showed the subject off to its best. In one place, there was very pale grass and a dark tree line. I tried to set the shot so the stag’s body was against the pale grass, but the pale tips of the antlers was enhanced using the dark trees. Offsetting the subject is another favourite of mine, as I often crop the image to create a long, narrow shot with the subject at one end of the image.
It is not only Red deer in the park. There are also small groups of Fallow. I managed to get close enough to this small group to take a few shots…
I stayed in the park for about 2 hours, by which time, I had taken quite a few shots and the roaring was lessening and people were starting to appear in the park. I headed back to my brother’s and back up to the Midlands after a really enjoyable morning. I love a couple of hours outside with my camera and I do not do it often enough!
When I came to processing, many of the images were pretty grainy so I started to play around with the processing… looking for something a little different that would make the image work. There are lots of rutting deer images around as well, so sometimes it is good to try to create something that stands out in the crowd and is a little different. I started using this image….