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A day in Richmond Park

Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012

A few Saturdays ago I headed over to Richmond Park with a mind of taking pictures of some of the more than 600 Red and Fallow deer that inhabit it. It's a huge park and I thought with a little luck there would be opportunity to snap some good images. I got to Richmond pretty early and headed over to the park taking the slightly longer, but much nicer, riverside path by the Thames (picture of Richmond Bridge below).

Once I arrived at the park it didn't take long before I started to see deer. Although they are somewhat used to people by now, they can still be dangerous and it's not a good idea to get too close. Plus, it's good wildlife photography etiquette to keep enough distance so as not to disturb the animals. So I knew I'd be mostly using my longest lens, which is a 70-200mm Nikkor.

Below are some of the images I took throughout the day:

Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012

Although there's nothing wrong with the shots above, they are not that different. I kept trying to find something a little more unique. Maybe an unusual moment, or a way to capture an image from a different perspective than what you usually see. Mind you, I'm always looking for that, but it just doesn't happen every time.

After a lot of walking around I saw a group of horse riders approaching a male deer in the shadow of some trees, and I immediately knew what kind of picture I wanted to take:

Richmond, September 2012
Richmond, September 2012

What makes this shot different from your typical deer photos is that the deer is both underexposed and out of focus. This would in most instances be a bad thing, but in this case the effect is that the deer becomes a presence standing at the edge of frame and looking in towards the riders. The area under the trees becomes dark and creates a silhouette for the deer and also for tree branches, which form a frame for the photograph.The feeling I get from the resulting image is that the riders seem to have just arrived at the edge of a domain that the deer is guarding.

One thing is a bit of a shame, and that is the wooden structure in the background that pops behind the head of the deer, which I find a little distracting. If I could have I would have taken a couple of steps to the left, so that the structure would be hidden behind the head of the deer, and then I would have reframed to achieve a similar composition. The problem was that I was already pretty pressed against some bushes on my left side so I couldn't really move in that direction any more. So there wasn't much I could do, but it's a pretty minor gripe.

Overall it was a great day out in Richmond Park. It's a fantastic place to go for a walk and also great for taking pictures. So I know I'll be coming back again with my camera.