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:
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:
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.