Richmond Park Photo Walk
If you're reading this page, then you have probably been given the link by me after attending a photo walk or a 1-2-1 tuition session. If you've managed to stumble in to this page, then you can find details of these activities here:
  ● Photo walks in Richmond Park (you can request a date if none are listed)
Below you will find additional info and links I have prepared as a follow-up to these sessions to help you further with photographing the deer and accessing & finding your way around the park.
For anyone who unfortunately did not encounter many deer on a photo walk, please use the first link above to check future dates for a free second event and contact me to arrange. Limited places so it's first come first served.
Safety

Remember to keep your distance and be aware of all the deer around you. Use a longer lens (200-300mm advised) so you don't have to get too close for a good image.

It can be especially dangerous during the autumn rut (September to November) when stags are challenging each other, so make sure you don't get between them. Be careful during the birthing season (May to July) as mothers will be protective of their young. Don't blunder into long grass or ferns during this time as newborns may be hiding inside.

The welfare of the deer should be your number one priority at all times.

Read more about the deer of the Royal Parks by clicking here.
Be aware of the risk of infection from ticks. More info is available here. If you need a tick removal tool, I use the Tick Twister.

General tips on technique

Aperture - generally use the widest you have, around f/2.8 or f/4, to blur the background and help to increase shutter speed.

ISO - increase it in order to maintain a high shutter speed, but above 800 you may notice noise degrading the image quality, depending on your camera model. The latest cameras generally have better noise handling than older models.

Shutter speed - the longer the lens focal length, the faster shutter speed you need to counteract camera shake. Around 1/500 sec and faster should be good enough, but it will depend on your steadiness, so practise your handheld technique.

Exposure compensation - useful to increase/decrease the brightness if your camera doesn't quite calculate the exposure you want.

Focusing - make sure you know how to reposition the focusing point. When you have time, choose your composition first and then move the focusing point onto the eye or head. Use continuous focusing for moving deer. Review shots to check focusing accuracy and reshoot if necessary.

Tripod - can be useful to aid stability but limiting to free movement and adjusting position quickly. Try with and without to see what you prefer. I generally use a tripod if I'm starting before sunrise when light levels can be low especially in the woods, but I go handheld later in the day.
Don't carry too much gear - there can be quite a bit of walking involved especially when it takes awhile to find some deer! Quite often, I'll go out with just one lens and the camera on a sling-style shoulder strap so it is comfortable to carry, with a spare battery in my pocket.
Get to know your camera! If you're still struggling to understand and use these controls, consider coming along for a one-to-one beginner's introduction.

Composition

Think about your position before approaching the deer, especially with regard to the background. Exclude distracting elements where possible and try to make the setting look natural.

Use a low viewpoint to create a more engaging image. Lying down and shooting through grass is a good option, but be aware of the risk from ticks. Read the advice on the Royal Parks website. If you don't want to lie down or kneel, try a small folding stool with a shoulder strap (I use one of these quite often during wet periods).
Try to time your shot to get some eye contact (see some of the sample shots below). Silhouettes in back lighting can be very atmospheric, especially if you have mist adding to the scene.
A large herd can make an image look "too busy", so try to isolate individuals. Think about their position relative to each other within the image frame so that their outlines and antlers don't interfere with each other and upset the composition.

Maps
This map is from the Royal Parks - map link
This is a map I have prepared with additional useful info - map link

Access

As most photographers know, the best light usually occurs around sunrise and sunset, with sunrise being my favourite as you can also find mist & frost and the park will be quieter. If I'm going for sunrise after the road gates open (either 7:00 or 7:30 am),  I always head for Pen Ponds as mist can be common. If sunrise is too early I will park outside and walk in, either at Ham gate or Ladderstile gate as they are my closest. This is not possible when culling occurs as the pedestrian gates are locked overnight and reopen in unison with the road gates. This usually happens from the first Monday in November and February for a period of six weeks. Check the Royal Parks website for accuarate info. The second map link above includes info on parking outside the park.

Locations

A favoured location of mine is Duchess Wood, which is just below White Lodge. Being lower down, in winter the early rising sun is hidden behind Spankers Hill Wood, so it hits Duchess Wood slightly later. This means you can be somewhere more open to catch the first of the sunlight, then head over there to catch more sunlight as it streams into the wood. It has mature trees so there are fewer of the little fenced tree protectors to clutter your composition.

North west of Duchess Wood is Saw Pit Plantation, which is also mature woodland and contains the Queen's Ride pathway with a lovely view back towards White Lodge.

Another mature wood can be found between Ladderstile Gate and Isabella Plantation.

Pen Ponds at sunrise can be beautiful with mist and early light and all the wildfowl moving around. Keep an ear open for increased volume of squawking geese, as this usually means they're about to take off in formation. I quite often forget the camera and just watch them - I love to see them sweeping low over the water!

Isabella Plantation is a must during spring with the colour of all the flowering bushes and plants. Try it from mid-April to early May.

If you live closer to Bushy Park you may prefer to go there, so check here for info. An advantage there is earlier opening times and later closing times, so it can be easier to accomodate sunrise & sunset.

Personally, I prefer Richmond Park as it's more "rugged" and natural looking with less distractions in the background, although the deer can be harder to find as it's much larger!
Apps
The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE) is a great location planning app to have on your phone or tablet, especially for sunrise/sunset photographers (the only app I’ve ever paid money for). It can also be used on the desktop for free, this example will show you Richmond Park - TPE Desktop
Another alternative is PhotoPills which I might have bought if I didn't already have TPE, as it is very useful for planning night sky photography.
If you need help understanding depth of field, try the Set My Camera app, which helps to calculate depth of field for any given camera/focal length, aperture and focusing distance.
Photographers to Inspire You
Three photographers I follow on Twitter and Facebook as they regularly produce great wildlife images:
  ● Max Ellis - he's always out in Richmond and Bushy Parks
  ● Jon Hawkins - captures wildlife images in the Surrey Hills

  ● Alex Saberi - has authored a photography book about Richmond Park

Blowing my own trumpet

I started to write a series of articles on deer photography. One day, I might find time to write parts 2 & 3!

If you'd like to read about how I became keen on deer photography, you can peruse an article here.

You can find all my blog posts that are tagged with Richmond Park.
And remember ...
If you need any further help with your photography, please take a look at my tuition offerings and feel free to email me with any questions.

Sample image from 25th March 2018 demonstrating focus selection on this stag's head and the out of focus background by using a wide aperture.

Sample image from 18th April 2018 demonstrating the use of light and shadow to highlight the main subject when the scene is too busy.

Sample image from 19th May 2018 demonstrating the use of silhouettes when dealing with subjects in shade.

Sample image from 21st June 2018 illustrating patience and planning - this young buck was grazing most of the time and his head would pop up for about 2-3 seconds so pre-framing the shot and waiting was the best technique to use.

Sample image from 1st July 2018 - sometimes you're faced with a scarcity of deer and you just have to make the best of what you're given, as I always say - better luck next time!

Sample image from 4th July 2018 - even when faced with the disorder of a large herd of deer, if you watch and wait, little moments will appear before you. You just need to have patience and be ready!

Sample image from 4th July 2018 - a small change in my position meant I could align the head of this hind in the gap between the background deer, maintaining a clean outline against the pale grass.

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