I often seem to find myself in Richmond Park. It’s not quite my closest royal park – Bushy Park is a little closer and, more importantly, not up a ruddy great hill. Richmond Park is, however, roughly twice the size of Bushy, and is a less erratic shape meaning that it is easier for an unbroken bike ride around the periphery. It is also just a lot more interesting visually. Not to demean Bushy Park; it’s just that Richmond Park is more appealing to me. There are other free green spaces near us – the grounds of Hampton Court being a good example – but Richmond Park is often the one where we end up (on that note, I do have some older photos from a 7-hour round-trip walk we took along the Thames and through Hampton Court and Bushy Parks over a year ago, which might see a From the Vaults release at some point).
Despite me painting a relatively pro-cycle picture of Richmond Park, they only allow cycles on the peripheral pathways and the roads, not in the interior of the park. So this time, when we headed down there to catch the autumnal colours that were still around despite it being late November, we headed there on foot, so we could explore the middle.
Usually, our route to Richmond Park involves a calorie-burning ride up Richmond Hill. This time we walked it – a lot easier, I must say, but not with quite the same sense of achievement. Much like our documented trip there back in February, we found ourselves looking out from Richmond Hill over towards the Thames, as the winter sun started heading back towards the horizon.
Shooting into the sun has caused the usual problems; everything has its unlit side facing me so they’re a bit dark, and the abundance of light forced a pretty high shutter speed. That said, I did take roughly the same shot with a smaller aperture (and therefore a longer shutter), and the result was ultimately the same, although this image was slightly more appealing, for no real tangible reason.
One of the best bits of a day like this at this time of year is the colour; a bold blue sky with brown leaves, dark bark and (sometimes) red berries make for image with an appealing colour palate. At this same spot upon Richmond Hill there was a point for such a photo.
The red berries stand out surprisingly well in this image. To be honest, red is not a colour that seems to come out all that well in any of my images taken in bright sunlight; I’m not sure if that’s a problem with the camera or with the way my post-processing software is decoding the RAW image (I’m also not sure why I always capitalise ‘RAW’, since it is not an acronym as far as I’m aware. One of those weird habits, I guess, and an unusual one for someone as pedantic as me. On a related note, I’ve realised that people often confuse themselves being wrong for me being pedantic; and that sentence proves that even my tangents can have tangents).
Whilst I was tangenting, a cat arrived to keep my poor wife occupied, at least prolonging the inevitable ‘bored wife’ shot that is now a staple of most of my posts on this blog.
Despite looking incredibly docile in that shot, he soon noticed I had a camera and came closer to strike a pose. Unfortunately, he positioned himself with the sun to my back, and it was evidently a little bright for him.
And then, just like that, he buggered off, as cats are wont to do.
With the cat gone and intelligence restored, I broke out my go-to lens for messing about trying to create interesting images – my 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. I returned to the red beer bush from earlier, and after several attempts managed to take a picture that wasn’t completely crooked.
There was a lot of greenery at our spot on the hill; most of it, despite it being almost December, was even still green. Having my big aperture lens allowing for a shallow depth of field, I decided to experiment recreating an image I took a couple of months ago in Box Hill, which was itself inspired by a random image on Flickr (I should add, my first attempt was good enough to become my Home Screen wallpaper on my iPad).
This time, however, the light was a little stronger and my position not as good, so the result was lacking.
By that time, as you’d expect, my wife had gotten bored. Fortunately it gave me an opportunity to play about with using the narrow focal depth to highlight subjects in the image, whilst capturing some perspectives.
A little further down the line, a young man sat, hunched over a pad, sketching the image that opened this post (at least, I assume that is what he was doing; he hadn’t gotten far when we arrived, he could have just as likely been drawing cocks). So, I shifted the focus to him to see how it came out.
I’m not sure which, if either, image is the better; does it look more appealing to have the subject in the left third of the image or in the centre, given the perspective line of benches that composes the picture?
Shortly after we began to move off. I wasn’t the only photographer taking in the scenery, there was at least two others floating around. Which is, presumably, why the cat came back.
The cat proceeded to pose for another few photos. This seemed to upset a raven in a nearby tree, which began squawking angrily. This, it seemed, made the cat hungry.
The cat then returned to its previous posing, this time trying a more regal, dignified pose (which, as if often the case, looks a very small distance away from taking a crap).
I like the way that the plant life is also in focus at the bottom of this image, despite the big aperture. I’m also unite keen on the way the white parts of his coat has allowed a slightly darker exposure in the former two. That said, I was told recently by someone that cat pictures usually need them to have their eyes open, especially if said pictures are hoping to get said cat adopted.
It has occurred to me that I am quite far in to this post that is ostensibly about Richmond Park, and we haven’t even made it there yet. Well don’t worry, after a few more images, we finally made our way to the park.
I really like this image; I like the colour palate running from the green of the grass and some of the evergreens through the yellows of some of the leaves to the darker reddish brown of the tree on the right, set against the clear shininess of the low-tided Thames through the middle. It is a shame that, despite the high shutter speed, there is still some bleaching out at the top of the image as I was largely facing the sun. I’m not sure why my software seems to be reporting a 1/7999th of a second shutter speed when the camera said 1/8000, but there is probably some historical context I’m unaware of. I’m not convinced a HDR image would have done justice to the trees in the image (that and, because I was shooting handheld, it would have looked a bit double-visiony). I did bring down the intensity of the highlights a little, but it hasn’t made a huge amount of difference.
I also couldn’t resist another small depth-of-field perspective shot, this one slightly less colourful than the others.
Eventually, finally, we made it into Richmond Park.
This image is pretty symbolic of the day, and the photos that came out of it; the yellowish brown of the autumnal leaves, contrasted against the brilliant blue of a bright sunny winter’s day. You’ll have seen a similar effect if you’ve seen the second Transformers movie, or indeed most of the gumf made by Hollywood in the last few years.
One of the things I love about photographing on a sunny winter day is the crispness of the air; you have what meteorologists would call ‘low pressure’ which gives great visibility, with the added bonus of not being unbearably hot. Admittedly you get less light in the day, but as the sun sets you can get some great orange hues.
I would love for that to somehow segue into the next image but unfortunately it’s a couple of deer.
What I like most about this image is the long grass. There is an almost Serengeti-esqueness about it, plus I really like how grass looks with a shallow depth-of-field. The image, however, does look a little over-exposed, and some detail is lost on the deers’ fur. Out of curiosity, is there an interest for me adding the focal length to the data readout at the bottom of my images?
I’d also like to apologise for the word “Serengeti-esqueness” which is quote a butchering of the language.
Meanwhile, the deer were not the only ones sitting in the sun waiting for something to happen.
One of the fantastic things about Richmond Park is its location. It’s so close to London that it’s easy for many Londoners to get to.
If there was any doubt as to how close the park is from the centre of London, the following image should help illustrate the point.
In the centre of the image is the Shard, soon to be Europe’s tallest building (if it isn’t already). To the right is Battersea Power Station, and that weird residential block they’re building at Elephant and Castle. To the left is the Gherkin and the London Eye.
When it comes to monument photography, this is it at its most efficient – one shot and you’ve pretty much covered everything.
However, a few steps further on, you get this view:
This time, the London Eye is in the centre, to the right you can make out some of the Houses of Parliament, and to the left is St Paul’s Cathedral. This is actually what they call a protected view; it is legally protected from people putting buildings in the way of the view of St Paul’s from Richmond Park (there is a particular part of Richmond Park, King Henry VIII’s Mound, which I didn’t know about until I wikied it a few moments ago, to which this law applies).
Quite surprisingly, you can also clearly make out the arch of Wembley Stadium from the same spot.
It’s amazing how small London felt from that spot atop Richmond Park (apologies for the latter photo not actually being all that good).
Aside from the views, Richmond Park looked (amazing/wonderful/fantastic/whatever adjective I’ve used the least recently – delete as appropriate). In the part of the park we found ourselves the trees were a deep reddish brown, and the plant life on the ground matched the colour; both looked stunning (stunning, I think that’s a new one) against the sky.
The trees weren’t all brown; like the shot from Richmond Hill earlier there was a gamut of colours from green to brown, occasionally arranged in order.
This is another shot that might have benefitted from a smaller aperture, but one of the great problems I’ve encountered is most shots look in focus on a 3″ camera screen, so the thought never really occurred to me until I was looking at the image on my computer screen at home. Still, I like the composition of this image, with the path leading the eye up the frame, but I am a little concerned that there is a bit too much sky.
Not wanting to only ever include photographs of my wife waiting bored whilst I indulge in my hobby, I also took a few of her walking.
Once again, I like the perspective lines in this image; I like the fence disappearing off into the distance, and the fact that Holly’s shadow follows a similar angle. I also like the way both move gradually out of focus.
I also took a photo of my wife doing up her coat, which I include mainly because I like the very side-on lighting from the setting sun and the shadows it creates.
Despite it being only just before half past two, the sun was already getting long in the tooth, adding a hint more colour to the foliage and making our shadows pretty long, which allowed me to take this photo:
I shot that one from the hip to make my shadow look less like a was holding a camera, although that has had the unfortunate side-effect of looking like I am holding myself.
With the sun now on our backs, I could try taking a well-lit shot of the trees without whiting out the image.
Despite most of the trees looking intensely autumnal (and technically unseasonably so, being as it was late November when I took these photos), there were a few that looked more wintry. There was one, however, that was trying to cling on to its last shred of autumn.
Much like some of the earlier pictures, I really enjoy the orange/teal colour combo in this image.
As we neared the end of our walk, we ended up amongst the trees, creating yet another different perspective on the day.
I like the hint of colour on one side of the tree on that last image; the dark side adds definition whilst sun, now setting in front of me, fills in some of the colour detail.
Compared to last week’s post, this collection of images is a lot more vibrant and colour-filled. The bright sunlight and deep autumnal colours serve as a near complete juxtaposition to the grey, misty darkness that was the theme of last time. It’s nice to be able to shoot such a variety.
As ever, I’ve uploaded this collection of images to my Flickr account, which also includes the images that didn’t quite make the cut for this post.