Richmond Park in Spring

Last weekend featured some pretty decent weather. Since I’d not been out for any serious shooting trips for a while I figured hey, when in doubt, Richmond Park. I’ve been there numerous times before, and usually gotten some interesting results. In fact, it was the subject of my first real photo trip for this blog, almost fifteen months ago.

It was sunny, if not all that warm; perfect weather for bike riding, our usual way of enjoying the park.

Despite once again returning to a very familiar location, there was still plenty of scope for new images. Over the last year I’ve grown as a photographer, learning new ways to process images and different ways of looking at things. That, and the presence of wildlife is always a bit of a wild card as far as photography is concerned.

My first image was an example of the former; this is simply not an image I would have taken before this year.

1/80sec, f/10, ISO 100, 18mm

I’ve cycled past this little hut many times. I’m not sure why it was this time I turned around and saw this shot. I am certain that, if it weren’t for my latest phase of black and white photography, and also some inspiration from the work of Lee Thornberry, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to even take the photo.

As is often the case, once my camera was out, I started shooting a bit more recklessly.

1/320sec, f/10, ISO 100, 36mm

This is ‘just’ a tree, but I like the blue of the sky and the green of the grass, with the red berries in the branch at the top left of the image.

I took a closer shot of the berries. As ever, red – especially in bright sunlight – looks a bit off.

1/160sec, f/10, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.67, 135mm

I played about with the white balance a little to make it look a bit sunnier, slightly more Medditerranean. I’m not sure I’ve fooled anyone. Especially not now I’ve admitted it.

As we often do we decided to ride clockwise around the periphery of the park. Cycles are only allowed on certain paths and on the road so it tends to limit our route, so we quickly passed a familiar pond, on which were some fancy looking ducks that probably have a specific name.

1/80sec, f/7.1, ISO 100, 225mm

There was also a female version (which I guess should be obvious since the species has clearly procreated at some point) which looked similar but different to the female ducks I’ve seen before.

1/320sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.33, 300mm

I loved the duck; its textures were captured nicely against the water, and its colours looked amazing.

1/400sec, f/7.1, ISO 100, 210mm

I spent a while around this pond. There was an old tree nearby, possibly dead as it didn’t have many leaves, that was home to a parakeet. There are quite a few parakeets living around my neck of the woods, but they are photo shy little buggers at the best of times. Whilst attempting to capture an image of the parakeet, the tree itself provided me with a few slightly different images.

1/2000sec, f/7.1, ISO 100, 70mm

This image, I think, would have been a bit better if I had closed up the aperture a bit more and gotten all of the branches in focus. It’s lacking a little as an image currently, but I post it for discussion.

The tree was also, for some reason, dog-tagged.

1/160sec, f/7.1, ISO 100, 135mm
1/500sec, f/7.1, ISO 100, 300mm

And then, finally, the parakeet reappeared. He had the light behind him, obviously attempting to ruin the shot. But I think I’ve managed to capture him pretty well.

1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm

This was the only serviceable shot of him I managed to get before he flew off (although I do have a blurry, out-of-focus shot of his arse if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat).

We carried on, and a little further along the way we came across a bridge. I’ve taken pictures from this bridge before, but despite crossing it many times I’d never stopped to take pictures of it.

Before I could get a chance to, however, another parakeet showed up. This one was a little less shy.

1/320sec, f/6.3, ISO 100, 300mm

Annoyingly, the tufts on the top of his head appear to be a smidge out of focus. Not sure why.

Anyway, back to the bridge.

1/50sec, f/9, ISO 100, 18mm

On the other side of the bridge was a bench. I tried to frame it through the structure but it didn’t really come out all that well.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.67, 18mm

I remained a bit fascinated by this bridge. As my wife sat waiting, I experimented with a few angles.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.67, 18mm
1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.67, 18mm
1/125sec, f/9, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.67, 18mm

Well, of course I was going to do a black and white version of such a lovely textured bridge, wasn’t I? For me, however, one of the things this image shows is I’m beginning to remember to close up the aperture a little when I want a wider depth of field. You can actually see it in a few photos in this set but this is the first time I thought to mention it.

Whilst I was faffing about shooting the bridge, a handful of ducks made a fantastic landing in the water, which I missed. They then wandered onto the grass for nibbles, and I scared them back into the water in the hope of getting some shots of them landing again. The images didn’t really come out. Then a dog came along and chased the ducks, and none of those shots came out either. I was clearly not in an action photo sort of mood.

One of the shots, however, I felt was worth keeping; I find the out-of-focus silhouette of a scarpering duck interesting. I’m not sure how it works as a photo, however – what do you think?

1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, exposure bias -0.67, 87mm

I then ventured a little further along the water, where I came to a pile of sticks.

1/800sec, f/5.6, ISO 250, 135mm

I then turned back to look down the stream and saw my wife waiting for me. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a shot of my bored wife waiting for me (she often claims to not be bored, and just enjoying the atmosphere, but she always looks bored in the photos, so that’s how I describe them).

1/1600sec, f/5.6, ISO 250, exposure bias -0.33, 135mm

Sensing a hint of impatience that may or may not have been there (because girls are still something that scare and confuse me), I took the photo I went there to take…

1/640sec, f/10, ISO 250, exposure bias -0.67, 18mm

… and then we headed on our way.

Shortly thereafter (or maybe longer, I get a bit distracted whilst cycling) we came to the park’s most challenging hill – or at least, the most challenging if you’re circumnavigating the park in a clockwise direction, as we were. I’m proud to say I’ve only failed to make it up the hill without stopping once, and on that occasion – you guessed it – there was a photo to be taken. This photo, to be precise.

On this occasion, I made it to the top and turned around. In front of me, the path stretched and curled away in front of me.

1/250sec, f/11, ISO 160, exposure bias -0.33, 75mm

The grey spike on the horizon is the Shard, coming along nicely and almost complete. I imagine this path is quite enjoyable going in the other direction (that is, downhill) but we never seem to head in that direction. Maybe one day. It’s not like we don’t get an extremely enjoyable downhill section going in the direction we were, either.

It’s a bit of a varied set, this. There’s evidence I’m doing new(ish) things such as remembering to close the aperture a little to widen the depth of field for landscape shots, and I’m continuing to enjoy playing about with black and white – I’m not sure if that’s a passing phase I’m in or if I’ll continue to work that way, but I’m very pleased with the results I’m getting. I’m also trying to avoid the trap of turning images monochrome just for the sake of it – I am ensuring I compare the before and after to see if the effect has actually improved the image.

Anyway, that’s it for this post. I’m glad I seem to have finished it whilst it can still be described as ‘spring’.

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14 Comments

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  1. what a great way for me to get to see the country, through your eyes

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  2. Richmond Park is so beautiful. I still have a lot to explore there!

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  3. Love all the photos! Especially the duck one since I’ve never seen such duck before in my area 😉

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  4. I don’t normally leave replies to my husband’s blog entries knowing full well that I know absolutely nothing about photography, no matter how many times he tries to explain ‘aperture’, ‘focal length’ or any other jargony type word he can come up with, but I wanted to clear a few things up.

    1) I am not that bored especially when watching a frustrated husband waiting for birds to do what he wants them to. It is in fact very funny
    2) The funny looking duck is called a Mandarin Duck, it is on the second page of the ‘I-Spy book of birds’ we bought last time we saw this duck in Bushy Park, specifically to identify this duck, and my husband was informed constantly of it’s name whilst he was photographing it.

    He has also just read this over my shoulder and said I sound grouchy but i feel justified as this is the only bird (other than the very distinctive parakeets) i can identify it would be nice to have my knowledge acknowledged.

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  5. Love the first photo, the shadows really add something to the mystery of the hut. The b&w really makes it though.

    That is one impressive duck. (not something you hear very often)

    Parakeets are a common feature in my parents’ garden in NW London, what a noise they make too! The un-shy photo is excellent, it’s the sort of photo that almost demands a speech bubble.

    B&w bridge shot again is excellent, I love perspective/disappearing point photos like this. I actually quite like the way it bends a little, and the willow trees framing the sky. And the tree in the distance right in the middle! Brilliant composition.

    To me, the duck shadow photo doesn’t work only because of the clutter in the river, branches etc. If it was just the shadow and the focus on the leaves as you’ve got, it would have been a winner.

    Excellent shot of Holly 😀

    Did you try the last photo in b&w at all? The weaving path is really good, I wonder if it stood out more in mono.

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    • It didn’t occur to me to try the weaving path in B&W. I’ve only got the JPEG I uploaded here to play about with but you may be right, it does appear to work better in B&W:

      It certainly brings out the path a bit more – cheers!

      I’ll admit on the bridge shot I never noticed the tree in the distance, but I’ll take it anyway.

      I agree with the duck shadow photo, it is a bit busy. Perhaps I’ll throw it into Photoshop and see if I can clear it up a bit without making it look completely fake.

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