Early Morning, Richmond Park

I admit it: I wasn’t particularly photographically active over the winter break. Sure, I made sure to put out my annual review, and curate a list of my favourite photos of 2015 as is traditional, but I didn’t really use the opportunity to take any photographs or experiment with anything. My time off over Christmas used to be long enough that I’d get bored of loafing around relaxing and doing nothing and start doing something. Indeed, that’s how Creative Splurges got started in the first place. It appears nowadays however the time needed for me to get bored enough to do stuff is longer than I can practically book off from work. Five weeks no longer seems to do the trick.

There is, however, one exception to my total lack of anything over the break. In one of my first weeks off, I decided to get up early one morning when it looked like the weather would be agreeable and head to Richmond Park for sunrise. My plan was to get some shots of the deer in the morning golden hour, with some lovely misty backdrops, and hopefully some of the deers’ breath visible as well for good measure.

I arrived at Richmond Park before the sun. This gave me a bit of time to figure roughly what direction to walk to get the most amount of park between me and the rising sun. If you’re keeping track of things on a map, I entered at Richmond Gate and veered right.

To my left, London was visible in the distance, also waiting for the break of dawn.

1/60, f/4, ISO 250, 55mm
1/60, f/4, ISO 250, 55mm

Before long, the sun began to peek over the horizon. I found a spot where it was poking up between some crisp, leafless wintry trees.

1/125, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
1/125, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm

A little further along the path was a stream (or a puddle, I guess, since the water didn’t seem to be going anywhere), which I figured would also make an interesting foreground for the breaking day.

1/80, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/80, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

Shortly thereafter, I found a much more impressive expanse of water which served a similar purpose.

1/125, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/125, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

It was, I’d like to note, a bit chilly that morning. As I walked I grabbed this shot of the frosty leaves on the ground.

1/20, f/4, ISO 250, 105mm
1/20, f/4, ISO 250, 105mm

The water of the pool I’d found was remarkably still, the result of there being no wind and nobody dumb enough to be up and wandering around Richmond Park at that hour. That let me capture some great shots of the spindly, wintery trees (which I love dearly – one of my favourite things about winter) reflected in the water.

1/320, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/320, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

This next shot is yet another example of my most frequent quandary: colour or monochrome? This time, its the colours of sunrise versus the striking contrast of the leaflet trees of winter.

1/500, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/500, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/500, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/500, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

As always, let me know what you think. I tend to prefer the monochrome shot this time out.

You might be wondering at this point where the deer are that I’d set out to photograph in the first place. I was wondering the same thing at the time too. It was around this point I spotted a few deer butting horns, but infuriatingly in the shade, and a bit far away, so the shot came out flat and grey. I returned to shooting the sunrise as I walked.

1/8000, f/4, ISO 1000, 70mm
1/8000, f/4, ISO 1000, 70mm

As the sun rose over the tree line began illuminating the day, highlighting the browns and greens of the park in winter, and adding a tint of blue to the sky. I took shots from a bunch of angles, experimenting with the placement of the various trees within the frame.

1/640, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/640, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/400, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/400, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/500, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/500, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/800, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/800, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

I soon came across a large, shawn tree, that I used to experiment with the sun.

1/320, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/320, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/500, f/8, ISO 250, 28mm
1/500, f/8, ISO 250, 28mm

I finally caught sights of some deer in the right light. Unfortunately they were a little far away. I managed to frame the ones I saw around some branches in the foreground.

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

I had been keeping my distance from the deer I’d seen. Much like when I try to get candid street shots of strangers without them noticing, whenever I pointed my camera at the deer they immediately looked straight down the camera at me. But whereas it’s mainly awkward when it happens on the street with humans, deer have sharp antlers and can run faster, and are more likely to do something aggressive to defend their family. For the most part I kept the road I was walking along between me and the herd, just in case, but it didn’t help me get that close, even with my 300mm lens.

The deer continued on their way into the overgrowth, and I returned to shooting the sunrise.

1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 250, 80mm
1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 250, 80mm

I liked this little bench, it was a nice item to frame in the foreground.

1/200, f/5.6, ISO 250, 60mm
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 250, 60mm

I caught up with the deer again, and continued to keep my distance.

1/80, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm
1/80, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm

Ever uncooperative, they remained in the shade out of the good light, giving me death stares from a distance.

1/125, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm
1/125, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm

I kept the road between me and them. The sun had gotten pretty high in the sky by this point but it was still very much golden hour.

1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 250, 70mm
1/2500, f/5.6, ISO 250, 70mm

My plan for keeping the road between me and the deer soon hit a snag when I saw a fresh batch of them on the path ahead of me.

1/400, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm

Possibly because they saw me coming, they decided to cross the road. Ironically this next shot is probably the closest one to the images I had imagined before I set out: a deer, in the golden morning sun, misty breath on the air. I suppose having it crossing a road in front of traffic makes it more quintessentially Richmond Park than if I’d shot them amongst the trees.

1/800, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm
1/800, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm

I continued to track the herd from the other side of the road. They continued to track me too.

1/80, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm
1/80, f/5.6, ISO 250, 300mm

Continuing to antagonise me, they stayed in the shadows and I shot them no more.

I continued walking, and saw a woman walking her dog.

1/125, f/9, ISO 250, 300mm
1/125, f/9, ISO 250, 300mm

I soon came across another small pond. The sun was now higher in the sky and a bit harsher; golden hour was coming to a close but there was still a tint in the air.

1/800, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/800, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

The sun was still low enough to be behind the trees, casting some lovely long shadows on the grass.

1/1000, f/9, ISO 250, 24mm
1/1000, f/9, ISO 250, 24mm

And then, up on the hill ahead of me, I saw another bunch of deer (‘bunch’ in this instance being a technical term to signify a number of deer that is greater than one but might possibly fall short of whatever officially constitutes a herd). Just like the others, they were hiding out of the light. This time, however, I could use it to my advantage.

1/320, f/7.1, ISO 250, 300mm
1/320, f/7.1, ISO 250, 300mm

I walked along the road, past the line of trees they were standing to get a better view. They were mostly in the shade like their brethren from earlier, but the overall light was better so they weren’t quite so grey, and a hint of the gold remained on their hide.

1/640, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/640, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm

This group seemed less disturbed by my presence, so I was able to photograph them going about their business, scratching behind their ears, fighting, and staring blankly into the space contemplating their existence.

1/200, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/160, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/160, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/160, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/160, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm

I took one last shot of the group, exposing for the sky instead to get another batch of silhouettes.

1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm
1/1600, f/5.6, ISO 500, 300mm

By this point I had almost completed my walk, and the light was beginning to turn a bit harsh and unexciting. I had been naturally working my way towards the Kingston Gate anyway, so I was planning to head that way and get a bus home. Whilst walking along not really paying attention, I realised I could hear a knocking sound. I turned, and saw two bucks batting their antlers against a tree.

1/320, f/8, ISO 320, 300mm
1/320, f/8, ISO 320, 300mm

I tried taking a bunch of shots of these two. None of the shots of them actually butting horns against the tree came out with any clarity. You here’s another shot o them looking up, this time in more of a catalogue pose.

1/640, f/8, ISO 320, 240mm
1/640, f/8, ISO 320, 240mm

And with that, I came to the end of my walk through Richmond Park and headed towards home.

For most of my winter break, I wasn’t in the mood to shoot anything. For some reason, on this day the spark for shooting, born from a decent idea, was back in full force. My next challenge is getting it back for longer.

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2 Comments

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  1. I love the frosty leaves and the golden light is beautiful. Well done for rising up so early 😉 I should try it in summertime myself.

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