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March 2015

 

 

Urban deer

 

 

I live in inner city London... in Stoke Newington, London Borough of Hackney.  I'm surrounded by nature and wildlife.  47% London is green space.  I have nature reserves within one mile of my home but I never truly realised what went on at night in London until I spent some time with Jamie Hall.

Who knew that Fallow deer come out at night in London and mow front lawns and grassy verges?!   Dare I say that I was never very keen on Fallow deer before this night?  They always look like creatures of municipal parks and enclosures to me... but not this lot!  Wild Fallow deer at night... love 'em.

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It was extraordinary to stalk the deer through the dark night, knowing that we were in urban London and inside the M25.  They are exceptionally shy and very timid, the slightest movement and noise and they look up and around, or take off at huge speed.  This was a test of field-craft and camera technology.  ISO's were at silly numbers, apertures were wide open and shutter speeds incredibly low and it was a matter of waiting for a composition and the magical moment when one of the deer would look up and stay still.

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I found that I quite liked the strange ghosting effects that appeared on the back of the screen when the movement of a deer was partially recorded!  The females and youngsters all travelled about in groups and they seemed to appear and disappear incredibly quickly and we jumped back into the car to chase off to try to head them off on another street or to track down another group. Finding the stags was incredibly lucky.  I won't say that these are the best images but I love them!  Finding the males with their big head gear intact as they peered between the parked cars and munched on the lawns.  Incredible!  

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At one point, a huge group of females suddenly took off and ran in front of us... and it was the perfect opportunity to try for panning shots and some really arty farty images.  Ok, so I boosted the colours and contrast in post processing but I really like these urban deer arty farty abstracts.  

I owe Jamie Hall a debt of grattitude... what an opportunity!  Thanks for sharing this extraordinary spectacle with me and driving me around all night.  Utterly exhausting but totally exhilarating.

 

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And in other news, I have started working with London Wildlife Trust to photograph the development of Woodberry Wetlands.  It is just 0.8miles from my house and for me, it's like stepping into paradise.  I've started some new London galleries on this website but, here are a few pics from March that record the development of the new reedbeds, show the work of the community volunteers and begin to capture the flora and fauna.  I'll tell you more as I go along.  I'm going to treat the new Woodberry Wetlands galleries a bit like scrapbooks showing work in progress.