In October I took part in a Red Deer photography workshop led by Geoff Simpson (www.visionwild.com ) in Lyme Park.
As Geoff said at the start, the workshop was about wildlife photography rather than photographing wildlife, and by the end of the workshop I knew the difference.
The day was organised in conjunction with the National Trust who run the park. This proved to be an advantage as not only were we allowed access to the deer sanctuary, which is normally off limits to the public, but the head warden, Emily, gave us an in field talk about the deer.
Our first lesson was not however on photography, but on the field craft of getting close to the Red Deer. This was important as the deer in Lyme park are close to being wild and are not used to having people in their sanctuary. Geoff advised that the stags are very nervous and if they see us with a hundred and fifty metres will take flight, so the craft of getting close was important. So armed with Geoff’s advice and the newly acquired deer knowledge from Emily, we had a practice run. Surprisingly I got close to a stag and despite my panic got a reasonable shot.
We entered the sanctuary and settled in close to some tall grass, and began to learn our next lesson, that you have to be patience and wait quietly. Our patience was quickly rewarded however, as we were approached by a stag.
Next we positioned ourselves near the bushes which we knew contained deer, again we were rewarded as a stag came out adorned with the rhododendrons he had been trashing with his antlers.
The day calmed down after that as we waited for the evening when we expected some rutting action to take place. Unfortunately nothing much materialised. Probably due to the large number of people who were in the park that Saturday, and maybe because we had disrupted the deer’s routine by entering the sanctuary. Anyway we learned another lesson, you can’t guarantee what the wildlife will do.
So by the end of the day we had some great shots and knew a lot more about wildlife photography as well as photographing wildlife.
I enjoyed the day so much that I returned a few times on my own and was rewarded one evening with beautiful sunset light. I took a few shots from the edge of the sanctuary.