It's that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, and the deer are at their most active during the autumn rut. I photograph the deer nearby to me, at Woburn, in Bedfordshire. I've been out photographing them several times over the last few weeks, and I've got a nice selection of shots, I think. This year I've decided to split my deer photos into 2 blog posts. This is the first one, and the second post will be out a few weeks later.
This first photo is a deer I've nicknamed "The Brute". He was a bit of a monster. There are times when you see deer during the rut, which seem to be bellowing specifically at you, and this was definitely one of those occasions, as he stared down the barrel of the camera.
I love how central and symmetrical the first photo was, but this is the same deer, swung over to his right, to show us his profile too.
This is a different deer now. I liked the light here, in combination with the elegant posture.
This photo has some great light, but I'm not sure I handled it that well. It's a but contrasty, maybe. But I do like to capture photos that are primarily back/side-lit like this. You get a strong definition to one side of the subject, which fades away across the body.
I like this one because of the warm sunrise light, and the detail in the antlers. You can see that the lower front antlers are damp from the dew on the grass, as he browsed, in comparison with the higher-up antlers, which remain dry. That contrast adds depth to the image, as well as illustrating a background story.
On the colder mornings, it's always great to capture their misty breath, which conveys the classic conditions of the season. For the most part this autumn was very warm, so these opportunities were relatively rare.
I do love a silhouette, and I had one sunset where I was able to capture a few nice ones.
I love the peachy tone of the sky in this one, which I think was taken shortly after the sun had gone down.
This one was shortly before the sun went down, and to be honest, I'm not convinced the colours look right, but I like the posture of the deer.
OK, this one's not a silhouette, but it's a demonstration of how much the direction of light matters. These two locked antlers and sparred for a few minutes, right at the last light of the day. You can (hopefully) see the tint of red sunset light hitting their sides, but it's not nearly as dramatic as it seemed at the time.
However, I was able to move around and view them from the other side, shooting towards the sunset, for this silhouette.
I think a few years ago, if you'd have offered me this silhouette of two deer with locked antlers in front of a sunset, I'd have jumped at it. But now somehow I just pick at it's shortcomings! There's a lot I'd rather was different about this photo, but ultimately it's a nice depiction of the season, in the kind of simplified way you only really get from a silhouette.
Part 2 of this year's deer photos will be coming soon, but this was the thirteenth deer rut that I've photographed down at Woburn, so I have a huge back-catalogue of deer photos now. On my website you can find all my previous deer photography blog posts, or take a look at the Deer gallery to browse my favourites and order wall art prints.