Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography – Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.

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Morning at Bradgate Park

I have been neglecting this blog a little in the past few months however one of my resolutions for next year is to write more and show more pictures. Whether or not this will actually occur will be decided on the reliability of the internet connection in Madagascar where I’ll be spending the first half of 2015.

Here are some images from a trip to Bradgate Park last weekend. The first time I’ve been out with my camera in a few months due to working a “real” job in the lead up to Christmas. I am now free and have plans for Scotland and Morocco before preparing for Madagascar in February.

We arrived at Bradgate before sunrise with the aim of photographing Red Deer whilst they still had their antlers, preferably with the golden rays of morning sunlight lighting up plumes of breath. The light was great, the air was cold and there was very little wind however the deer did not cooperate.


A pre-dawn Red Deer stag. A little far away but a good test tof the 5D3’s high ISO capabilities.

We managed to locate a Red Deer stag very quickly and with the sun not yet up we had a while to get ourselves into position and let the animal get used to our presence. Being a nice morning forecast, no sooner had we located this individual then it seemed as if half the dog walkers and joggers in Leicestershire also turned up. The stag we were watching quickly moved across the flats and over to the side of the river where the public are not allowed. A photographers pass can be purchased for this side of the river in the rutting season however we had not done this.


A pair of conspiratorial young Fallow Deer.

We spent a little while wandering about looking for another Red Deer stag however we only succeeded in finding a dead one. It was very fresh and although we considered standing it up in a nice position and just photographing it like that we decided against it. The sun was well on it’s way up and the light was perfect so we settled for a herd of Fallow Deer under some old oak trees close by so at least we would make use of the light.

The Fallow Deer at Bradgate Park are extremely tame and although they keep an eye on humans that stop and stare they are generally completely unfazed. We spent a while with this particular herd making the most of the great light. I liked the overhanging old oak branches so opted for some more habitat style shots.

These three images are all the same individual in the same spot and I’m not sure which is my favorite yet however I like how together they show my compositional thought process:


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After a while shooting into the light we moved around so that we were shooting with the light instead of against it. I love back-lighting and nice light in the UK is sometimes a rarity however it’s always nice to try to get a variety of shots of your subjects if possible.

With the next shot I waited until these two Deer moved into a patch of light and set my camera to under expose slightly to try and get the light coloured deer properly exposed with a dark background.

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Although the light was still ok we decided to leave this heard alone and have another quick look about for a Red Deer stag before heading back. A lot more people were starting to arrive so we thought our chances would be slim, unfortunately we didn’t see any more reds as quite sensibly they were probably the other side of the river. Whilst walking back we decided to photograph the Black-Headed Gulls on the stream as I wanted to practice some in-flight shots as I haven’t really put my 5D3 though it’s paces since I bought it in the summer.




All in all it was a very pleasant morning and I was very happy to be out and about again with my camera!

Thanks for looking.