Lockdown thoughts

Friday, April 3rd, 2020 Comments

Image credit: Empty places by Simon Wilkes 2020.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how society responds to a global event such as COVID-19; one that forces changes to the everyday behaviours of millions of citizens. For many it has been full of uncertainty, not helped by vague messages on what we should and should be doing to protect ourselves and our loved ones. For some it’s been a rare time opportunity to reflect on the momentum of our lives, especially when our routines revolve endlessly around the machinery of work and the sacrifices sometimes needed to further our careers. For all of us, Lockdown has thrown a lens on our modern way of life.

Societal change is a theme in my first novel, Out of Nowhere. The events of the book concern a technological upheaval, rather than a medical or political one. One that alters an aspect of everyone’s lives for the better – transport. In the book Blink is a revolutionary form of instant travel that replaces air, road and rail – bringing the world closer together, reducing pollution and giving people back their health and time. But Blink comes at a price. Both personal for the book’s protagonist, Laura Harper, and a societal one with whole industries suddenly made redundant and obsolete over night. Laura’s father, Ray, is a former pilot who, in a few short years, lost his career and has been left feeling abandoned by technology, despite its apparent benefits to others. For many people who have found their industries inexplicably shutdown due to the pandemic, this has been the reality not fiction.

The book also looks at the role of science in this fictional technological revolution. For many in politics and the media, science is useful only when it is convenient. Science is often seen as optional, not fundamental. Which is why we find ourselves in a disturbing age of anti-science and low science literacy, especially in Western developed nations. Optically this often appears to place science at odds with society, when the opposite is true. Having world leaders who  abandon science when it doesn’t suit their current narrative is dangerous at the best of times, and utterly reckless during a healthcare crisis like COVID-19.

If I’ve learned one thing during a global pandemic it’s always listen to the experts in global pandemics.

 

 

Small and mighty

Small and mighty

A young buck stands tentatively on the edge of the wood during the height of the October rut. Richmond Park, October 2018.

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Slowly rises the Sun

Slowly rises the Sun

Sunrise over the crest of the Lawn Field, catching rays through the mist. Richmond Park, September 2018.

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Passing moments

Passing moments

A quartet of lively red deer dash through the mist. Richmond Park, September 2018.

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Autumn Blaze

Autumn Blaze

Autumn at its most spectacular – a burst of glorious sunset cuts through the misty woodland. Richmond Park, October 2018.

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Feral friends

Feral friends

A moody encounter with a herd on a misty, October morning. Richmond Park, October 2018.

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Brought to life

Brought to life

A herd of red deer graze peacefully as mist rises on a pastoral sunrise. Richmond Park, September 2018.

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Caledonia

Caledonia

Early morning sun over Loch an Eilein, in the Cairngorm National Park, Scotland. Taken September, 2018.

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Secrets of the Loch

Secrets of the Loch

Loch an Eilein, in the Cairngorm National Park, Scotland, taken September 2018.

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Mountain High

Mountain High

Taken in the Cairngorm National Park, during a photographic tour of the Scottish Highlands, September 2018.

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Komorebi

Sunday, June 10th, 2018 Comments

I was recently introduced to the beautiful Japanese phrase komorebi by Instagram user Bobby O’Loughlin. Komorebi means ‘sunlight filtering through trees’, and describes visible rays of light through mist or rain, as seen in woodland or forested areas. It’s such a precise description (as many Japanese words and phrases tend to be) that the closest English equivalent would be ‘sunbeams’ or the more meteorologically accurate ‘crepuscular rays’. However, neither seem to do the phenomena the justice that komorebi does.

Komorebi is something I’ve been capturing for a few years now, during my early morning visits to Richmond Park. There’s something magical about those rays, the way they filter through the mist or haze, scattering light through branches and leaves, creating cascading shafts of soft, fading light.

So here’s a few recent examples of komorebi, taken in Richmond Park:

Light shining through spring mist, May, 2018.

In the green wood, May, 2018.

Escape to nature

Escape to nature, May, 2018.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for new photos every day. You can also download a selection of my photos over at Unsplash.

Noble company

Noble company

A short time after dawn on a misty spring morning, a group of young stags enjoy a quiet moment in a woodland glade. Taken in Richmond Park, May, 2018.

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The season of changes

Sunday, May 27th, 2018 Comments

Spring in Richmond Park, May, 2018.

Spring is the season of changes. Bringing the sensory delights of lush new growth and vibrant colour. May and June are especially rewarding for the photographer willing to rise at an ungodly hour to witness the dawn mist and the magical atmosphere it brings.

Light rays cascade through the early morning mist, May, 2018.

It’s also a great time for deer spotting, with plenty of opportunity to see the stags with their new velvety antlers and fawns taking their first steps into the wild.

A dawn encounter, May, 2018.

The world awaits you by Simon Wilkes

A fawn gazes tentatively at the world beyond the wood, May, 2018.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for new landscape, nature and wildlife photos every day.

Guardians of the wood

Guardians of the wood

A group of red and fallow deer gather on the edge of the wood as the first rays of light break through the mist. Taken in Richmond Park, May, 2018.

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The world awaits you

The world awaits you

A fawn gazes at the world beyond the familiar safety of the woods. Captured on a stunning May morning in Richmond Park, 2018.

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Light wave

Light wave

Beams of golden light cascade through the mist on a magical spring morning in Richmond Park, May 2018.

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Escape to nature

Escape to nature

Sun beams break through the early morning mist in Richmond Park, May 2018.

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May magic

May magic

Moments of enchantment as the sun rises over Richmond Park, May 2018.

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Secret Places

Secret Places

Exploring some of the hidden corners of Richmond Park in the spring mist, April 2018.

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The return of Winter

Sunday, March 4th, 2018 Comments

Snowpocalypse. The beast from the east. Whatever you call it, snow and sub-zero temperatures came and turned what should have been the first hint of spring in Richmond Park into a scene from the depths of a Siberian winter. Even the deer were baffled by the white stuff. Still, it was very pretty. Here’s a few photos:

Snow days by Simon Wilkes

Bench covered in snow, Richmond Park, March 2018

Snow in Richmond Park

Snow shine, Richmond Park, March 2018

Snow in Richmond Park

Deer foraging in the snow, Richmond Park, March 2018

Winterspell

Winterspell

A stag enchanted by the late winter snow in Richmond Park, March 2018.

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Snow days

Snow days

Late winter snow in Richmond Park, March 2018.

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Tales from the river bank

Tales from the river bank

Early morning mist on the banks of Beverly Brook, Richmond Park, February 2018.

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Enlightened

Enlightened

Dawn breaks over Richmond Park, February 2018.

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Winter is coming

Saturday, December 9th, 2017 Comments

Winter in Richmond Park by Simon Wilkes

Seasonal shift, autumn gives way to winter. Richmond Park, November 2017

November came and went in Richmond Park with an explosion of autumnal colour and misty, unforgettable sunrises. Now, as December begins, winter has some startling seasonal changes in store for visitors and photographers alike.

Winter is coming by Simon Wilkes

A frosty morning in Richmond Park, November 2017

Visiting Richmond Park at any time of the year offers the chance to experience some of the best views this magical Royal Park has to offer, but winter is a particularly rewarding time for photographers. Though a full blanket of snow can be rare in London, the regular frosts and freezing fog transform the landscape into a wonderland of gleaming, sparkling ice. In December and January the clear, hard light brings natural contrast to the softness of the frozen landscape. Stripped of leaves trees reveal their naked branches creating twisty, silent silhouettes. As ever the deer are here, huddling for warmth in the mist, patiently waiting for a glimpse of the sun to warm their hides.

Frostbitten by Simon Wilkes

Frostbitten. Richmond Park, November 2017

At this time of year the colours of spring can seem a lifetime away. Yet, photographers shouldn’t dismiss the winter months. There are plenty of opportunities to capture the seasonal changes, if you’re willing to brave the cold.

If you’re planning a visit check out my guide for photographers to help you get the most out of your visit.

First of November

First of November

November begins with a glorious misty sunrise, showcasing Richmond Park’s stunning views.

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Somewhere, out there

Somewhere, out there

Obscured by a autumn mist, Richmond Park becomes a mystical place to explore. November, 2017.

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Real Magic

Real Magic

A group of fallow deer huddle for warmth in the freezing temperatures of a late autumn morning. November, 2017.

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Winter is coming

Winter is coming

A hard frost in November seems more like the depths of a frozen winter, as the seasons change in Richmond Park.

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Frozen dawn

Frozen dawn

An early taste of winter, as subzero temperatures arrive in Richmond Park in late autumn, bringing a stunning, golden sunrise.

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Silver and gold

Silver and gold

A misty dawn in late Autumn produces silver and gold tones over the Pen Ponds in Richmond Park. November, 2017.

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The Wonder Tree

The Wonder Tree

A combination of mist and soft sunlight create a magical autumn scene in Richmond Park. September 2017.

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Lords of Autumn

Lords of Autumn

A stag on the banks of the Pen Ponds in an autumnal Richmond Park. September 2017.

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Away from the fray

Away from the fray

At the height of the Autumn rut in Richmond Park, a lone, exhausted stags takes some much needed rest. September, 2017

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Last days of Summer

Last days of Summer

The magical, golden light of dawn during the last days of Summer, August, 2017.

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Wild Dawn

Wild Dawn

Encountering a lone doe in the late summer’s dawn mist, August, 2017.

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Painted by nature

Painted by nature

A dreamy combination of late summer light and seasonal colours create a painterly landscape in Richmond Park, August, 2017.

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Sun glow

Sun glow

Sunrise in Richmond Park, with the morning sun glowing through the mist, August, 2017.

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A tale of two deer

Sunday, August 13th, 2017 Comments

Two deer in the mist, Richmond Park

Two deer in the mist by Simon Wilkes. Richmond Park, August 2017

Dawn is my preferred time of day to take photographs, even though I’m not much of a morning person. In the spring and summer this can be particularly grueling, as sunrise is at an unforgiving hour, usually 4-5am. It’s not easy getting up that early at the best of times, especially when you have a full-time job. However, now that August is here and the days are getting shorter, the sun rises at a more sociable hour.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of golden hour, that magical time just after sunrise and before sunset, when the light is at its most photogenic. This is one of the best times to photograph Richmond Park in my opinion, especially if there’s a bit of mist around. On Friday I was very lucky with the weather. The conditions were perfect with no wind and plenty of low-lying mist hanging between the fields and woodlands. The deer, both red and fallow, were gathering near their watering spots and feeding in the grass.

As I wandered the open fields near Duchess Wood, camera at the ready, I spotted these two red deer munching away in the grass. At first this scene seemed unexceptional, but as moved closer I spotted a rare photo opportunity. Behind the feeding deer three trees were perfectly aligned in the mist. Remarkably the deer were standing a little apart and at just the right spot to give the whole composition a natural, harmonious balance. Trying not to disturb the deer I set down my tripod, adjusted the camera and took the shot as quickly as a could. Just as I took shot the deer spotted me and slowly moved away. Luckily I’d captured them at the right moment. It definitely made setting the alarm for 5am worthwhile.

Follow me on Instagram to see daily photos of Richmond Park and other landscapes.

Instagram tips for photographers

Saturday, August 12th, 2017 Comments

Dawn in Richmond Park. Photograph by Simon Wilkes, 2017

Dawn in Richmond Park. Photograph by Simon Wilkes, 2017

I’m still quite new to Instagram, having only joined mid-2016, but I’ve manage to gather a reasonable number of followers in that time. It’s a modest amount by Instagram standards of-course. Most importantly though, this excellent bunch of people frequently comment on my photos, leaving many encouraging and supportive messages.

Instagram is one of the best ways to reach new audiences and get your work seen by the wider public. It can lead to commercial opportunities and even commissions. I’ve also made lots of new friends via Instagram – fellow photographers, artists and kind, friendly people interested in my photos of Richmond Park.

So how do you build a following and keep that audience engaged? Well here’s a few tips I’ve learned that might help you.

Post consistently

Post photos of the same high quality with an overall theme, style or subject. Landscapes, wildlife, street or reportage . Whatever your niche, post only your best photos and keep your feed just for your photography. Think of it as an extension of your professional portfolio, not just a dumping ground for photos of your cat or last night’s dinner. If you really want to post those kinds of photos then set up a separate feed. This way your photography feed will have a focus and potential new followers will be able to get a good idea of what to expect from your future posts. If it all looks like a random mess then you’ll be less likely to hook those all important followers.

Tip – try not to post too many photos. One or two a day is fine. Post too many, too often, and your followers might think you’re spamming them. Restraint is important.

Timing is key

Timing your posts to target your followers downtime is likely to get better numbers of likes and comments.

Instagram is global audience. 400m users around the world, logging on every day. I have followers from the UK, Europe and the US and all places between. You’ll likely have a similar international audience. You have to bear this in mind when you’re posting, especially if you’re in a timezone that doesn’t always align to the rest of the world.

Generally, I post once a day, in the evening around 21:00 -21:30. Why that particular time? In the UK, it’s late evening, people are winding down, checking Instagram before bed. In Europe it’s a similar story, just a little later. In the US it’s typically late afternoon, people are commuting home and checking their feeds. I’ve found, mostly through a lot of trial and error, that this time of day works best for me.

So try to think about when your followers might be viewing your post. If you post during the working day in the UK, they might not see your post at all as it’ll be buried by the time they come to check their feed at lunchtime or during the evening commute. Timing your posts to target your followers downtime is likely to get better numbers of likes and comments.

Tip – a new post has a shelf life of about 4 hours. After that it will be buried in people’s feeds, so maximise your visibility by posting at the right time of day.

Use hashtags wisely

Hashtags are essential to getting your photographs seen by a wider audience. They also add vital meta data to your photos, making it easier for Instagram group your photos with similar ones. You can add up to 30 hashtags per photo, but usually 15-20 works best. Try to avoid the big obvious hashtags like #photo and #nature. While these do attract millions of posts, they are largely ineffective at attracting more followers. Instead, go for more specific hashtags that explain a little about your photograph like #londonsunset, #ukwildlife or #rurallife. Admittedly, hashtags are a bit of a dark art and can take a bit of trial and error to get the right combination. It’s worth investing time to learn about the right ones to use on your photographs.

You can find a list of top Instagram hashtags here and here.

Tip – keep your hashtags in a text file or note on your mobile so you can easily copy and paste them into your post. This will save you a lot of time.

Tag the hubs

Hubs are collectives that gather together the best photos within a particular theme or subject. These feeds typically have followers in their thousands and some even have millions. You can target these hubs by using their hashtags. Tag your photo with the hashtag from the hub, so that they’ll see you’ve mentioned them. If they like your photo they will post it in their feed. This can be a fantastic way to reach new audience and gain new followers. So it’s worth taking time to find hubs that best suit your particular area of interest. I’ve been featured on such wonderful sounding hubs as Earth Shotz, Allbeauty Addiction, Tree Magic, Fifty Shades of Nature, Heart Imprint, RSA Rural, TV Foggy and Scenic Britain. These are mostly landscape, nature and outdoor photography hubs, but there are all kinds out there. Whatever your interest there is a hub for it and getting your photo featured will help you get noticed.

Brian Venth has a great blog post about the hubs you can use.

Important – hubs are free. They repost your photos so they have content for their feeds. In return you get followers, likes and a general sense of wellbeing. If a hub asks you to pay for being included on their feed, run for the hills. Or better, report them to Instagram. These kind of hubs are scams and should be avoided at all costs.

Engage with your followers

If someone has taken time to comment on your photo then you should take the time to reply, even if just to say thanks.

I always reply to comments. I pride myself on it. Even if a post gets 50+ comments, I still take time to reply to everyone who’s commented. Why? Because engaging with your followers is one of the most important things to being a successful Instagrammer. If someone has taken time to comment on your photo then you should take the time to reply, even if just to say thanks.

I set aside an hour or so each evening to look at my feed, to leave messages on photos I like and find a few new people to follow. It’s not that hard and doesn’t take too much time out of my day. To achieve engagement you must be ready to engage. Lead by example.

Be a good Instagrammer

Instagram knows if you’ve been good. Sounds scary, but its algorithms calculate how much you post, like, comment and follow. It uses this data to determine whether it should recommend you to other users. Rather like Google and how it ranks its search results, Instagram is constantly tweaking this data, assessing you based on your actions.

On a more human level you need to inspire your users, make them want to follow you. Be chatty, be friendly and be sincere. Follow people back. Like their photographs. Leave a comment or two. Be a good Instagrammer and you’ll see the benefits.

Some photographers to follow to get you started

Here’s some photographers that I follow on Instagram, a great source of inspiration:

Have any Instagram tips to share? Want to ask me any questions about Instagram?

Why not leave a comment or question below. You can also get in touch with me via Instagram.

 

Summer gold

Summer gold

Perfect summer morning in Richmond Park, July 2017.

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Golden mist

Golden mist

A family of red deer in the early Spring mist, Richmond Park, May 2017.

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At dawn

At dawn

Red deer in the dawn mist in Richmond Park, May 2017.

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Richmond Park – a guide for photographers and visitors

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 Comments

Richmond Park is London’s largest Royal Park. 2500 acres of stunning grasslands, woodlands and open spaces, as well as plenty of unique wildlife, including the famous deer. I’m a regular visitor to the park, taking photographs all year round, in all conditions. I’m often asked where’s the best places to go, especially for deer spotting. So I thought I’d write a short guide to help you get the most out of your visit to the Park, especially if you want to take photographs.

Before you visit

Take a moment to familiarize yourself with a map of the Park. This one, from the Royal Parks, is by far the most detailed and gives you the main tracks to follow and the names of the individual fields, woodlands and ponds that you can visit.

Copyright Royal Parks.

Depending on which time of year you are visiting bring the appropriate clothing and footwear. The tracks are uneven and often get quite muddy so walking boots or wellies are essential in the wet months. In summer, bring plenty of water, as some areas of the park are exposed and offer little shelter from the sun. If you’re bringing your dog please observe the posters regarding wildlife sanctuaries in the park, as these offer protection for young deer and other wildlife.

The pedestrian gates are open 24 hours day, except during the deer culls in November and February. The main traffic gates open around 7am, though often a little earlier in Spring and Summer.

When to visit

Autumn, in particular, is when the park comes to life when the leaves change colour and the morning mists descend.

Richmond Park is a popular place, even during the working week. At the weekends, especially during spring and summer, the park will be packed with families and tourists. Usually the best time to visit, if you want to avoid the crowds, is first thing in the morning (before 10am) or in the evening when everyone is heading home (7pm or later).

Photograph by Simon Wilkes, 2017.

Although beautiful all year round, the park is at its most spectacular in the spring and autumn months. Autumn, in particular, is when the park comes to life when the leaves change colour and the morning mists descend. September and October also offer great opportunities to observe the rutting season (see below) in full swing. These months are also the most popular with photographers, both professional and hobbyist alike. Be prepare to see large groups of photographers following the deer, especially first thing in the morning.

Depending on the time of year you’re visiting the light will be a major factor, especially if you want to take photographs. In the summer, the sun rises very early (4-5am) so if you want to catch the dawn you’ll need to plan your visit to take this into account. I would highly recommend getting the Photographer’s Ephemeris which will allow you to plot the sunrise and sunset for any given day of the year. It’s an essential piece of software and will save you a lot of head-scratching when you’re trying to locate the sun while navigating the park.

Where to begin your walk

The Pen Ponds car park (see the above map) is usually a good place to start for first time visitors. The car park offers a central base for walking and is only a short distance from the Pen Ponds, which is one of the most picturesque areas. There are six main gates which you can enter by (or park outside and walk in), but these will requires additional walking time to reach the central areas of the park so plan your starting point accordingly. Again check the map and work out which route will work best for you. Usually the main Richmond Gate and the Roehampton Gate are the most popular entry points, so expect considerable foot and road traffic during peak times. The park is also very popular with cyclists, so be prepared for lots of two wheeled vehicles on the road and the tracks.

Deer spotting

Generally speaking deer can be found anywhere in the park. However, there are some areas where you are more likely to see them in significant numbers. The Flying Field, the Sports Pitches and the areas around the Duchess Wood are particular popular with deer in the morning during the Spring and Summer months as this is where the sun rises. You can also find deer near the Lawn Field, the Tercentenary Plantation and also between Spankers Hill Wood and White Lodge. In the Autumn and Winter months, as the temperature drops, deer tend to keep to the woodlands and follow the path of the sun (to keep warm) so checking where the sun will rise using the Photographer’s Ephemeris will pay dividends.

Photograph by Simon Wilkes, 2017.

Safety first

Be vigilant. Keep your distance. Use a telephoto lens if you have one.

The deer in Richmond Park are surprisingly tolerant of human visitors. However, it’s worth remembering that these are wild animals and, as such, can be unpredictable. On some occasions you may not see any, simply because of seasonal changes happening in the park and with the animals themselves. Around the time of the annual culls the deer population is deliberately reduced so spotting them can become a bit harder. Other times the deer are very visible and easy to track. This is especially true during the rutting season (September/October) when the stags often engage in violent duels with rivals. As spectacular as this annual event is it’s always wise to keep a safe distance from the deer during this time. The stags, in order to protect their harems, are often sleep-deprived for many weeks and have been known to chase people who get in the way of their mating rituals. Be vigilant. Keep your distance. Use a telephoto lens if you have one.

Bird spotting

If you’re interested in birdlife, the Pen Ponds should again be your main destination. The ponds have resident swans (often with cygnets in summer), Egyptian geese, ducks, gulls, egrets and herons all year round. If you’re after something a bit more exotic the Isabella Plantation has a number of small ponds where migratory wildfowl can often be seen. Elsewhere you can see kestrels, buzzards, woodpeckers, jays and more common birds such as corvids in great abundance.

Photograph by Simon Wilkes, 2017.

Places of interest

In addition to deer spotting I would recommend checking out the following places in the park:

  • The Royal Oak (between Sidmouth Wood and Queen Elizabeth’s Plantation) – a 700 year old oak tree, with it’s famous split trunk
  • Beverley Brook – a beautiful, meandering river that cuts across the top of the Park near the Roehampton Gate – very popular watering spot for deer, especially in the morning
  • Isabella Plantation – a wonderful, landscaped area of beautiful gardens, ponds and woodlands
  • The Way (Sidmouth Wood) – the famous uninterrupted view all the way from Richmond Park to St. Paul’s Cathedral

Photograph by Simon Wilkes, 2017.

From pixels to oils – how a photograph became a painting

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017 Comments

Richmond Park, one tree hill

One tree hill, Richmond Park. Photograph by Simon Wilkes.

A few months ago I was contacted via Instagram by Cambridgeshire-based artist Mark S. Payne. Mark wanted to paint one of my photographs of Richmond Park, a photo called ‘One tree hill’, taken on a chilly, misty morning in April 2017. Having looked at Mark’s website I could see he had a real love of the natural world and worked in traditional media, such as ink and oils. I was intrigued to see what he would do with my photograph.

Painting copyright Mark Payne

Painting by Mark Payne.

Throughout the painting process Mark kept me updated, sending photos of his work in progress. It was truly fascinating to see Mark’s painting come to life over the course of a few weeks. First the inks, then the oils. The accuracy of his painting shows an immense eye for detail and the kind of precision that photographers like me can appreciate.

Painting by Mark Payne

Photograph by Mark Payne.

Having my photograph painted by Mark made me realise that in our connected world, traditional skills are just as important as ever. Even as photographers become increasing reliant on digital settings and accessories to help take photographs, the basic techniques needed to capture a beautifully composed photograph remain unchanged since the days of Ansell Adams.

Painting by Mark Payne

Painting by Mark Payne.

The finished painting is both a remarkable reproduction and a unique interpretation of the original. To see my photograph transformed into a vastly different medium has been a fascinating process and a considerable honour. I know Mark is currently hard at work on another painting based on one of my photographs and I can’t wait to see how that one turns out.

Follow Mark on Instagram.

Book review: Park Life by John Bartram

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 Comments

If you’re looking for a behind the scenes look at Richmond Park, then Park Life: The Memoirs of a Royal Parks Gamekeeper by John Bartram is a must-read. As a Royal Parks gamekeeper for 40 years, John has overseen the welfare of the deer and other wildlife in Richmond Park’s 2,500 acre spread.

With a poignant introduction by Sir David Attenborough this excellent book gives readers rare and privileged insight into the life of a gamekeeper, including the yearly rituals such as the rutting season and deer culls. In places the book goes into considerable detail about the fascinating and occasionally unpleasant work that John has to undertake. This is especially true about the annual culls. Here, John gives us a sympathetic account of the process of calculating the numbers to cull (of both male and female deer) and the hard work involved in making sure those numbers are met. However, what you learn from these chapters is just how important the welfare of the animals is to John and his colleagues, even when dealing with the aftermath of such grim but necessary work. Even before reading this book I had nothing but admiration for the Royal Parks’ staff, but now I truly appreciate how important their work is and thanks to them we have wonderful places like Richmond Park to freely visit.

On more than one occasion I found myself agreeing with John’s personal opinions, especially about irresponsible dog owners…

The book is wittily written and is full of anecdotes about the day-to-day running of Richmond Park as well as the occasional highs (and lows) of dealing with the general public, film crews and assorted wildlife. On more than one occasion I found myself agreeing with John’s personal opinions, especially about irresponsible dog owners (don’t get me started). There are also a number of beautiful photographs, including those by one of the best Richmond Park photographers out there, Alex Saberi.

Overall I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in wildlife, the environment and animal welfare, as well as anyone who’s ever visited Richmond Park and wondered what goes on behind the scenes.

Park Life by John Bartam

Summer reflections

Summer reflections

Reflections of a perfect summer morning, Richmond Park, July, 2017.

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River of dreams

River of dreams

Beverley Brook in an early spring mist, Richmond Park, April 2017.

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Mist and magic

Mist and magic

Spring mornings in Richmond Park, April 2017.

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Giants

Giants

Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, East Sussex, March, 2017.

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A walk in the park

A walk in the park

A dog walker heading home through a chilly, spring mist. Taken in Richmond Park, April 2017.

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Going coastal

Going coastal

Taken at the Seven Sisters, Seaford, March 2017.

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Autumn colours

Autumn colours

The magic of Autumn, captured in Richmond Park, October 2016.

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Rainbow days

Rainbow days

Winter rainbow in Richmond Park, January 2017.

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Winter light

Winter light

Winter in Richmond Park, December 2016.

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Autumn woods

Autumn woods

Seasonal changes captured around Richmond Park, October 2016.

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Woodland spirits

Woodland spirits

Autumn magic in Richmond Park, October 2016.

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Circle of the Ancients

Circle of the Ancients

Taken at the mythical Castlerigg stone circle, Keswick, during a photographic tour of the Lake District, September 2016.

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Lakeside

Lakeside

Cabin on the shore of Grasmere, Cumbria, September, 2016.

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