I'm delighted to introduce new Nature's Home uncovered blogger, Tom Mason. Tom featured in one of our "One in a Million interviews" in Birds magazine a couple of years ago based on his volunteering work at RSPB Rye Meads. We met at Birdfair this year for a chat about all things wild and Tom's passion for wildlife. Tom is one of the best photographers around (all the images below are taken by him), so I hope you enjoy seeing his work and pick up some expert tips about photographing wildlife. Hopefully you'll be inspired enough to send in your pictures to Nature's Home - who knows, you might make our Reader Photos page. Here's Tom:
Having just had my birthday (reaching the ripe old age of 21), I more excited than ever about the future. September is always a special time for myself, as the start of a new year in my life also comes with the start of my favourite season. Autumn.
With a new year kicking off, I’m thrilled to be joining the RSPB blog team, hoping to bring you articles that will both help and inspire you to capture the seasons photographically. Over the next year, each month I will be providing you with some ideas, locations and photographic tips to get you out enjoying nature with a camera in your hand!
So to kick off my new blog let’s tackle a big hitter of British wildlife, red deer.
Autumn plays host to the Rut and there really is no better time to photograph these majestic creatures, a real figurehead mammal of the British countryside. Our biggest land mammal, male stags can grow up to 137cm tall (to the shoulder) and weigh in at up to 190kg. Natively present from the highlands to East Anglia, they are also present in many Royal Deer Parks too.
Where to go
Finding red deer can be difficult, especially if you head after the truly wild animals in the Highlands or Northumbria. However by researching and heading to more noted locations where the deer are more used to people, your chances of both getting close and creating images, are vastly improved. Some great locations to try include, RSPB Minsmere, Bradgate Park Leicestershire, Richmond and Bushy Park London and the New Forest, where deer are generally quite easily located.
Approaching Deer Deer are wild animals, even in the parks. They are also large and can potentially be dangerous if you try to get too close, are caught between rivalling stags or a male and his hinds. Be cautious, take your time. Evaluate the scene, look for the dominant male and asses a route for approach. Move directly towards your subject, using trees and ground for cover, stopping regularly to asses your subjects response. If they seem startled at all, wait or move away. An image is never worth your subjects distress.
A long lens of 300mm or above will help you to isolate your subject without having to get too close, whilst a wider angle will be useful for displaying your subjects in the habitat. For great results, get low in ferns to produce out of focus browns and greens, looking for stags sticking their heads up with bracken crowns aloft. Misty morning also produce stunning images, with the low sun producing impressive golden tones to compliment an autumnal colour pallet.
To be in with the best chance of great images, keep heading back to the same locations. Learn about your subjects and how they move, as this will help you to position yourself ahead of the action. So get out there, enjoy the Rut, stay safe and take some gorgeous images!
I would love to hear how you get on out in the field, so why not Tweet me @TomMasonPhoto ? To see more of my work you can always visit my website at www.tommasonphoto.com