When King Henry VIII took over Hampton Court and the surrounds, he decided to establish an area to satisfy his lust for hunting, and this led to the introduction of deer into Bushy Park. Since being originally used for royal sport, the park has had a colourful history with many additions and varied uses. Dwight Eisenhower used the residences in the park as his headquarters during WWII. Teddington rugby and hockey clubs still use the expanses of fields for their modern-day sports. The deer remain, and along with the rivers, lakes and water features, this little London Park makes for photography that spans various genres.
With the park packed with picnickers and dog walkers on hot summer days, I prefer the cold winter mornings when the park is at its most pristine. Through the months of November, December and January, the lakes and surrounds are decked with a ghost-like fog, and wonderful shots can be captured as the sun rises over London. Shooting into the sun seems to go against the rules of photography, but I have captured wonderful scenes using this approach. Just take care not to look into the sun through the several glass prisms within the camera and lens.
A place for photography
During the winter months, the deer rut has ended, and the Stags are back in the herds again. Their thick winter coats shield them from the icy cold weather, and if a heavy frost falls during the night, opportunities arise to get great shots of the deer with coats of ice.
The expanses of open water get an icy cover, much to the surprise and bemusement of the resident waterfowl. Seeing a flock of Canada geese coming into land, only to hit the ice and slide for meters, adds only to the magical charm of wildlife in winter. I watch the weather forecast avidly for clear nights and mornings when the temperature drops below freezing.
Dress in multiple layers and always remember that when near water, the temperature will be a few degrees lower than the forecast.
Good photographic gloves are essential because the tripod and lenses will get colder the longer you stay out. Battery life is the biggest problem because they lose power and longevity when they’re very cold. I tuck them into a pocket in one of the layers closest to my chest or stomach to keep them in a workable state. As long as you keep changing them between your pocket and the camera, you shouldn’t have a problem. If it gets down to below -5C, then I’ll use disposable hand warmers in my pockets to keep the batteries warm. These are cheap to buy in hiking shops and have allowed me to shoot in extremely low temperatures.
Winter shooting continues to excite and enthral me. Maybe it’s as a result of growing up in Africa, where although it is possible to have few occurrences of really cold mornings, the winter beauty remains a Northern hemisphere privilege.
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Winter Images of Bushy Park
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