The Deer at Dagnam Park

As you will remember from my previous blog post, I eluded to a secret reason for heading to Dagnam Park last week and incase you haven’t worked it out yet, it was due to deer. When I found out about Dagnam Park, it was by complete luck as I came across a photo of deer on the Havering In Pictures facebook page and when I found out it where it was, I couldn’t wait to go and see if I could photograph them.

Like the trees in the previous post, deer have also been on my photographic wishlist but I didn’t expect to find them so close to home but, as they roam freely within the park, they could have been anywhere. However, luck was on my side as it wasn’t long until I saw them and I simply couldn’t believe the sheer number of them. It was hard not to be overwhelmed with excitement at seeing them so clearly and being so close to them. I gave myself a few minutes of just watching them, considering my options and then began to take some ‘quick snaps’ – the simple fact of getting to see them and record that initial moment meant only achieving a record shot. However, as time went on, it seemed like they weren’t moving anywhere fast so I took a few more considered shots using the woodland as a natural frame.

Being so delighted at seeing the herd in the woodland so soon into my visit, it would have been very easy to have headed straight home, however, I decided to stay and explore the area a little more. Heading up the path, I could see a clearing and having looked at the map, I could see it headed in the direction of Weald Brook – maybe an opportunity for some landscapes. Continuing my way in the direction of what was shown on the map, I crossed into the next clearing and WOW was I in for a surprise – a herd of what I reckon was at least 50 deer! To say I froze would be an understatement. What should I do, head back? continue on? try and photograph them? I of course chose the third option and like before, I was able to watch them for a bit before getting a few shots of the whole herd. At this point they began to move on and although away from where I was standing, I decided now was the time to move on myself. The deer had other ideas though as I was stopped in my tracks yet again by the sight of 6 of them jumping through some trees before one of them separated and stopped in the undergrowth. The excitement was incredible but, there was still more to come.

Continuing back in the direction of my car, I decided to pop into another wooded area to get some woodland shots. Well, as you may well have guessed by now, this didn’t happen because I was in for a third installment of what was fast becoming ‘Close Encounters of the Deer Kind!’ It was unbelievable, another herd this time even closer and in even more open space. My approach this time, get the shots and then get some more. It was almost like they were posing for me, knowing how much I wanted to photograph them. It really was a truly incredible hour (yes hour!) of photography and one I wont forget in a hurry.

While I very much hope that this post has inspired to go out and photograph deer, I have a few tips for you to bear in mind. Keep at a safe distance (if you feel like you are too close, you probably are!) if they get spooked they could always come towards you, move as quietly and as low to the ground as you possibly can, and finally, take time to enjoy the experience.

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