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Event Photography: Project Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park

As you probably know I love to spend time in Richmond Park & my love of the big Red Deer stags. So today it was a pleasure to spend a morning photographing a project Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park . The Friends of Richmond Park & The Royal Parks had been working together to plant over 40 Elm Trees. These would form an avenue either side of the path from Petersham Gate.

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Planting the Elm Trees – who would be the lucky ones to use the spade (Left) used by Mer Majesty the Queen a few years ago?

Once a mainstay of the English landscape for centuries, Elm trees have now largely disappeared. There have been no mature Elms in Richmond Park since the 1970s. Dutch Elm disease swept through the country spread by beetles & other wildlife. This caused a rapid decaying of the crown before eventually killing the whole tree. Not only did Elm trees disappear from the countryside but so did many species of insects & wildlife specific to the Elm. The project has selected special disease-resistant trees to plant in the Elm Walk. In time, & hopefully over a lifespan of several hundred years, the trees will enhance encourage the specific wildlife to return to the park.

Sir David Attenborough at Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sir David Attenborough at the Elm Walk information board

Members of the Public & organisations had been given the chance to sponsor each tree. Then come along to a planting ceremony of their tree in the park. Tree No1 was to be planted by Sir David Attenborough, a gift to commemorate his 90th birthday.

Sir David Attenborough Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sir David Attenborough & his Elm Tree

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Planting No1 Elm Tree, Sir David Attenborough didn’t mind getting stuck in

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sir David imagining the view in years to come

It will be very interesting to watch these young trees develop & create a beautiful canopy along the path. Thank you for asking me to be a small part of the history of Richmond Park.

 

Wildlife Photography: Snowy photos during The Beast from The East

With all my Motorsport Photography assignments lately I have found it hard to get up to Richmond Park & Hampton Court with my camera. I love to get out with my cameras & enjoy shooting wildlife photos just for my own pleasure. We don’t get a lot of snow down where I live around Heathrow area. So what better time than in the last few days to create some snowy wildlife photos during The Beast from The East.

Frozen Pen Ponds in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Snow drifting across a frozen Pen Ponds in Richmond park

Diana Fountain at Bushy Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Diana Fountain in Bushy Park

Cold Weather Photography Tips….

Cold weather & electrical equipment don’t get on too well, so here are a few tips I use. Charge your batteries up fully before you set out. Cold weather will pull the current (amps) from batteries much quicker than in normal conditions…. that’s why your iPhone seemed to go down to 20% quicker than normal!! If your camera batteries are getting old they will go flat much quicker too. Always keep your spare batteries & memory cards in an inside jacket pocket so they keep warm from your body heat. Cameras are fiddly things with all the dials & buttons at the best of times. Now add thick gloves… & they’re almost impossible to use. I use weightlifting gloves, padded palms keep my hands warm & for grip & fingerless so you can still work your setting dials.

If it’s still snowing & your worried about your camera body getting wet while it’s hanging from your shoulder. Lay a chamois leather over the top & tuck it in around the strap to keep it in place. Or next time you’re on holiday pinch the Shower Caps out of the hotel bathroom, they make great waterproof camera covers!!

When you get home from your shoot, don’t put your camera away in it’s case for a while. Leave it out in the room with the front lens cap off, to acclimatise to the temperature. Being a plastic or alloy, the lenses & camera body will have got very cold outside. If you put it away in your kit bag as soon as you are home, there’s a high chance of condensation forming on the outside & worse inside your equipment.

Time to throw on some layers… 5 at least I think I had on & out into the bitter cold I went, Nikon in hand…..

I feel very lucky to live close to Richmond Park with it’s landscape & wildlife are constantly changing throughout the seasons. Getting out with my camera for a few hours is a great place to relax & switch off from work. The exceptional cold weather, The Beast from The East as the media were calling it, delivered a few days of snow & ice. It made for some great photos.

Squirrel feeding in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A squirrel taking advantage of some kindly left bird seed

Frozen Pen Ponds in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Ducks on the ice at Richmond Park

I took a walk into Isabella Plantation while I was there, thought there might be some snow drops maybe. When I spotted a fox walking down a path the other side of some bushes. I managed to fire a few shots off quickly in case this was all I saw of him. Quietly I managed to make my way through the bush & get onto the path behind him. Crouching down, I made that funny kissy noise you make with your lips to a dog. I just hoped he might turn towards the camera just before he bolted away..

Young wild fox in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A fox in Isabella Plantations at Richmond Park

You can imagine my surprise when rather than run off, he turned & came trotting back up the path towards me!! Brave, Cheeky little thing….I suspect he was hungry & clearly used to people in the park.

Young wild fox in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Trotting back up the path towards me…

Young wild fox in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Brave, Cheeky young Fox in Richmond Park

Young wild fox in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Young Fox sits patiently while I take his portrait at Richmond Park

Richmond Park is home to a large herd of over 600 Fallow & Red Deer, always on my list whenever I go. I wanted to get a few shots of them in the snow but I only managed to see them as it melting on the last day.

Young stag in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A young Stag watches me with the herd in Richmond Park

Red Deer in snow in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Deer Crossing the road through Richmond Park

Large Stag in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Large Stag in Richmond Park

The snowy weather also made for some really lovely photos of the wild birds in local parks. Here are a couple of Robins, Gulls & a Swan from a walk through Bedfont Lakes & Hampton Court.

Robin on brach in Bedfont Lakes during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Robin perched on a lichen covered twig at Bedfont Lakes

Robin in the snow at Bedfont Lakes during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A little Robin is all puffed up to keep warm in the snow

Ducks on frozen lake in Richmond Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

KEEP OFF THE ICE….yes that means you too!!

Seagulls take off in Hampton Court Home Park during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Save yourselves!!…..GOOOOOOOSE!!!

Swan takes off in Hampton Court during The Beast from the East - Wildlife photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Frozen Long Water at Hampton Court makes a great Runway for this Swan

I hope you enjoyed a small collection of some of my Wintery images from the local parks. I know it can make life difficult but as a photographer I hope next year we get another visit from the snow fairies!!

 

Wildlife Photography: Early morning trip to Richmond Park

To get the great shots you need to be an early morning trip to Richmond Park. Today was one of those mornings where it so worth it. When we arrived…yes, we!… I was treating Mrs S to another fun day out!! The morning mist was hanging across the fields. As we were still in the Rutting Season, the large Stags were in full voice bellowing through the fog, claiming their territory way off out of sight. It was like a scene from Jurassic Park. We made our way down to Pen Ponds as the sun started to rise above the trees & then across towards Isabella Plantations. When we were greeted by the sight of this majestic beast.

The large red stag was in no uncertain terms letting everybody know who was in charge around here, & it wasn’t us! During rutting (breeding) season, red stags and fallow bucks compete for females. The large males roar, bellow and violently clash antlers in an attempt to fight off rivals and attract as many females as possible. The large red stag fights can go on for some time before one will suddenly concede, to then be chased away by the victor.

As photographers you need to keep fully aware of where you are & what is behind you at all times. It’s easy, once your eye is up to the viewfinder to be lost in the moment, trying to capture all the action in front of you, to then find yourself in a tricky situation with the UK’s largest wild animal. Their testosterone levels are pretty high at this time & so you need to keep a safe distance from them as they can become stressed and behave unpredictably if they feel threatened by people standing close by trying to take pictures.