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Out of the Blue

One of my favourite recent projects has been working with the Roe deer at a local woodland. It all started on a fine spring morning, a few years ago, while I was photographing bluebells in a clearing between the trees. Something caught my eye and a beautiful female deer moved silently into the carpet of flowers; she paused briefly and then faded away.

I remember it as a lucky encounter rather than a missed opportunity, but I had witnessed a special moment, and trying to capture it became a bit of an obsession.

The best projects are the ones where you have a specific image in mind and must work to achieve it. I had two fruitless springs with only rare and distant sightings of the deer and nothing to show for my early starts and long days. The bluebells only display for a few weeks from late April into May, when the bracken pushes through and takes the light.

I visited whenever I could and walked many miles tracking the deer and their preferred routes through the dense woodland. My efforts weren’t totally in vain as I now had a better understanding of my subject and its habitat. It was early May, in the third year, when I finally got my chance.

Arriving before sunrise in full camouflage and waiting for hours with only the midges and mosquitoes as company. I hear two deer barking and then a young doe emerges from the distant trees and slowly walks into the bluebells, I line a single focal point between her eyes and fire one shot, then she is gone.

I return to the woods each April with new hopes and ideas. As my knowledge of the deer improves, so do the opportunities. I have longer, more intimate encounters which have produced some very special images.


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