Monday 19 September 2011


06.31h. 1/8 sec. f5.6. ISO 1250
06.25h. 1/5 sec. f5.6. ISO 1250
06.26h. 1/6 sec. f5.6 ISO 1250

"I'm going to photograph that big white buck during rutting" I said.

It seemed like a good idea at the time but I think I really had set myself a bit of a challenge this time.

Actually, I have been observing the doe herd for a few weeks now, so I knew where these timid creatures were hanging out but the white buck? That is a different matter all together. Ask anyone and they all know he's about and many have seen him in the past, but the question is, where is he, now that it is rutting season.

Preparing for this challenge involved many daytime visits to the location to find a suitable spot to set up the camera. It also involved the purchase of what can only be described as a large piece of net curtain printed with a camouflage pattern. I didn't hold out much hope of this being very successful but it was the most economical (and comical) way of hiding myself.

So, after consulting the photographers ephmeris last night, for the timings, I decided that today would be the first of many an early start in a bid to complete my challenge. Dressed in attire that would prompt the arm of the law to ask what I might be doing, I set down my tripod at around 06.10 just as the light was creeping into the sky. I didn't have to wait long before the first of the doe herd started to emerge from the woodland. As a photographer, the light was completely against me and so I just had to sit and observe through my viewfinder as a juvenile male play fought with a fallen branch. Before long though, I realised that the clashing sounds I could hear didn't relate to what I was seeing and so lifting the murky-green-curtain a little I looked over to my right and there was the glowing mass of the white buck in full battle with another of the more usually coloured fallow deer bucks.

I couldn't believe my luck- a few minutes wait, the big white buck and a battle all on the first day! But the light was still too poor. As I was checking the settings on my camera in a vain chance that I could start shooting, a group from the doe herd ambled across just a few feet in front of me. Giving my net-curtain blob a quizzical look, they knew full well that I was there as the light wind was also blowing the smell of me towards them. It was so tempting to grab a shot of these young ladies but I knew if I did, the shutter noise was liable to spook them resulting in a possible mass retreat of my main subject.

I had not to worry as the ladies swiftly made for the patch of woodland opposite in an attempt to escape the testosterone-rich scrap going on some distance in front of me. Tentatively squeezing the shutter button, I was then able to attempt the first shots of what is a spectacular sight. Lasting just a few minutes, I took a handful of record pictures of the battle on a less than satisfactory setting. The results above are testament to the difficult conditions. It was a gotcha though!

So you are asking, what is my next challenge? Well actually, I haven't finished here. This is only just the start. I'm a photographer and we are always striving to get THE best shot. Yes I have a record of the white buck in full fight so I suppose you could say I have fulfilled the challenge but now that I know where he is, the next challenge is to get close-ups and take more pictures with better light. Next time though I will ensure my remote shutter release is on the camera before I arrive to minimise camera shake. It is all step-by-step and I really hope I can present you with THE shot before too long. I've already set the early alarm again ready for tomorrow.

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