Behind The Shot: “Autumn Call” By Mark Bridger—Richmond Park, London, England

autumn red_web

I’m an enthusiastic semi-pro photographer who took up this hobby about seven years ago when my wife bought me my first camera for my 40th birthday, a Canon 40D.  I live in a small town in the Southeast of England a few miles from London and work full time as a graphic designer at a large printer.

My main interests in photography are nature, which can be anything from bugs to bears, and my two little boys who are growing up fast! In the last few years I have found myself photographing weddings which I love to do, and it’s a great way of funding my wildlife passion.

By far my favorite subject to shoot are deer; I just love to photograph them throughout the different seasons, but for me, the best time is at dawn on a golden misty morning in Autumn during the annual rut. When shooting them I like to try and include the habit of the animal that I’m photographing and not just go for the close-up shot.

This shot of a red deer stag is probably my favorite image of a red deer so far that I have taken; it was taken in Richmond Park at about 7.30 a.m. late October, the rut had just about finished, but the stags were still bellowing and chasing the hinds when they could. I had decided last minute that morning that I would make the one-hour trip before work to London as the weather looked like it could be a good sunrise with a bit of mist. I parked up and grabbed my camera; as the sun rose up I saw this stag a way off making his way through the bracken towards a group of hinds that were drinking from a small pond. I made my way over and waited on a small mound that gave me a slightly elevated view of the landscape, as I wanted a different angle on a stag showing, hopefully, the habit off a bit more as well, so I stood there hoping he would keep on coming towards the hinds to which he did. After a few minutes he stopped about 20 meters in front of me and stood there watching the hinds. I wasn’t sure if he would start to bellow or not, so I was really excited when he started to call. He was only there for about a minute or so, but that was long enough. For me, the combination of a large red deer stag bellowing in the cold misty autumn bracken was a winner. I really liked the way the sunlight highlighted the different colors in the wet bracken and the background that was still in shade was a colder blue color just highlighting the stags breath.

Equipment & Settings: Canon 1DX, Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS L at f/4.5, ISO 1000, 1/640 sec. I always shoot in RAW and process in Apple Aperture although I’ve now started to use Adobe Lightroom CC, but with this image I really didn’t have to do much processing.

To see more of Mark Bridger’s work, visit or