Saturday, 2 November 2013

Playing chicken

Over the last couple of years I've driven past a poultry show just as everyone was leaving and wondered what it would be like to visit it with a camera. This year I was forewarned, and with the weather being lousy I stuck a a 'proper' camera and a spare lens in my bag and the X10 in a pocket and went for a look.

Being held in a big shed lit with fluorescent tubes but with some daylight (when the clouds parted) coming through small high windows the lighting was quite dull the colour temperatures mixed. It was doable without flash and most of the time ISOs weren't too bad. Not even for the X10.

Photographing chickens in small cages is a bugger for autofocus though! The best shots I got of the birds, almost without exception, have an eye visible between the bars and a catch-light on the eye - even if the eye was out of focus. I started out doing straightforward stuff. Catching a pose of unpredictable birds is hard enough, but trying to make sure essential bits aren't obscured by the bars at a critical moment makes life even harder. I like the symmetry and colours of this shot. Not to mention the pose of the bird.

As I went round the aisles I loosened up, forgetting many of the' rules' of composition, forcing odd compositions and not worrying at all about having everything level. Not even bothering to straighten things back home on the computer.

Limited depth of field became a feature of many shots, not purely for effect, but as much a result of the low light levels and a desire to keep the ISO down.

What soon became obvious is that the smaller sensor images just aren't as pleasingly smooth as those from the 'proper' camera. There's nothing 'wrong' with them as such, they just look kind of 'harsh' is the best way I can find to describe what bugs me about them. I'm thinking that my search for a small, discreet, camera is doomed to failure - at least at an affordable price.

There was a guy there with a chicken studio set up to take portrait photographs of the prize winners. Even without bars and with careful coaxing from their owners the chickens remained uncooperative subjects!

Despite the number of people milling about, doing interesting things, and mostly oblivious top the camera I still chickened out of taking as many candid shots as I would have liked to. Most of the ones I did grab were no more than snaps and mostly taken using the screen of X10 to frame them. Apart from one which I almost like quite a bit and which was the last in a series I shot using the viewfinder of the proper camera. I saw a situation that had potential and something took over. I jammed the camera to my eye and kept shooting until I got something. Maybe that's why I didin't take so many people pictures. I didn't see many situations developing?

Two good things did come out of this brief sortie. I loosened up my compositions, and I was looking for more complex people pictures rather than shots of 'interesting' individuals doing nothing much.

As ever there's a slideshow (which could be pared down further by weeding out some of the repetitive frames) to be found here.

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