Saturday, 15 July 2017

Let sleeping pigs lie

There's no doubt that last winter's avian flu outbreaks have had a knock on effect for poultry shows this summer. It was the first day of the Great Eccleston Show today and the poultry pens appeared to be reduced in number compared to my visit last year. The weather was certainly wetter early on meaning the crowds were thinner.

With poultry judging not finishing until noon I was forced to take shelter in the pigeon, budgerigar and rabbit marquees. The enthusiastic fanaticism of all the fanciers is just the same as that of the poultry keepers.

Talking to the woman in the pigeon tent it seems that pigeon keeping is in decline. I can't speak for the show scene round here, but racing pigeon lofts were common thirty or forty years ago. many I remember have gone. It would appear that as with many rural orientated hobbies the participants are ageing with their numbers not being replaced by youngsters.

It's always interesting to watch the professionals at work. The chap above was shooting for the Blackpool Gazette. As he entered the pigeon tent it was a case of me photographing him and him photographing me. We got similar pictures of each other with pigeon pens between us! for him it was the usual case of call in at an event for the morning and make sure you get the expected sort of shots. It's what pays the bills so that's fair enough. I doubt I could do it because I'd get sidetracked after ten minutes!

Watching non-professional photographers is also interesting. Probably because I don't feel like either a hobbyist or a professional. It wasn't until I zoomed in on the badge on the sleeve of the photographer pictured on the left that I noticed its irony. Something to do with keeping film alive. I spotted his Leica first. A digital one. A quick Google of the badge's wording revealed its hipster origins.

The day was a bit of a washout, pun intended, photographically. I couldn't really get my head into gear. Most of my time was spent around the pig ring wishing I hadn't decided to try a different approach in terms of gear. I'd left my super-zoom at home in favour of something shorter and it wasn't really working out. The trouble is that without an 'access all areas' pass it's difficult to get close to the action, which I find gives more engaging pictures, at these shows.

I've noticed quite a few photographers favour a 70-200mm zoom for this sort of event. It's not a lens I can get to grips with. It's too long at the short end to get in close with and too short at the long end to use from afar. For me. Obviously others find it ideal. Maybe that's down to the sort of look they like for their photos?

Thinking I might miss having nothing longer than 85mm to use I put the toy camera in my bag with its 90-300mm equivalent zoom. I dug it out early on for the pig judging and immediately found the lens much too long at the short end!  I also got frustrated by the camera's controls as usual and put it back in the bag to stay there. Even so I got one shot I like with it. But I could have got it with the superzoom on a proper camera...

As far as poultry shows go I think I have reached the end. I've considered shooting shows of other creatures, but looking round the pigeon and rabbit sections it could be a case of a variation on a theme - just with different creatures in the cages. The goat and pig sections are somewhat different, and could offer some new photo-opportunities. Sheep shows have been photographed a lot in the past. Goat shows not so much. Goats are characterful too, making good subjects in their own right. As do pigs. Both are intelligent animals.

Much as I enjoy country and poultry shows, I'm not sure I can find anything fresh to say about them using photography. Not unless I change my approach. It looks like a new project to get obsessed with is no closer.

More of today's pics here.

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