From attending last year I was expecting a good turnout of hill sheep, and I wasn't disappointed. There were lots of Lonks and plenty of Gritstones. That's not to say there wasn't a host of Euro sheep, a healthy rare breed section and a fair few Blue Faced Leicesters. Why some people take the piss out of BFLs for being ugly I don't know. I think they are noble looking creatures with plenty of character. Thankfully those cartoonish Herdwicks are a rarity at most of the shows I go to!
This year the poultry section was back but it was a very small affair which I didn't spend much time looking at. My mind was focused on the 'big' sheep. Unfortunately the layout is one of the worst for photographing from the sidelines once judging is under way. Nonetheless I got one or two shots of sheep being washed and groomed before the serious business got going.
Then it was on to repeating the inevitable sheep-grip and judging shots. This one I converted to black and white just for the hell of it really.
Followed by more attempts at out of focus sheep in the background of pictures of something else.
As part of my plan for a wet day I'd taken my fishing compact along so I could keep it dry in a jacket pocket. Also because it has a nice flippy screen and doesn't look 'professional'. The idea being to use it for 'candids' and low angle shots. It has the disadvantage of a silly aspect ratio, but despite a crop to 3:2 reducing it's pixel count it can produce detailed frames which match up well enough for on-screen display to pictures made on larger sensors. At low enough ISO values the results print well enough too. Maybe it's because it's Nikon that the files match those from my 'proper' cameras in terms of colour and tone regardless of sensor size.
If you can't get near the judging you can at least get close to the penned sheep. of course they never hold a pose that suits what you have in mind. It took a lot of failed attempts before I got a picture of a horn brand which I was happy with. Maybe if I wasn't so set against cropping frames on the computer I might have got it sooner!
You might imagine that taking pictures of a sheep's wool would be simple. But I think it would be better to do it under more controlled conditions if large prints were the intention.
Although the breed classes are held between the pens and awkward to photograph the group and interbreed classes are held outside the pens. Here it's the gathered crowd of spectators which get in the way.
For the junior shepherd class there was even more of a throng. I didn't want to get in the way of any proud parents offering encouragement, but managed a few shots using the flippy screen.
While the super-zoom I use is useful for both long shots and detail shots I'm thinking I rely on it too much. As with all 'people doing things' pictures being in close with a wider angle lens makes for more engaging results.
Perhaps I should give my old 50mm and 28mm combo an outing at the next show. With the zoom in the bag just in case!