Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Summer starts here

The other week at the bantam society show I was offered a free entry to the first localish agricultural show of the summer. In return for taking some photographs. That was the price I had to pay. Still, I was going anyway. The trouble with a 'gig' is that you have to produce what the punters want. So I was prepared to take some shots of the presentation and to get some shots of the judging and of thronging crowds admiring the poultry. I hope I got away with that side of things. At least thee shots are in focus and reasonably well exposed!

I'm not sure if it was the heat but I didn't seem to be able to find my groove with the poultry. Although I did get a couple of additions to the files. One of the inspection of birds on arrival and one at the end of the day as people queued for their prize money. One chap was eager and got in before the rush to pick up his £1.

As well as the poultry tent I wanted to hang around the sheep pens. Unfortunately they were as far apart on the showfield as possible. This meant me getting even hotter walking back and forth and standing around in the open being thankful I wasn't wearing a thick fleece like some of the sheep.

The sheep gave me some new opportunities. Having arrived before opening time I was there while sheep were being unloaded and titivated prior to the judging. I still didn't make the most of the opportunity though. There can be quite a bit of last minute preparation. Horns to be oiled legs to be whitened. I'm not sure what 'fleece fix' is, but I imagine it to be some kind of hairspray!

Looking out for unusual angles, as much as for unusual things, is what keeps the mind active at events where a lot is happening. They don't always work, but can give a basis for improvement at a later date.

Another thing to look out for is the comedy element. Being ready for it and acting quickly enough to get a well framed a picture is a challenge. I just about managed with the impromptu sheep wrestling display, but missed the lamb juggling by a mile

A reluctant Lonk was less of a challenge. 

Being a Lancastrian I've developed a respect for Lonks. They make those smiling Swaledales and grinning Herdwicks look like softies. Derbyshire Gritstones are almost as tough. Not just hardy sheep, they're proper 'ard sheep!

As usual, whenever someone on Talk Photography mentions Martin Parr (as someone did in relation to his Chelsea Flower Show photos on the Guardian site) there is a volley of derision in response. They're just snapshots. Anyone on TP could have done better. Etc.

With this in mind I spent my time walking between my two mainplaces of interest deliberately looking for the Parresque and trying to imitate his style. And he does have a style. The things I noted were that seeing Parr-type subjects isn't all that easy, having the bottle to take the photos is harder, and that I have a different way of both seeing subjects and framing my shots. If I had spent the whole of my time wandering the showfield I might have managed to get a reasonable crop of pictures. I spent around six hours with a camera in hand, coming home with 577 frames (many were deleted on site). Regardless of imitating Parr or doing my own thing I still didn't manage too many decent pictures. Plenty of 'fillers' and scene setters, but not many 'good ones'. I even had to crop one...

 Possibly my most Parresque below.

Of course there was ample scope for the pictures of characters. One of the poultry judges fitted that bill. But I try to resist the temptation for such easy pickings.

While I can't fault the images from my superzoom lens I did find it frustrating at times. I was also very aware that it's long focal length makes it easy to stay away from the 'action'. This has a distancing effect on the pictures. But for some pictures the compression it provides to images is beneficial. I'm toying with reverting to a shorter zoom for the next show. Or even going back to my two fixed focal length approach - with a couple of others in the bag. Then again I have a feeling that a 28mm on one body and a 70-300mm on the other and a 20mm in the bag would see me right. If my 70-200mm didn't weigh a ton I'd give that a go. If it was my main lens I wouldn't bother about the weight, but it would be the secondary lens. Oh for the days when I only had a 50mm lens.

A mixed bag of sheep, poultry, dogs and people can be seen in the not-as-good-as-Martin-Parr-would-have-done gallery. Do I venture to Yorkshire in a fortnight to try and improve? There will be poultry - and more Lonks...

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