Friday, 14 September 2018

Last minute change of plan

Having got tired of lugging two heavy lenses and a big bottle of water around at the shows I was going to revert to laziness and take just my superzoom yesterday, but when I opened the back door it was trying to rain.  The forecast was for it to be dry early on with rain later, by the time I'd be heading home. Rather than take a chance I went for a compromise of sorts. The now less than unloved 70-200 went on one body and my neglected 28mm on the other. I threw my 20mm and 50mm lenses in the bag as lightweight options.

Having been to the Westmorland Show last year I knew what to expect. Hundreds and hundreds of sheep of many breeds! I had also found out that there was a fleece competition. That was where I headed first, before the judging started. It was a bit dull. Just wool in boxes on tables. I'm sure the judging would be a little bit more interesting. I returned later to photograph the winning fleece, from a Teeswater.

This year I didn't spend much time away from the sheep pens. Being a big show it has a lot of commercial stands, and the poultry tent was cramped. A friend of mine, who told me last time he wasn't going to do another flycasting demonstration was back again. This time I got some slightly better shots of him. The fast 70-200 helped blur the background clutter more than the superzoom would have done. Not the ideal location, or light, for the subject.

The light had started off beautiful early on, low with an autumnal glow, as the sheep arrived and got primped but the day soon clouded over. Then again, with the sun being low in the sky it made some angles tricky as they meant shooting into the light. Atmospheric if it comes off though.

Low angle close-ups of sheep continue to interest me, but using the camera's live-view makes it a bit hit and miss. I can't get the focus where I want it all the time, meaning I've framed some nice shots that are out of focus. When the sheep are stationary it works much better. Perhaps I ought to read the instruction book? Of course I can mess photos up by using the wrong shutter speed. Can't blame the gear for that...

Being a Cumbrian show there was a predominance of Lakeland sheep breeds. Rough Fell, Swaledale and the inevitable Herdwicks were there in great numbers. There were so many Herdwicks I  broke my rule of ignoring them.

I'd guess that a majority of native breeds were represented including a lot which aren't usually a feature of shows in the North West. The prick-eared Border Leicester being one particularly photogenic example.

The task of finding different pictures continues, an often becomes a matter of looking for 'better' pictures of something previously photographed. Trying to get an agricultural photographer in the same frame as the sheep being photographed is a tricky one, the two being far apart. Filling the gap with something, or someone, else helps make a picture.

With show season almost at an end it's time to start pulling a selection together into a Blurb book. I have the tongue-twisting-title sorted, but haven't worked out a format yet. Show by show, or aspect by aspect with show info as captions to each picture? All part of what keeps me thinking about photographs. It helps concentrate my mind on what I'm trying to do with the pictures too.

Extended album of photos from the show here.

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