Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Challenging weather

Glutton for punishment or up for a challenge?Probably the former in my case being someone who likes and easy life. I knew it would be overcast today, and I know that whatever the weather on the coastal plain the Pennines to the east will have something completely different. It was no surprise to see veils of mist rising from the valleys as I headed east. I was encouraged to see sunlight breaking through creating some very appealing lighting effects. However...

As I left the motorway and began to climb towards the sheep dog trial field the mist closed in, but not enough to obliterate all the wind farm from view. I pulled the car over and made some exposures. It didn't take me long and the mist began to clear. That spoiled what I had in mind for the pictures, but gave me hope for the sheep dogs.

Continuing onwards the mist descended once more. Thicker than ever. There was no sign of even a gentle zephyr to shift the stuff. On the positive side, it wasn't freezing fog! Fog isn't conducive to sheep dog trials, which meant there was a lot of standing about and talking going on.

The quad dogs were irresistible, and captive, subjects.

This being a charity open trial, and an annual social event, there was outdoor cooking taking place. Not your average barbecue, but what looked very much like a very home-made wood-fired oven cum grill cum hot plate. Call it what you will, the toasted sausage butty was great.

Eventually the fog lifted just enough for the sheep to be seen and the trial got going.

All the time the mist would clear a little, then descend again, then clear, then descend, then... This meant it could be hit or miss for the dogs. Some appeared to struggle to spot the sheep. I struggled to make any decent photos and was restricted to shooting only when the dogs were close.

Back home I chose not to boost the contrast on the action shots in order to preserve the misty feel. It is all too easy to add a bit of 'punch' to pictures which are taken under such conditions. If the aim was illustration, then that would be fine, but I hope my pictures convey some of the 'feel' of the day. Even if the subject matter is more of the same old stuff it provides a counterpoint to the pictures I took during the summer heatwave.

Photographing action like this continues to baffle me. This might be because I am always trying to keep my framing the way I want it. In turn this often means that the autofocus points are in the wrong place. I should probably use the most effective focus points and crop the pictures after the fact. But that goes against the grain for me. I'm also unsure of what would be the most appropriate lens for the job. Probably the most expensive one! It's also possible that a different camera body might work better. As I'm not doing this for a living I'll struggle on with what I've got!

As the focus points in the camera I was using are not close to the edge of the frame, and I often want the dog at the bottom of the picture, I tried shooting in crop mode. While this puts the edge of the frame closer to the focus array, it does make framing shots more tricky as only a thin line indicates in the viewfinder where the final frame ends. A mirrorless camera with its electronic viewfinder would be easier to use. And it would have focus points right up to the frame edge. Maybe one day I'll have another try at that sort of camera. Maybe not.

When the fog returned around noon it was time for the bonfire to be lit and the auction and raffle to commence.

Overall it was another day spent fishing and not catching very much. That's when taken in isolation. The thing with projects is that even one picture from a bad day might find its place in the final edit. So no day is totally wasted. The usual collection of pointless pictures can be seen here.

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