Saturday, 26 January 2019

Catch up time

A week's a long time in politics, it's even longer without a computer! Last Friday, a week ago that is, my PC slowed to a halt following a brief power outage. As chance had it I had been to spec a new computer the day before, but that wasn't soon enough. It was only Thursday gone that I had a usable machine. Even then I couldn't load any new photos to it as I needed a new card reader. That explains the lack of anything here for a while. The vile weather also kept me indoors so I only managed a brief trip to Dog Town and a couple of short wanders in the wood trying out a new lens in my quest to rationalise my gear - four were earmarked to pay for it, which they did.

Part of the rationalisation process is to try to rid myself of the crutch of my superzoom.Maybe the better rationalisation would be to keep that lens and get rid of all the others it duplicates!

Regardless of the cold and light lying snow I ventured to the moors for another sheep dog trial a week ago. I had intended to try the new lens out but was glad I stuck with the tried and tested one for photographing the action as the light was poor. It really has become a case of repetition with the dogs and the sheep. Looking for different angles is what keeps the interest up. I need a plan...

The truth of the matter is that there isn't much going on at a sheep dog trial most times that isn't sheep dogs rounding up sheep! The rest of it is people standing around, the judges sitting in a truck. Nonetheless I'm sure there is a decent project lurking in there somewhere.

I'm having a similar problem with the sheep project. Although with that I think I know where I should be looking. Today's show and sale was a bit of a damp squib. Mostly because I got there rather too late for the show, arriving half way through. I also seemed a bit rusty. Unable to 'see' pictures. Surprisingly when I got the files loaded on the new PC there were a few decent pictures.

My strategy of photographing just about anything seemed to have got my eye in. I always say there's no such thing as inspiration, only work. Make enough clicks and eventually you'll start making pictures. The junk doesn't matter. Which is where beginners, and not so beginners, can often go wrong. They worry about making bad pictures, as if 'real artists' make only good ones.

The thing is with painting the bad pictures get painted over - as X-rays of old masters reveal. Bad photographs linger unless you delete them. Which is something people are loathe to do as it's like killing your children. As a chicken fancier told me, if you want to breed good birds you have to be a good killer. No point keeping the rubbish.

The world of sheep shows and sales seems to have become a bit of a 'thing' in photographic terms. There are quite a few folk out there snapping away, from the journalistic side to the hobbyists and all points in between. Where I sit on that spectrum I'm not sure. But looking at what else is out there on t' web has made me wonder what I'm bringing to the scene. After all, people who farm and take photos are much better placed to record it. This makes me doubt myself.

Then I look at the pictures being made and compare them with mine. Either mine are really crap or I do have a different way of looking to most. I can certainly see now that I have 'a style'. I'm not sure what that style is, exactly, but it's not slick, clever, or eye catching. Best I don't think about it too much though, or it might disappear!

Something that is apparent at shows and sales is the sense of community. They may be about business, but there's more to it than that.

As part of my attempt to wean myself off longer focal lengths I stuck the 20mm on for a while. Provided I can keep faces away from the edge of the frame apparent distortion is minimal, so the pictures don't look as if they have been shot with an ultrawide lens. This makes it surprisingly useful in candid situations as you can be 'in someone's face' and they are unaware that you have photographed them. I don't think the picture above looks like your typical ultrawide shot.

The longest focal length I used today was the 100mm of my macro lens (which I use mostly as a non-macro). The rest of the time I used the slow 24-85. If I'm honest I think it was too slow. Time to revert to either the fast standard zoom, or my set of primes. The zooms do make me lazy at seeing pictures. More often than not it's where you move to that turns a snap into a picture rather than what you zoom your lens to when you see something with potential. Not always. But usually.

Even so, I am overcoming my reluctance to crop images. Sheep dog action in particular is difficult to frame precisely, although I'm sure practice would improve that. At other times I run out of focal length.

I am also taming my aversion to black and white. In the case below the original is almost monochromatic, which was what prompted the conversion.

That'll do for now. More waffle to follow in the near future. If the pictures in this post look odd, blame my computer monitor. The one from my old PC won't work with the new one so I'm using a spare which is less than desirable. Depending on the angle I look at it pictures are either contrasty or washed out, or just odd. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I splash some more cash.

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