Wednesday, 10 July 2019

A big day out

Twenty nine quid to get in to an agricultural show!!! Last year I baulked at the ticket price for the Great Yorkshire Show and I very nearly didn't bother this time. But I thought I'd take a chance on it being worth the drive and inevitable tedium of getting in to the site. Although the sheep judging wasn't due to start as soon as the gates opened I planned to arrive well beforehand. That proved a good move given the traffic. I even managed to get a parking space quite close to the entrance. While I'd made good time I still missed the early classes for the Gritstones, which was disappointing, and much of the sheep tarting up had already been done.

The GYS takes place on a purpose built showground complete with permanent buildings for all the livestock and show rings which give good access for the viewing public - and photographers. There are two huge open-sided sheep sheds with the rings in between them. All very handy.

As well as being big the show is also more formal than even the larger of the shows I've been to before. Exhibitors all have to wear a white coat, which is something only seen in the rare an minority breed sections of smaller sheep shows.

Continuing my concentration on Lonks I managed, rather surprisingly, to add a couple of pictures to my files which I'd been after for some time. Not great pictures but at least I've got records of these two aspects of ram evaluation. Ram lambs first and aged rams second.

As ever I photographed other stuff going on and made a few of my 'head scratchers' - pictures which are a bit off the wall.

Overall I didn't add much of value to my Lonk file. There were opportunities to look at other breeds as there were more there than at any other show in the country according to the PA commentary.

Whitefaced Woodlands continue to attract my lens, and Lincoln Longwools were a breed I'd not seen in the flesh before. Both breeds live up to their names.

Although the Lonks and Grits had been judged there were still more breeds to go, which meant that there was some preparation going on. At the small shows where the sheep are paraded between the pens I can't recall seeing a trimming stand in use. This show gave me a chance to get some photographed along with more shots of spray whitener in use.

Photographically I probably should have made more of an effort with the shearing competition. By the time I got there I was starting to flag and with their being a large crowd I didn't want to push in front of them.

Round the back of the shearing stage was the pens for the hundreds of sheep to be clipped. Again I could have done more with that. Instead I made a video clip of sheep being unloaded.

As at the Nidderdale Show there was a carcase/carcass competition. Behind glass in a chilled trailer so too difficult to photograph for a lazy git like me. However there was a lamb judging competition accompanied by displays of the various carcase/carcass categories. Like it or not, sheep breeding is usually all about meat. I like meat!

For a change I left the sheep and had a wander round. I even took a turn round the cattle area, but it don't hold much interest for me for some reason. It's not that I don't eat beef or cheese or drink milk, I just don't find cattle very appealing as subjects at the moment. That might change.

While the raison d'être for the show remains livestock competitions it has grown way beyond that to encompass general commerce and celebrity. I deliberately avoided the celebrity shepherdesses and vets, and did my best to avoid the general tat on sale. I did look at some sticks, but managed to keep my cash in my wallet. What little cash remained after paying to get in.

While the event was extremely busy the majority of the crowds were to be found away from the livestock. Most non-farming types would pay a fleeting visit to the show rings or stock pens then get back to their spending, eating and drinking.

Despite the expense and the journey I was glad I went. I met people I know, got one or two reasonable pictures for the files, and had a new experience. Inevitably I 'saw' loads of pictures I'd missed when I came to review the day's haul, and realised things I should have done - like get there even earlier. But that's the name of my game.

Technically I'd reverted to my superzoom because I wasn't sure what to expect. It struggled a bit in the sheep sheds as they were darker than I'd expected. A sunnier day might have been different. Outside it was fine and the flexibility is always handy. My fall backs were the old 20mm, which got used outside and in the sheds where there wasn't much space between the lines of pens, and the 50mm which helped gather light but was sometimes too long in the shed. For a lazy person uninterested in making super sharp pics, or pics which have creamy bokeh, the lens choices work well.

Something which occurred to me when pondering the fast lens mania is that here are two ways to avoid distracting backgrounds. One is to use shallow depth of field to eliminate background detail. The more challenging way is to move position in order to hide distractions behind your subject. do that and there's no need for fast lenses. Another alternative is to make the backgound part of the picture. Although that doesn't allow for the other mania of simplifying everything. It was the picture below which got me thinking about this.

It falls into my 'head scratcher' category as it's not conventionally composed, but it came about after doing the simplification thing. I expect a lot of people would have closed in on the sheep's head retained on the stand, trying to isolate it. That's what I did at first. When the background sheep appeared I realised that something might happen to make a picture.I'm not sure if it did. What I do know is that the shapes are interesting in an abstract way. Which is something I'm looking for more and more these days.

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