I could have been at the half-day before the first day of the English National Sheep Dog Trial. By the time I was free it was all over. There were three days to go, however. Unfortunately with a weather forecast conducive to saying in bed. Rain, wind, and more rain. Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained.
With the action starting at 7.30am I was never going to go for a full day and I arrived around lunch time on the Friday. When Igot there it was still hot and sunny but turned showery and warm. I went with the versatile two consumer zoom combo. It worked well, as it always does when there is sufficient light.
There was a respectable crowd and quite a bit going on to photograph. I concentrated less on the action than what was going on around the trial field.
There was a sheep clipping demonstration on for the benefit of non-farming folk and a shearing demonstration planned for the weekend when it was hoped the publicity would draw in people looking for a cheap day out. Alas Saturday's weather was so bad the shearing was abandoned, and I almost gave it a miss. With nothing else to do after getting the washing out of the tumble drier I gathered my waterproofs and swapped to my 'pro' zooms which are more weather resistant.
Being such a grim day it was a case of the dog people staying in their vehicles or under canvas most of the time. The car parking field had turned to mud with overnight rain and the general public were mostly staying away. A great shame for the traders in the craft tent, and not much good for finding stuff to photograph. I came away with less than 200 frames, and only a handful worth processing.
I'd had great plans for Sunday. I was going to hit teh Trawden Show in the morning then head over to the trial to watch and photograph the final day's climax - the run-off for the individual English National champion. Like an idiot I forgot to check the internet after breakfast to see if the show was still on. There'd been no hint of a cancellation by the time I logged off on Saturday night. I thought it odd that I didn't pass any livestock trailers on my way to Trawden. The 'Show Off' sign confirmed my fears. What a pillock! Back home, have an early lunch, and go see if the forecast for an improvement was right. Lazily I slapped on the superzoom to save messing around swapping cameras.
The wind had dropped overnight and the rain was easing off. The kiddies train ride had cut its losses and left. The crowd was a bit up on Saturday but still thinner than I expect it would have been if the sun had shone brightly.
Around the judges' portacabin was a fenced off area for officials, competitors and the ladies and gentlemen of the media. I'd find it dispiriting to have to sit in one place taking the same pictures of fifty dogs every day for three days. Imagine if you were doing it for money and missed getting any pictures of the winning run because you you were photographing red collars taken off the sheep in teh exhaust pen...
I was quite surprised to find myself still hanging around when the run-off started around six. Once the initial hunger pangs passed I'd stopped feeling the need for food! As the first handler took the field the crowd was filled with anticipation.
With the action concluded it was a protracted wait for the results to be announced in traditional reverse order. Then with the squad for the international trials selected from the top runs over the weekend it was time for the team photographs.
An interesting three days which might not have resulted in a huge number of decent photographs, but enough to add to the files for it to have been worthwhile. Even if my feet were muddier than the dogs'!!
A wider selection, including some action shots, here and here.