Yesterday afternoon I found myself with some spare time and went to the marsh to try out a different lens/camera combination to see if it might suffice for photographing sheep dog trials. It didn't work out as I'd hoped. It was okay on static subjects but if they were moving at any sort of pace it was (how can I put it?) not exactly okay.
After seeing an off-the-lead spaniel set some sheep running I took this picture.
And so to another sheep dog trials. A combination of light, topography and general ineptitude saw me not taking all that many photographs, and getting the expected low quantity of worthwhile pictures as a result. I just couldn't get things right, technically or aesthetically. It's probably time to stop trying to take sheep dog trial photographs, and take photographs of sheep dog trials. I saw one potential picture, tried one snap and walked on. I should have set myself up to get the picture I had in my mind's eye.
Something else occurred to me. Long lenses are great for throwing the background out of focus even at fairly small apertures. But I don't really like the 'look' of the pictures. Not where people are involved. There are times when the compression they lend to pictures can be useful, but I much prefer a more 'natural' looking perspective.
The first two below are my attempts at utilising compression to make distant things appear larger in relation to nearer things. Think Father Ted and the near and far away cows! The third makes use of the shallow depth of field. Just enough to keep some information in the background while still giving some separation to the sheep. The image amused me, so I shot it!
In 'sheep dog picture' mode I carried on trying to make pictures of the penning dance.
The restriction on vantage points leads to few opportunities to get faces in the action pictures. I try to grab any chances I get.
From an outsider's point of view I actually prefer watching the dogs gathering the sheep as a flock to return them to the release pen rather than the trialling action. In cricketing terms the trials are smash and run T20 cricket, the gathers are long form test Cricket. And when it comes to cricket I enjoy the latter much more!
My new website is still under development, but so far is going well. I can now put galleries on there straight from Lightroom, which saves a lot of messing about. Here's today's gallery.