Sunday, 5 September 2021

Sheep again

In a normal year the show season would be winding down as August drew to a close, but it has felt more like it's building up this time round. One show which is usually held in June was cancelled for a number of reasons, however, such is the desire among the afflicted to show sheep the show committee hastily arranged a sheep and vintage tractor show with just twenty days' notice. This took place on a cold and windy hillside on the Sunday of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Despite the timescale involved and no widespread publicity there was a goodly entry of sheep, particularly in the Derbyshire Gritstone classes.

There were Lonks too. At one point during the judging I got myself down low in a corner as I was sick of the liveview focussing being useless when I held the camera low and used the flippy screen.. Whereupon the sheep were gathered up in the corner of the ring I was knelt in. Not being as nimble as I used to be I couldn't escape and got squashed by sheep!

Once more I was wondering why I was taking the same old pictures, and convinced myself that this time it was to record a new show location.

I post pictures of sheep quite regularly on Twitter but they don't get much 'traction'. However one I posted from this show became my most 'liked' picture yet. It's not a particularly good picture, but the sheep is definitely photogenic. Strangely this experience hasn't made me want to take more pictures of pretty sheep, rather it's reinforced my desire to avoid them! This was one occasion when the liveview autofocus had time to work...

Two days later I was off to a more distant show for which I'd got a pre-booked ticket. This time there were more Lonks as well as Grits. Lots of other sheep too but despite the variety I still find I am drawn to photograph the breeds which I have more interest in from a historical or geographical point of view.

I often find myself struggling to decided between making 'good photographs' which maybe appeal more to photographers and 'good records' of what I'm looking at which might help explain something to people who are unfamiliar with what is shown. The photograph above of the phone is trying to be a 'good photograph', the two below are trying to show clearly what is taking place.

I suppose there is a place for both sorts of picture. The ones I find myself keener to study in other people's work are the informative shots. 'Good pictures' provide a quick hit of admiration, the broader pictures have a more lasting engagement. This isn't to say that the explanatory pictures can get away with being poorly structured, ore need to be framed in a 'conventional' manner. Trying to make pictures which inform and have more to their construction than unconsidered snaps, I think, is what motivates me.

There is always room for close ups - although some people seem to take more of them than any other type of shot. These two being as much about fingernails as they are about sheep showing!

There was also a sheepdog trial at this show. I didn't take many photos of the trial, but spent a bit of time watching the action, chatting with people I've got to know and and listening to the banter. I was ill equipped to photograph the action so had to resort to cropping files to make pictures which worked.

With one more show coming up this week I'm still contemplating giving sheepish subjects a miss from now on. It's got to the stage where it is starting to feel like I'm going round in circles and getting nowhere. If I had some sort of target to aim for, to concentrate my thoughts around, then I'd be more inclined to keep at it. As things stand all I'm doing is amassing a load of files on my hard drives which will never get looked at by anyone but myself. This seems like the height of futility.

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