Sunday, 14 November 2021


The last big sheep sale of the autumn for me was held on Friday. I went along mainly because I've had so little chance to photograph anything this year and because there wouldn't be another big sale at the mart for three months or more. It was only a short visit too as I really should have been getting on with some work!

It was no surprise that my enthusiasm wasn't high, nor that I was stuck for ideas beyond more repetition. As often happens when I'm in that frame of mind I started messing about with oddball viewpoints and framings.

While I was playing about I tried a different setting for focusing using liveview. It made a huge difference to my success rate! It was far from 100% foolproof but it was much improved.

Although there was a lot of the usual stuff to see there was also a chance to get some photos of a large pen of sheep being put through the ring, which is not something I can recall photographing before. I wasn't in the best position, but it's something to mentally log for future reference.

Mostly I was using the standard zoom having remembered it was versatile enough in the mart. The other option I had available was the new 90mm which I wanted to test out in the gloomy shed. As expected the focusing was a bit slower than it had been at the comparatively well lit poultry show. I coped though and in the sale ring it was fine.

A few days ago I read something (I think on The Online Photographer) to the effect that photographs can become more interesting with time. Up to a point that's true. However, it is content dependent. In the case of photographs which show people and man-made objects the passage of time lends every such photograph a status as a historical document. People age, fashions and designs change. These photographs show the past to the present.

I was considering this when reading a forum discussion about how many picture files people have on their hard drives and some commenters said they delete most of the photos they take and only keep the very best, some even going on to say there's no point keeping 'bad' photographs. Not everyone agreed with that extreme view. And again I think that is down to content.

If all you ever photograph are, let's say, macro pictures of insects then sure, keep only the most technically and aesthetically pleasing pictures. But if you photograph your family, friends or pets then pictures which are not going to win any prizes can still be personally meaningful. They may be 'bad' photographs, but they are valuable for other reasons.

The same can apply to photographs which are documentary in nature. They might not be well framed or focused but they might contain information which becomes valuable as time goes on. That could be something in the background which was insignificant at the time the photograph was taken but seen with the benefit of hindsight becomes more interesting than the main subject.

This is one reason I delete very few pictures. The only drawback for future generations is that these are all virtual pictures while they remain on a hard drive. A hard drive that will no doubt go to landfill soon after I pop my clogs!

I should use the lack of sheepy events and long dark evenings over the coming months to MAKE MORE PRINTS!! I wonder if I could turn my digital folders into print on demand A4 'contact sheet albums'?

Thursday, 11 November 2021

When in doubt, repeat yourself

There was a local poultry show back in September which I'd intended to go to, not so much to take photos, more to hand over a couple of books to someone. Unfortunately I felt dog rough and couldn't face even the ten minute drive let alone being cheerful and taking photos. The next show, and last for this year, was on Saturday gone and I went along there, making a late start through idleness. I didn't have a burning ambition to take more poultry pics to be honest. By the time I arrived most of the birds had been penned. I'd only have been repeating the usual pre-penning rituals any way

The only interesting thing was that since my last visit to the club's exhibition hall it had been extended. That at least gave me something new to record. Albeit in a fairly meaningless way unless the photos are put alongside 'before' pictures. The join can be made out in the outside shot.

Inside a store room and an office had been constructed.

The old photo 'studio' had been retained and mounted on the office wall. There's still no dedicated photographer to take 'professional' photos though. I'm not volunteering, even if my lighting skills have improved!

On the subject of lighting, I'd forgotten how awful the strip lights are in the hall. It took me a while to get back in the groove of keeping my shutter speed below 1/100th of a second to avoid the strobing colour changes. A shutter speed that isn't quick enough to freeze chicken twitches!

After a a short while fruitlessly trying to find a fresh angle on the judging I came home to await delivery of a new-to-me lens.

This interlude gave me a chance to change lenses on my cameras as something else I'd forgotten was how cramped the space is between the rows of pens. I put on a wider zoom as my main lens and pocketed the handy 20mm just in case. Then when the new lens arrived I stuck that on the second body to take it for a play.

Judging was almost over when I got back to the show but there was still nothing fresh to get me interested. I amused myself by seeing how the new lens performed. It's the first macro lens I've used which focuses quickly enough to use as a non-macro. And at 90mm it's a little bit more to my taste than the loathed 85mm I'd traded in for it. Even if I don't use it much as a non-macro I've got the close up facility back after parting with my previous macro lens. Not something I use much for 'serious' photography but it is useful for product type shots for my business. It worked OK on the chooks.

And outside.

Post show it was another case of the same old pictures of people putting chickens in boxes and carrying boxes.

The best I could manage was to get a slightly different angle. I'd actually taken a photo of the drinking cups because I'd not seen any old metal ones before, then I noticed birds being put in a box and went a bit wider hoping to time something right. I nearly managed it.

As a test for getting to know some new gear the outing was worthwhile. That's about all I can say though.

There won't be any more poultry shows, or auctions, for some time now. Avian flu has entered the UK for the winter and all poultry gatherings were to be banned until further notice two days after this show. This is hitting the show world hard with these bans becoming an annual occurrence as the two biggest national shows, and many big regional shows, take place at this time of year.