Thursday, January 07, 2010

Celebrity pig wrangling and documentaries

click photo to enlarge
It wasn't my intention to bang on about television again - I had something much more uplifting and positive in mind - but my breakfast table reading gives me no choice. Skimming the TV listings section today I noticed a picture advertising "Jimmy's Global Harvest" on BBC2. It showed a youngish, rather unkempt looking man squatting in a field holding a piece of grass. "Who", I thought, "is Jimmy?" A short synopsis revealed all. Apparently he is Jimmy Doherty, a celebrity pig wrangler, and he's going to discover "how the world's farmers will cope with feeding a growing population." Tonight, in the first of his four programmes he looks at the transformations that have taken place in Brazilian agriculture.

It's amazing how so little writing can provoke so many questions. The first is, "What is a celebrity pig wrangler?", and the second is "Should I care?" Then there's, "Why has Jimmy, out of all the potential agricultural experts, been chosen to present these programmes?" It couldn't be because the target audience knows Jimmy and the people who conceived the series think viewers are such saps that they can't give their attention to anything that isn't fronted by a celebrity? No, that coudn't possibly be the reason. There are more questions that come to mind about the dumbing down of television documentaries, but I'll spare you them, and say that I shan't be tuning in this evening. But then you guessed that didn't you? It's not that the subject isn't sufficiently serious and important. No, I shall give it a miss because for the progamme makers world food production isn't important enough to warrant serious treatment and be introduced by someone who is an expert in the field. Or perhaps I misjudge them: maybe, having watched Jimmy wrangling his pigs in a field, they imagine him an expert in every field of agriculture.

All of which has nothing to do with today's photograph of St Mary and the Holy Rood at Donington, Lincolnshire. On a brief shopping trip I stopped and snapped this late afternoon shot as the sun descended through the churchyard trees. Donington church is one of those that is extremely difficult to photograph from nearby. It suffers - from the photographer's point of view - by having large trees nearby. It also has a tower that acts as a porch and is attached to the south aisle. This is an unusual, but attractive, arrangement that Victorian Gothic architects sometimes copied. However, it makes it quite difficult to achieve a satisfactory photographic composition given the churchyard constraints. On this image I placed the church on the right, a row of trees at the left, and moved so that part of the sun was visible at the edge of the near trunk. I wanted it to add a warm note to a cold scene, and give something of a starburst effect, which it does, more or less.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 6.3mm (30mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

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