Monday, May 25, 2009

Wayward sheep and recurring subjects

click photo to enlarge
If you keep sheep you have to work hard to make sure you keep them. The saying "just like sheep" refers to their habit of following, one behind the other, in a strung out line, as they move from one place to another. This behaviour can be turned against sheep by their owners. A farmer, wishing to move the animals from one field to another, merely has to get one of the lead sheep through the gate, and the others will fall over themselves in the rush follow. But it's an animal behaviour can also work against their owner too. An individual sheep, making the chance discovery of a way through a hedge, over a drystone wall, or through an inadvertently left-open gate, can precipitate a mass exodus as the rest of the flock follow the pathfinder's example.

Yesterday I came upon this fence extending a field boundary into the depths of Rutland Water reservoir. Like all such expanses of water, this one rises and falls with the rainfall and the demands of the population it serves. When the water is low the sheep can trot out on to the mud and move round the end of the field boundaries that run down to the reservoir's edge. Consequently fence extensions of this sort are necessary to keep them in the required place. The graphic shape that such a structure makes against the water has caught my eye before on the edge of Derwent Water in the Lake District. So why try for such an image again you might ask? Well, I think photographing the same subject in different locations and different ways, over time, is helpful in developing one's photography. If a subject is good, it's a satisfying challenge to work on different interpretations. I was going to present this shot in colour as I did with the previous fence (look carefully, it is!), but black and white made more of the silhouette, shadows and reflection so that's how it ended up.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On