Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bull bars and inquisitive cows

click photo to enlarge
The main subtext of motor vehicle manufacturers' advertisements is that buying their vehicle will say something about you to the world. They're pretty much right, but what is said isn't always what they imagine. Take off-road vehicles. When I see a 2.5 ton Land Rover Discovery barrelling along the highway, transporting a mother and child on the school run, I think, "That driver must be a half-wit." If it is fitted with bull-bars I think, "That driver must be a complete and utter half-wit with the cognitive powers of a dead ant." What causes me to have these thoughts? Simply the redundancy implicit in using a vehicle of this sort for domestic travel, the selfishness involved in cocooning yourself in a place of safety at the expense of other road users, and the environmental impact of such transport. As for the bull bars, well, the chances of hitting a bull on Britain's roads is marginally less than running over a member of the royal family, so what's the point? Now I know that my thoughts about the drivers of 4X4 vehicles cannot be right: many must be perfectly pleasant, intelligent people, and those that I know certainly are! The trouble is, a large number of them, through their driving, seem intent on making me think otherwise.

Yesterday, as I was photographing the motte and bailey of the former Norman castle at Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire, it occurred to me that the "petal" lens hood on my Zuiko 11-22mm lens is a pretty useful bull-bar, or rather cow-bar. I was in a field taking my photographs when I was approached by a small herd of young cattle. I took a couple of shots of them as foreground interest for my image of the castle mounds, then turned and climbed over the stile out of the field. The animals followed me right up to the fence and crowded around, seemingly wanting their photograph taken again. As I obliged the boldest of the bunch pushed her wet nose so close that I felt it bump up against the lens hood which, very conveniently, saved the filter on the end of the lens from getting snotty.

Taking a couple more shots I reflected that these were the friendliest cows I've encountered for quite a while. However, when I came to process this shot I revised my opinion. I think what I'd taken for friendliness was pushiness; a lack of the social graces due to being badly brought up. What makes me think that? Well look at the cow in the background cleaning its nose out with its tongue. Ugh! Gross! Didn't its mother teach it anything?

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/250 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On