For Exercise 2.5 we had to photgraph an event and then work through a process by which we eliminated photographs in stages using the 100/50/25/10 process. This means that during the first pass through the images you’ve captured you reject 50% of them, the second pass through removes another 50%; leaving you with 25% of the original number. The final pass reduces the number that you will work with to 10% of the original number.
In my case I took 340 photos at the British National Ploughing Chnampionships at Bishops Lydeard in Somerset on the 15th October 2017. The event over two days but I went on the second day.
The event is run by the Society of Ploughmen and this is the 67th championships.
The images that I rejected I felt didn’t really have an interesting enough subject, were too cluttered, the subject was too distant or it wasn’t clear what the subject was.
The photos I selected I feel show the wide range of ploughing that was being demonstrated during the day, from horse drawn ploughs all the way to modern tractor ploughing.
The photos all contain a mix of machines, animals and people.
When I went into this activity it was with the work of Martin Parr in mind, particularly one of his images which had a group of people queuing outside a marqee at a garden party. The image of the burger van with people queuing is my attempt at something similar as are images of people stood watching ploughing as well as looking at pieces of farm machinery.
As far as possible the photographs were taken at f11 in order to give the best depth of field, although I did vary this and went to both f2.8 and f28 and above for some shots.
ISO-wise, my initial photographs were taken at ISO 3200 because I’d not reset my camera after the last time I’d taken some pictures while away for a few days. Note to self, reset camera ISO to 400 after using it. Using a high ISO probably added a bit more noise to the images than I would like but it wasn’t overly noticeable when I looked at the images. After realising what the camera was set to I reset the ISO to 400 for the final shots of the day. The benefit of the high ISO was that I could use a very shutter speed, keeping the exposure time short.
Reflecting on the actual event (British National Ploughing Championships) the number of people that were wandering around with cameras made it so much easier to take photographs because, in addition to taking photo themselves, people were used to seeing others taking photographs. In fact on numerous occasions someone would notice me taking a photo as they walked into the shot, would stop and then apologise because they thought they had got in the way. On these occasions I’d respond with something along the lines of “it’s ok, I’m doing a photography assignment and don’t mind if you happen to get in the shot”. Interestingly not once did anyone show any sign of concern that their picture had been taken, a sign that we are so used to people taking photographs that we don’t think too much about the reason someone is taking pictures that might include us.
The slideshow below includes the 34 photos that made up my final selection. Each have been edited in Lightroom to adjust exposure, highlights, shadows and white balance. None of the images have been cropped as I felt I manage to get what I wanted in camera.
Some of the photos I selected because they appealed to me in specific ways.
I saw this lady and her dog as I was sitting eating a cheeseburger, bought from the same burger van I photographed. She’d wandered over to the edge of the field and sat down on the grass to have a rest.
Editing the photo I decided to use one of Lightroom’s Vignette presets which I think gives a nice effect.
This dog was absolutely amazing and his behaviour was pointed out to me by someone else. Of all the shots that I took of it, this is the one that either wasn’t showing it’s rear or had it’s face obscured by the rope the farmer is holding.
Every time the farm went up or down the field the dog would run alongside in the furrow that had been ploughed. In this case following along behind but on the return down the field running down the same furrow it had just run up. It was amusing watching it’s behaviour.
In the first photo I managed to catch it when it stopped for a rest, during post production I applied Lightroom’s Vignette preset to soften the edges of the image.
The above images have also had Hue and Saturation adjusted to increase the look of the colours, paticularly the yellows and reds.
I chose these images because they tell a particular story.
As we were making our way back from having grabbed something to eat I spotted this competitor working his way up the field. Towards the top of the area he was ploughing he stopped and got out of his tractor.
As I watched him walk back down the area he’d just ploughed, the competitive nature of some of the competitors and how important it was for them to achieve the best they could became apparent.
As walked he scanned the area he’d ploughed and pausing stooped to remove some stones from the ground. He then proceeded back up the field to his tractor examining the furrows he’d just ploughed.
Reaching the tractor he began examining the plough and then took a tape measure out of his pocket and began measuring the width of the furrows. He then began to measure different parts of the plough while making adjustments via various levers.
It as fascinating watching him and even after he’d turned around and was ready to plough another furrow I found myself watching as he made further adjustments to the plough via levers on the back of the tractor. It wasn’t until he was absolutely sure that everything was set up the way he wanted it that he began to work his way back down the field.
Going into the event I had a number of ideas about images I wanted to capture and I believe I did that. However, watching the farmer being so meticulous over the setup of his plough provided a set of images that could be used to tell a particualr story about the event, and not one that I considered before I started. I think that this highlights that when photographing an event, even if we prepare for it and have expectations of what we are trying to achieve, we have to be on the look out for opportunities to capture images that tell a story.