My Visual Diary 2020: suffolk ram sale in Australia

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Well folks, things have been pretty quiet here for a while, as everywhere, but I did get a chance to try out something different last week: I shot an on-farm ram sale in southwest Victoria.

It was a challenge, shooting an unfamiliar genre in a face mask in 27° heat, but I'm proud to have stayed the distance to record their big day.

Unfortunately, due to things outside my control, I was unable to get the top-price ram photos after the sale, but it was a great experience overall.

Most shots were with G85 & 14-140mm II, and a handful with GX9 & 25mm f1.7 - I always plan to shoot prime lenses mainly, but under fire I chose the zoom. I don't nail great focus, but I pray that composition and timing gets me through!

With the link below you can look at the highlights, the full coverage, or the black and white edits, just click on the appropriate tabs.

https://preciousruthlesscaptures.pixieset.com/noremacwhitesuffolksramsale/

I'm planning to upload some of my favourite shots here, but I'm weary from a massive editing session, so please excuse me for dumping and running!
 
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A stud ram sale is the one big day of the year for a stud farm, where their carefully reared and selected rams finally get to find new homes and pastures. I like to arrive early to an event to catch the preparation work taking place. There was a team from the stock agent unloading rams, moving them into their pens for inspection, and doing other jobs such as placing sponsor merchandise and banners.
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Usually I don't go in for selective colour, but I decided to highlight a couple of details in these shots during editing to BW.
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A lot of farmers keep a non-working dog for a family pet - here's their Jack Russell, who amused buyers with its rock-finding antics:
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It wouldn't be a ram sale without the buyers, who were treated to a bite of lunch and a bit of hobnobbing before getting down to the business of selecting which rams to bid on...

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Speaking of lunch...

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And then it's on with the show! The auctioneers kept things moving along swiftly. As the rams were kept moving around the showing pen so buyers could see their condition - and the mesh obscured them - I found it very hard to get any clean shots, so I concentrated on the human gestures and the crowd during this time.

The stud owner welcomed the buyers and agent team to the event, then let the auction get underway:

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One of my biggest disappointments was that I wasn't given the opportunity to take the 'beauty shots' of the top-selling rams with their breeder and new owners at the auction's conclusion. I had studied photos from previous years and other sales to see what was required, as this is the most important job of the photographer, but at the end the stock was loaded up without a backward glance! Fortunately, my favourite shot of the day turned out to be of the top-selling ram at the auctioneer's final rap of the hammer - and he's standing almost perfectly, as the well-bred stud he is. This was particularly lucky, as my ears get turned off when I'm shooting, and I had no idea he was the top ram!

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After the auction, the buyers lined up to conclude the administration side of things, and the agents' team busily loaded the rams into their new-owners' vehicles, and away they went, hopefully to good homes.

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Overall, I had a really great first experience. As often happens, I didn't really shoot how I intended, but I'm still happy with the outcome. One thing I need to look at is how much editing time happens - my ratio of shooting:editing time in hours seems to be around 1:3, and I'd like to get that down a bit; I spent 4 hours shooting, had around 600 photos, culled to 100, then edited first in colour, then black and white.

Another thing I always wonder about is whether I'd get much better images if I got a Panasonic Leica 12-60mm lens, which I'd probably get more use from in reasonable light than a prime. Comments on this are welcome!

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Great series Melanie
He's a handsome ram. Beautiful stance. Quite sophisticated!

Might have missed, but is this for your own interest or as part of the show?

I love the candid photos of people doing their thing.
Watching an auctioneer in action is never tiring, thoroughly enjoyable IMO.

Very well done
 
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Great series Melanie
He's a handsome ram. Beautiful stance. Quite sophisticated!

Might have missed, but is this for your own interest or as part of the show?

I love the candid photos of people doing their thing.
Watching an auctioneer in action is never tiring, thoroughly enjoyable IMO.

Very well done
Thanks very much for your kind words, Richard. I was approached to shoot the event by the farm, as their usual photographer wasn't able to attend from interstate due to Covid, so I took the opportunity to test the waters. My partner attended as a buyer, so it was a comfortable beginning. From what I hear, there's a lack of photographers covering this industry in our area, so I'm thinking about doing more of this (hence considering a better lens).
 

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What a great series Melanie.
You certainly captured the atmosphere brilliantly and I'm sure the farm will be delighted what you produced for them.
I'd be quite happy to get IQ that good all day long, so don't worry about your lens choice.
And for what it's worth, I though the best of the lot were the candid lunchtime shots, though the actual sale shots reflected the tension brilliantly.....and that shot of the boots is simply awesome. :laugh:
Thanks for sharing. :thumbup:
 
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Nice. Set, I enjoyed the commentary.
What a great series Melanie.
You certainly captured the atmosphere brilliantly and I'm sure the farm will be delighted what you produced for them.
I'd be quite happy to get IQ that good all day long, so don't worry about your lens choice.
And for what it's worth, I though the best of the lot were the candid lunchtime shots, though the actual sale shots reflected the tension brilliantly.....and that shot of the boots is simply awesome. :laugh:
Thanks for sharing. :thumbup:
I loved the pictures, the use of monochrome with limited color, and your commentary.

Great photos and great post, Melanie!
What lovely feedback, thank you so much!

I always feel my shots are, I don't know...different from mainstream DSLR pro shooters, which of course they are! In theme they're often the same, as I'm seeing pretty much the same things, just through my own vision processor (brain). In short, I worry that what I produce doesn't look enough like the standard DSLR that most others are using in reportage industries. Who knows, maybe that's a good thing?
 

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