Friday, 30 August 2013

Wild goats, scraggy rocks, and endless blue sky.

Wild goats have been a part of the British landscape since Neolithic times, although many of the herds in Scotland are descended from those released by the evicted crofting communities during the dark days of the Highland Clearances of the 19th Century.   It’s certainly not difficult to see them as part of the landscape since they make a perfect fit.  Following them around for a few days (or even hours), you become acutely aware of how well adapted they are to the landscape in their habitat, a mixture boggy grasslands and steep, rocky cliffs around the coast.  Moving around this landscape, they can scale near vertical rocky walls with apparent ease.  Following them with a heavy backpack of camera gear is, therefore, extremely difficult at times.

In this series of silhouettes, I wanted to shoot as wide as possible, dividing the earth from the sky, and bringing the goat and the rocky ground together in the black part of the image.  The goat merges with the landscape, but at the same time remains distinct.

This particular goat is a large Billy, whose trust I gained over the course of several days.  In these photos, he found a spot to sit down for a sleep, and was perfectly comfortable with me crawling closer.  I shot the images with a short telephoto lens (my beloved 70-200mm), but then clumsily dropped this into a deep rock pool whilst trying to crawl closer.  Watching four-figure’s worth of lens plummet like a stone to the bottom of a salty pool is not a pleasant experience when you’re in mid flow of a good photo session (miraculously it survived!), but it forced me to switch lenses, and I continued shooting with a wide-angle lens (17-40mm), making the goat very small within the frame.  That’s the kind of picture I really like.  

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