Friday, 10 October 2014

Cows etc

We have a few animals who share their lives with us - some permanently, like the hens, rabbit and Dog-Hound-Thing, and others temporarily, like the swallows who visit every summer and the cows in the fields beside us, which come and go at the farmer's discretion.  We like it when the cows are in - they are beautiful big creatures, inquisitive and very alert. They watch our comings and goings very carefully.  Sometimes they have calves, which is lovely to watch.  They all crowd round to see the new arrival and give us dirty looks as if to say 'Keep Away', which we do as we don't fancy messing with a few hundredweight of live cows.  Here's a snapshot of the current crop, so to speak:

Inquisitive cows in the field
Yes I know I've lost the blacks a bit here - just think of it in the Salgado style.  The Dog-Hound-Thing loves the cows coming in too - he gets to be all protective of his family (i.e., us) and spends most of the day on High Alert, watching their every move.  If they get too close he'll bark like crazy and make for them, although the fence keeps them separated.  The cows just treat him with disdain most of the time, looking at him curiously.  Unless he startles them of course, when they give a buck leap (as my grandfather would have said) and lollop away to another part of the field.

Now here's a rare event - the DHT in stationary pose.  Usually he's the sort that never stands still - it's either full on running around like a mad eejit or flaked out asleep (and mostly the latter it has to be said, although since he's getting on a bit that's OK).

The Dog-Hound-Thing, in static pose at Portstewart Strand
This was taken in the sandhills at Portstewart Strand, which are just fantastic to walk.  It is reckoned that early StoneAge Irish-folk used to live in the sandhills, using nearby Tober Patrick (St Patrick's well) as it is now known as a source of fresh water.  It's a feast for the senses walking through the sand dunes - I can heartily recommend it to revive the spirits.

There's a (mildly) interesting story about these prints, for those of you enlightened in the ways of the darkroom.  I had some Fotospeed WT-10 developer in my slot processor which was about a month old.  No problem, I thought to myself, I'll just replenish it with about 25% fresh (at 1:29 dilution it's very economical) and it'll be good to go.  But it wasn't.  Every print came out murky, little contrast, almost green in tone and after a couple of hours I was getting disillusioned with my printing session and life in general, as you do.  But I washed the prints as usual and decided to see how some of them toned in warm Selenium.  And guess what?  They had an impressive shift in contrast after toning - pretty much back to normal.   Now I don't think I'll be recommending this course of action in future - I think this developer at 1:29 dilution is good only for a couple of weeks - but it is an interesting result.  Looking at the prints today the un-toned definitely have a greenish look about them - which might well suit some subjects.  And it could be an interesting diversion to see just how long this particular developer keeps active for.  But that's for another day.

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