Farmyard Photography

August 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

I really enjoy photographing farmyard animals and livestock, which tend to be overlooked by most nature photographers, as they're not wild. You don't get the 'thrill of the chase' feeling that you get when out looking for some scarce or timid creature, but on the flip side you do get to work with an animal which is used to humans, and that will allow you in closer, for a more intimate and expressive portrait. And increasingly these days, that's what interests me.

I took these photos at Animal Edge - a small open farm, just outside Flitwick, in Bedfordshire. They keep a small number of animals, providing enjoyable and educational encounters for children. To my shame, these photos are now over a year old! Although I'm really happy with them, they've been in the queue behind other projects to share, but now is their time to shine!

All these photos were taken in natural light, against a white backdrop. It all sounds very controlled when I put it like that, but it was a lot more chaotic in reality! Some animals were happier to pose than others, so we had to be patient, and not push our luck too much. The exception was with the horses & ponies, which are too large, so I photographed them in their field.

 

Chicken

This is just a simple portrait on white, of a classic farmyard chicken. One thing I like about this style of presentation is that by removing the background context it leaves a lot of room for just the shape and form of the subject. This is a classic posture for a chicken - something that's very familiar to everyone, having been painted and drawn like this for years, so I'm pleased to have photographed it like this, against the white backdrop.

Chicken On WhiteChicken On WhiteA plain and simple chicken, in bright high-key lighting. I think its simplicity, we're able to see this is a creature with dignity and a manner of her own.
Photographed outside, using natural light, and a white backdrop.
Fine art nature photography. Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

Lavender Pekin Hen

This is Daisy, the lavender pekin; A really striking breed which I'd wanted to photograph for some time, as the idea of this pale colour palette against the white backdrop really appealed to me. I'm really pleased with this photo. I like the form of the bird, combined with the lack of colour, and the face which offers an enquiring gaze towards the viewer. In a change from the norm, I haven't pushed the background to completely white here. I wanted a subtle colour and vignette, which softens the portrait and provides a slightly more classic feel.

Lavender Pekin ChickenLavender Pekin ChickenDaisy, the Lavender Pekin hen, photographed in high-key, on white. I love the aesthetic of this pale breed, against the white background. In this case the background isn't quite pushed to white, and a little colour & shadow remain to frame the subject.
This was shoot was outside, in the yard, using only natural light and a white backdrop. And a fair amount of herding and patience.
Fine Art Nature Photography.
Taken at Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire.

 

This was the only full-length portrait I managed to get, as they didn't hang around for long. But I really like it, and it shows off the entirely feathered feet, which is another feature of this British breed.

Lavender Pekin Chicken PortraitLavender Pekin Chicken PortraitDaisy, the Lavender Pekin hen, photographed in high-key, on white. Here you can see the feathered feet of this distinguished breed.
This was shoot was outside, in the yard, using only natural light and a white backdrop. And a fair amount of herding and patience.
Fine Art Nature Photography.
Taken at Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire.

 

One last one of Daisy, who's looking more animated here. I really like the tone of these feathers. They're very soft and delicate, and they offer a contrast to the texture of the face. Daisy The Lavender PekinDaisy The Lavender PekinPekin chicken, in profile, on white.
I love the visuals of this hen against the white background.
Fine Art Nature Photography. Photographed at Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire.

 

Indian Runner Ducks

Here they are; the lads. Ernie, Paige, and Jemima. They were full of character, and full of beans. Great fun to photograph.

Indian Runner Ducks #1Indian Runner Ducks #1These characterful ducks were difficult to capture, but when I managed it I really think it shows them in a fun way.
Fine art nature photography, Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

I did get some photos of them individually, but I really think they're best captured together, operating in their little gang. To me, these photos represent the fun of hanging out with your mates.

Indian Runner Ducks #2Indian Runner Ducks #2Here they are; the lads. They were good fun, and full of character.
Fine art nature photography, Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

There's something cartoonish about their energetic enthusiasm. Makes me think Pixar could do something fun with the idea.

Indian Runner Ducks #3Indian Runner Ducks #3Finally, I caught them all looking at the camera at the same time!
Fine art nature photography, Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

Rooster

Carlos the rooster was a tricky customer to photograph but I persisted because, like the ducks, he was just bursting with character. Strutting around like a total boss, he was a little sceptical of me, and generally kept his distance. He also continuously moved his head at high speed, so capturing a sharp in-focus portrait was tricky. He'd give me a fantastic pose like this, and within a split second, he'd turn his head away.

Carlos The RoosterCarlos The RoosterCarlos was a very tricky customer, but also quite a character, so I persisted, and managed to get a few portraits.
Fine art nature photography. Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

I like this side-on profile portrait. He looks like he's bowing his head in contemplation. It shows a more relaxed posture.

Pekin RoosterPekin RoosterThis is Carlos the Pekin rooster. In profile view you really see the distinctive read comb at its best. I also like how he appears to be bowing his head respectfully, and thoughtfully. Maybe I'm reading too much into it!
Fine art nature photography. Animal Edge, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, UK.

I'd love to capture a rooster like this against a black background one day, with just that red head detail standing out from the dark. But on the day, we only really had the opportunity to to shoot in high-key

 

Horses & Ponies

This rather suave horse was very photogenic, with his Taylor Swift wind-swept fringe. I enjoy equine photography. They can be tricky subjects, and their proportions can be tricky to balance at times, but they're engaging subjects, and I like their subtle blend of colours.

Handsome HorseHandsome HorseA very suave looking horse, photographed here against white background.
Fine Art Nature Photography. At Animal Edge, Flitwick Bedfordshire, UK.

 

This is Bobby; a horse-pony cross. He was so easy to photograph. He was very friendly, and kept a great eye-contact, which always makes for an engaging portrait.

BobbyBobbyThis is Bobby, a cross-breed pony, who resides at Animal Edge, in Flitwick Bedfordshire.

 

Lastly, it's Tara, the Shetland pony. I decided to go black and white with this one, as the colour still wasn't as minimal as I wanted. In fact most of my high-key portraits on white are in black and white, so the rest of this set are more unusual in that sense. Tara's looking great here too.

 

Tara the ShetlandTara the ShetlandShetland pony, photographed in high-key, on white.
I preferred the black and white version of this image, which is more stark. To me, whenever I see it, I think of the chess piece.
Fine Art Equine Photography. From Animal Edge, Flitwick Bedfordshire, UK.

 

Thanks so much to Danielle from Animal Edge, for letting me photograph these animals. The farm is open to visitors this summer, so check out their website for availability.

As I said at the start, I really enjoy photographing cattle and domesticated animals, and it's a subject I always aim to return to. I think these animals have a lot to offer in terms of personality and familiarity.

-

Post by George Wheelhouse, 2020.

 


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