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Thread: The Great White Sheep

  1. #1
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    The Great White Sheep

    This can be taken as just a picture of a sheep on an outcrop of rock and judged on that basis alone (which is probably the most straightforward and photographically 'correct' way to view it), or it can be seen, as I saw it when I clicked the shutter, as part of a story about the Highlands of Scotland.

    A bit of history that explains the image and its title .........

    The area where I spent last week, the north-west Highlands, was right at the heart of that episode known as The Clearances. In the latter part of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries, families were forcibly evicted from their homes by the landowners who saw that they could make far greater profits from turning the land over to huge tenanted sheep farms, than they could get from the rents raised from the people who had lived on the land for centuries before that. Many of you out there in the Americas and Australasia who have Scottish ancestry are likely to have come from families who were evicted and forced to emigrate to the 'new world'.

    There are many songs written about these events. One of them is The Great White Sheep.

    When I saw this sheep standing on the rocks on the edge of the hill, looking out over the land far below, it struck a huge message about the way in which a whole culture and way-of-life was destroyed ... for profit for a few individuals.

    Your comments are always welcomed.

    The Great White Sheep
    40D, Sigma 120-400 F4.5-5.6 APO DG OS @159mm. ISO 100. 1/500@f4.5.
    Last edited by Donald; 15th October 2012 at 04:25 PM.

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Fabulous photo! It works well both on its own and in relation to the history. Now that I understand the history (thank you for that!), the sheep seems to have a forlorn look as if to say, "Couldn't the tenants that were forced out have been allowed to stay here with me?"

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Yes, he does seem to be thinking about the impact on the move. It certainly conveys a vast, open area, windy? cold?bleak? that from the color, but there must be some vegetation to graze. What is striking is how clean the sheep is, especially if it is an open grazer, the wool looks brushed, soft and free of any lumps which make the aspect from the rear a great approach.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Thank you for your comments

    Quote Originally Posted by CLK View Post
    It certainly conveys a vast, open area, windy? cold?bleak?
    If that is what it does, Connie, then I have succeeded. This is in the midst of vast open spaces. And in terms of the weather patterns - Yes, too all you have mentioned. But also able to be the most glorious landscape when bathed in full sunshine. That is what makes it do dramatic.

    Quote Originally Posted by CLK View Post
    .... but there must be some vegetation to graze. What is striking is how clean the sheep is, especially if it is an open grazer, the wool looks brushed, soft and free of any lumps which make the aspect from the rear a great approach.
    What you see here is very much what the landscape is like generally. This is not good quality land for farming. Making this work is hard work. I get very angry when those who know no better preach about people who work the land not keeping stock as it is inefficient and all growing crops instead. Tell them to come up and try growing crops on this stuff.

    Because of the winds and the poor land, what grows amongst the rocks and the heather is very short, tough grass. Sheep are able to survive on that.

    I suspect the cleanliness of the wool is just down to good Scottish rain (lots of it) and high winds to dry it out.

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Fabulous photo! It works well both on its own and in relation to the history. Now that I understand the history (thank you for that!), the sheep seems to have a forlorn look as if to say, "Couldn't the tenants that were forced out have been allowed to stay here with me?"
    I see the total opposite, I see the arrogance of the beast standing aloft as a 'motif' for the landlords and their high handed attitude.

    Then again....am married off a Sutherland clearance family.

    Kebab anyone???



    ps..i dinnae blame the sheep.

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    King of the hill, looking over it's domain. A superb photo, donald!!! Very well done!

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Donald, no matter what it portrays it's a stunning capture and edit !

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Donald, no matter what it portrays it's a stunning capture and edit !
    I agree!

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Very nice

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Hi Donald, it is a great shot, and a story that no doubt has similar versions in many countries. The rest is nothing to do with photography, but you may be able to help me with some Scottish history.

    I was unaware of the clearances until you mentioned it in a post some time ago (picture of a derelict farm house, I think). I found it very interesting, and did some further reading to get a better understanding. I then saw two UK television programmes in a week that delved into the subject – first, an episode of “Who do you think you are” that traced someone’s ancestry back to the clearances (and I think, Sharon, connected with Lord Sutherland – but blameless), and the other recapped the story and then continued with Sir Walter Scott’s sympathising of the “crofters” when the displaced tenants were relocated, followed by the story of the crofters rebellion. Fascinating story, but now my memory is failing me - the uprising culminated in the execution of three conspirators (I think one’s name was Harris, can you or anyone else help with the names?), and there was a great catchcry of the rebellion, something like “Scottish and free, or dead ….”. Do you know what it was?
    - Noel

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Noel

    Thanks for your comments on the image.

    As for the history, the great problem we have is sorting out myth from fact, particularly, I have to say, when we start getting Sir Walter Scott involved. He was responsible, in large part, for the romanticisation of much that, today, is taken as fact in terms of Scottish history.

    If you really want to go for an excellent history of the Highlands & Islands of Scotland, written from a highland perspective, then I would have no hesitation in recommending Dr Jim Hunter's 'Last of the Free: A History of the Highlands & Islands of Scotland'.

    In his latest book, 'From the Low Tide of the Sea to the Highest Mountain Tops: Community Ownership of Land in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland', (which I would also strongly recommend) Hunter reproduces the text of a letter written, in 1815, by Patrick Sellar, the Factor (or Land Manager) for the Marquis and Marchioness of Stafford, later the Duke & Duchess of Sutherland:
    "Lord and Lady Stafford were pleased humanely to order a new arrangement of the Country. That the interior should be possessed by Cheviot Shepherds (meaning sheep farmers) and the people brought down to the coast and placed there in lotts (meaning crofts) under the size of three arable acres, sufficient for the maintenance of an industrious family, but pinched enough to cause them to turn their attention to the fishing. I presume to say that the proprietors humanely ordered this arrangement because it surely was the most benevolent action to put these barbarous hordes into a position where they could better associate together, apply to industry, educate their children and advance in civilization."

    And some people wonder why we still seethe with anger!

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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    It is white, it is a sheep and it is absolutely great.

    It reminds me the Boundin' short animation by Pixar.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Quote Originally Posted by MilT0s View Post
    That's brilliant.

    Oh what a source of knowledge CiC is.

  14. #14
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Glad you liked it.

    Although Pixar animations are not available for free (this one was shown in theaters with "The Incredibles", I think it is also included in the DVD) I found it in HQ here.

  15. #15
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Superb image Donald.

  16. #16
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Paul's adjective of "Superb" is what I would use. The perspective that allows for such a clear delineation between focused and unfocused is what really makes this stand out to me.

    With the story, I also saw it the way Sharon described.

  17. #17
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Donald wrote... "And some people wonder why we still seethe with anger!"

    Many of my Scottish and Irish ancestors seemed to have picked the losing sides in their battles. America and my bloodlines were the beneficiary of much immigration from Scotland and Ireland, way before the mass migrations of Irish due to the Great Famine of the mid-19th Century and starting in the early 17th Century.

    I love the image both photographically and for what it stands...

  18. #18
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Hello Donald, I love the tones and composition. One of your best in my opinion. The history is so sad for those moved from the land, one could say parallel to what is recorded in the history of America inflicting upon native americans.

  19. #19
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    I agree with all the guys above,
    my congratulations Donald.
    a couple of thing that impressed me much are the sharpness and the perfect DoF
    the DoF seems just too wider for a 160mm - f/4.5...
    do you remember where you focused?

  20. #20
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The Great White Sheep

    Thank you those who commented in the few posts above.

    Nicola -
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    do you remember where you focused?
    I am sure I focused on the sheep's head.

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