I contacted Brian Sweeting before leaving for England to see if I might have a chance of visiting him again this year. He was a little aloof and come to find out he is known to be that way from time to time. When I saw him at the club show I walked up to him to say hello but not before I snapped a few pictures as he was chatting with Les Martin. As I approached I made some silly excuse for the pictures then Brian turned to Les Martin and introduced us. I have only met Les from a distance with great admiration for his accomplishments in the hobby including winning the club show 2 years running. This years bird was the longest I have ever seen, its head touching the top of the show cage and tail the floor easily by 2 inches. Les made a joke about who had the bigger camera.
Brian is quite passionate about his picture taking and sported a new camera this year a Cannon 7D. With so much to learn about our cameras I attempted to explain how I use the manual function to shoot everything, thus manipulating light to add a 3D effect on my work. We set our cameras to the same setting so Brian could experiment with what I was doing using his camera. Being new his camera had much more control with the new ISO settings allowing to shoot at much faster speeds yet getting the required light to the image sensor. Often people compare the quality of a camera by the size of the mega pixels but it is actually the size of the image sensor which carry the quality along with other keen factors like sensitivity and software capabilities. I again asked if he thought I would be able to visit to which he suggested I call after the show. I did and he fit it into his schedule.
|My Wall of Fame|
We arrived at Brians home and I walked into his kitchen. I noted his wall of accomplishments again which was updated from last year. I recently have added my wall of fame as I call it noting my accomplishments. I believe it isn’t bragging but is a display of many hours of hard work, that keep me motivated those times when things aren’t going as I hope they would.
|The front section of the Aviary showing hoses of the watering system|
|Long view of Brians 2nd bird room|
|Les Martin BIS 2011, Doncaster|
|All American 2nd BIS|
We walked into the bird room and straight away focused on the birds. I think Brian was interested in working with me to try and get top photographs. Last year Brian showed me his photo cage to which I patterned my own. It is long and the perch is placed horizontal far enough away from the background as not to cast a shadow on the background. I like the idea of such a cage because a bird will naturally follow the length of the perch when uncomfortable as apposed to flying out the door of smaller cages. Instead Brian pulled out the Photo cage that was designed by Gerald Binks. I wanted to purchase this cage before I visited last year. It’s a nice cage in that the center perch pivots and the background can be changed to any color. The cage builder wouldn’t ship this cage over to the States so I was obligated to build my own.
I obtained a rectangular cage missing the back wall and created a frame to fit inside where I formed a threaded stud so that I could fit my own background. I since have taken this cage to shows over here in America and photographed winning birds.
Brian wanted to use his new photo cage and thankfully his birds are calm used to being handled which made taking pictures easy. I have not counted but I may have photographed 20 to 30 different birds in his photo cage. I have heard birds described as charming or elegant. These birds have that and more. Brian has been consistently winning every year some of the top awards in England. I have heard it said that because he has not won at Doncaster that he is falling backward yet didn’t believe it for a second. The issues this year at the club show was the temperature, and now the show has been pushed back from the beginning of October into November.
|The Colliers at last years visit|
How does one approach photography when visiting an aviary? I have always tried to use perspective as a way to capture an event. I used this when I was doing video work. It makes pictures different, another perspective but in a way that draws your attention without being distracted. I always look for subjects that tell a story. What is the main point of the picture you want to take? Who are you taking it for? How would a child view what you are seeing? Are your pictures authentic another words do they prove that you were actually the photographer? I’m a people watcher, and I’m learning to listen as it is a way to learn to write in a conversational way. The birdroom is painted white with a large amount of light coming from a skylight in the ceiling. I noted the nest boxes are made of plastic, just as they were in Andy Hinds bird room. This gave me an idea to change back home. Brian is using plastic concave pieces that he says are easy to clean. You don’t have to worry about mites burrowing into things as in a wooden box. I decided to show the boxes in the room from a high angle.
Last year when I visited Alan Adams I used birds in a photo cage as the main subject for capturing his bird room and decided it would work perfectly for this occasion. The cobalt bird was such a good contrast to the white in the room and I took the shot. I also noted that Brian is using an automatic watering system but he has it nicely covered so it doesn’t draw your attention. In fact I only noticed this after I was at home editing pictures. More and more breeders are moving in this direction because it saves so much time vital to enjoying the hobby which already has plenty of things to do. He can focus more time on the birds.
We went outside to have a picture before it was time to go. I asked Brian if I could sign his guestbook to which he said he didn’t think anyone had signed it since I was there last year. Well I signed it anyway. I took this picture of Brian while I was setting up the camera for a shot with him. I posted the picture on Facebook in the Exhibition Budgerigar UK forum to which Rick Watts commented what I thought Brian was saying…I thought it was funny and sort of sums up Brian to a degree.
Now this cobalt was of my best Sky pied that was a sister to my best spangle hen that was bred from my best young birds at the club show in 2006, that was from a Mannes cock that Jo bred from my grand champion grey green that was best opp/sex at Western counties, that was a great grandson from my best young birds sky pieds best young bird at the Wold Show, brother to his mother that was best opp/sex at the BS Spring show in 2003. I'm sure that right, or is it the other cobalt?
Brian grabbed my hand and held on to it as our picture was taken. That was it, another great visit. Who knows when I’ll get this chance again.