27x30 inch C-print
These sheep had chosen to rest in a visually remarkable spot—on
the edge of civilization with the moon rising directly behind them, arching
towards the North Sea. Other entire flocks of sheep had left my camera's
frame before, and I was desperate not to spook this flock with my portable
light. I was also concerned about the deleterious effect lighting may
have on the animal world at night. I will always wonder if the shock of
my multiple strobe flashes didn't contribute to the death of a young red
bat being shown to me by a researcher during a bat census years before.
Ever since that story, I've been particularly aware of the costs of my
act of photographing.
Among this flock of sheep were a ewe and her lamb. I didn't want to disturb
any sheep and risk their leaving the composition, but I especially didn't
want to cause that mother and baby to expend any more energy in the frigid
weather than what was already being required of them. Happily, I noticed
that the sheep were accustomed to car headlights rounding the bend and
washing over them briefly on this tiny ribbon of coastal highway. I decided
to piggyback my powerful fireman's flashlight onto the car headlights.
I would dovetail with the car lights and keep "painting" the
flock with my own light for a few moments after the car was gone. I would
then switch off my flashlight and wait for the next car. It worked. The
flock stayed, and baby and mother didn't move. Many other sheep did move
about during the course of the exposure, however, as the disembodied glowing
eye dots attest.