Competition #8 – the New York Sheep and Wool Photo Contest

My TU blog buddy Teri Conroy suggested I enter this competition, and you know what I always say… bloggers support bloggers.

I was allowed to enter a maximum of five images in the upcoming New York Sheep and Wool Festival Photography Contest, and I submitted all five in the “objects” category.  Even though it is technically the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, I did not have any pictures of sheep, rams, lambs or ewes.  So I went with my strengths, and promised at some point in my life I would photograph enough mutton to make Shari Lewis happy.

And now the guardian angel on my shoulder is whispering… “Chuck, did you follow the rules on this one?  We don’t want another Big E situation, now do we?”

No we do not.  So I made sure that I confirmed that yes, all photographs must be matted.  And the part about there being no sizes larger than 8×12.  I double-checked everything.  Then I double-double checked everything.  Each of my photos was printed in a 5×7 size, then matted to a width and height of 8×10.  All the photos were printed with Ritz; all the photos were matted with off-the-rack Hobby Lobby mattes.

With that in mind, I entered the following five photographs.


Yep, I entered it one more time.  I think this is officially the last contest in which I can enter this picture.


I did get a third place for this photo at Altamont… maybe it will work better in another rural competition?


Okay, this one is new to competition.  It’s a star trails shot I took last month.  Let’s see if it has some luck.


This would have been half of a picture called “The Portra-Verichrome Bridge,” in which I would have mixed 35mm Kodak Portra film with 616 vintage Kodak Verichrome film.  That concept later became my award-winning “The Agfa Bridge Over Ansco Lake.”  But I kept this photo around… maybe it has some luck.


One final Kodachrome shot, of an abandoned barn in Greenfield Center, N.Y.

I sent all five images, along with a check, an image CD, and my application forms, to the receiver in charge of the Fair.

Last Saturday, I received a Facebook message from Teri Conroy, asking if I had made it to Rhinebeck yet.  Well, no, I was busy with this Hall of Fame thing and watching Albany High get their heads handed to them ONCE AGAIN in high school football… hmm…

So Saturday afternoon, I drove down to Rhinebeck, to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds and the Sheep and Wool Festival.  Riding shotgun with me were my Nikon D700 and my Ansco Cadet, the Cadet loaded with a roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan and two rolls of Efke 100 film.  Figured I’d get some film shots while I was there.

I got to the Fairgrounds, and although conventional wisdom dictates that I go find my photos and see how I did, I thought I’d wait a bit – and go see Teri Conroy and her llamas.  They were over in Barn 27, with all the other llamas and alpacas.

And look, here's Teri with Lisel the llama. Photo by Chuck Miller.

And yes, Teri was there, along with her llamas Lisel and Tank.  Tank was purchased at last year’s Big E, so this is really Tank’s first year of full competition.  Apparently llamas have competition names, just as dogs from the Westminster Kennel Club do, so “Tank” is officially known as “LILCO Bells and Whistles.”  Yeah, “Tank” makes more sense for a name.

Teri had plenty of visitors at her location, she handed out baby pictures of Lisel and talked about Wunsapana Farm.  Lots of kids came over.  They loved seeing the llamas.

“Chuck, have you seen your pictures yet?” she asked.

“No,” I replied.  “I came to see you first, and see how you were doing.”

“No, you need to go see your pictures,” Teri sweetly insisted.

The pictures are hanging up already.  I can wait a few minutes.  They’re not going anywhere.

As I struck up a conversation with Teri’s friend Helena, I noticed that a young girl, maybe in her early teens, was taking a picture of the llamas – and was using a Minolta 35mm SLR film camera.  Not a camera phone or a point-and-shoot camera like a Nikon CoolPix or a Kodak EasyShare, but a real Minolta 35mm shooter.

Okay, I’m impressed.  I asked the girl if she normally shot film.

“I do,” she replied, “and I’m taking a photography class.  But the camera I was going to use – it broke, and now I have to use the school’s camera until mine is repaired.”

“Oh,” I said.  “Do you like shooting with film?”

“Yes,” she smiled.  “I do.”

And I’m standing there, thinking to myself… I wish I still had my Kiev-19 or my Nikkormat FTn, I would have handed one of them over to the girl in a second.  Those cameras gave me a lot of love in the past, surely they could work for her.  As for film cameras, all I’ve got is my Ansco Cadet and a couple of rolls of black-and-white vest pocket film…

Wait a minute.

“You really want to try new things with film?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

I asked her if she could bring her parents over.  Her mother arrived.  I explained who I was and that I was impressed with the girl’s desire to shoot with film.  So many kids are using digital these days, it’s nice to see someone actually starting out with analogue photography.

“Abby really likes using film,” her mother said.  “But the camera she was going to use – it broke, and it’s getting repaired now.  We have to use the school camera until we get hers back.”

Bye, Ansco Cadet; take lots of great pictures for Abby. Photo by Chuck Miller.

I took the Ansco Cadet from around my neck, and pulled the two rolls of Efke 100 out of my back pocket.  Without hesitation, I handed the camera and the film to Abby.

“Take care of this camera,” I said.  “It’s brought me a lot of good luck.  You can get 127 film through B&H Photo Video, you can get the film developed at Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas, or at any decent photo lab, and the yellow filter on the front of the camera will help you get more detail with cloud and landscape shots.  Just remember to shoot with the sun at your back, and you’ll get some amazing photos with this little treasure.”

“Thank you so much,” Abby replied.  “You don’t know how much this means.”

“Just take good pictures with it,” I said.  “That’s all the thanks I need.”

See, sometimes Chuck could use a little good karma in his life.  Do right by others, and good fortune will return to you threefold.  Okay, this does not mean I’m going to start listening to the 37-minute version of “Sugar Magnolia” from the last time the Grateful Dead played the Knickerbocker Arena…

Okay, back to the Sheep and Wool Festival.

I walked through the various buildings and displays, I ate some food, I walked around some more.  I saw a demonstration of sheep-shearing, I bet the sheep wasn’t happy to lose his fleece on such a windy day…

Okay, now the suspense is killing me.  I gotta go see how the pics turned out.

The photos are displayed in an area called Building E.  I walked over, and amidst all the food vendors and craft vendors in the building – there was a wall of photographs, all nicely arranged and displayed.

And look what took first place in the “objects” division.

It didn't take Best of Show... but it did take first place! Photo by Chuck Miller.

That’s right, this little bad boy has taken two second-place ribbons – at Altamont and at The Big E – and now it has a blue ribbon to go with the reds!  Awesome!!

Then I looked around to see if any of my other photos had picked up ribbons.  Railsplitter – nothing.  The Star Trails shot – nothing.  The sprocket-holed film one… nothing.  And my last-minute “toss in the mix” picture, Barn Versus Weeds…

Light blue for Honorable Mention! Swank!! Photo by Chuck Miller.

And another ribbon for my Kodachrome photography!

So that’s why Teri was so revved up about me seeing my pictures.  She knew I had won, and wanted me to know also!  How great is that?

All in all, this year’s fair season has been beneficial for both us TU bloggers.  Teri picked up her first blue ribbons at the New York State Fair, and earned the Herdsman Award at the Big E. Totally amazing, her best showing with her llamas!  And I’ve got some new silks and satins to hang up in my place.  Can’t beat that with a baseball bat.

I’ve got one more contest to enter this year – no, it’s not involving the Palace or the Railsplitter or Agfa-Ansco or anything like that.  It’s a picture that hasn’t been entered in any other competition.

The upcoming competition, however, is a chance to return to the scene of last year’s biggest photo win for the Chuckster.

And the results of that competition will be posted in this blog on Thursday.