Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens

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Things get a bit ‘fowled’ up in the studio for Digital Photography.

This term, CAT’s Photography Studio played host to some very prestigious fowl. On Jan 29 and 30th, Dudley DeLeenheer, Club President of the Vernon Pigeon and Poultry Club, brought in a selection of his best birds for Digital Photography students to perfect their skills on.

This year the Vernon Pigeon and Poultry Club is celebrating their 51st anniversary. The club is a place to meet other fowl fanciers to learn more about breeding, raising, and showing birds, with every level – from novices to experts – welcome.

Dudley has been President of the VPPC for over 20 years, and has had a number of prize winning chickens over the years.

Dudley DeLeenheer, Club President of the Vernon Pigeon and Poultry Club with three of his different breeds of chickens.
Dudley DeLeenheer, Club President of the Vernon Pigeon and Poultry Club

“I raise Bantam chickens (miniatures… about 1/3 the size of regular chickens). I love the smaller size as they are easier to handle, easier to house and less expensive to feed,” says Dudley.

“All the chickens I brought in were Bantams. I brought in Old English, the most popular breed of show bird in N. America. There are 40 recognized colors and I only have three – black, black breasted red, and golden duckwing. Old English are sleek, smooth and lively.

Also, I brought some New Hampshires ( a beautiful reddish color) with serrated comb and featherless legs. This breed is good for egg laying and eating…thus, a dual purpose bird.
My third breed is called Chantecler. This breed was created in Canada in the early 1900’s using five different breeds to create a small combed, dual purpose hardy bird that can withstand cold Canadian winters.”

So let’s talk turkey about chicken photography: are they a challenging subject for photography?

“Chickens are a moving subject so it was a little difficult to get them to stay in one spot,” says Samantha Emberly, Digital Photography student. “But just being patient with them helps. It’s not like we could tell them to stay in one spot!”

What are the important aspects of getting a good photograph of chickens?

“A side view will show off the birds best qualities. Length of back, set of tail and front structure will best be shown. Front and rear views don’t show individual characteristics. Lighting is important. Some close-ups are quite special as well,” says Dudley.

“A few of the most important things we thought of when taking pictures of the chickens,” says Samantha, “was if they had a catch light in their eye. The catch light is a little bounce of light in the chicken’s eye; it made them look more alive. Another thing we looked for was hope the light effected the colors of the chickens feathers, we wanted to make sure all the colors were profound and beautiful.”

“Birds feathers can give off all three types of reflection we deal with in photography. Plus chickens, as living animals, bring in lots of photographic challenges as well,” explains Grant Robinson, lead instructor on CAT’s Digital Photography program. “These two things together made the idea of students photographing exotic chickens a really cool and challenging project. I then typed in ‘Okanagan chickens’ into Google, and Dudley’s was first on the list, so I called him!”

“It sounded really interesting both for myself and my wife,” says Dudley. “We are retired teachers and we enjoy working with young people. They all seemed interested and the number of photos taken was phenomenal!”

Dudley is “very happy” with the results so far. “I can’t wait to get some of the best that Grant has promised us. It was a great experience and am so glad that we decided to partake.”

The students also had a great time.

“I am allergic to feathers so I wasn’t really sure what I was walking into that day,” admits Samantha, “but, despite that, it was a really cool and unusual experience.”

Words by Deborah Lampitt-McConnachie

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