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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rural photographer Chantel Renae McAlister

ABC Open contributor Chantel Renae McAlister writes....

The sun sets on the mob

By Chantel Renae Photography ·  · From Snapped: Australian Landscapes

Every photograph tells a story.

Sometimes a photographer has to put themselves in some very interesting situations to capture that story just right.
'The sun sets on the mob' was captured at a sheep property south-east of the outback Queensland town of Bollon. 
I was working in the shearing shed at Mona during the day as a wool handler and in the afternoons I was taking photographs of all that caught my eye.

This shearing at Mona was in July, which means the sun sets a lot earlier than it does in the warmer months.
Finishing work in the shearing shed at 5.30pm and the sun setting at 5.40pm didn't leave me a lot of time to chase many photos.
By chance I was sent out the back to help bring the sheep up into the shed at around 5pm when the golden light was really starting to spread.
It was then this image was born in my head.
As soon as 5.30pm hit and the shed was clean I grabbed my camera, jumped out of the side of the shearing shed and ran as fast as my legs would take me to sheep in the yards.
Puffing and clumsily changing the lens on my camera as I sat in sheep droppings - I started yelling my best impersonation of a lamb. 
The light was fading and so were my chances.
I am not sure what the sheep thought of me. Maybe they took pity on me. Maybe they thought I was in pain - I will never know.
Whatever their thoughts, they gave me the shot I had in my head.
There is no greater feeling than creating something that I have imagined.
'The sun sets on the mob' has great sentimental meaning to me.
I fell completely and utterly head over heels in love with photography when I captured this image.
Something clicked inside of me that this will be my journey in life, capturing rural Australia's beauty.
Published 24 Sep 2014.  Bollon QLD 4488

Nothing a bit of tape won't fix

Battling through the blistering heat in outback Qld last week, sheep at 'Warrego Park' were moving through the shearing shed for their yearly shear. Starting out the week with 6500 sheep in front of us, there wasn't much that would stand in our way of getting the job done. 
This was particularly true for shearer, John 'Pallo' Pallisier.
His handpiece was running hot after shearing some rather dusty sheep weeks before, so hot in fact that it was burning the skin on his hands. A couple of days in and blisters began to fester on his fingers. But, that didn't stop him. As he pressed on blisters appeared on top of his blisters. The pain excruciating with his fingers now swollen, throbbing and unable to bend.
But still, he pressed on. 
'Nothing a bit of tape won't fix' he assured me. Pallo finished up the week without missing a blow or complaining once.

Published 12 Dec 2016.  Paroo QLD 4471

Kelpie and his wooly friends

The Australian kelpie is bred to be in the woolsheds.
From a young age, they have sheep on the brain and this puppy from 'Pikedale', Stanthorpe Qld was no exception.
As soon as he was brought into the woolshed he headed straight over to the shearers catching pens where he growled at the sheep and dared them to come closer to the pen door.
With a little help from his owner, he made his way onto the sheep's back where his conflict with the sheep was forgotten once he felt the softness of the sheep's wool.
The only thing he could do then? Have a quick nap on his new found friends.

Published 21 Oct 2015.  Stanthorpe QLD 4380

Push 'em up

'Push Em Up' is the result of a fortnight's dedicaton to photographing working dogs.
This was captured at 'Willamurra' Brewarrina NSW.
Whoever came up with the saying - never work with children or animals, obviously has never had the chance to work with sheep dogs. They are such entertaining animals. Each dog has their own personality, some are quiet dogs who stay at the back of the pack and are quite happy to just make up the numbers.
There are lead dogs who as soon as they are unleashed just go hell for leather, straight through the middle of the sheep biting and pulling wool out left right and centre. There are dogs that don't really know what they are doing at all so they just chase the other dogs around thinking its all just a big game. These are just to name a few.
The dogs working the sheep at Willamurra all had personality plus. I spent a lot of time following them around, getting to know how they worked. After seven days of studying them and plenty of pats too I was ready to capture them in all their glory.
I set myself up at the back of the dusty sheep pen. There I waited for the dogs to come screaming around the side of the sheep.
As the words 'Go Back' were yelled, here they came. 'Push 'Em Up' was quickly followed and that was the dogs cue to get serious about moving the sheep into the shed. There were dogs running at full pace, sheep bucking and jumping, so much bull dust flying around that there was almost zero visibilty.
As the dust settled and the sheep and dogs had moved on, all that was left in the yard was me. I was flat on my back after being bowled over by a few animals, covered in dirt from head to toe with my camera held high above my head. I got the shot.

Published 22 Dec 2014.  Brewarrina NSW 2839