Haifa-based photographer Lior Patel has spent the last seven months immersed in the daily rhythms of sheep. Hovering above the Peace Valley region of Yokneam, Isreal, he’s documented a single flock’s grazing process in a captivating timelapse that shows the animals racing across the agricultural landscape and down roadways in robust, heaving masses. Shot with a drone, the accelerated footage attests to the drove’s shape-shifting instincts, which resembles other naturally occurring patterns like a flowing current or mesmerizing starling murmurations.
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Vegetable farmer Michael Morgan, who’s referred to as the “king of cabbage,” and South Africa-born herder Keith Markov have managed the flock since 1985, and today it fluctuates between 1,000 and 1,750 individuals. Each year, the sheep migrate up to seven kilometers from the valley to the outskirts of Ramot Menashe with the help of shepherds Mustafa Tabash, Mahmoud Kaabiyah, Eyal Morgan, and Dan Goldfinger and a few border collies, which you can see circling the edges of the flock and rounding up stragglers.
To focus on the sheep’s natural movements, Patel tells Colossal that he captured most scenes from a fixed camera position. Each shot shows between 4-7 minutes of the shepherds corralling the animals en route to their next location. “The first challenge is to understand the elasticity of the herd during the movement, its dispersal during grazing, and how it converges into one tight pack towards exit/return from pasture and crossing roads and paths,” he says.
Patel frequently travels throughout Isreal documenting agricultural practices, barges, and the historic architecture of city centers with a drone, and you can find more of his aerial photos and footage on his site and Instagram.