Farm Crops and Photography

  • As the cotton crop neared harvest, the soybeans dropped their leaves and began the slow march toward ripening later in the fall.  As usual, I was out early grabbing some final shots of the cotton and some initial pictures of the soybeans.  The weather cooperated magnificently drawing in clouds which provided a marvelous backdrop to the golden beans and the stark white cotton..

I’ve had good luck over the years marketing these kinds of shots to the various foundations and marketing concerns which promote cotton and soybeans worldwide.  I also like to document what we grow here and since I’m the guy who’s into photography, that falls to me. As for getting up so early, It comes from habit.  I was in broadcast news for more than 40 years, most of it in Radio, which had an early call. I still wake up before dawn every morning.  It dovetails nicely with photography.  I’ve always held the opinion that the best light of the day comes early, from dawn to shortly after sunrise.  Thanks for the look. Have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

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The Cotton Field

 

 

Time was, the crop dusters would fly in to spray the crop  in order to defoliate it.  Now, most growers just let nature take its course and that was the case here. The cold nights have taken care of the cotton foliage without chemicals being applied,  and the cotton is ready for harvest.

Harvest time comes with its own drama.  The Autumn along with the cooler temperatures ushers in spectacular cloud formations and they change quickly.  These shots were all taken on the same morning within a 15 minute span.  Thanks for the look and have a good week.  See you next time.

Do you make your own luck? Maybe!

My usual guide when planning a pre-dawn trek to the oceanfront is, of course, the weather.  If the forecast is for full sun, I stay home. Full sun at the beach does not make for dramatic photographs. If it’s for a partly cloudy day,  I go.  If it’s for a mostly cloudy day, I go.  BUT,  if the chance of rain is above 40 percent, I will usually stay home.  This particular morning,  I made an exception. The chance of rain was 50 percent with heavy rain in some cells.  I decided to go for it anyway.   I packed up my rain gear including two extra large size Zip Lock Freezer Bags to house my camera bodies in the highly likely event, I would run into rain on the beach.  Within ten minutes of leaving the farm heading east on the beach road, I ran into a mammoth frog strangler. Ten minutes later, I ran into another.  When I arrived 40 minutes after leaving the farm, it was still raining, albeit, lightly. I waited for daybreak, then left for the oceanfront.  When I got there, it was still sprinkling, but the sky and the light were cooperating and the sun was trying to blast through the clouds.

This view is to the East. (The beach on Emerald Isle is not oriented North-South but rather  East to West.)  The steps in the foreground were abandoned and left to the ocean  after last week’s Nor’ester. I thought they added a bit of additional drama to the scene.  When I looked West, toward Lands End, I got the sure sign that the rain was done, at least for the moment. .

It was the first rainbow I can ever recall capturing over the ocean in all my many years of coming here.  The truck on the beach belongs to one of the surf fishermen drawn by the Spanish Mackerel and Albacore that were running.  It was gone within five minutes. To the East, the Sun was coming up amid a glorious bank of clouds.

The roped off area is to keep those who have permits to drive on the beach off the barrier dunes.  So my gamble paid off.  What I wanted to get in the way of  photographs, I got.  But the window of opportunity closed quickly. Just as I was packing up my gear,  it started to rain again.  I read somewhere that you make you own luck.  Maybe! Suffice to say, I was lucky.  Thanks for the read and the look.  See you next time.

Return of the Sasanqua

They were early.  Again!  That’s been the case for the past two or three years.  Time was when we didn’t see them here until late October. Now they show up in late September.   Another indicator, perhaps,  that this part of the planet is  still warming.  They’re pretty ragged little blooms and their time is short.  An opening act for the Camellias that come on the scene in November,  or is that now late October?  I forget. It’s the Sasanqua that have my attention.  I see them as a sort of signpost that Autumn is around the corner.  And sure enough, after the first bloom premiered last week in 80 degree heat, our first real cold front moved through dropping the temperature into the 50’s overnight and daytime highs in the upper 60’s. And shooing Hurricane Maria off into the Atlantic.  So all hail the Sasanqua, opening act of Autumn.

I was AWOL last week.  Chest pains during the night. The wife packed me off to the ER.  EKG’s, X Rays, blood tests galore.  The diagnosis. No Heart Attack.  Arthritis!  in the rib cage at the breast bone.  Who knew one could have arthritis in the chest?   So a false alarm and I was shuttled back into the world of the well.  Thanks for the look.  See you next time.

Late Summer Sunflowers

These were planted in late July instead of late June which had been the normal practice here.  Other than extending the blooming season, it probably made little difference.  There’s no maintenance involved.  You plant the seeds and Mother Nature does the rest.  These Van Goghs lasted right on into September.  A nice lead-in to fall!  Thanks for looking and have a good week.  See you next time.

So Far, So good…..

Our farm in Southeastern North Carolina is about 45 air miles from the Atlantic. We’ve seen a lot of storms here. From Nor’easters to tornadoes to hurricanes.  Where most people check their  local weather every morning, we check in with the National Hurricane Center.  I’d been tracking Hurricane Irma since it formed up off Africa.   When it reached the Central Atlantic, with another storm, Jose, right behind it, we decided to get moving.  I spent about a week clearing out drainage ditches, preparing generators, stocking up on gasoline, non-perishable food…all the things on everyone’s Hurricane Prepare List.   Fittingly, perhaps, we’ve been getting a rash of nasty weather unrelated to Irma for the past couple of weeks. It served as a reminder to get ready for the big show IF……  As you might surmise, there hasn’t been a lot of time for photography other than a few shots of some rather dramatic sky shots in the fields, a taste perhaps of what might be ahead. 

I keep a two gallon zip lock freezer bag in my camera bag for rainy days and it got a nice workout for the shots in the cotton field taken during light rain.  I put the camera in the bag and close the bag until it is snug around the lens.  Works great.  Even though two of my cameras are water resistant according to Nikon, why take chances?

As it turned out, Irma stayed away from our coast, and so far, Jose has seen fit to dance around in the Atlantic just south of Bermuda.  I have little doubt there will be other storms before the long hurricane season is over at the end of November.  Just this morning, I noticed another suspect forming up off the coast of Africa.  As Mr. Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s Over.”   Stay alert. Be Ready and above all Be Safe. See you next time.

Seeing Them Again For The First Time

As happens from time to time, nasty weather sent me trolling through my rather substantial collection of rejects;  RAW Files which for one reason or another I had taken a look at but passed on processing.   Many were pitched into the digital circular file because of excessive haze; a frequent problem when shooting on the coast.  Like many of you I suppose, I employ UV and Haze filters when shooting at the beach but in many cases the scene is just overwhelmed by what I call heat haze.   Frequently, of course, haze is an important element in a composition but often, I want a look at the scene without it being shrouded in mist.  Then this past week, quite by accident, I came across the Photoshop Haze Removal tool.  Bingo. Problem solved.

I’m a frequenter of the “Enhance” category which includes Color Curves and Light and Shadow adjustment, but for some reason I cannot explain,  I never noticed the “Haze Removal” button.  I quickly went to work.

The original versions of these three photographs were almost completely blanketed by rather dense morning haze which gave something of a surreal atmosphere to the scenes, but I always wondered what they would look like sans the haze.  This is it.  If only I took the time to  familiarize myself with all   software can do before I start using it.  The story of my life.  At least its keeping my aging brain active on a rainy day.  Thanks for the look. See you next time.