Friday, September 16, 2011

French Harvest

It has always been fascinating to follow the cycle of the farming year round our place in France. Different crops in different fields depending on demand and perhaps EU subsidies, who knows? There is always a fair amount of maize, or corn, which is a staple feed for the dairy cows, but different kinds of cereal are also abundant.

The maize is normally harvested in late autumn, so we miss that most of the time, but not the August harvest of other crops. How they can predict the weather so accurately is beyond me. They seem to know exactly when to get the guys with their big machines out. I guess the farming community in an area co-ordinates the activities, because you see the same people in all the fields, working their way through them. They know when the rain is coming, so they literally work day and night. You hear the harvesters from afar and you see the cloud of millions of minute particles rising to the sky and being swept away by the wind, that is if it is not night time.

I have long been waiting for a good opportunity to get some decent photos of the night harvest, and this summer I finally had my chance. They were doing the fields right next to us, so close to midnight I got my tripod and camera out and positioned myself at the junction where they had parked their big transporter. It was totally dark, so I needed a torch to see what I was doing.

As I was standing there in the dark a tractor came along and parked in the field. The driver got out, walked up to me and shook hands and said good evening. I must have looked rather suspicious lurking in the dark, but I think he had seen me earlier in the day taking some pictures of them. I felt however the need say something about photography, all in my very best French, hoping he would not say too much back!

I wanted to get some spooky pictures with some blurry light. Since there was so little light, the shutter speed had to be very slow, giving any object time to move some distance. In some exposures you can see how the same detail is repeated five or six times, giving the image a rather mysterious effect. Here are some sample pictures.

Day Harvest Night Harvest 1

Night Harvest 2 Night Harvest 3

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Who Needs Disneyland?

It has been long since I blogged last.

My summer was very eventful, getting onto a flying start with a visit from my son and family to our holiday home in Normandy. You will understand how busy it was, children getting up much earlier than my preferred time in the morning, so in order not to miss too much time with them, I had to drag my body out of bed and try to increase my energy level to theirs, because they were up and running with a smile on their face straight away.

They had been to Disneyland in Paris on their way to us, but I am convinced they will remember these animals better than some costume cartoon animals.

Feeding the cows 1 Feeding the cows 2

Who needs Disneyland?

And this ride in the playground at the old ruined castle in Mayenne was full of joy.

Rock on!

Who needs expensive toys when you have a collection of empty plastic bottles?

Plastic bottles and pebbles

Instead of extortionate restaurant prices you can sit in the dying sunshine on the doorstep with some snacks and a locally produced apple juice.

Doorstep snack

We all had a lovely time at our own pace. The simple pleasures of life always outstrip everything else, especially when you are in such wonderful company.