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

5 comments:

ladyfi said...

I didn't realize that there was such a thing as night harvesting. These photos are great!

swenglishexpat said...

LadyFi - Thank you. You need ear plugs at night!

Veronica said...

make hay while the sun shines (or doesn't) seems to fit.
I came "off the land" so I can definitely relate.
you and himself are both looking at everyday things ...differently ...
http://monsoon-frog.blogspot.com/2011/09/night-road-works.html

swenglishexpat said...

Veronica - Hay, asphalt on the night shift. I bet they are well paid! ;-)

Veronica said...

such a sweet perfume on the tropical night air! However, I figure it's a lot more "pleasant" when the sun is not beating down on you though