Friday, September 12, 2014
The faces of farming and the fruits of their labours are diverse, from small husband-and-wife operations to factory farms, from large custom croppers to tiny market vendors, from animal husbandry to organic vegetables. Yet, how often do we think of that?
Even living in a rural community I often take for granted the food on my plate. With the exception of Thanksgiving, rarely do I give any thought to where it came from and how blessed I am to have it in abundance.
Not that I haven't seen first hand what it means to be a farmer. As a kid growing up in an urban area, I was lucky to have country cousins with whom I spent a few weeks each summer. This was back in the day when diversity farming was the only farming. Barns were an agricultural zoo with pens of pigs, stalls for horses and cows and coops for chickens. In the morning we collected eggs, in the late afternoon we watched the dairy cattle wander in for milking. Beef cattle and sheep grazed; hens pecked their way through the barnyard; pigs snuffled and grunted while enjoying mud baths.
Nothing tasted better than vegetables and berries plucked and eaten fresh from my aunt's gardens. Waiting for the apples to ripen in the orchard was difficult for impatient little girls, resulting in many a stomach ache from indulging too soon. Watching my uncles back in the fields, planting and harvesting crops could fill many afternoon hours. Seeing the machines move, seagulls chasing, dust flying, was better than anything on the three television stations we got.
Let's face it. Most of what we see in the grocery store is a result of agriculture. To encapsulate everything about the industry, an image collection, such as those featured below, will have to cover a lot of ground.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
It really is odd. It's not as agriculture presents a lack of subject material. One could focus their lens on architecture and landscapes, animals and the faces of farming as well as lots of things in between.
It's also not that I've never taken any agricultural shots, either. Back in my newspaper days, when we put out an annual rural life section each spring, I was given access to no end of subject material and came away with many nice photographs. These, though are the property of the publication, not for me to lay claim to. But, these days, while I might drive through the countryside with regularity, it's a long way to the buildings and pastures where the photo ops exist.
Certainly, I still have contacts who would let me venture onto the property, camera in hand, to grab some nice images. Because of course, getting permission is the first rule. But, as my interests tend to run to family and nature, I just don't generally think about the potential of agricultural photography until the fall fair rolls around.
There are of course, many other categories to enter that are more in keeping with the type of pictures I take, such as this year's Sunlight and Shadows, Waterfalls or Grandparents with Their Little Helpers. However, just once it would be fun to have something for the more farm-inspired themes.
Without the opportunity and practice presented by the newspaper, I decided a little review of what it takes to get some good farming pictures might be helpful. Here's what I unearthed:
The Complete Guide to Shooting Agriculture
Taking Great Farming Pictures
5 Tips for Farm Photos
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
But remembering back to the many summers I enjoyed vacationing at my cousins, I'd have to say that while the country might be quiet it was rarely still. On from the early rising of my aunt, bustling in the kitchen, and my uncle treading out at pre-dawn to milk the cows, there was always plenty of activity. It was only night, with no social life nearby, when the day quieted and the only entertainment needed was the beauty of a clear starry night.
While the grown-ups filled daylight hours with hard work, my cousin and I spent our time wandering country lanes and fields in search of that day's new adventures. With makeshift poles we fished the streams; with youthful agility we climbed the orchard's trees in search of ripe fruit. The chicken coop, empty stalls and hay mow were sources of inspiration for our imaginations.
Those vacations at the farm were the halcyon weeks of my childhood summers, full of adventure and activity, exploration and imagination. Thus, when looking for images to convey that quiet country life only one word came to mind — animated. Here then is some terrific farming-related clipart from AnimationFactory
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
A drive around the countryside on a beautiful afternoon this past weekend was a reminder that harvest is upon us soon. Vast cornfields, acres of beans and the odd pumpkin patch or crop of sunflowers stand in final glory before the season of bounty is celebrated.
Speckled in between is the usual assortment of livestock, as varied as what can be expected in an area that boasts agriculture as its number one industry. Large barns house pigs and poultry, while sheep, beef cattle, dairy cows, horses, and even the occasional herd of llama graze wide open spaces.
Connecting large towns, small villages and tiny hamlets are miles and miles of land where factory farms rule, but a few quaint barns still hang on.
In all of my decades on this earth, there have only been a few years spent in a large urban centre. Small-town and the surrounding countryside are my home. Living here it's difficult not to appreciate the industry. From the time I was little, sharing summer adventures during vacations on the farm with my cousin, to my two-decade tenure as editor of our local newspaper covering agricultural-related topics and meetings, images of life on the farm are what's familiar.
This is the time of year to celebrate agriculture and the people who bring us our food. Here then is a pictorial tribute:
Clipart.com Agriculture Photos
iCLIPART.com Agriculture Photos
iPHOTOS.com Agriculture Pictures
Acclaim Images Agriculture
Monday, September 8, 2014
Having lived my entire life in this type of setting it's a tradition with which I'm quite familiar. Fall fairs days in the town where I grew up were eagerly anticipated by children, not just as a get-out-of-school-free pass, but also for the social and entertainment value. Each year after school began we took time from classes for daily marching practices so we were sure to be show ready for the annual parade.
On the big day we lined up and with regimental precision, or at least our variation of it, and made our way through town to the fairgrounds. Fidgeting during the opening ceremonies, we broke away with energetic hoots and hollers once dismissed, heading to the midway and other attractions.
By the time I had become a young mother I moved to a small village where the local fair was the pride and joy of a robust agricultural society. In a sense of deja vü I watched my own youngsters trot along the parade route and take off with abandon upon release to enjoy the sights and sounds.
Eventually, I became editor of a community newspaper and for more than 20 years watched the activity through the lens of my trusty camera. Taking pictures at these type of events isn't just about covering the obvious — the tractor pulls, the carnival, the animals. It's also about capturing a mood. Some of my favourite pictures weren't of anything in particular, but rather images that caught a moment of socializing, a happy face, something that conveyed a feeling rather than an activity.
When you're taking pictures at a fall fair, or any similar type of event, it's important to know where the action is. But some of the best photos you take might not be the result of any of that. A conversation between two older farmers sitting on bales, the look of wonder on a child's face tell the story just as well.
Here is useful advice on how to get the type of fall fair shots you want:
Shooting Country Fairs
Digital Photo Secrets Tips for Great Photos at the County Fair