On a recent photo-walk I co-led with my friend Martin Radigan we were treated to a fortuitous opportunity to photograph combines working through a field of soybeans. Though I have watched single combines working a field this was the first time I have watched a group work in tandem to complete the harvest. The lead harvester would enter the row and was followed at intervals by the other two, each one cutting with a small overlap. I can't say for sure how many acres this field was but it only took about 30 to 45 minutes to complete the effort.
We had some beautiful light to make our images and most of our group spaced themselves up and down along the field to make their shots. I worked two cameras to capture my images. I set my Fuji X-T2 up with the Fujinon XF55-200 R OIS on a tripod, and located it up on a hill where I could shoot up towards the advancing combines. I set the AF to Continuous Low and the Mode to Set 2 - Ignore Obstacles & Continue to Track Subject. I set up my second camera, the Fuji X-Pro 2 with my Fujinon XF16-55m WR, and carried that one off tripod. I set the AF to Continuous Low. As the combines worked their way down field I used the X-T2 on the tripod and then as they made the turn in front of me I worked in tight to the cutting edge, captured shots, and then moved quickly by foot to a different position. Working tight in this way with a wide-angle gave me some dramatic perspective.
I had to exercise some care though. The combine drivers were concentrating of making their cuts and when your eye is plastered to the camera it was easy to get fixated on the moment and not watch where they were going. On one occasion one of the combines made a quick rotational turn towards my position and I had to make a quick maneuver to get out of the way.
Some of our group broke off and began to shoot other things around the farm but I decided to stay with the harvest. I am fascinated by big farm machines and I wanted to continue to watch the harvesting process and capture more images. For processing, the nice light and clear skies with drifting cirrus clouds gave me the opportunity to explore color and black and white compositions. I generally set my Fuji Picture Mode to Acros NeoPan for most of my work. This is partially because I like to shoot in, and process in black and white, but it is also because I like to explore my compositions without the complications of color. Because I shoot in RAW +JPEG Fine, I have the benefit of having the color version and the black and white for comparison when I begin to process an image.
I think we all had a great afternoon on this photo-walk and I am looking forward to chasing down some more harvesting combines in the future. Thanks for stopping by today. RHC