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... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hay Baling

There is a field between Byron and Fort Valley that Deborah and I drive past quite often. It is really a beautiful spot, rolling hills hit by the afternoon sun at just the right angle. We usually pass by this time of year and see huge rolls of hay scattered across the field. I always comment about the picture possibilites and hope one day to come by while the farmers are baling the hay.

Yesterday Deborah had a doctor’s appointment in Warner Robins. She called me as she drove home to let me know the farmers were baling hay. Needless to say, I hit the road.

Keith Story and his dad CJ were hard at work, CJ was running the hay rake making windrows while Keith ran the baler. I spent an hour in the field shooting pictures.
When you are shooting tractors working in large fields, you have to be patient. It takes a good while for the tractor to make the trip across the field. I had some nice pictures with the 300mm, but found a spot at the end of a windrow with a roll of hay in just the right spot.

I brought out my 10mm, and found just the right spot. I had time before the baler came back so I shot a few frames to make sure all my elements were in place, great sun, incredible clouds and the roll of hay was where I wanted it in the frame. When you are shooting with a really wide lens from a low angle, it is hard to balance the exposure for the huge expanse of sky and the much darker ground. My test shots had a washed out sky.

The old way to handle this was to switch to manual exposure and try various exposures until you got it right. I was using my D90 which has a feature called Active D-Lighting which helps keep detail in both the highlight and shadow areas.
I turned it on and did another test shot. Really evened up the sky and ground. I waited for the baler to come back and fired away.

This is a great feature on a cool little camera. The image quality continues to amaze me. After years of shooting Nikon digital and doing a bunch of color correcting on all my images, this is a dream. Very little work to get them looking good. Plus a really decent 6400 ISO. We will try that next week as high school football gets cranked up.

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