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Old 19th November 2018
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Re: October 18 Challenge: Harvest

Mark has kindly invited me to do a summary of the entries for the "Harvest" competition.

This is of course a two edged sword and honoured though I am I am sure I will be judged just as much by what I write as by my entry.

But first, a general comment on the theme of "Harvest" which may set the context in which I write this summary. Many of the entries, my own included, show that we mainly think of "Harvest" as rolling fields of wheat and perhaps we have gained this idea from some childhood utopia we were exposed to in our formative years at school - the Ladybird learning to read book of The Farm or the Ladybird easy-reading book of The Farmer perhaps. With so many people entering the competition on this note it would need an exceptional picture or one with a twist so set it apart and above the rest. As autumn and the traditional harvest period recedes however there is an additional crop, this time of berries, that gives colour to the winter scene, and provides the photographer with much needed inspiration. Now that the competition has finished I can also think of Harvest related themes that were not covered by the entries - Harvest Festival and Morris Dancing spring to mind - and would have welcomed more and more varied entries to talk about. So on to my summary of the 14 entries.

Paul Kay - "Harvest". Combine silhouetted against a field.
A simple silhouette but obviously much thought has gone into choosing the right time of day to capture the shot. The fading light and low angle of the sun has thrown the cut stalks into stark light and dark and outlined the combine to emphasise the hard lines of the mahine. A nice touch is the light shining through the side window into the cab and lighting up the interior. The two silouetted trees break up the monotonous horizon and the sun above them is perfectly exposed to show the fading and cooling day after hours of unrelenting sunshine. The dust cloud gives a sense of purpose and activity to what would otherwise be a very static scene. Congratulations on third place.

Walti (Paul Walton) - Combine in Action. Low shooting angle close up of combine in action.
Yes its a combine in action but the wide angle lens and low and upwards shooting angle are well chosen to make this different and stand out. I can't tell if the combine is working - the dust cloud tells us that the combine is, but the the modest shutter speed has frozen any possible motion of the pickup wheel at the front and I can't see the stalks bending. There is a nice contrast between the levels of the cut and uncut stalks of wheat. The positive exposure compensation has brought out the two strong colours of the golden wheat and the red combine.

Roger Macdonald - "Last Of The Summer Wine". Grapes ready to be plucked from the vine.
A fine vinyard shot showing us plump and jucy grapes ready to be harvested. By shooting down the length of the row of vines we are given to see the scale of the vinyard. Red leaves and red grapes against the green grass is a classic contrast used to good effect. Focussing is spot on with the bunches of grapes right in the centre of the picture being the sharpest.

Henk Ruissen - Birds harvesting berries. Two birds on thorny branches covered in berries.
A superb study of this genre. Two birds in different poses; one with its head turned which empasises the eye that is closest to us.Something has grabbed its attention to make it look round which grabs our attention. The red berries are clearly tempting. The yellow leaves in the trees behind provide a nice backdrop, are nicely out of focus, and allow the thorny branches to stand out. The plane of focus has been well chosen to include both birds, all the berries, and the branches.

Mark Johnson - "Hay Time". Round bales of hay in a field.
The hay bales and round and wrapped in black plastic which indicate high moisture baling. A well chosen shooting angle gives us green grass on one side of the road and a golden field on the other dotted with the black hay bales. By shooting with a wide angle we have the road receding into the distance quite quickly allowing the field of hay bales to dominate the centre of the picture. The inclusion of the trees nicely defines the far edge of the field and adds interest. The clouds are well exposed and although they take up the whole top half of the picture they are not dominating but rather add to the open feeling of the scene.

Iain MacDiarmid - "Starling Harvest". Bird gorging on berry.
Iain has presented us with a well defined image of a starling gorging on a plump red rowan berry. The eye nearest to us is perfectly in focus. The berries and leaves in the forground give us the context and the out of focus backround is a nice splash of colour to frame the bird. A fine shot and well liked, it has given him a deserved second place.

ChiaroScuro - "I am The Harvester".
Perhaps taking inspiration from images of the Green Man, Chiaro saw something in the trees and foliage that have been processed to give us a central theme to ponder - What is this strange symetrical shape right in the centre and what does it mean? Who is the Harvester?

OM USer - "Golden Harvest". Yet more bales of hay in a field.
OK, this is my entry. I tried to pull up the golden colour of the wheat but failed to achieve anything meaningful with the green fields at the back which are dry and dusty.

Steve Oates - "Twilight Bales". Round bales of hay in a field.
A fine composition with emphasis on the the undulating field as well as the bales of hay. The bales are standing (or lying down I suppose) in a nice straight line that is superbly captured. The vertical crop has focussed attention on the one field and we are only dimly aware of the fields to either side.

Dave Wornish - "Missed a Bit". A harvested field with an ear or two of wheat.
Eschewing the impulse to shoot a bales of hay in a field, Dave has instead given us a few ears of wheat that were missed by the combine. This is what I referred to in my preamble as looking at the whole scene and noticing a unique twist that no-one else had given to us. The picture still says Harvest, but amongst the wasteland that is the cut field there is still life. Add in a dramatic sky & great framing, and Dave is a worthy winner of this month's competition.

Barr1e - "Harvest at the Pumpkin Farm"
This is just as much a harvest as any other crop so its nice to see Barr1e thinking outside the usual box (the scene reminds me of the pumpkin patch in Harry Potter and the Wizard Of Azkaban when Buckbeak is freed). The wide angle of 12mm was used to good effect to capture all of the pumpkins laid out in the field.

Rebnats - "Schwonderful Harvest Thish Year"
A wonderful twist on images of grapes about to be harvested by showing the end product (a glass of wine) as well. The grapes look nice and refreshing with the spray of water droplets and the wine looks nicely chilled. The complementary backdrop is not out of place and gives an end piece to the shot rather than letting it tail away into the distance. I hope Hardys Merlot 2017 was a good vintage.

(Henry) Blu-by-u - "Not ready for harvest".
Henry's image is a perfect example of using the available landscape. We know from the title that this is a crop that will evetually be harvested so the picture has some meaning and we can anticipate that event. A shot of the wide open landscape but agriculture, contrails in the sky, and some dotted houses show that mankind has intruded everywhere.

Alf Branch - "Pollen collecting". Bee collecting pollen from a flower.
A master of the macro lens, Alf has given us a stunning image. It is well composed and has some great blocks of colour courtesy of the pink of dog rose petal and the bright gold of the anther. The bee is superbly defined and showing great detail; specks of pollen are caught in its hairs. The phrase "busy bee" is well captured in this image.
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blu-by-u (20th November 2018), MJ224 (20th November 2018), Rebnats (23rd November 2018), RogerMac (27th November 2018), wornish (20th November 2018)