farm

Making Cow Friends in Artesia New Mexico

Making Cow Friends in Artesia New Mexico

Sunrise cow friends

I found myself at 5:50am on a piece of ranch land just outside of Artesia, New Mexico recently. After somehow getting buzzed by a semi on the tiny dirt road as I stepped out of my Jeep, it was all quiet after that, save for the sounds of farm animals on the neighboring ranches. I like to make animal friends when I am out on these rural shoots, like these horses in Belen earlier this year. So I was glad that two cows came over to see me this sunrise time and even prop up an ear in curiosity at perhaps the two large cameras and lenses I had on my person. It was nice to have company, but I eventually had to move on and finish up photographing the property. I feel like the cows, like the horses, were sad I went away. Maybe some day I can have an animal sanctuary as long has been my dream and then I can stay with all the animals all the time!

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2017 First Sunrise Over Iowa Farmland

2017 First Sunrise Over Iowa Farmland

The Japanese have a custom of watching the first sunrise of the year.  My first year living in Japan friends took me to a Buddhist temple at midnight on New Year's Eve and then to a beach at sunrise.  I really like this custom.  So this morning shortly after 7am I took my camera and tripod out onto the frosty ground and watched the sunrise over an Iowa cornfield.  You can see five jets already streaking to far off destinations so early in the new year!

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Organic Blueberry Picking at Big Bear Farms

Nikon D300 Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro f/2.8G @ f/11 ISO 200 1/160th SB-600 hotshoe mounted in TTL mode

I had no idea blueberries had an opening in them at one end.  This is the kind of thing you can learn when you get out and obtain your own food.  Big Bear Farms in Plant City, Florida is not what I expected.  No silo, no big red barn, just a lot of plants in large blue tubs.  The blueberry bushes were not even planted in the ground!  This was a bit upsetting to me at first.  Even though Big Bear is a certified organic farm, it seemed a bit artificial to not even have the bushes in the ground, but maybe that is the only way to obtain organic certification in that area?  

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 9-bracket HDR tripod mountedOnce you obtain your bucket from the main office, you are entirely left to your own devices and no doubt the honor system for picking your blueberries.  The farmer said you can eat some to test them out.  I ate about 15 or so right off the bush.  My picking method at first was very methodical and zen like.  I searched carefully and without haste.  I also had ten pounds of camera, lens and speedlight hanging off my neck in full on Florida afternoon heat, so such circumstances do not lend toward fast movement anyway!  

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th SB-600 on light stand to left in TTL mode, camera on tripod

The current rate for blueberries was $11 a pound.  We took home $20 worth and they were all eaten right from the bag in just a couple of days.  It was a very good experience.  I liked spending time in the countryside harvesting, and the photography opportunities were pretty good too, from insect macros, to HDR landscapes to fruit macros.

Be sure and call ahead as blueberries are only available in certain seasons.  The farm has other berries as well.