Another John Deere combine shot. This time it is a 2012 (approx) John Deere 9860STS with GPS autosteer and all the bells and whistles on the left, and a 1997 (approx) John Deere 9600 on the right. The 9600 is a workhorse but not nearly as sophisticated or as fast as the one on the left. I got a ride in both of them.
I spent last week working on an assignment about the Oklahoma wheat harvest in northern Oklahoma, right close to the Kansas border. It was dusty, hot, and windy so I had to be careful to keep my lenses attached to my digital cameras in fear of dust on my sensor. I was quite busy shooting all phases of the harvest, including cutting wheat, spraying crops, repairing and maintaining the equipment, preparing the food for the crews, etc. I did have a few minutes to grab some shots with my Toyo VX-125, once again using Kodak TMAX-100 film, a Nikon 210 mm F5.6 lens and a red Coken filter. I am starting to like the red filter if I can figure out the compensation factor. This is a bit better exposed than my church picture from yesterday.
This is a 1997 John Deere combine used by the Day family farms.
Back to the wheat harvest. Each morning, crews get up at daybreak and clean the combine. Now combines are not some small piece of machinery you can just run to the car wash. They are massive, expensive pieces of diesel-powered computers that must process massive amounts of straw to get a few kernels of wheat for consumption. Each morning the combine crew must open up inspection hatches and use air compressors to blow out the wheat dust from the previous days work. And if you have ever watched a combine at work in the field, you know they create a HUGE amount of dust – 50′ plumes of wheat dust and dirt flying in the air behind them. All that dust must be blown out of the engine, intake manifold, and spinning machinery inside the combine. This takes two people approximately 2 hot, dusty, dirty, sweaty hours of work before the day’s harvest can begin. In addition to cleaning the combine, crews must fuel the monster, clean air filters, adjust belt tensioners, and inspect and repair any damage from the previous day.
This is done every morning before the day’s work even begins. Then after waking up at 6 am to clean the combine, they must work until midnight or later actually harvesting the wheat.
Long day during harvest.
Oklahoma is an agricultural state and wheat is the number one cash crop grown in Oklahoma. Our sweeping western plains is perfect for growing this golden grain, and at harvest time, the prairie is alive with combines working hard to harvest the bountiful crops. I was in Alva working on a story about the wheat harvest – shooting digital like normal. I couldn’t resist setting up my Toyo VX-125 and capturing a harvest picture on Kodak TMAX-100 film. This proved much harder than I anticipated since the combines don’t stop for anyone and I had to prefocus and basically guess when the combine would fill my frame. I knew this combine was going to finish this row of wheat and I could pre-focus my 4×5 on the end of the row and get a decent photo of the machine at work. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the combine operator to head my way and then not get run over.