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.
While I was out shooting the wheat harvest last week, I brought along my Pentax 6×7 cameras (I have 2 since they are so doggone inexpensive) and took a few quick shots as the combines rolled past. I was there primarily to shoot digital for a magazine story and these shots are just a few extras I wanted to shoot on black and white film = Kodak TMAX-100 to be exact – my go-to black and white film. I really like these photos but am thinking of using a filter to make the blue skies show up a bit darker. It was much easier to shoot the harvest with my Pentax 6×7 rather than my Toyo VX-125.
Enough of that still life crap. Who am I kidding? I am not a still life photographer. I admire those that like to do that stuff, but I am a people photographer. I love taking photographs of people, whether it be portraits, action, environmental portraits, candids or just street photography. I find people really interesting and always different and a challenge to shoot. I had to shoot still life because we had record rains and I was stuck at home for a couple of weeks. Now back to people!
I start out this next series in an Edmond nursing home. My father-in-law recently moved into the home and I like to stop by and visit with him every few days. A few weeks ago I took my Toyo VX-125 and some studio lights and shot a photo of him outdoors in on the front lawn. He is a long time construction worker, Naval SeaBee, and heavy equipment operator from Indiana – a Hoosier through and through – so to get a smile from him I got everything set, then asked one simple question – “John Deere or Caterpiller?”
He grinned a bit and said “Caterpiller” and I snapped the shutter. Perfect.