A round peg in a square hole? Or why I have problems with hay bales…
When I was a youngster, I remember seeing stacks of hay bales. These bales were different than what we’re used to seeing today. They were rectangular. About a meter in length. After the hay was baled they would either be thrown onto the back of an open trailer to be stacked back in the farm yard or a machine would pick them up and stack them.
Today the smaller, older style bales are still around but not near as common as the large round ones like you see in the photo above.
These newer bales are almost iconic on the Alberta prairie. Where we once had wooden grain elevators every few miles along the railway tracks, come fall, these round shapes dot the prairie.
Over the years I haven’t had much luck photographing them. They’re usually too far apart from each other to get a good composition or their shape doesn’t lend itself very well to being framed in a rectangle or they’re on a flat field and there isn’t any sense of depth when shot.
I don’t make a point of trying to photograph anything when I get out in the morning. For me, it always seems to work best if I have an open mind and am receptive to what is happening around me.
Sunday morning was pretty much that way. When I got up at 6:30 a.m. I could see that the sky might be a good one. The clouds were low and spread out. The horizon looked clear and the winds were calm. I was out the door by 7:15 a.m. which gave me a half an hour to stumble onto something. I cruised by the Sturgeon River hoping that I might find a good fog. There was none to be had. I noticed though that a small field next to the river that I had photographed a month earlier had been ploughed. Hopefully that doesn’t mean there will be a crop in it next year. This year it was full of wild flowers and tall grasses. It was a very pretty sight in the morning.
No fog meant I’d drive a little further. There was now fifteen minutes til sun up and the sky just kept looking better and better with every passing minute. I saw what would have made a gorgeous wildlife photo when crested a hill and on the other wide were three whitetail deer standing in wheat stubble, ears angled towards me ready to pounce away should I stop. The light falling on them looked like something from a Rembrandt painting. The clouds behind the hilly ground they were standing on were tinged with gold and purple.
On I went for a few more minutes. I came upon a field of canola swaths, shot them and continued. The photo was okay I thought and drove on. Another few minutes found me next to a field with the new and improved round hay bales. Pull over to the side of the gravel road, grab the camera and tripod and make my way into the ditch. Hey, some of these bales were close to each other, I thought while framing my shots. The sun was still below the horizon only minutes away from shining on me and the clouds kept looking better and better. I shot four or five variations on the bales and went on my way looking for more to shoot and I did. But that’s for another day.
By 8:30 a.m. I was home and enjoying my third cup of coffee while editing the mornings pics in camera. It ended up being a good morning. And now it’s turkey time.
ps. A little bit more on the photo. While shooting I noticed the tracks left by the tractor in the hay stubble. As soon as I saw the curved tracks I wanted to have that in one of my shots. Consciously or unconsciously, I don’t know but somehow I ended up with a repetition of shapes in the photo. That’s a good thing. It’s one of the lessons they teach you in art class. The shape in the sky is repeated in the stubble. It’s not something that I am thinking about while shooting. I recognize the shape and point the camera at it. The rest just happens. Without the tracks in the field the photo would still work but the tracks are kind of like the icing on the cake.