Category: Farming

Photomatix Essentials Review

Amish Plow Horses HDR
Amish Plow Horses HDR

I was driving home after getting coffee this morning and saw an Amish farmer plowing his field. I almost always stop for horses so I decided to walk over to where he would end up and wait until he got close enough.

He seemed to be having some trouble and after about ten minutes ran into his barn to get something. After another ten minutes he ran back in again, this time coming back with a tractor. Since he was in the middle of a very large field I found an old milk crate and sat down to watch.

Finally I saw the horses heading towards me and told myself to wait until I could see the whites of their eyes, at the same time trying not to get the farmers face in the shot, some are OK with a photo and some are not.

Still sitting down with a perfect view I framed the shot and took about five. I felt I had at least one good one and got up to leave as the horses stopped to look at me. I didn’t know if they wanted to pose for more or were just confused, then I realized I was in their way.

The farmer smiled and said good morning then continued with what looked like a long day of work. The photos were all sharp but I couldn’t get the color right in Lightroom and black and white seemed like a cop out.

I have Photomatix Essentials that I got free from a photo magazine a while ago and uploaded just the one RAW file, then chose the default preset, saved it as a TIFF and imported it back into Lightroom. Usually you’ll want to upload several bracketed images but this was just an experiment.

It turned out surprisingly well and brought the blue back to what was a very gray sky. I don’t use this software much because the results are usually a little overdone but it was better than deleting a photo I spent almost 45 minutes to take.

Photomatix HDR Photo Editing Programs & Plugins

Nothing Is Free

Free for the taking
Free for the taking

Toba Beta, author of Master of Stupidity wrote: “Nothing is for free, even in heaven.” But driving around the back roads of Lancaster, Pennsylvania today I proved him wrong. I was thinking about nothing in particular when I saw them, not one, not two but three FREE gently used tractor tires.

I stopped to take a look, wondering what I could do with such a generous gift from a simple Amish farmer. My first thought was to buy a tractor, but I don’t have a garage. Then I considered making tire swings for the kids, but I live in an apartment and don’t have any kids.

After what seemed like hours but was probably minutes of racking my brain I realized that I had no need for them at all. But it bothered me, after all they were free. As free as a fly, as free as light, as free as a mountain bird, but to me they were useless unless I become a hoarder (briefly considered).

Robert A. Heinlein once said: “Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain.” Dammit.

Before the fall

Gourds
Gourds

So I’m driving around early this morning thinking about the big questions in life: Is a pumpkin a gourd, and just how do you spell gourd? Between that and the meaning of the new Taylor Swift song my mind was reeling.

Then I saw two Amish kids setting up a farm stand. They had some big Turk’s Turbans which look like pumpkins but are actually squash, and all kinds of gourds for sale. I stopped to take a quick photo while these kids talked my ear off about everything from corn to camel’s milk.

It turns out that pumpkins, squash and gourds are members of the same family but they are actually all squash. As for the correct spelling, the Amish seem to think that gourds are spelled ghourds, unless this only applies to mini ghourds.

Later I read more about Taylor’s new song and decided I couldn’t care less, but the important thing is that fall is coming and these mini gourds (ghourds) are only five for a dollar. The turbans were $3 each so I passed, but I may go back because I could be the first kid on my block to have one.

Big Stereotypes

Big Amos
Big Amos

This is Big Amos, the Barefoot Amish Giant and he stands at the Hershey Farm Restaurant in Strasburg, Pennsylvania misleading tourists and locals that know nothing about the Amish culture.

The definition of a stereotype is a widely held and oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing, and like all stereotypes this is as wrong as wearing a straw hat backwards.

First of all Amos is fifteen feet tall, very few Amish men are that size except for a few on the big, big farms where they spend most of their time making giant chairs and scaring the cows.

Amos also stands there and smiles while you take his photo, which does not happen in real life. Some Amish men will let you photograph them but they look at you like they know you stole their chickens but can’t prove it.

This kind of misinformation only confuses tourists who expect all Amish men to look like this and leads to disappointment when they discover that the average farmer is normal sized and wears shoes or boots (very important around well fed horses).

It’s been said that ignorance is bliss, which brings to mind the story of the Amish farmer and the tourist. Pay attention because there’s a moral in there somewhere.

A tourist stopped in at the farm where old Elmer Yoder was busy pumping water with his hand pump. “Where’s route forty?” the tourist asked. Elmer ignored him, continuing to draw water. “Where’s route forty?” the tourist now shouted. Old Elmer continued filling his bucket. “Are you ignorant or deaf?” the tourist shouted next. “Both,” Elmer said, finally turning around. “But at least I’m not lost.”