Tuesday, May 25, 2010


click photo to enlarge
Co-existence has been one of mankind's greatest challenges ever since he stepped out of the cave: co-existence with nature, co-existence with other tribes, races, religions and nationalities. Then there's co-existence between the rural and the urban. I was pondering these things as I photographed a tractor planting brassicas in a field next to a Fenland wind farm and electricity sub-station.

The vehicle was slowly travelling up and down, a canvas planter behind filled with half a dozen workers rapidly putting small cabbages into the machine that set them in the ground in ruler-straight rows. Behind walked a man, occasionally stooping as he put right any seedling that was imperfectly placed in the soil. There was a certain incongruity between this task of basic food production, a job that despite the modern tractor and planter, was in most respects just the same process that has been undertaken for centuries, and the modernity of the towering turbines, pylons and wires of electricity generation. "Co-existence", I thought, "Each activity admits the continuation of the other."

A little earlier I'd watched a tree sparrow flying to and fro with food for its nestlings that were hidden behind the tile-hung side of a small pumping station. It too was co-existing with the intensive agriculture of this lowland area. As were the two pairs of lapwings that had found a field that was growing a root crop and had managed to fit their nesting and chick rearing into the period of time when the field surface most closely resembled their favoured pasture. And then there was the cuckoo flying across the nature reserve that had been created around the sub-station in the middle of the wind farm. It must have found a host for its eggs, and it seemed to be finding plenty of food as it "hawked"over some scrub and a small pond.

Co-existence requires give and take, and a recognition of the rights and needs of everyone and everything that shares our planet. It's vital to our continued survival, and it produces some odd bedfellows like these farm workers and their giant companions. But, unless we learn to live side-by-side with each other, in new and evolving ways, then our future is not assured.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 50mm (100mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On