Monday, June 14, 2010

The pleasure of imperfection

click photo to enlarge
The fields of Lincolnshire are looking their cultivated, perfect best. Rows of cereals and vegetables are mathematically straight, weeds have been cowed into submission by tractors with spray booms, and leaves are of the deepest green following scientifically accurate applications of fertiliser. It all bodes well for a good harvest. But thankfully, in a corner here, a field there, things are not going quite as intended. The yellow and white heads of corn chamomile break up the uniformity in a few areas, and the sunshine flowers of last year's oilseed rape, guerilla plants that evaded the farmers herbicides, can be seen dotted about rising above the ears of wheat. Around field boundaries and headlands poppies have appeared, their seed having lain dormant for who knows how long. In one field that I came across an army of these redcoats was peering out over the wheat, asserting itself as June's traditional dash of scarlet.

There was a time when poppies glowed in many, if not most, cereals. But the advance of science in farming has all but ended that wonderful sight in many parts of England. Today there is no place for the uplifting spectacle that is a wheat field invaded by these scarlet battalions. So, when I saw the flowers in today's photograph, clustered and spread through about half of a crop of wheat I smiled and thought, "Isn't imperfection beautiful!", then scrambled down and up a deep ditch (getting stung by nettles in the process), stepped over a low fence, crouched low and grabbed my image.

I manage to get a photograph of wheat and poppies most years, though as with this one, it's invariably when I come upon them by chance, rather than by design. Previous examples, shot in more of a landscape mode, can be seen here and here. Incidentally, the title of today's piece was going to be "The beauty of imperfection", but that rang a small bell in my head, so I looked back through my posts and found that I'd used it in November 2008, when I blogged on the same theme, though from a different perspective.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5 Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On