Kentish farm case study for a government agency
Beaute Farm near Canterbury is managed by William Smith together with his father, brother and one other employee. It covers 765 hectares of which 190 are owned, 100 are rented and the rest managed under contract farming agreements.
The land around Wingham and Shatterling comprises a few gentles slopes and is mainly flat comprised of chalk loam, brick earth and marsh clay. William grows milling wheat, oilseed rape, beans quinoa and maize for a local anaerobic digestion plant. Alongside their crops the farm has a sheep and beef enterprise, straw and hay and property development businesses.
The Kentish farm case study had been commissioned by AHDB, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Beaute Farm is one of their “Monitor Farms”. The AHDB helps to make Great Britain’s livestock, dairy and agriculture sectors more successful by providing market information and sharing best practice. Ultimately the aim is to stimulate demand in the UK and export markets. The overall use of the pictures was to show that Monitor Farms are trying new methods, techniques and a desire to take on new challenges.
Here’s the photography bit! After a false start on a day when it was pouring with rain, the reshoot was the complete opposite. The client required a rich and varied spread of images for use in different press and publications and I William in a number of locations both inside and out, both with and without machinery as a backdrop and all in an editorial style.
It’s not unusual for me to use flash guns (or battery powered studio lights) when working in sunlight. This is because the sun isn’t always in the right place and where possible I use it as a “backlight” – to stop the subject squinting directly into it and allowing me to direct some light to precisely where I want it to be. Working on a farm, I had to pack and travel light because of not knowing what distance or terrain I’d be covering on foot, so I shot the whole thing with a single Godox AD360 head and battery pack. I used two cameras with their lenses already on to avoid dust contamination – a Canon 1div with a 70-200 2.8L together with a Canon 5diii and a 24-105L.
I had to work fast because the heat was baking the equipment. It probably would not have melted but I’m not a huge fan of battery compartments (already hot from use) getting superheated by direct sunlight. We split the shoot accordingly, starting off in the fields, using the barns to cool off in; back to the fields and then finishing off in the cab of one of the large combine harvesters.