Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

Makar Sankranti – Bhogi!

March 27th, 2011

We arrived in Hyderabad at a rather ungodly hour of the morning. It wasn’t yet dawn when we arrived at our guest house but the inhabitants of neighbouring houses were outside, making small fires at the entrances to their dwellings, talking, and drawing in chalk upon the ground. Children were out on the streets barefoot, gathering twigs and small logs for the fire.

After an all too brief rest, we headed out to our meeting – the reason I was in Hyderabad. Turns out it was the first day of the Makar Sankranti festivites. Makar Sankranti (also known as Pongal) is a harvest festival celebrated in large parts of India.

It currently generally takes place on the 14th of January,some 21 days after the winter solstice. It commemorates the beginning of the harvest season, the end of the monsoon in the Southern parts of India and is regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase of the year.

In Andhra Pradesh, the province of which Hyderabad is the capital, Makar Sankranti is celebrated over a four day period. The first day is called Bhogi and it marks the day when people discard old things and concentrate on the new. The disposal or burning of old things at dawn symbolises the lack of attachment to material things, and the embrace of a virtuous way of life.

Seems our arrival coincided with Bhogi.

Later that day, I had the chance to take a closer look at some of the chalk drawings. Below are some pictures.

More coming soon!

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Fin des Vendanges

November 16th, 2009

Continuing in the vein of the completely different, but returning to Lebanon:

On my last trip there I was invited to a vineyard to attend the last day of the Vendanges – the wine grape harvest –  which is traditionally the busiest time of the year in wine-making.

In (very) brief, the steps in a wine grape harvest are the following: First, the grapes are collected, removed from the vines (duh, right?). Next, comes the pressing of the grapes where a press machine compacts them and turns them into liquid form. Then comes the transfer into containers where the young wine will ferment.

If you want to know more about the wine grape harvesting process, you could start here.

Seeing as this was the last day of the Vendanges, the grapes had already been harvested and the last remaining batch was sitting in a container, waiting to be put into the machine that would separate the grapes from the leaves and twigs and then to the press.

Here are a few shots for your enjoyment:

Grapes! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

The case by case of grapes disappeared rather quickly:

Emptying the Cases (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/25sec)

The twigs and leaves, once separated from the grapes, ended up in this tub:

The Tub (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 52mm, f10, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

Another picture without flash, to capture some of the movement:

One by One They Get Sorted (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/25sec)

Tossing In (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

The view from the top of one of the machines:

Machine Top (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, f7.1, ISO 200, 1/25sec + flash SB900)

These were some of the containers in which the pressed grapes would be transferred to start the fermentation process:

The Dial (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, f7.1, ISO 200, 1/25sec + flash SB900)

Some of the casks in which wine was maturing:

Casks (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f7.1, ISO 200, 1/25sec + flash SB900)

The vibe at the vineyard was a very relaxed one, despite the efficiency with which each person did their duty. The family atmosphere was most palpable once the last batch of grapes had been processed, when some champagne was broken out with a cheer and cake was distributed.

Celebrations completed, the sorting and press machines were then rolled outside in the failing light to be washed in cold fresh water and cleaned before being put away.

Outdoors (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f7.1, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

Here, one of the workers playfully sprays a colleague as he washes one of the machines:

Fun in the Setting Sun (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f7.1, ISO 200, 1/250sec)

The view from inside the container that held the grapes:

Container (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f6.3, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

The inside of the machine which separates the grapes from the leaves and twigs, as it was being washed:

The Separator (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f6.3, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

In closing, this here is my very favourite shot of the entire Vendanges, and definitely one of my favourite shots from the Lebanon trip. I love that the lag after which the flash fired allowed me to capture some of the movement, while retaining sharpness.

Cleaning the Machine (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f6.3, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

More pictures coming soon!

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The Jerboa Has Landed!

October 27th, 2009

Right! I’ve returned from my trips to Lebanon and Bangalore, India with a sizeable wad of pictures.

I still have to sort through them all, but hopefully I will have lots and lots of great pictures to share with you in the coming weeks – including pictures of: abandoned hundred-plus-year-old Lebanese houses; ruins of age-old temples; the last day of the harvest and vintaging at a vineyard; a traditional Indian wedding (which totally blew my mind – probably the single most colorful and extraordinary wedding celebrations I have yet had the privilege to attend); and my other (non-wedding-related) impressions of the very beautiful, chaotic and noisy Bangalore.

With luck, I will have something substantial to share in the coming day or two. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a shot of the very first snake I have yet seen in Lebanon. In the wee hours one night I found this beautiful and colourful specimen lying in the middle of the road by my family house in Baabdat.

It was quite dead and being munched upon by a cute tar-black kitty, which unfortunately made a break for it as I approached. Oddly enough, try as I might, I couldn’t roll the snake over to take a better look at (and maybe picture of) it… Whatever I did, it invariably flopped back onto its back… It wasn’t too long, about 50cm in length, give or take, and 2cm or so at its widest point.

And no, no clue what type of snake it is.

Floppy

While you’re waiting for the coming posts, check out the first instalment of the awesome bullet-time-esque results of a very cool experiment undertaken by the one and only Trey Ratcliff.

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