Massey Ferguson on the Night Shift

Many farmers boast formal portraits of their families on their walls. Some even sport shots of their tractors and combines. Few, however, have shots as striking as those displayed by Ohio farmer Bob Forry.

All lined up, three of Bob Forry’s big, red Massey Ferguson® machines stand at attention under a nighttime sky, as stars appear to streak across it. The equipment’s red paint seems all the more vibrant cast against the blue of that celestial dome.

The photos are the result of photographer Brandon Townley’s fascination with big machines. Something of a photography prodigy, Townley was just 6 years old when he began taking pictures with a disposable camera. Like many boys he was fascinated with trains, but he approached them with a photographer’s eye for light, color and composition. At age 13, one of his images was published in Trains magazine.

Now age 20, Townley makes a living shooting portraits and weddings, but he still enjoys the challenge that photographing trains and machinery provides. “I try to find creative ways to make a train or a tractor look different than what people see.”

That ability caught the eye of Jim Forry, Bob’s cousin, who brought Townley out to the farm to shoot the family’s fleet of farm equipment. Townley arrived one evening with his gear, and asked Forry to line up his tractors and combines for a nighttime shoot. Forry thought it odd, but he humored the young photographer.

To achieve the desired effect, Townley opened the shutter of the lens and allowed for a 30-second exposure. (An average still photo is shot in 1/50 to 1/100 of a second.) During that time, using one of Forry’s flashlights, Townley illuminated the tractors and combines by “painting light” on them before closing the shutter. The result: Glowing, larger-than-life machines illuminated under a sparkling Milky Way.

“Everything looks more dramatic at night,” Townley says. “Anyone can take a photo in the daytime, but it’s a challenge to do it at night. You actually have to think about it, so that sets these pictures apart.”

Check out more photos on Facebook at Photography by Brandon T. Productions, or at Schmidt Machine Company in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the dealership with which the Forry family has done business since 1966.