1. Welcome to Mu-43.com—a friendly Micro 4/3 camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

The Cotton Picking Story in Australia (Now with Higher Res Images)

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by Iconindustries, May 25, 2010.

  1. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The Cotton Picking Story in Australia. Now with Cotton Gin

    Hey i have just finished helping my uncle with the cotton harvest (or as we call it 'cotton picking') I took my Camera along with me for a few days and took some pictures thinking that you guys on the forum may like to see how it is done. I downsized the pictures a great deal so they would upload quick but unfortunately the most of the clarity is missing but it gives you a good idea what happens anyway. Nuff talking lets get to it.

    Firstly these are the cotton plants.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641048558/" title="P1030264 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030264" /></a>

    Individual Cotton Boll

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640443193/" title="P1030265 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030265" /></a>

    The cotton picker is a very complicated machine with a system of hundreds of spindles spinning around with small barbs on them. The barbs catch on the cotton fibres and pull them out of the bolls. On the back of the cotton picker is a large basket and the cotton is forced up into it by a large fan.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640474239/" title="P1030398 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="334" alt="P1030398" /></a>

    A view looking down on the cotton picker

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640477101/" title="P1030402 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="334" alt="P1030402" /></a>

    My job was to pick up the cotton from the picker when it is full and take it to another machine called the Module builder at the end of the field. My great cotton transporter is called the Boll Buggy. This is it.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640487003/" title="P1030318 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030318" /></a>

    Here I am beside the Cotton Picker ready to take his load.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641512036/" title="P1030536 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="334" alt="P1030536" /></a>

    Now for the module builder. It's a great piece of heavy weight Monstrosity designed to compact the cotton into a big block of compressed cotton literally. It has its own power plant and the operator controls a large hydraulic ram that goes up and down and back and forward compacting cotton.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641054160/" title="P1030297 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030297" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641060466/" title="P1030328 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030328" /></a>

    I have to drive my buggy right up close to the edge of the builder like this.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640488603/" title="P1030331 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030331" /></a>

    Up i tip my basket until the cotton tips in. The basket has a hydraulic spinner that spins the cotton out as well.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641075998/" title="P1030355 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030355" /></a>

    After about 7 basket loads are put in the builder and the operator has compacted each load as much as he can. It is finished. A module is made!
    The module builder is lifted off the ground by the hydraulic rams on the wheels and the tractor connected on the builder takes it off the finished module.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640458961/" title="P1030341 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030341" /></a>

    The module is then quickly tarped in case of rain.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641064210/" title="P1030335 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="281" alt="P1030335" /></a>

    The end result. Nice and square and so compressed that you cant poke your finger into it. Each module ranges from 13-15 ton each and would have a net worth of about $10k.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640480811/" title="P1030351 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "281" height="500" alt="P1030351" /></a>

    This season we made about 120 modules. We worked from about 9.30 in the morning when the dew had dried out and went straight through without stopping until about 10pm for about 3 weeks.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641515480/" title="P1030551 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "500" height="334" alt="P1030551" /></a>

    The modules are then picked up by a truck with a special elevator floor and it transports them to the biggest cotton Ginnery in the Southern Hemisphere. And that's about 30klm down the road.

    So now you know the basics of how it is done if you've never seen it before. I hope you enjoy reading and thankyou for looking.

    • Like Like x 25
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Great presentation and great essay.
    Thanks for sharing a part of your life and vision.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Icon, thank you so much for this. You've given me a really interesting glimpse into part of your life, as well as how "cotton picking" is done down under - and you've also managed to take some really nice, aesthetically interesting photographs, as well.

    Again, thanks for doing this Icon.:bravo-009:

    Hope you got a break after this, too!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Cool. I am familiar with dairy, orchard and vegetable farming, but was, until now, ignorant around cotton. Those bales are simply huge.

    Great story. Thanks.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Hi Icon, thanks for sharing that, I'll be letting my farming friends know about this, fascinating insight into something we know nothing about in the UK.

    • Like Like x 1
  6. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Thanks, shooter,bbw,pelao, and grebman! What a surprise you gave me when I woke up in the morning and saw you had an interest in a part of my life. Thanks.

    I thought I'd add a few extra pics showing the spindles located in what we call the 'head's on the cotton picker. They're a work of art really because each individual spindle turns and the whole drum rotates as well. All of this at high rpm (into the thousands) There are 4 heads containing 2 spindle drums each.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640470991/" title="P1030371 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "640" height="359" alt="P1030371"></a>

    See the little barbs on the spindle.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4640483655/" title="P1030376 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "359" height="640" alt="P1030376"></a>

    The afternoon sun making the dust blowing out the top of the cotton picker basket look like its on fire.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/4641090630/" title="P1030367 by iconindustries, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "640" height="359" alt="P1030367"></a>
    • Like Like x 4
  7. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Those spindles in that second photo look pretty serious to me.:eek:  Vert cool photo, however.:wink:

    You have a very different life from mine, and although I worked on a few farms during my college days they were nothing at all like yours or your Uncle's that's for sure. I really enjoy seeing life through other people's "eyes" via their photographs, Icon.:thumbup:
  8. Boyzo

    Boyzo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    Great series Icon... very interesting I learned from it.

    Perhaps post from a gallery for max. quality
  9. Boyzo

    Boyzo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    Great shots too showing the spindles.

    Imagine people picked cotton by hand :frown:

    Love the last shot

  10. thekeddi

    thekeddi Mu-43 Rookie

    May 17, 2010
    Great photos! Thanks for sharing your story, LOVE LOVE the afternoon shot!!!

    I live in country South Australia, loads of farms around our town, farmers here have just seeded and we have just had a nice bit of rain for them :) 
  11. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Those spikie things look as though they may hurt a bit. Thanks for this photo story from another in the land of Oz.
  12. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Great photos. They look a tad cool to me, but it could be this monitor. Wonder how'd they'd look with a contrast boost and warmer.

  13. aznick

    aznick Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 4, 2010
    Arizona USA
    Very interesting descriptions and pictures Icon. Thanks for sharing.
  14. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Thankyou so much guys for commenting and enjoying my story. I couldn't believe it when i woke up this morning and now when I get home from work I see so many nice words. Made my day.

    Hey 'flash' or Gordon, your monitor is fine. It was just when i downsized my pictures it lost a lot of contrast and sharpness. So i signed up with 'Flickr' with a little encouragement from Boyzo and now i have linked all my photos from there. So now the images look like they should.

  15. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Ahhh.. that's better.

    You should get these in front of some people in the cotton industry. They're exactly the kind of stuff used in annual reports and the like. Could actually end up paying for the camera if you find the right people.

  16. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nice work Icon, when we travelled outback Qld a few years ago the roadsides were littered with tiny tufts of white fluff which we assumed was cotton. It sure is a highly mechanised way of farming. I learnt something too.
  17. cosinaphile

    cosinaphile Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    new york city
    great work
  18. Tomo

    Tomo Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 24, 2010
    Queensland - Australia
    Hey! Great shots Brady. It's great to see others interested in it also :2thumbs:

    One thing you haven't shown them is an aerial shot of the Cotton Gin - This one below (you took btw) is over head "Queensland Cotton" west of Cecil Plains.

    The gin is a place where the cotton modules get processed, ie. cleaned and the seeds taken out of it, then compacted into smaller bails for transport.

    • Like Like x 1
  19. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    This years Cotton Season is nearly finished. Cotton will be defoliated soon (defoliation is a way of making the plant lose it's leaves) After defoliation will come the harvest. This year I will try to take some photos of the new John Deere Cotton Baler for you to see. Tonight I was going through some pictures I saw this one of our neighbours cotton being aerial sprayed at the start of the season. I fiddled around with the sliders and out came this....

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5555715590/" title="Crop Dusting Cotton by iconindustries, on Flickr"> View attachment 160349 "1024" height="768" alt="Crop Dusting Cotton" /></a>
    • Like Like x 4
  20. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sharing the different stages of the cotton fruit.

    First comes the Square which houses the flower bud.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5556973144/" title="P1090168 by iconindustries, on Flickr"> View attachment 160370 "500" height="492" alt="P1090168" /></a>

    Next, the flower.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5556384781/" title="P1090169 by iconindustries, on Flickr"> View attachment 160371 "500" height="281" alt="P1090169" /></a>

    Beneath the flower a boll is formed. Notice the old flower is still on the end. The boll is quite hard like a ping pong ball.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5556408681/" title="P1090170 by iconindustries, on Flickr"> View attachment 160372 "500" height="281" alt="P1090170" /></a>

    Starting to split.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5556985612/" title="P1090175 by iconindustries, on Flickr"> View attachment 160373 "500" height="281" alt="P1090175" /></a>v

    Right open.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50527022@N02/5556424431/" title="P1090176 by iconindustries, on Flickr"> View attachment 160374 "500" height="281" alt="P1090176" /></a>​
    • Like Like x 4
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.