The coolest carved pumpkins you’ve ever seen

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

America’s Halloween Obsession Exported Back To U.K..

Chicago – Since 1999, the Ackerman family of Illinois has been selling the round orange pumpkins that most Americans carve into decorative Jack-O-Lanterns every Halloween.Pumpkins are increasingly used as an artistic medium these days — and unlike a canvas, this medium has layers and dimensions and can be positioned in countless ways.

These days, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s pretty much impossible to turn around without coming face-to-face with the season’s favorite do-it-all gourd: beer, muffins, marshmallows, souped-up coffee – the rotund seasonal gourd is everywhere. Then America ran with it, turned turnip carving into pumpkin carving and now British farmers are rolling out pumpkins for the season like never before.

While plenty of customers still buy the traditional-looking pumpkins at this time of year, demand has surged for ones with different colours, shapes and deformities – like all pink or white with red veins or covered in bulbous warts. The Ackermans now sell 160 different varieties, according to John Ackerman, who planted a few blue pumpkins on a whim 16 years ago hoping to expand the income from the livestock, corn and soybean operations that have been in his family since 1909. “People would walk up and see that pumpkin and they’d say, ‘This is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen’,” Ackerman, 54, said by telephone from his 300-acre farm in Morton, Illinois, which includes 75 acres of pumpkins. “And the next words they said were, ‘Please give me three of those!’” Weird-looking or unusually big pumpkins fetch a hefty premium for growers, and seed companies like W.

In case you’re wondering, it’s a Christian-pagan custom thought to have arrived here with the Celts, who’d already been taking a knife to turnips – they don’t grow many pumpkins in the British Isles – for a long while. We’re not big fans of turnip carving in these parts – and that could be for the very same reason, perhaps having something to do with the Land of Lincoln also being the Land of the Pumpkin. Pumpkins “that are unique and different are what the consumers buy first”, because most want their seasonal decorations to stand out, said Phil King, marketing communications manager at Rupp Seeds in Wauseon, Ohio. While the government doesn’t track sales of non-traditional pumpkins, production of all types has surged 31 percent since 2000 to 1.91 billion pounds in 2014, the US Department of Agriculture estimates. If you’ve ever placed a flashlight under your face to frighten small children around the campfire, you know the drama that a single light source can produce.

Carved Jack-O-Lanterns remain the most popular use of pumpkins, but they also end up in food like pies, breads, soups and even seasonal beers, the USDA said. Demand tends to surge during Halloween season, when the harvest is peaking in places like Illinois, the biggest grower at 57 percent of US production. Here’s how: pick up one (or more) of those “pie” pumpkins, slice it in half vertically, scoop out the seeds (don’t forget to roast those bad boys, rinsed, on a baking sheet with a little oil and salt, and maybe a pinch of cayenne, for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring now and then) and the goop that’s in there, and plop down the halves on a shallow pan, orange side up. Whatever you do, avoid placing your pumpkin directly beneath the light: when light shines straight down along the grooves in the pumpkins, it won’t create many shadows (unless you have an especially odd-shaped pumpkin).

Instead, try placing the pumpkin a few feet away from your porch light to create strong side lighting—rotating it until you find the spookiest shadows. That began to change in the past decade, as it began breeding more ornamental types, said Chelsey Fields, vegetable product manager at Burpee in Warminster, Pennsylvania. “The genetics of pumpkins include a lot of interesting shapes and colours,” said Peter Zuck, the vegetable-product manager at Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine, which sells 51 varieties, up from 10 two decades ago. “Looking at the parents, you can’t predict what the offspring is going to look like. DREW GRAY: Where it touched our consciousness was through the cartoon series in paper and in – on television of “Peanuts,” by Charles Schulz, where Linus and his friends, they celebrated Halloween. GRAY: And so American culture is – it seems to have taken the roots of something that was British-Celtic and then suffused that within American culture, American food and American pastimes. This will turn into point light sources in your final image (rather than an orange glow) and might throw off your camera’s metering—throwing the rest of your image into darkness.

They’re the people behind those cool earth flags that schools, churches and other organizations receive when they’ve shown their commitment to environmental stewardship. If your camera is positioned close enough to your pumpkins, you should be able to hold the reflector and trip the shutter without too much difficulty. She points out that pumpkins are about 90 percent water and packed with nutrients that are great soil additions in their decaying state. “Keeping the pumpkins out of landfills and putting the nutrients back into the soil just makes sense,” Kay said in a story posted on our pages earlier this month.

For a full list of locations where you can send off your jolly has-been orb on Nov. 7 (remember to remove all non-pumpkin components, like candles, yarn, false eyelashes, googly eyes and the like), go to You can reduce these shutter speeds by selecting a higher ISO. (Every time you double your ISO, your shutter speed will be cut in half.) But keep in mind that as you increase ISO, your image will develop speckled patterns called noise. Once you’ve taken some shots, examine your images to see how things look. (Ideally, you’ll want to look at them on your computer; a camera’s LCD doesn’t show a very accurate representation colors and lighting.) First, consider overall exposure: is the image too dark or too bright?

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