Who can pass up a barn photo? Not me and luckily I live in the land of farms, present and past. Slowly I’m coming to notice things that indicate a barn is still in use (like a beautiful new roof) even if it might be idle at the moment. Predominant is the Prairie Barn style. My initial suspicion was that they were constructed with volume in mind – winter feed storage for those hundreds and thousands of cows and I’m right. I don’t have any photos yet, but some barns have rounded roofs. The shots in this post all mimic that shape, but with two flat slopes typical of the Gambrel style. Maximizes internal volume, but sheds snow easily.
In terms of processing I don’t have a favorite style or automatic setting, although cranking the clarity slider past 30 seems to give these images a hardness that I think works given the season. Even though there is a limited color palette sometimes, I’m not going to black and white often. The image above worked ok in monochrome, but slightly lowering the vibrance and boosting the saturation worked better in my opinion. For the most part the light is flat, but occasionally I get a nice late afternoon wash of sun that gives a less bleak feel to images, like this gorgeous baby in Gleason –
Barns are interesting for what they are themselves, but also for what surrounds them whether it be other buildings (like this silo and that shed) or the fields in which they stand. While I do occasionally wade into a snowbank with my gaiters on, for the most part I’m pretty limited as to composition and approach. I do try to eliminate distracting things like telephone poles and lines, but it’s not always possible and so the rest of the image has to be captivating.
Many are stained with a neutral or brown shade that weathers beautifully, but red is an ever-popular color and whether it pops or fades, it’s arresting. Color saturation really depends on the individual barn. The River Valley Farm barn is already faded and worn, so I amped up the reds, but muted the greens somewhat and kept the overall color temperature on the cool side. For this abandoned horse farm (below) I kept the overall tones warmer and boosted the overall saturation levels a little.
I think as I gain experience photographing these rural behemoths I will have better images. Images that convey the importance, beauty and rugged functionality of the humble barn. I know I’ll keep on pulling over, turning around, going down unknown roads to try and try again.
How they’re longing for some color. Even more than usual for this time of year. See, we’ve basically had a snowless winter. It hasn’t snowed with accumulation since Halloween. The extended brown stick season has sapped my enthusiasm and induced the need for color in a big way. So, without further ado –
See what I did there? I snuck in a cemetery. It’s a family plot and so wee. I think I’l do a seasonal study of this location. It’s got to be amazing at sunrise with snow. Or in the spring when the foliage has all the tenderest shades of green. And speaking of foliage…autumn’s color peak will be amazing here. That tree to the right in the last shot is one of a few chestnuts and should make for a good specimen. The clouds dispersed much faster than I thought they would when I shot this, but even in the harsh light it has some merit.
Anyway…that’s all I could find for color. Things won’t begin to green up for at least 6 weeks and so the brown stick season continues…I don’t hold out much hope for snow, but you never can tell. Nature is fickle.
I’ve always been intrigued by broken-down buildings on the side of the road. In New England they are everywhere. Little shacks. Barns. Garages. Unidentifiable buildings that make you wonder what they used to be and why they were hammered together in the first place. Mostly they’re wooden, but occasionally metal and almost always difficult to reach for any close work. Sometimes the available light isn’t so great either and it makes the shots almost unrecognizable to someone who doesn’t know what she’s looking at.
This is one I’ve passed by probably a hundred times. I’m told it might have been a chicken barn since before electric fans they needed a lot of natural ventilation.
Unless you’d driven by it in winter, you probably wouldn’t notice it at all during other seasons. The leaves obscure it almost completely. They also made it a challenge to find a decent composition, but the light was so yummy that I decided to risk parking on the curve with barely any shoulder and walk up and down while other drivers looked at me like I was crazy.
I’m pretty used to that by now though. This cemetery is one of my mom’s favorites and she’s been asking me to photograph it in winter. So I went out the other day to try, figuring it would be easy. Silly me forgot about the snow. Since this cemetery is right on the side of the road, there was a 6-foot snowbank between me and it. So up I went. People driving past almost crashed craning their necks to look at the lunatic with a camera on the snowbank.
It makes me laugh thinking about it because it was funny. I couldn’t move forwards or backwards because the snow was too soft. I could only move from side to side and even then I sank up to my thigh a couple of times. What else can you do but laugh?
So the next time you see something that jerks your head around on the side of the road, stop and take a chance. You might end up with a gem and a good laugh.
The other weekend we took a road trip to Vermont. We had destinations of sorts, but it was really just an excuse for my husband to get some seat time in his new Audi S4. I brought the camera along as usual even though this wasn’t a photography trip per se. He’s used to it by now. It was sunny with a few clouds in the sky and pretty warm.
This first one is so quintessentially Vermont that I’m almost embarrassed I took it.
Not the same barn, but this is what happens when they fall into disuse –
We got out of the car for a bit to stretch our legs in a new little park on Route 2 in Marshfield. The restored covered bridge went up last year and spans the Winooski River. It is one of the only agricultural bridges left.
There’s a meadow with a funny little henge in it –
You didn’t think I’d get through a whole post without a black and white did you? I particularly love this one. It’s a slight crop from the original – to get is square essentially and even though the color version works well, monochrome works even better. I spent a lot of time in Lightroom getting it just the way I want it.
Anyway, that’s it for the moment. I’m thinking of heading into the woods today to see if I can find some microscapes to shoot, back willing.
A couple of years ago on our last vacation to California we got near enough to Pinnacles National Monument to know we wanted to go back there. We drove up the sort of scary road to the unpopular west entrance because we were killing time waiting for the Chalone tasting room to open. It looked really cool. Lumpish spires of rock soaring upwards with lots of trees and flowers. The site is all that remains of an ancient and extinct volcano. The Chalone Indians once used this as a seasonal gathering location, taking advantage of the amazing variety of plants and animals that thrive here. When it got too hot, they would go back down into Salinas valley where the now famous Monterey Fog comes in and cools things down.
We got to the park entrance probably just minutes after the ranger opened the gate and were on the trail by 8:15. Two elements of good fortune were with us. First – we were the only ones there. Miracle. Even on a Monday morning we expected a state with a population like California’s to produce a couple more people, but no, it was just us. Sweet. The second piece of good fortune was the low cloud cover. The day before we’d been to a couple of our favorite wineries and the folks there agreed the weather was unusual; it was supposed to rain. Typically it stops raining before May in Soledad and doesn’t rain again until the fall. Well we didn’t mind. The cloud cover kept it from being 90 degrees and miserable and the little sprinkles that hit us were refreshing and made the air smell fantastic.
At first I was a bit disappointed with the fact that I would have such gloomy skies, but soon I realized that the colors – the shy and the bold – would show much better in this bright, but nearly shadowless light. Plus the fog and mist over the far peaks added drama that would have otherwise been absent. So I got happy. Especially when a new flower presented itself about every 10 feet.
Seriously I think our hike took an hour longer than it would have if I didn’t stop every minute to ooh and ahh and photograph something. It was amazing. All along the trail-sides the flowers greeted us and seemed to wish us well. The profusion is startling, we just don’t have flowers like this in New England. Our wildflowers are woodland creatures by and large and much less showy.
According to the guide, this next flower is called the Sticky Monkeyflower. It’s our favorite because we’re dorks and kept calling it Stinky Monekybutt for the rest of the trip. Take that middle age!
These flowers really liked the rocky crevices and grew everywhere, high up and even in the most unlikely places. They were a friendly presence when the trail got steeper.
Just above this set of cut steps it started to sprinkle and the next set was more like a ladder than a staircase it was so steep. Luckily someone had also thought to put up handrails and the smell of our hands after hanging on to those steel pipes brought me right back to 3rd grade. Remember the smell of your hands after playing on the swings or the monkey bars? That’s what it was like and I didn’t even mind how slippery they got in the rain. Then we came to this –
My head knew it was safe. I mean it looked safe and probably 1000s of people had already crossed it so it would hold. Yeah, sure it would. Just look at it. It’s all tight and straight, not a bit of warp or splintery bits. In a way it was good no adult can get across this other than in a crouching duck-walk…looking down was —- woah! —— dizzy!
Well we obviously made it. Not that the buzzards were happy about it. I swear they kept circling around and laughing at us. Stupid birds.
So on the way back to the hotel we stopped to see how the abandoned farmstead was doing. I’d shot it in 2008, but somehow missed this awesome barn –
As you can see the clouds persisted, but I like them in this. More interesting and dramatic than just blue sky. I keep telling myself that anyway.
There are more photos (including one of Gary the headstanding beetle) in the Smugmug Gallery if you so desire. This was only part of our trip to California. We did more hiking and a lot of wine tasting, so more posts and photos are coming.