Given that this is a landscape photography website it should come as no surprise that I like to take photos of barns and farms and stuff. And like any subject people have their preferences, and things they love, and on the other end of the spectrum things they like well enough, but generally don’t get too excited about. In a sense this photo falls in that latter category.
What I mean is composition. I normally prefer an angled shot, or some other perspective. I feel that ‘straight on’ shots can be good… in moderation. They can easily be overdone to the point that you get tired of seeing them. At least for me. This one, though, has many elements that appeal to me. The old barn, ready to fall apart, contrasting with new fangled wind turbines. The clouds help, too. I’m always a big fan of big puffy clouds.
The time of day wasn’t optimal, but I have passed over a lot of photo opportunities simply because it was the middle of the day. I was too good for anything less than perfect. God forbid one of my photo friends found out I snapped a shot at… *gasp!*… mid-day. I’m working to get over that. You can get good shots at any time of day, depending on the circumstances of the moment. This one worked out well.
For this one Missy and I were on an action-packed weekend. We were visiting some friends in northern Illinois and decided to take a side trip to Champaign so we could eat at the only Wienerschnitzel within reasonable driving distance. “Reasonable” being two hours out of the way, each way. Hey, for an all-beef chili cheese dog… or six… it’s worth it.
But every story should have a moral, and the moral of this story is to always take your camera with you… AND keep your mind as open as your eyes.
We here at Iowa Landscape Photography are nothing if not about progress, and the times they are a-changin’. Here’s a photo that has been published on these pages before, but there’s something different… a new logo. I’ve been wanting to do a new logo for a long time now, and the time is finally here. I’m very pleased and excited.
My original logo is something that I threw together in AutoCAD… because that’s my day job and that’s what I’m comfortable with… then I converted it to *.jpg and went from there in Photoshop. I needed something quick and was impatient. Kind of a long strange trip, eh? It was modeled on a silhouette photo of an old windmill at sunset. It was hokey, but it was mine.
I commissioned my friend, Luke Gordon, for the new logo, and gave direction that I wanted to keep the same concept and feel, but modernized and updated. Luke came through with flying colors. You can see the new watermark here in this photo, and the logo itself at the top of this page. If you like his work, and desire to contact him regarding some work for you, let me know and I will give him your contact information.
My ultimate goal… well, one of them, anyway… is to find a really good shot of an old windmill and a new wind turbine. That would be awesome.
In the mean time I have also been looking for anything that showcases the contrast between old vs new. (I love then-and-now photos!) I recently found an old barn surrounded by dozens of new wind turbines. I was able to get several nice shots from various perspectives. This is one of my favorites.
Missy and I were traveling between Champaign, IL, and Ottawa, IL, having taken side trip in a more purposeful venture to eat at Wienerschitzel. Their chili cheese dogs and chili cheese fries are that good, good enough to travel an extra night and four hours out of our way, but I digress.
Anyway, here we are gliding down Hwy 47 and I’m scanning the countryside for something to shoot. I spy this barn down a gravel side road and decide to check it out. Parked about a half mile away, and worked my way up so that I could get several perspectives.
As I got closer I see a hawk perched on top of the roof ridge. It seems to be very interested in this interloper invading its personal space. After several minutes and shots it takes off… in my direction. The bird swooped down about 20 feet above my head. I’m not sure, but I think it might have been sizing me up to decide if I was small enough to haul away for a tasty treat later.
The hawk eventually settled in a safe distance away and left me unmolested. Was kind of a relief. Not only was I going to be dinner, I was also left alone to finish my shoot. I finished up, hiked back to the car, and continued on the trip, and the result is the shot you see here.
Makes for a nice contrast-y combination, don’t you think? Everything is easily discernible. The barn just “pops”. There’s a sense of stillness in this photo. It’s obvious this is a working farm, as evidenced by the items carefully stored outside. There’s also a sense of… almost hibernation. Activity is on hold, most equipment has been stored inside protected from the elements. You can bet the farmers are inside, enjoying the warmth that modern life affords them. One would think they’re sitting by the fire, sipping a hot drink, partaking in a favorite leisure activity, and basking in a well-earned rest, but they’re probably actually actively planning and doing paperwork for the next season. No rest for the weary, as the old saying goes.
I shot this a couple years ago not too far from where I live. This weekend I was finishing up re-processing all my existing photos that I currently have offered for sale, and came across this one. I’ve always liked it, the contrasts and all, but never knew what to do with it. The white sky overwhelmed everything else. The eye was drawn too much to the white sky and away from everything else.
By cropping it to a 2:1 ratio mini-panorama format the whole feeling of the photo is reversed. Now, the white sky is just a complimentary aspect to the overall scene. Now, the red barns dominate the scene and draw the eye, as it should be. You’re now focused on the primary aspects of the image. We have wonderful processing tools available these days, and can manipulate in ways that just a few years ago were unimaginable, but it’s amazing how often something like a simple crop is what makes the difference.
Sometimes simplicity is the order for the day. It doesn’t really matter where this photo was taken. The particulars of the barn itself isn’t a concern. The surrounding scenery is wholly irrelevant.
No, the simple selective composition shown here speaks for itself. A simple side of a barn… at the end of the day, as depicted by the shows… some mud on the wall, how and why is it there?… a rough stone foundation… barbed wire hanging on the wall… all serves to reinforce that this is a working barn in daily use. That gives the photo an honest credibility.
Would you believe this is hanging on my wall? It is. It’s a small 5×7, framed, with a hunter green mat. It looks very nice as a small accent piece.
This photo has always been a favorite of both Missy and I. We took this about three years ago near McCallsburg, Iowa, in Story County. The image evokes kind of a nostalgic feel and nicely contrasts the old and the new. That and the quality and richness of colors is what makes it so appealing, I think. This photo is yet another example is stumbling onto something when you least expect it.
In our case, we had attended an all-day Toastmasters meeting in Ames. We chose to take an indirect route home, avoiding the main highway and using still-nice, but rural, county roads. Took longer, but we had the luxury of time, and we did purposely want to see new places both with photography in mind and simply just to see new things.
What’s strange, to me at least, is that in spite of how much we like this photo, we haven’t done much with it, and I cannot explain why. I’ve never put it up on my website for sale (that will change soon). I’ve never really displayed it, except a couple incidental publishings, and I think I entered it into a club contest once. This needs to go on my wall.
I was lost. Yes, I know, the “Human GPS” had lost his way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Michigan and it is a beautiful state, but it is also a horribly-signed state. If you’re on the Interstate you’re fine, but venture off the beaten path and you might as well put a blindfold on. Even maps help only so much. Just as I was starting to grumble and get irritated for being lost, I spied this gem through some trees and had to stop and investigate.
I took several shots and am going to see what I can do with a long panorama. It was really a quite nice scene with a large field bounded in something of a bowl shape by trees beginning to turn color.
I guess the moral of the story is that even when lost you should still keep your head up and seek for the best. You never know what you’ll stumble across. It just might be a beautiful scene like this.
As we end August let’s go back to April… 2004. I was still living in California. I was into my photography. I had another website that I allowed to go defunct a couple years ago (I don’t even own the URL anymore), and this was one of the premier photos.
Now, California is known for its awesome beauty. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park, the redwood forests, the coast, and yes, even the desert. So much to choose from. And yet even within all that splendor, you can find little nuggets like this.
This photo has always been one of my all-time favorites. I shot it several times from varying angles, and was never disappointed. I spoke with the owner one day… an extremely nice gentleman… and he told me that its even better in the winter with snow on the ground. I can believe it. I would be willing to make a special trip back just for that.
I plan to incorporate some of my better west coast photos into my blog and website, though they will remain primarily Iowa and the Midwest.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, this photo is still literally a “wall hanger” in my home.
I have several “favorite” photos, of course, but this one is one of my favorite favorites. It’s detailed. It’s focused (no pun intended), as in focused on the details of a limited area. It’s thought-provoking. It’s… simple.
The surrounding area was busy and distracting, but you’d never know that from this photo. This shot brings you in to the details. It makes you want to reach in and grab.
You can’t really tell by the photo, but it was an overcast day and slightly drizzly, which limited my photo options, but at the same time the moisture helped bring out the richness of the red in the paint on the barn. This barn is near Collins, Iowa, right beside the highway. I caught it on my way home from Des Moines one day and did my patented screeching stop… while looking to make sure there were no cars behind me, just to be safe, you know.
Maybe the moral of the story is “Always be ready to slam on the brakes!” Haha.
Yes, this is Iowa! I say that, because apparently, this is what Iowa natives think of when they think of their home state. This image is, by far, my biggest seller. Especially to Iowa natives who now live elsewhere and who want to have something comforting and nostalgic to look at. I even sold a digital copy to an Iowa politician who wanted to use it as a banner on his re-election website. He loved it because it epitomized everything he wanted to say about his home state.
It does evoke a soothing and comforting feeling. It also tells a story, of sorts, and highlights so much of what Iowa is and does. You have the farm, the silos, the barn, the gravel road, the truck, the fence, the fields, the windmill… this image brings it all together.
This image was taken near Swisher, Iowa, ironically enough as I was traveling one early morning to a photo club shoot in the Amana Colonies. I spied this scene as I was cruising down the highway and had to stop and take some shots.