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.
Back on July 30th I posted this photo. It’s a great photo, but I wondered if maybe it was too bright. I also asked the question on my Facebook page, and some felt that it might be and said they’d like to see a darker version should I do one. In general, I like darker photos, but I also need to be aware that my tastes aren’t necessarily everyone else’s tastes. Many people prefer brighter photos. Plus, while my darker photos tend to look great on a back lit computer screen, they sometimes look way too dark when actually printed.
So, I reworked the photo a bit. All I did was back off on the exposure a bit… a full stop, actually… and here is the result. Same photo, just a slightly different exposure, and thus a slightly different result and feeling. So tell me, which one do you like better, and why?
Personally, I like the darker version better. It’s easier on my eyes, for one thing, plus it evokes a sense of a softer and less harsh time of day, which adds to the feeling of calm.
It’s been a few weeks since my last post. When not working and doing other life activities I’ve been processing a lot of photos. My goal is to do a major overhaul of my website. I’ve been re-processing many previously done photos. I’m adding a bunch of new photos, some really new ones and some older photos that, for whatever reason, have never been published but I am now realizing how good they are. I am also retiring some photos permanently, photos that I look at and am no longer enamored with and/or they’ve simply never generated a bit of interest.
This photo is one that I’ve never before published. It has a nice old-time feel to it. A link back to a simpler time… a neat yard and a simple tire swing. I almost want to get on the swing myself and go for a ride. I’d probably regret it in the morning, though. haha This was taken near Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
I’m a little unsure of the processing, though. It looked great in Photoshop, but now I post it here and it looks too bright. I naturally favor darker photos, but a lot of people seem to prefer brighter photos. What’s your opinion on this one?
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 was taken on the same day as the previous photo. I was on the way to Backbone State Park and spotted this scene just outside the park, so I stopped to take a few shots.
There wasn’t any one thing that drew me. I cannot point to any single aspect that jumps out at me. It’s just the totality of the scene, in an overall sense. To be honest, it doesn’t necessarily inspire me, either, but it does scream “farm country”, and apparently several other people think so, too.
I posted this shot when I first started my website roughly a decade ago, when I hadn’t yet built up my portfolio of digital shots and I needed to put something up to fill out the website. Somewhat to my surprise, it has sold reasonably well. It sells mostly to native Iowans who now live out-of-state. They tell me it evokes a nostalgic-like feeling in them, and makes them long for “home”.
I can understand that. I have many photos of the Rio Vista Bridge in California and I certainly have nostalgic feelings there. Nostalgia makes us think of other times. Not necessarily better, but could be. We are the totality of our life’s experiences.
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.
Missy and I did another road trip this weekend… 20 hours and 591 miles… with Wesley… specifically to go see this tree. The unofficial story behind the tree goes something like this…
Back in 1850 a surveyor cut a cottonwood sprout to use as a walking stick, later planting it in the ground to mark a section corner. The roads were no doubt not there in 1850, but since roads are commonly laid out along section lines, the tree ended up in the intersection. Why the tree was allowed to stay is a mystery, but allowed to stay it was.
It grew into the massive tree that still stands there today. The trunk is roughly 12 feet in diameter. There are no markers, no signs directing you to it, but it is not all that hard to find. I will say that the quality of the roads are questionable, though, especially after a rain and doubly especially after a rain and at 3:30 am. It is at the intersection of 350th Street and Nighthawk Avenue, on the county line that separates Cass and Audubon Counties. It’s also only about an 1/8 of a mile from I-80, and Nighthawk Avenue crosses the interstate, but there is no interchange. You cannot see it from the interstate, though, as there is a hill in the way.
As far as layout, it is not conducive to good composure for photography. We made an effort to get there before sunrise, not really knowing what we would find, and I got some decent shots, but nothing that really wowed me. This shot was done with my 15mm rectilinear fish-eye lens. It has the obvious curved perspective, which in this case I kind of like, so I left that part alone. It helps add a sense of presence and location that is otherwise missed with “normal” lenses that I also used. With this shot you really can see that the tree is truly in the middle of the intersection.
I’m going to have to think about this location and the shots I took for awhile. I may decide to re-visit some more shots and thoughts here in the future. And, please feel free to leave some feedback. I’d be interested in your thoughts and perspective.
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.
Right now, this is it. As you drive down the road, this is pretty much all you see. Corn and more corn and still more corn, as far as the eye can see, and taller than you are. It’s like being the short person at a general admission rock concert.
Not being a farm boy myself, I was somewhat shocked when I first moved here. The planting season is late, compared to what I was used to seeing on the west coast, and the corn starts out slow, then increases at a dramatic pace as the summer winds down.
Sweet corn near the end of summer is a BIG DEAL in these parts. You will see stands everywhere. Prices range from $3/dozen to $6/dozen, and quality is not consistent. There’s a place just outside Manchester that has fantastic quality sweet corn. They’re $5/dozen and well worth it.
Soon will come the harvest and the landscape will feel naked. And we’ll have to do it all again next year. I can’t wait!