Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old Barns

On a nice weekend it is not unusual for me to take a nice long drive into the rural countryside looking for things that catch my eye and that might make an interesting photograph. I really enjoy photographing old barns. These pieces of history are slowly disappearing from the landscape. Obsolete and no longer useful for modern farming practices, they are generally allowed to rot away and eventually fall down. Many of them are well over 100 years old, such as this one I photographed along Rt. 100, North of Grafton, Illinois.  I always photograph them in color but convert certain ones to B&W. 

There are no dramatic mountains or beautiful ocean beaches where I live, but there are endless miles of farm fields that are dotted with these old barns. The size, style, and architecture of the barn varied greatly depending on its primary purpose. Many old world European designs can still be found today. Photographing them is pretty easy. A good wide angle lens will usually be all you need. With a very wide angle lens you will get barreling (distortion) as you move in close.  You can leave it, or fix it in Photoshop. I will correct the distortion in Photoshop as part of my work flow in processing the image.
These barns are a piece of American history. I spent quite a few summers putting up hay in old barns like the ones I have photographed here. I guess that is why I have such a sentimental attachment to them. I am always on the lookout for new ones to photograph. So if you know of one that is not too far from where I live, send me an email and give me the location. I will probably go check it out and add it to my growing portfolio of old barns. 
This old barn sits along the east side of Interstate 55 a couple miles south of the Litchfield, IL. exit. (about mile marker 50) I always invisioned it would look better in B&W. The day I stopped to do this the light was pretty harsh and contrasty. That made the decision to convert to B&W easy since the lighting was ugly. I added the Sepia toning to make it look like an older photograph. Here is a useful link called "The Barn Journal" if you are interested in  learning more about barns or are looking for resources on them.

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