Saturday, 20 January 2018 09:17

The Hills Are Alive

High above the verdant valley of Spring Creek, North Carolina is a farm that seems straight out of the Sound of Music. Perhaps there are other barns in Madison County with greater physical character or architectural beauty, but none can surpass the magnitude of the setting of the Maris barn, built in the early decades of the twentieth century. Last week, on the heels of the snow and rime ice that graced the high ridges of the Newfound Mountains, Bonnie and I headed directly for this magical setting in the last rays of the setting sun. The green hillsides will abound soon enough, but on this day their emptying into white was more than enough to hold our amazement.


A focal length of 28mm, well-into wide-angleland, gave me an angle-of-view that allowed the barn to dominate the scene, but still be seen as overshadowed by its surroundings. An aperture of f/20 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds in the still air at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.


This amazing structure has stood on its own in the face of many Appalachian winters, and still it sings its song of communion to the surrounding hills.

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  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Saturday, 27 January 2018 08:47 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Everyone. How delightful it is to see that these wonderful old structures resonate with so many of you. It is, indeed, a joy to be able to share them with you and to share, also, the beauty of one of my favorite areas of Western North Carolina, the Old North State, whose amazing mountains I have called "home" now for nearly a quarter century.
    Hey Mary Ellen. Somehow I feel that this winter has brought back some memories for you of years past in the Pioneer Valley. Bonnie and I are so looking forward to seeing you and everyone in the spring. I appreciate your kind words.
    Hi Nancy T. I really enjoyed our conversation earlier in the week and am so glad to hear how well things are moving forward for you. Once you are settled in your new place, I hope you'll have lots of time to explore that beautiful part of the Mississippi Valley. As always, your comments point to some aspect of an Image that might otherwise be overlooked - the contrast between the visuals observable externally and the feelings evoked internally. So much of our imagery plays on just such symbolisms, and we are enriched because of it. Walk in Beauty.
    Hi Sue. It is always a pleasure to hear from you. I hope all is well in East Tennessee. Your words are more than kind; they are heart-warming. It is a blessing to be able to share what my eyes and heart see with folks like you who so love the natural world and all of its many beautiful places, near and far. The longer I am alive, the more absolutely I am convinced that there is beauty waiting to be discovered everywhere we turn, and all that is required of us is to open ourselves to its presence. I am honored that you like this image; thank you.
    Hey Donald. That's my kind of comment; and I wouldn't expect it from anyone but you. Often, as I stand before one of these structures, I, too, have the feeling of convivial identity with them. Some years ago I knew a fellow who wrote a book about centenarians entitled, "Yessir, I've Been Here a Long Time." I think of that book when I'm with these wonderful structures, and you're absolutely right, the visual appeal of their surroundings makes them even more appealing. Let's talk about prints sometime soon.
    Hi Karen. I am deeply appreciative that you can view this image and find it uplifting as you contemplated your own situation. I hope that the surgery went very well and that the outcome will be exactly as hoped for. May you quickly be back on your feet and enjoying your own participation in the creation of art from the beauty around you.
    Hey Sharon Elaine. Thank you for sharing with us your reaction to the tonal contrasts in this Image, as well as your sense of how they also blend. When I was watching the sunlight on the facing side of the barn I was very much aware of how the golden light was mixing with the weathered gray to produce a tonality that was truly complimentary with the light on the background forest. I'm grateful that you noticed and thought to point it out for us. It's often these small details that add so much richness to our visual experiences.
    Hi Micki. It is delightful to hear from you. I am more than honored by your kind words, and I hope this finds you well and finds Grateful Steps doing the work it does so well. Bonnie and I have understood that you relocated the store to Fairview, but we have not confirmed this. We'd love to come by and visit, so maybe you can share with us where we should look. Thanks, again, for your very thoughtful and much appreciated comments.
    It's amazing and wonderful that these beautiful old structures touch so deeply so many chords within us. Wherever you are, I hope you will join in their preservation. They deserve our love, respect, and attention. Walk in Beauty.

  • Comment Link Micki Cabaniss Monday, 22 January 2018 18:21 posted by Micki Cabaniss

    You are so extremely talented. Looking at your work is a joy.

  • Comment Link Sharon Elaine Sunday, 21 January 2018 16:45 posted by Sharon Elaine

    This beautiful composition speaks of stories and mountain life but it's the color that immediately caught my eye. I love how the barn reiterates the trees and the contrasting blues and white provide texture and interest providing the dramatic background.

  • Comment Link Karen Sunday, 21 January 2018 12:54 posted by Karen

    As Donald said above, "the building is ragged and roughened by life, but is still holding its head up." That is how I feel since I am having back surgery tomorrow. I want to have that noticeable leg on the barn made ready for more distance! Your striking photo gives me strength when I view the setting. Thanks Don for continuing your impact!

  • Comment Link Donald Newsom Sunday, 21 January 2018 12:16 posted by Donald Newsom

    That's my kind of building, kind of ragged and roughened by life, but still holding its head up with pride and dignity. The beautiful contrasts of color and texture show it off well. Thank you.

  • Comment Link Sue Milligan Sunday, 21 January 2018 11:33 posted by Sue Milligan

    Breathtakingly beautiful. Can't imagine what it must feel like to have such an amazingly beautiful body of work. Whenever my hubby makes a pot of chili he says "This may be the best chili I have ever made." You must surely have that feeling about your photography. Just when I think I have seen your best work you manage to come up with something equally or even more beautiful that your last work of art. It has been such a joy to follow your site. Keep them coming!

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Sunday, 21 January 2018 10:04 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Once again you knew when to be where! You guys are real troopers to go out in the cold to get this shot. Thanks for sharing it. While the elements of the image will make you bundle up with layers of clothing, the setting you captured in this composition will warm your heart with everything singing in harmony. Even the clouds look as if they have frostbite to match the tops of the trees and the ground. Love it!

  • Comment Link Mary Ellen Sunday, 21 January 2018 09:06 posted by Mary Ellen

    Absolutely beautiful image. Thank you for sharing.

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