Thursday, 03 May 2018 09:23

Still Life with Nail Kegs

Spring Creek, North Carolina is far off the beaten track, as they say; and many of its 19th-Century barns have fallen victim to the passage of time. On the other hand, though a mere 65-years-old, the Homer Reeves livestock barn is a classic that served the hanging of burley tobacco, as needed, as well as operating as a dairy on the lower level. The lumber for this barn was milled from timber cut on the mountain across the valley. Among the wonderful artifacts found in the loft, a couple of old nail kegs and a tobacco basket saw their way clear to serve as a still life, framed by light pouring in through vent openings in the walls and that same light reflected onto the loft floor.

A focal length of 35mm, the cusp of wide-angle, allowed me to place the still life and the lines of incoming light so as to show almost the entire wall. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field and the small starburst effects, and a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds at ISO 400 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure.

The barns of Madison County are always an adventure waiting to happen.

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8 comments

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Friday, 11 May 2018 15:48 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Hi Don, Thanks for sharing that story, it is beautiful and does explain the mood in the barn. I think it will linger for years or until another event changes it. I miss Paul Harvey.

    Thanks again

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Friday, 11 May 2018 15:18 posted by Donald McGowan

    Hi Nancy T. I hope you did not think I was giving you a hard time about suggesting a presence of smugness in the story told by this Image; and now that you have clarified what you had in mind when you used the term, I'll share with you another part of the story.
    You are exactly right: This scene does seem a bit "too tidy" for just an old barn. The reason is because about two years ago the current owner did a very thorough clean-up of the barn, including the loft, so that her niece could use it for her wedding reception. All of the "random" items like the kegs and tobacco baskets - of which there are several thoughtfully placed around the area - were part of the decorations for that reception. And although they were there both before, during, and after the event, they were certainly more carefully used and stored than most of the items I encounter when exploring the lofts of Madison County's old barns.
    Your keen eye was way ahead of me; and now you know the rest of the story. Walk in Beauty.

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Friday, 11 May 2018 10:57 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Hi Don, I wanted to share why I see a little smugness in this image. I looked at it again to see why for myself. It’s still there and it’s because the area is a little too tidy for an old barn. The few items there do not look randomly placed. I guess it is showing a little pride too. ?
    I’m not sure what it’s story is, but I love the image!

  • Comment Link Donald McGowan Friday, 11 May 2018 08:26 posted by Donald McGowan

    Good morning Everyone. Thank you all for joining me for this conversation. Since this is Barn Month in Madison County, it seemed appropriate that I do at least one Image during May of these wonderful sentinels of our heritage; and I'm really glad you've come along with me.
    Hey John. It's great to hear from you. I hope your Post-Road Scholar Spring has been pleasant and productive. I appreciate your kind words. Since Don Newsom has also focused on the use of light in this image let me respond to both of you in more detail in a moment; but meanwhile, thanks for your comment.
    Hi Michelle. It's always good the hear from you and, as always, your thoughtful comments are appreciated. There are so many wonderful barn structures in Madison County and they each, in some way, speak with eloquence to an era that has left us, but which we should, I believe, strive never to forget. What they represent to me are nothing short for the fabric of our country.
    Hey Nancy T. I'm so glad you mention lines in this Image. I was thinking about them as well, for like you, it seemed that everywhere I looked, there was a line of some kind or other and I really appreciate your calling them to our attention. I think I'll go for contentedness; somehow smugness does not quite seem to apply - and I know that your comment is "tongue-in-cheek" - to the work that went on here; but I can readily see a great deal of satisfaction after a very long day of putting up tobacco or hay, or milking - for the second time - a substantial herd of dairy cows, Holstein for sure, with a couple of Jerseys thrown in for good measure. Walk in Beauty.
    Hi Donald. It's always good to have you with us, and I really to appreciate your thoughtful comments about the use of light and light management. In most other situations where I'd be photographing from an interior out into a brighter exterior, I'd be trying to compress the dynamic range as much as possible, and HDR would be tempting for me as well. In this particular instance, the scene in the background - out those ventilation slots - was down below me, being in the loft, and fairly distant, perhaps half-a-mile or more. From the camera angle I had chosen, there was really nothing to see other than the light pouring in, so I decided to let the light bars be just what they were, receding rectangles of brightness. Then I decided to use a very small aperture to see if I could create "starbursts" as the light entered the interior space. All-in-all, it was a lot of fun playing with them, and I'm glad you gave us a chance to talk about it.
    Thank, again, to all of you for all of your wonderful observations and comments; I could play in these barns for hours on end. May we all Walk in Beauty.

  • Comment Link Donald Newsom Wednesday, 09 May 2018 12:49 posted by Donald Newsom

    Nicely done, Don! You know my love for things old. I'd have loved to play around for a long time with the barrels and basket. The one thing that bugs me about this image is the "light bar" effect of the openings in the wall. It's not a criticism of your image, just a difference in taste. I usually eschew HDR because in so many cases it looks artificial. But I might have been tempted to try just a little of it here, to get a more naturalistic view of the outdoors through the openings.

  • Comment Link Nancy Tripp Wednesday, 09 May 2018 11:06 posted by Nancy Tripp

    Well done! You could have named this one "Time Lines" You have all kinds of lines in this one. Parallel, converging, weaving, dashes, diagonal, horizontal, vertical, old, new, bright, faded... My favorite are the shiny new lines (dashes) that create a frame of light to show off all the other lines. I also like the placement of the barrels and the woven wood that add some curves to the image. The overall image looks looks very content, maybe even a little smug. :)

  • Comment Link Michelle Jensen Wednesday, 09 May 2018 06:46 posted by Michelle Jensen

    Beautiful photo Don. This really captures an era.

  • Comment Link John D. Roach Sunday, 06 May 2018 12:37 posted by John D. Roach

    Wonderful control of the light.

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