Red Barns in Pretty Skies

There’s never a surplus of barns in Montana and it’s great! I love finding new ones to photograph because each one has such a unique story. Then again it never hurts to revisit the same old ones. They are a classic symbol of the west and honestly, they just look good. Add in a little color in the sky and some drama in the clouds and poof, a photo. This was taken with the D5 and 24-70 after an afternoon thunderstorm. The skies opened to the west while the clouds remained in the east. Turned out to be a nice evening.

Barns in Snow

I am constantly searching for those iconic images that you see in paintings. One of the classics that I remembered as a kid was the red barn in snow. It was a classic hallmark card image that I will always recall. Well I love working with barns and in Montana we have a lot of them but despite all the time I have spent working with barns that one shot that sums up the vision in my head is till alluding me.


I photographed this barn many years ago and it is not even standing anymore, but this is as close as I’ve gotten to that image in my head. I often wonder if it’s even possible to capture that image since mentally we always picture things better then in reality. Nevertheless the challenge is still out there and must be met regardless if it is possible to achieve.

Barns Barns Barns

Every photographer has different opportunities present to them everyday of their lives as each are immersed in the environment that he or she lives in. If I were to be living by the ocean, I would be photographing shore birds and the waves all the time. If I was in a city it would be the buildings, the people and the street life. In Montana, it’s the sights and sounds that are left from the old west. Big critters and gorgeous mountains are the sights. The one thing that I have been constantly working on over the years is finding and photographing barns across the state. I literally have a file of places with great barns. Why? Because they are one of the symbols of the west.


Thankfully barns are still common in todays world and many continue on with the traditional look and feel. Several in fact are made out of recycled lumber that has been salvaged from old buildings that were structurally unstable. Over at the Gafke’s ranch, the traditional red barn is used today with the old family homestead barn remains in the back. Both have made great subjects in the past.


On my list of barns was this particular beauty. I found it last year driving around and wanted really badly to photograph it then. Unfortunately it’s location made it a very difficult subject to work. Because the barn is situated at the base of the hillside the light was either behind it or not there at all. This shot was made with the D4 and 70-200 VRII as there was no need to go wide with the limited landscape available. While this one shot is a step up from previous renditions I’ve taken, it’s still not the shot I’m looking for, which means I’ll have to go back again.

The Importance of Shooting Everyday

While I Was out cruising this past weekend I went by a previous shooting spot and was aghast to what I saw. On the northern edge of town, where once was a great old barn, there remains now just a pile of dirt. I couldn’t believe it. While it was in a commercial spot of town, the fact that it is gone really sucks!


Last year I got out and photographed this barn once. Sadly it is the only really good photograph of it in my files which bothers me. Everyday when we are not behind the camera something happens. That is the reality and nothing we can do will change that. We can’t be everywhere at once. But if you don’t get out and at least try then the moments will be lost. I started thinking about all the images that I have in my files of places, things and people that are no longer around. While it saddens me, there is relief in knowing that there is at least an image capturing them. We as photographers have an obligation to constantly be shooting and to constantly be sharing. Photography is not just about making beautiful images, but also about preserving history.

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