If you follow my blog then you’ve probably seen me post images of barns. I photograph barns a lot because they are great subjects to work with. Each one is a little bit more unique and each one has it’s own story. The best part is as soon as you find one the hard part of finding a subject for a landscape image is done. Well this particular barn I’ve known about for years but I’ve never gotten a shot of it that I have liked. Until now.
This is actually a well known barn as it sits right by the entrance to Hyalite Canyon. A lot of people go by it everyday making it a very popular barn. In fact I’d be willing to bet that just about every photo student that went through MSU has stopped and thought about this barn at some point. While it’s easy to get to it’s not easy to photograph and believe me I’ve tried! Due to the angle and proximity to the road it’s a challenge. We just had a nice storm come through dropping off a couple of inches of fresh powder in the valley. The clouds opened up in the afternoon so I went out for a little bit. These are the days I enjoy the most. Just going out shooting with no real agenda and what do you know this barn finally looked good. All the elements finally came together for me to actually stop and want to capture an image. In the past there was always an issue, whether the light, the angle, the background, cars going by, something. Not this time. With the D4 and 70-300 VR, it was just right. This really has to be one of those being patient and constantly trying images because it really has been years of waiting for that right moment. The funny part is as I am writing this I’m already thinking about how this could be better and having to wait for the next opportunity.
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.
For all those fellow photographers out there. If any of you are looking for a gift idea for someone special, you might want to consider looking within your own library. We have an item that is available to us that can bring great joy to others. Our photographs. If you need something still, I would recommend giving that person a print. It may not seem like much to us that print often but to the person on the other end, getting that nice big print of their favorite place or of their favorite critter can be pretty powerful. So if you know someone and are struggling to come up with something good, see what images you have laying around that might look good on a wall.
I have been spending a lot more time this past year in post. A lot of this is due to the fact that i have shooting aircraft for the majority of that time. Now when I photograph statics I always feel it is my job to make the planes look absolutely magnificent. I always try for that romantic jaw dropping shot. Now often in order to get that shot I have to do some work in post not just with exposure. Often images would require some removal of background clutter. Air fields just aren’t clean. It made me think, and i have been thinking about this for a while. How much is too much post work.?
Take for example these two images. These were both taken this past Monday right before sunset before a big thunderstorm came through. We had a good lightning show that night. Now I like to go out exploring trying to find new places to shoot around town. This just happens to be one of the spots that I found for the first time. What caught my attention immediately was this barn. It was an amazing red barn that just stood out compared to the other houses around. I love barns. In Montana barns just scream out west. Finding good ones to work is hard and finding good clouds to work with them is even harder. That’s why I had to shoot the barn this day.
Now i shot this many ways, tight, wide, single shot, bracketed for HDR, trying to capture the great light on the barn and the exposure in the clouds. Obviously this one isn’t HDR the exposure in the clouds is a little hot. While in post i started removing little things that bugged me, like the tops of white houses in the background. I started thinking about it and the road didn’t seem right. When I think western I always think about that wide open range with nothing in sight. The road seemed to modern and therefore out of place. Now if I had composed differently this wouldn’t be an issue but I was able to remove it in post rather easily. That’s when it occurred to me this might be going to far. Now if i never showed the before image no one would ever know, unless in some unlikely chance someone recognized the spot i was at. So my question to everyone, that i don’t have an answer for and I always want you to keep in mind, is when is it going to far in post?
Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 14-24, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film