The Moods of a Subject: Lakes Road Barn, Duncan, B.C.

Lakes Road Barn, Duncan, B.C.

A bag of M&Ms doesn’t last me very long.  Nor does chocolate – any species, type or recipe.

Many photographic subject as are as – or more – ephemeral than my bag of candy: rainbows, fleeting smiles, glimpses of sunset on a field of lambs.  However, there are some subjects that are persistent yet changeable.  These you can, and should, sample over and over again in their many moods.

I live within four miles of this lovely, century-old barn, and drive past it almost every day.  I first photographed it one lightly overcast winter’s day as the afternoon sun brought a glow to its doors, and diffuse light from the thin cloud layer perfectly filled in the shadows.  This soft, diffuse but slightly directional light is ideal for images of old buildings, lending personality and gently accentuating structure without losing detail in shadowed areas.  The lines of the roof and boards stand in contrast to the curves of the naked branches and the coarse bark of the firewood rounds.  This was captured beautifully on XP-2 by the f/6.3 Anastigmat lens of my 1928 Kodak – naturally, on a sturdy and stable Gitzo tripod with a cable release.

The Misty Barn

One early fall morning the next year, l awoke to find delicate veils of mist shrouding the hills and dense, cottony fog filling the valleys as the first rays of the sun filtered through the trees.  Grabbing my camera bag and tripod, I shaved while I drove past farmland and vineyards.  The mist thinned as I crested the rise where the barn sat, but there was enough to veil the farm and mute the distant trees.  The mist cooled the tones of the warm morning light, and the greens and orange-browns of the leaves called out for color film.  With Kodak VC160 in my newly-purchased 1950 Voigtlander Bessa I, I was able to capture this dreamy, softly-tinted image that is totally unlike the sharp lines of the winter black and white photograph.  With the rising smoke and trailer to the right of the barn and muted field and trees to the left, I elected to back away, including more of the surroundings, then in Photoshop cropped to a wider, more panoramic format.  Despite my love of sharp definition, I resisted the temptation to crank up the contrast .  Slight corrections in Curves accentuated the mist covering the distant trees and added to the diffuse quality of the whole image.

The barn and I are not finished; I am still awaiting next winter’s first snowfall, anxiously wondering how its blanket will soften the lines of the wood and erase the contours of the grass.  Will there be tracks in the snow?  Drifts piled by the door?  Crisp winter light or moody overcast?  I can hardly wait.

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