Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Composition with Barnboard & Sheet Metal


FARMSTEAD PHOTOGRAPHY: Barns and backhouses are usually simple structures that lay bare the geometric shapes from which they are composed. One sees the gable side or the long side of a barn. Except when topography dictates differently, the buildings often reach out in rows or perpendicularly. As I move around a farmstead the gable ends pile up and move apart, grow thin like turrets and then spread the broad cheeks of a gable face. Silos and various hoppers add cylinders, cones, and semispheres, but especially they add verticality.

As one circles around these barn-clusters gables, broadsides, vertical thrusts and backgrounds are continuously recomposing themselves. With shorter lenses walls, fences, rooflines, and hillscapes lead the eye deeply into the photo illusion, and a really short "wide angle" lens will send the corners flying as the illusion goes deep. With a long lens at a fair distance the elements flatten like an architect's elevation diagram. The painter's palette is paint; the photographer's palette is objects in space.