Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gereg Farm in Summer

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Neither hip nor gambrel, the unusual, many-hued roofs of Gereg Farm are wonderfully sculptural. Although I photographed here early in 2008, I photographed from the road. As I've expanded my territory northward this summer, I made an effort to meet the owner who was happy to give me a tour of the barns and permission to shoot from the pasture and yards.

If Misty Morning Farm (1), (2) is among the most difficult to photograph, Gereg Farm may be the easiest. At Misty Morning the hillside and large trees block the sun on all sides but the north, so light is almost always wrong. Morning light is best at Misty Morning, but often it is too misty and the metal roof is silver and glares blindingly under morning sun. Then there's the hill descending to the east; it is so steep that the barns almost disappear behind the crest until one is a long way off.

In contrast, sun washes the Gereg barn throughout the day, and out in the flat pasture there are clear views from east, south and west. At the perimeter of the field on the south is a rusted. rustic fence that gets tangled with weeds and wildflowers in summer, a delicious foreground screen to shoot through. Three Belted Galloway, "Oreo," cows pasture here. though in the summer they hide from the sun in a shaded alcove. I've caught them grazing in front of the barns in late afternoon, but I don't yet have the picture I'm after. In fact, everything is so photogenic here, that I'm having difficulty casting antique gloom across the barnscape. Everything comes out completely sane. Perhaps in fog I can make them loom.

While the view from the north is just as interesting, there has been a dumpster blocking it through most of the summer. Even from the north, once the dumpster is gone, I expect no problems shooting the intimate spaces there. The barns have some interesting features not visible in this image including the sheltered exterior passage tunneled under the barn where the cows like to huddle. It should be interesting to shoot there in the first half of the day. The barns are being sensitively restored, and as soon as some new wood weathers, they will be as good as old.