Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Flown Coop (alternate)

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: In summer the days are longer and there's less time to review and process images and write for this blog. Work on another project also keeps me preoccupied and will continue to slow my TODAY'S output. However, I'm very curious if anyone has thoughts on this image.

It is the same photograph as I sent in the last TODAY'S but with very different processing. After putting both images aside for several weeks, I think I have made my own decision, but I'm curious if others have a specific preference and, if possible, why.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Flown Coop

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: In my last hours in Peter's Valley I headed south for the Delaware Water Gap. It was a slow turkey walk with lots of diversions. My intent was to drive back north on the west side of the Delaware River and then home. This was the last site I photographed, and I was already feeling rushed. My attention had been grabbed by one of the most unusual buildings I had seen, not this chicken coop, but a small drying shed. With nothing within it to dry, it had just gone on drying. Indeed, never before have I seen a building quite as shriveled and dessicated as this one was. The slats of the roof, spaced to allow air to circulate, hung like the parched hide of some long-dead animal sagging between the joists. In places they had rotted away and beneath was revealed some cartilaginous layer. Through the sagging mass of roof I could read the skeletal outline of the joists. However, it was the siding that was most remarkable. It had been made of vertical slats of lumber. Each slat was about 2 inches wide and ten or twelve feet long. They were attached at the base to the floor structure and at the top to the roof structure, and in the middle they were fastened to some sort of rail. As they dried, some of them warped, but as they were pinned in three spots they wriggled in all directions and sometimes sprung loose. It all looked as if a small breeze might send it flying apart. It was a slow-motion explosion, but it had outlasted most of the other buildings. I tried to photograph it, but I couldn't make anything of it.

I decided to take a gander at the hen house. It had a corrigated tin roof stained in shades of rust and grime. The roof was topped with a small vent pipe that rose from a rusty, sheetmetal base at a jaunty angle, and was capped with a pointed beanie. However, the light glared, and there was nothing to set with it. I moved in close, attracted by these textures. The nesting hay looked fresh, but it seems the chickens ducked out long ago.

The main house (As I recall it was something cozy in asbestos.) was solidly boarded against intruders coming to roost. It must have been a tiny subsistence farm that never provided subsistence. Although I came away with only a single usable image, I won't grouse.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Broken Mill Wheel, Peters Valley


Trundling Song

The wheel turns with the river.
It never turns back,
and one day it stops,
but the river keeps flowing,

Jane and I are back from trundling through Maine, but this photograph was taken earlier this year in Peters Valley. I'm not certain how the mill wheel worked, but the stream passing here is small as was the wheel. The millrace is actually made of pipe which branches from the stream much further upstream. The stream follows a narrow stone channel through the middle of the farm. Shops lie along the side.

Friday, June 4, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - This was the first abandoned farmstead I found when I got to Peter's Valley last month. It's a short distance from the craft center where we all stayed, and I found it on my first drive up the road after I arrived.

It is often the details that speak most clearly to me. The suggestion of modern, overhead, garage doors usually make a barn unsuitable for photographs, and so I questioned my own attraction to this one. I didn't bother photographing it that first morning, but when I returned the next day the clouds were perfect. Unfortunately, another photographer with a medium format camera was set up in front of it for a long shoot. He had no interest in the clouds and was set up ten or fifteen feet in front and just left of the barn door. I struggled to find angles to cut him out or that placed him so that I could delete him in Photoshop, but such compromises rarely work. I knew where I wanted to stand. Fortunately 30 minutes later when the photographer moved, the clouds were still good, and finally I was able to stand exactly where my instincts told me to. Others may find the battered barn door incongruous. For me, it is the voice in conversation with the sky. I wonder what the other photographer got.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Watchtowers 2

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: I often find it interesting to view the same scene under different conditions. I returned this week to Forsaken Acres especially to see what the perspective from the previous Winter posting looked like now that spring is here, and to see if I could make a shot of it. Little things make a big difference. I tried to stand where I had stood in December. The stone base of the silo that was clear then is hidden by grass and weed now, and the old barn windows and red siding clear in that winter shot are covered where the vines have leafed out.

The stone of the silo base and the bit of barn ruins were important events in the December image. Without them there is nothing to hold the foreground and not enough to make an image. I stepped back to catch a bit more of the barn and to let the weed texture express itself. Spring has fully unfolded now, and the green everywhere takes the edge of menace and gloom from the wrecked towers. Had two vultures not decided to fly down to find out if I was ripe pickings, there still would have been no picture.