Inside an Old Shed - ©Gary Hamburgh 2010 - All Rights Reserved
When exploring the Palouse region, you see many old barns and outbuildings. I am usually searching for a structure that can be included in the beautiful landscape. Another option that can lead to some interesting images is to explore the inside of some of the old structures. Typically you will find some old farm implements, equipment or just left over everyday belongs. These are interesting to me as it gives a glimpse into the life of someone that was there many generations ago.
The image at the top of this post was taken of the interior of an old abandoned shed among some outbuildings on a deserted homestead. The objects are not of value but do provide some perspective of days gone by.
As you visit the Palouse take some time to explore interiors as well as enjoy the beautiful landscape. Getting permission to explore is always a good idea if possible.
To be Simple is to be Great!
While on Christmas vacation, this sign caught my eye in a restaurant. It isn’t a great image but I liked the message. This is a meaningful message to me in life as well as in photography.
I have posted messages about simplicity before but the sign at the top of this post reminded me again of the importance of simplicity in your photos. The picture below is very simple but allows me to wonder what is the story behind this deserted homestead. I ask questions like “did anyone ever live here?’, “where did they go when they left,?”, or “do their descendants live in a newer house and farm the land in the background?”
Deserted Homestead - Copyright Gary Hamburgh 2009- All Rights Reserved
In a simple photo, the viewer gets the message of what you feel is important in the image. If they want to they can fill in the blanks or read between the lines. When you look for simplicity many times it is just as important to know what to leave out of the composition as it is to know what elements to include.
Remember, keeping the concept of simplicity in mind as you create your compositions may provide you with stronger message in your images.
Sheep Graze near Old Barn by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
As photographers, we are always talking about how the “sweet light” of early morning and late evening can really enhance an image. A couple of weeks ago as I was visiting the Palouse this fact was brought to my attention once again in a very dramatic way.
I was actually on my way home going from Colfax to Issaquah and I decided to take one of my favorite roads which is SR 23 between Steptoe and Sprague. This twenty plus mile stretch of road has several nice and accessible barns for photographing. As I drove along I saw one of my favorite barns in very flat light but i decided to stop and shoot it to use as a teaching image demonstrating the idea that good composition in bad light still does not make a good image. The result was the image that you see below.
Red Barn in Flat Light by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
As I was walking around a bit just enjoying the solitude of this spot and trying to avoid becoming a major meal for the mosquitoes, I noticed a small clearing in the skies to the west. I decided to wait to see if perhaps the sun might break through for a brief moment so I could capture a similar image with good light. This would really help demonstrate the point I wanted to illustrate. As I waited I saw the light begin to break through and for a few short moments I was able to capture the barn in all its glory with good light as you see below.
Barn Glows in Evening Light by Gary Hamburgh - All Right Reserved
Hopefully the message you receive from what I have written is twofold. First don’t shoot in bad light and secondly wait, anticipate and be ready for the “sweet light” when it does present itself. If you do you will have a keeper. Good luck with your search as you explore the Palouse.
Clouds behind Red Barn by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
It is with some sadness and emotion that I write this post. The bad news is that many of the old barns and outbuildings that are so much a part of the history and the landscape of the Palouse are disappearing. Due to their age and the passage of time with the elements as well as the materials they were made of, many of these old structures are failing.
The three photos that are included in this post are an example of what is happening. All three of these barns are no longer standing. About a year ago an unusually strong wind storm blew through this region and all of these barns were left in a pile of rubble. I feel fortunate I was able to capture them while they still had their structural integrity.
Clouds Gather over Old Barn by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
In addition many of the old barns are being replaced with new materials like metal roofs and siding. In talking with the farmers I understand their need to reconstruct with a more durable material but it does somehow take away from their character.
Small Barn in the Evening by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
Because of the disappearance of some of these structures, I would encourage you to visit this beautiful region in the near future so you can glimpse into the past by enjoying these old barns.
Winn Road Barn in Snow by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
One of my favorite barns to photograph is near the town of Weston in eastern Oregon. I have photographed it at all times of the day and during all seasons of the year. I have met the Winns who now live on the property where the barn stands. The following description will provide some history about this beautiful and well preserved structure.
Wind Road Barn in Snow Close by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
From Highway 12 going south toward Weston, take the Winn Road left off the highway. The barn sits in the valley to the right and is visible from the road. Ralph Moon built the barn for about $2500. The owner, George W. Winn hand sawed every board that built the barn in the spring and summer of 1916, using his harvest crew. The lumber was clear grain Douglas fir delivered for $11 per K, the ground was scraped flat,, and a foundation was laid in April. The barn was completed for hay storage by harvest time. Half the barn had 10 stalls for horses and the other half had 25 cow stanchions. The original shake roof lasted over seventy years and the red paint originally used was a mixture of white lead paint with red ochre and linseed oil added: very durable. There are no posts in the entire structure which is now used for storage.
I enjoy photographing this barn from many angles and positions. All the photos in the post were taken on a winter day which is one of my favorite seasons to shoot this barn.
Winn Road Barn in Snow 1 by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
If you are ever in this area be sure to take the time to view this unique and well preserved structure from the past.
Old Cabin Closeup by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
While traveling in Whitman County recently I came across this old cabin. I stopped by the side of the road and hiked about a half mile to a closer vantage point. I was very interested in getting close to the cabin to see what was inside. Unfortunately there was nothing of interest inside so I decided to take a close-up to show the aging shingles, wood and the barrels as seen in the image above.
As I started to leave, I felt the urge to show a bit more of the setting from a different perspective. This view shows some of the surrounding landscape and the old cabin that looks to have been deserted for quite some time. This is shown in the photo below.
Cabin and Barrels by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
As I moved farther away I decided to include the truck pictured below which shows at least someone had been there in the last decade or so. Each of these perspectives from a different viewpoint adds a bit more to the tale of the old cabin. In your photography try to include different angles and focal lengths to tell a more complete story.
Cabin and Truck by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
Old Barn and Windmill by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
While traveling in the Palouse, I am constantly staying alert for a new barn or location. There are literally hundreds of miles of gravel roads that many times have old abandoned homesteads with houses, cabins, barns and all the outbuildings. These can provide a great opportunity for images.
The barn pictured at the top of this post is one of those deserted homesteads. It is readily accessible as it is located near the junction of Highway 12 and Highway 127 about 30 miles north of Dayton. The barn is visible from the road and after about a quarter mile walk you come to the main house on the homestead. The windmill as well as other small buildings will provide many opportunities for photos. One word of caution, be aware of rattlesnakes that can be found in these areas.
Many times it is not possible to get a property release in these situations due to the fact that the homestead had been abandoned many years before. Hopefully you also can be rewarded with new finds and opportunities as you explore.