Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Bones of Vermont

This barn is near me, a little over two miles from my house. (This was shot about a week ago.) A bit more than a year ago now I first photographed it. When I looked at the shots, I was struck, as I had been when I looked at the barn itself, by its uncluttered beauty. The neat lines of its roof, the proportion of the building, its setting. It was, for me iconic.

For days after shooting it I couldn't get it out of my mind. So I began sifting through the images, picked one and went immediately to black and white. I didn't even think about it. It was then that I saw a picture of what my mind "saw" when it assimilated this barn. I hit "save" and knew now what I was going to do with my camera in Vermont. It was all there, the starkness, the emptiness, the sharp, hard edges of abandonment, the bones of Vermont.

With apologies to my painter friends, color hides. Color enchants. Though this might sound odd, I think it's true: color often enchants us away from reality. The incredible palette of the visible colors sucks us in like moths to a flame. Perhaps it's because we live in a world of color, all the time. And, like anything else that happens "all the time", we become desensitized to it on some level. Sometimes that world needs to be uncolored; so we can see what is there, and only what is there.


  1. No offense taken by this painter....nothing worse than color run amuck! I watched a barn like that lean for years on Rte 30 near Whiting. Always planned to stop and draw it, or at least snap a few shots, and then, last winter, the snow took it down.......I never stopped. Great shot.

  2. HI Clair, Color is often secondary to value-- that is the lightness and darkness factor. Painters create space by managing value more than color-- no wonder we all love black and white, M

  3. Seconding Mariella. For painters: "value, temperature, color", in that order. The best painters, and that goes for plein air too-- don't copy color in nature, they edit and invent,using color to structure shape, to compose, to elicit emotion. Color in photography is different in major ways--but I haven't had enough coffee yet this morning to try to figure out why that is.