Rural strength

Glance through a random selection of outdoor photography books and you’ll certainly see a variety of pictures of old barns.  Barns in a field, barns in the woods, barns next to mountains, lakes and streams.  Lots of barns.  More barns than houses, actually, as if where we put our livestock and feed rules our lifestyle more than our own abodes.  Guess it’s a throwback to our Jeffersonian agrarian heritage.

If you’ve ever been in a big old barn one of the striking things is the structural design that goes into them.  Think of that big roof and the weight it has to hold in snow, or the second level floor and the strength it needs to support all that hay.  No simple rafter design like in houses will do for this job.  No, this challenge requires hundreds of feet of lumber pieced together in an intricate fashion that will not only hold up the barn but also allocate the stresses evenly to the foundation.  Think of all the years of knowledge captured in a barn’s construction, especially all those that fell down or collapsed during the learning process!

Barn bow

Strong shoulders

Winter shelter

I was at a Nebraska photography meeting this past weekend and one option was to visit a farm where several barns are being restored.  The pictures above were taken inside the biggest one and reveal some of the structure I’m talking about.  What you see was built in 1931 and still feels strong and solid after decades of use.  The symmetry appeals to me, gives a sense of the order necessary on a large farm to keep everything running effectively and productively.

Inside shots were taken under regular lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, white balance adjusted in LR to tungsten.  The outdoor shot is a HDR composite of three photos with different shutter speeds.


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