Wednesday, July 13, 2005

the view

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At least once a week my routine includes a visit to what will here forward be referred to as "the barn". There are hundreds of barns in Kane County, in various states of disrepair, all worthy of being immortalized on film. "The barn", however, has a couple of things going for it. First, it's accessible, in a state of ownership limbo between the developer and our tiny village. Second, it's near my place, and it's a beauty full of interesting things. And, last but not least, I've fallen in love with the place.

Author Barry Lopez talks about the love of place, and I have fulfilled some of his requirements for this relationship. Those include paying imitimate attention to a place. My eyes and my camera regularly feast on the details of this space - the beautiful aged barnwood, the crackling paint, the empty window frames and the magnificent cathedral-like space that is the hay loft.

I cannot claim to have a storied relationship with this place. I've never milked a cow, or filled the loft with hay, never having been a part of the barns working life. My storied relationship is limited to memories of the conditions, sights and sounds on image capturing missions.

The first time I ventured into the barn it was bitter cold, the kind of cold that jars your senses. It was in November and the light was that special winter light that captures pink and blue. Subsequent visits hold memories of vines creeping slowly into barn doors hanging ajar, and birds singing hymns in the rafters of the hay loft.

Lastly Lopez talks about living ethically with a place. My ethical relationship with this place is to record it's existence and it's beauty before it is no more. That day will come. There is no way to save the place, there is only creating a memory of it's working life and it's decay.

I have yet to find a way that is technically correct for capturing the hay loft. That remains elusive to me. But here is my offering for today....another look out of the milking room window. We've been here before, you and I, but the view is never quite the same, is it?


picturegrl said...

This was a wonderful post. I have an old rural farmhouse that I am doing the same thing with. Reading your post makes me think perhaps tomorrow I should post a picture of it.

It caught on fire and the inside is pretty much destroyed. I don't think anyone could ever live there again. Still, I like to stand on the front porch and dream, imagine children running up the stairs, banging the screen door behind them as they go.

Thank you for putting a peaceful picture in my head this morning. I needed that.

A. said...


Jude said...

Just came to your site and this very first photo sang to me. I can't believe I've found a kindred soul! One of the projects I planned for my 'retirement' - now sort of underway - is to take photos of beautiful, old abandoned dairies/milking sheds (we don't use the word 'barn' in Australia), of which there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, waiting to be tracked down. I'm not a skilled photographer, but am hoping to improve. Meanwhile I've made a tentative start and posted a couple on my blog. Am now thinking about how far I want to go with this - it could easily take a big chunk of my life.

pablo said...

Wonderful, just wonderful!

What is the Barry Lopez reference you make? Is it a specific work, or is it the theme across all of his writings.

I have never been able to photograph my lake adequately. Instead, I try to photograph things around the lake, with water in the background to give a sense of how big the lake is.

Becca said...

lovely photos and commentary ...

Zanne said...

Barry Lopez is an author that was mentioned by someone on the site. These were the points that supposedly run through his work. The points struck such a chord with me that I wrote them down....along with 100 or so other bits and phrases written on index cards all over this office! I'm deciding now which of his books to order from As for photography and capturing something as large as your lake, it would involve having a perspective, probably from a high ground or high point, and maybe a wide angle lens. Do you know anyone with a Cessna? That's how I got great shots of the temple at Chichen Itza. Regards, Suzanne

ashley said...


you don't know me, but I came across your post by searching for abandoned barns in Kane County. I'm from St. Charles and have just begun exploring around here...mind telling me where this barn is? it looks magical.