Driving along the back roads of the Palouse is an excursion of modern mechanized farming mixed with remnants of a bygone era. We encountered this barn along a dusty dirt farm road. My mind started to wonder who it was build by and when it was built. What was its and its owner’s history? It must have been a relative small farmer since the building itself was small compared to many of the large barns in the area. How could a small farmer survive? This one probably did not for very long.
I love to drive around without any specific destination. I am amazed what I have missed over the years as I have just driven from point A to point B thinking about how long it will take me to reach my destination. This day a few weeks ago, I was just driving backroads where I had not been before … just driving along. I saw this old school house somewhere north of Zillah (I think), I really did not where I was. I stopped and just gazed for a while, contemplating what stories this old building amongst farm lands had to tell. How long had it been since the last student walked through its doors? Was it a grade school, high school, or an all inclusive country school? After a while of just looking at it, I got out of my car and walked around with my camera.
Many stories, many questions … time for a little research to satisfy my curiosity.
I gave myself a photographic assignment to search out contrasts. The contrast could be in relation to many different aspects/perspectives: color, shapes, patterns, light/dark, old/new, etc., or simply an item that does not belong in a specific setting. I decided to walk the streets in downtown Yakima, WA for my search.
My first stop was the A.E. Larson Building. The Larson Building is itself a contrast to its surroundings. With its eleven stories, it towers above adjacent structures. Its Art Deco design stands out from the simpler buildings of downtown Yakima. The interior first floor lobby is heavily decorated with stone and elaborate bronze in the Art Deco style; pretty fancy for a farming-based community.
The above image is from the main lobby entryway. What caught my eye is the contrasting adjacent design. One is horizontal, the other is vertical. One is light, the other dark. The simple spirals tie the designs together.
The bright red-orange roof against the blue sky caught my eye as I was walking down Front Street. The color and shape of the building. looking through a street tree caught my interest. But ofd memories kept my attention.
When I was just a little boy, I remember my grandfather taking me down to the train station to see Uncle Ben off and to pick him up from his annual winter trip back to Pittsburgh. I became fascinated with the idea of riding a train across the country. When I was five, I had my opportunity for such a grand trip. My grandfather took me back to Pittsburgh to see the “Aunts”! I remember anxiously sitting in the “grand train station” waiting for the train to stop and pick us up. It seemed like an eternity, the ceiling was so high, and the room so large. I could not sit still. It seems like just yesterday.
My last trip through the station was in the late 70’s. My wife and I decided to take the train from Seattle to Yakima instead of driving. It was a wonderful trip over the Pass and through the Canyon. My father and a brother picked us up at the station. It was still such a great place.
So many wonderful memories. I am thankful that the old station has been put back in productive use.
I have been working to develop my process for contemplative photography. My assignment today was to take a walk with a fresh open mind not looking for any specific thing to photograph. The practice objective was to just wander and let the world around me catch my eye. If something caught my eye, I needed to keep my mind open, take my time, and explore specifically what was it that captured my eye, what was important, and what was not. Only then I could raise my camera and frame the image.
Walking along Front Street, I saw a bright orange flash that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was in stark contrast with the surrounding area of old stucco and bricks. Shadows from a metal gate added to the contrast. Soft mottled shadows from a street tree graced its surface. The vertical bars of the gate framed the brilliant orange. What a wonderful gift I was given.
I told you, the Tetons were behind the barn. The next day the clouds lifted revealing the brilliant mountains. I shot multiple images with different focal lengths and lenses. I did not care for the results with a wide angle because it subjugated the Tetons behind the barn. I did like the perspective of a larger telephoto which brought the mountains up for a dramatic perspective.
It is amazing what a different feeling this perspective gives. The barn is now dwarfed by the grandeur of the Tetons.
I enjoy working a subject from different perspectives without being rushed to get to the next scene. Sometimes it pays of, sometimes it doesn’t.
Back to Snow Mountain Ranch. Before it was a conservancy preserve, this beautiful countryside was a working ranch. Throughout the preserve, remnants of the past history are scattered about: watering tubs, barbed wire fences, barbed wire rolls, sheds, small corrals. These remnants of the past add interest to the preserve as well as provide photo opportunities.
It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and the sun shining down on this bucolic rural scene just below Hearst Castle along the central California coast. You can see the Castle on the hill above. It was just fun being out enjoying the countryside. I waited until the horses moved around to frame the country school house. I felt like I was going back in time. This area will be a place I come back to in future years.