“Sumner County Hay Barn in Winter” by Robin Conover, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
EF 100-400 mm at 130mm, 4.5-5.6 L IS USM lens ISO 640, ƒ11 at 1/400 second, handheld
Many years ago I found myself sitting in a college fine art photography class listening to our next assignment. It was on landscapes, and our instructor begged us not to submit photographs with barns or kittens for this or any other critique if we wished to pass. Evidently, he had seen far too many of each during his career. I have to say that I understand his position now after teaching my share of photography workshops.
That said, some barns beg to be photographed, and I could not pass up this one in Sumner County last winter after an overnight snowfall. The scene had so many elements that make a great photograph — a beautiful winding road weaving in front of and behind the barn, the red exterior against fresh snow and Old Glory prominently displayed under the hay hood.
I’m sure this barn has sheltered livestock, housed hay and weathered many storms, but on this day it was the center of a Norman Rockwell-esque photograph for me.
I parked safely in a neighboring driveway and walked back and forth for a bit to find the best composition. With the barn set a ways off the main highway, I chose a 100–400mm telephoto to capture the scene. In this case, I metered on the treeline as the bright white snow would have thrown off the exposure, resulting in gray snow rather than white.
After shooting this composition, I stood there for a short time, feeling the cold and all the history this structure has witnessed. I could imagine a horse-drawn wagon creaking up the farm road to a simple family farmhouse with a fire in the hearth on this cold winter’s day.
I imagine life was harder then — just for the lack of all the modern conveniences we have come to rely upon so heavily today. But I also imagine it was simpler and more peaceful, perhaps even more meaningful, without the noise of modern societies.
This holiday season, I plan to enjoy the winter, spending it around the kitchen tables of loved ones, on trails I haven’t explored yet and far away from the noise.