Rad A. Drew Photography: January 2015

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Indiana's Vanishing Barns

Winter on the Farm
© Rad A. Drew
Growing up in southern Indiana along the Ohio River, I spent many a Saturday with my family hiking in the surrounding rural landscape. Here's how it went. Saturday morning would roll around and my sisters and I would each call a friend and we'd all hop in the station wagon with Dad at the wheel. Sometimes Mom came along and sometimes she stayed home to enjoy the relative peace.

Old Friends
This tree grew up in the shade of this barn.
Today the tree is almost all that's holding up the barn.
© Rad A. Drew
Off we'd go through Dearborn County, Switzerland County, Ripley County, and Franklin County. Dad would always try to get us "lost." When we came to a crossroad, we'd take the smaller road. When we went from gravel to a dirt lane, we could be sure we were on to something good. Ultimately, we'd stop at a farm house and Dad would ask permission to hike the land or walk the plowed fields to look for arrowheads. I don't remember ever being turned away.

I shot this barn along Indiana HWY 38, east of Indianapolis, in 2014.
It and its companion a few hundred yards away, were both torn down.
Two foundations are all that remain.
© Rad A. Drew
A constant on the landscape then, something that was just there and that we all (I know now) took for granted, was the Indiana barn. These utilitarian structures were everywhere. Some were red, some were weathered and gray even then, some were huge, some were round, but they were there and they were so much a part of what we were seeing that we didn't really see them and fully appreciate them then.

Winter Barn
© Rad A. Drew
As I've grown and moved to the big city, I reflect fondly, even longingly, on these childhood memories. Today when I see an old barn on a country road, I feel a flood of nostalgia. These barns hold in their frames and creaking hinges the carefree happiness of that part of my childhood. I can only imagine what they mean to the farmers and their families who live and work in these barns every day.
This round barn in northern Indiana appears healthy and
with a future, at least for now.
© Rad A. Drew
As a photographer, I've pursued these structures throughout all of Indiana. (I've even shot a few in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington's wheat country known as the Palouse.) I've marveled at their many styles, sizes and charm. They were built to last and many have, some for more than a hundred years; massive hand-hewn beams with tongue and groove construction, hand forged hinges and latches, stalls for livestock, haymows for feed, bays for farm equipment. 
Old Barn-door Latch
© Rad A. Drew
They were built with the craftsmanship and attention to detail that a cabinet maker would use for the governor's mansion.

Red Barn, Hay Bales and Snow
© Rad A. Drew
Today, these barns are "dying" at an alarming rate, in some cases along with the decline of the rural farm itself. Expensive to repair and maintain, many are being razed and replaced with metal pole barns, while others are being razed to make way for industrial farms of unnatural size.

One good ice storm and it's all over.
© Rad A. Drew
These barns, to me, represent the end of an era of rural life; a life where neighbors are valued, where there is a love of the land and the livestock, where hardship is commonplace yet balanced against the satisfaction of a hard day's work.

Shade Tree and Barn
© Rad A. Drew
As a boy with my Dad, I have worked with farmers we met. On one day we met an old farmer -- he had to be in his 80's -- loading hay bales on a wagon. He was working alone, so he would drive his tractor a few yards, get off, load the bales near the wagon, then drive the tractor a few more yards to load the next few bales. Dad and I stopped and helped. The old farmer drove and we tossed and stacked the bales on the wagon. It was hard, hot work, but it was satisfying in a way that I look for work to be today.

This '40's Dodge has been rusting beside this barn for years.
Its owner has another in running condition.
© Rad A. Drew
Another time, Dad and I stopped in a barnyard to ask permission to squirrel hunt on a farmer's land. The farmer was hanging tobacco alone in his barn. He very meekly -- as if he was embarrassed to deny us -- said, no, he didn't allow hunting anymore since a deer hunter shot a cow the year before. We stayed and helped him hang tobacco for the rest of the afternoon, foregoing our hunting. When we finished, the farmer said, "You boys are welcome to hunt and hike my land anytime."

Only a Matter of Time
© Rad A. Drew
Recently, my photo partner, Sally Wolf, and I visited one of the farmers we've met as we've photographed in rural Indiana. I brought him a photograph of his heifers that I'd taken the week before. We were welcomed into his home and offered a seat at the kitchen table. Later, he took Sally and me out to his barn about a mile away to feed his 14 cows. We rode in his truck with his dog, Ginger, and were treated like old friends even though we'd only met once before.

These heifers are VERY curious. As we shoot, the venture closer and closer.
© Rad A. Drew
Earlier that week, Sally and I met a woman, a sheep farmer, who came out to speak to us as we photographed her sheep from the side of the road. She limped a bit and explained that one of the rams had knocked her down the other day as she was checking the sheep. She had several that were about to deliver lambs and she was lining up neighbors and family friends to be on call to help out with the pending deliveries. We talked with her about what we were shooting and told her how much we enjoyed photographing old barns. 

"Yes," she said, "They are a dying breed. Some say that so long as the barn has livestock in it, it'll stand strong, but when there are no livestock to take care of, they give up. They got no reason to go on." Then she added, "Everything's alive, you know. Even barns."

I took this picture in November, 2014. In January, 2015, we returned to ask permission to shoot more, only to find that the barn had been razed. It's now completely gone. A sick feeling wells when the realization hits home.
© Rad A. Drew
Click here to learn about up-coming photo tours including, Bridges of Putnam County, Abandoned Gary, Fonthill Castle, and Cuba!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rural Indiana in Winter -- A wonderland of Photo Opps!

Sally Meyer Wolf and I took advantage of the relative heat wave – it got up in the 30’s! – and hit the road to scout for this Saturday's Barns, Silos and Junk! Oh, My! tour in rural Indiana and I’m so glad we did! 
Winter on the Farm
© Rad A. Drew
The few inches of snow added a wonderful dimension to our images. Here are a few that I shot with my iPhone. 

This first barn is one that I'd not photographed before. But today, the owners were in the yard and granted us permission to shoot. The demise of this barn, unfortunately, tells the story of so many Indiana barns. 

We spoke with an elderly woman, a sheep farmer we met along the road, and she said the lore is that these old barns stand until they no longer shelter livestock. "Once the animals are gone, the barns start to go. They have no purpose anymore. You know," she said, "everything is alive; even barns."

Collapsing Barn, Rural Indiana
© Rad A. Drew
All one needs do is look around to find rich images full of texture and natural beauty, like this fence post and hay bale in the snow.

Hay Bale and Fence in Snow
© Rad A. Drew

Sally and I saw this huge red barn way off in the distance and drove for some time before finding it and getting permission to shoot. I love the way these round hay bales create a border around this red barn. The snow is what really makes the image for me.

Hay Bales and Red Barn in Snow
© Rad A. Drew
Sally and I will be leading a tour this Saturday, January 17. For those hardy enough to venture out, it should prove to be a great time! Join us! Barns, Silos and Junk! Oh, My! 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ringing in 2015!

Out with the old and in with the new!

On the personal front, 2014 was one for the record books! One career ended and another expanded! A trip to the Palouse, 10 days on the Colorado River with extraordinary photographer friends, shooting along Cape Cod and Newport on the Atlantic coast, and a year of courtship that culminated in my marriage to Nancy Lee! If that's not a great year then I don't know what is!

Next year is lining up to be a good one, too! Nancy and I are getting settled in our home as we speak, and I’ve scheduled a number of iPhoneography workshops and tours and have more in the works so stay tuned! (See my 2015 Calendar.)

I wish everyone a joyous and prosperous 2015!

Here are a few photo highlights from 2014.



2014 started with record snowfall that turned my Irvington neighborhood into a Winter Wonderland.
© Rad A. Drew

All that snow made for some great images in rural Indiana.

It was a year of exploring in my own back yard. Sally Wolf and I began offering photo tours throughout Indiana. (Click here to see our  tours for 2015.)

Nancy and I traveled a bit last year and it seems there were always flowers to shoot! This year I'll be teaching a series of 2 hour workshops at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center, one of which focuses on close-up and macro photography with the iPhone. (Click here and scroll down on the SullivanMunce site for details.)

I had the privilege of meeting my long-time vocal hero, Angela Brown, when she performed on the Butler University Campus.

2014 was another year of celebrating life with my remarkable parents, Shirley and Bob. Here we are at our favorite Mexican restaurant having our traditional birthday celebration, this one for Dad; his 85th! They do know how to have a good time!

Nancy lived on Mass Ave during our courtship, so I had plenty of opportunity for shooting in this great area.

2014 was another great year shooting at Conner Prairie at Dawn. The third Saturday of each month, photographers are permitted on the grounds from 7 to 10 AM before visitors arrive. The program is closed for the winter but will resume in March.

Photographers extraordinaire, Dan Sniffin and John Barclay, led a photo tour to the eastern portion of Washington state known as the Palouse. It' the largest wheat producing region in the United States. The rolling hills, the colorful fields of brown, green, and gold were unbelievably beautiful. I challenged myself by taking lots of "big boy camera" photos.

In addition to beautiful landscapes, the Palouse offered plenty of local color, too, as this Barber Shop in Colfax, WA, illustrates!

In June we celebrated Nancy's birthday in French Lick. She cleans up pretty well!

In August I spent 10 days boating down the Colorado River through the heart of the Grand Canyon. I've never experienced such grandeur before.

In November I had the opportunity to travel to the Boston area to teach iPhoneography. While there I did what I love most: drive country roads with my eyes open! These country roads just happened to be along the Eastern shore! We don't see much of this landscape in Indiana! I had a blast.

In November, Nancy took me into her metal studio and together (and with her expert guidance) we made our wedding bands out of Palladium white gold. The experience was wonderful and the rings are beautiful!
On Saturday, December 13, 2014 (12-13-14!) Nancy and I tied the knot!