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Monthly Archives: September 2012

On this just-past-the-full-moon night, let’s enjoy a moon-free view of the stars taken a few weeks ago on Whidbey Island…just because we can.

It was lovely to stay in a region that was relatively free of light pollution, even though it wasn’t very far from a major metropolitan area  (Seattle).

Even with the “heavily-filtered” view I had in the middle of the forest, I was still able to see more stars in that little patch of sky than many city dwellers see in the entire heavens on a given night.

Heavenly, indeed!


The old Skeen School is still standing!

I wrote a post about this building called “Defying Gravity” on August 10, 2012.  The images for that post were taken late last May.  In May I already had plans to return to the Palouse come September.

As luck would have it, the original “Defying Gravity” post got “Freshly Pressed” on August 30, 2012.  My planned departure date was September 4th.  It broke my heart to have to stop answering the deluge of wonderful comments that came after that, but I had to if I had any hope of leaving town on schedule.

(I hope to get back to replying to comments tomorrow, although it may take me a while to get caught up.  If yours hasn’t been posted yet, please be patient.  I still answer every one.  But there’s no way for me to travel and shoot AND keep up with blogging, so I reluctantly give up blogging while traveling.  Thus the almost four-week gap in posting.)

The above image, as well as the next five below, are almost identical and in the same order as the images in the “Defying Gravity” post from August 10, 2012.  You might enjoy opening that post in a second tab in your web browser and scrolling down the two posts to compare the Spring and Fall images to each other.

The round holes in the side of the building, below, were what allowed me to definitively identify it the first time I visited, since it looked very different from the old pictures I had seen taken several decades before, when it still had a bell tower.  Unlike my first visit, I had no trouble finding it this time around.  No need for GPS when I’ve got the Homing Pigeon gene!

There were several differences between the way the building looked during this visit and how it looked during my previous visit approximately three and a half months ago.

My September visit was blessed with perfectly cloudless skies and bright sunshine, unlike the brief respite I got from the late Spring rain last time around and the mostly grey and overcast skies that accompanied it.  I love the serrated shadow the edge of the roof casts on the front wall of the building!  (I “straightened” the building in the above image only, but all the rest of the images show its actual crazy lean.)

The building is still being held up, or at least appears to be, by some old rusty farm machinery parts on its right side.  The field has been harvested and only dry yellow stubble remains, in contrast to the green newly planted field I saw last Spring.

Shooting this building from the front and below cuts out many of the items piled around it…

See what I mean?

Do the items piled inside and around the building add to the image, or detract from it?  Remember that it sits on a working farm.  My artist side says I’d like to see the building alone in a pristine field, and my journalist side says I’m documenting it exactly as it is.

Here are a few more “bonus” images that don’t match the August 10th post, but show some additional views of the building and its environment that I found interesting this time around.

In the above image, you can see much of the “junk” or “equipment” that is stored behind the building.  The artist in me wishes the junk wasn’t there;  the journalist deliberately includes the equipment in the image BECAUSE it’s there. In this shot I tried to blend both ends of the spectrum to make a pleasing image that shows the building “in situ” along with some of the surrounding countryside.  Including more of the crop stubble and the classic rolling hills that define the Palouse gives this image a sense of place, and in this shot the farm equipment contributes to that.

Contrast that image with the one below…

This shot of the “equipment” that doesn’t include the building or much of the countryside does in fact make it look like a pile of junk, doesnt’ it?  Sort of “Sanford & Son” meet “The Waltons.”  Definitely the journalistic end of the spectrum!

A close-up view of the “support system” of the building!

I just love how EVERYTHING on a farm gets repurposed!  Farmers were the original recyclers and re-users, before we called it being “green.”  If we wait long enough, that entire pile of stuff behind the building may well find a second lease on life, or a new use.  I’ll keep you posted!

Farewell for now, Skeen School.  I leave you to your human caretaker(s) and your feathered residents.  I hope you’re around for another photo op the next time I can get back to the Palouse…

This is one of those shots where I think:  who else will see the beauty in this?  Weathered siding, chipped and peeling paint, warped window frame, broken glass, torn screen and tattered and disintegrating used-to-be shades…what’s there to love about this detail from an (obviously) abandoned house?

If your answer is “A lot!” then for better or worse, you see like I do.  You love the variety of soft colors and various textures that somehow combine into a harmonious whole.  And you feel the sadness of a home that has been deserted and left to vandals and the elements.

May we continue to see the stories behind the images…

I’m thinking one way of measuring time out in the country might be “roof time.”  How long does it take the original wood shingle roof on a barn to weather, get covered with comp shingles, and then have those comp shingles weather to the point where the original wood shingles are again exposed?

I have no idea.  20 years?  40?  A generation per roof layer?

How many roofs will a solidly built barn see in its lifetime?  And if the roof is kept water-tight, will the barn last indefinitely?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.  All I know is it made a cool textural image.

How long will a barn roof last in the Palouse?

Anyone know?

The various layers of this landscape beautifully line up from near to far:  cultivated crops, a newly plowed field, grassland and trees, a tall tree-covered butte in the distance, and a blue sky to cap it all off.

Each layer is almost equal in size.  Each is a different color and texture.  The combination shows the loveliness and the variety that is the Palouse.

I chanced upon this beautiful paint as I was driving the back roads of the Palouse.  I love the fact that he’s paying rapt attention (ears cocked forward) to something…but NOT to me.  He’s obviously looking at something to my left that’s intriguing him.

Please don’t ask what it was that caught his interest.  I honestly don’t remember.  After all, this was three whole months ago!

I can assure you that no trickery was used.  No one was standing down the road from me with an umbrella.  (In case you don’t know, it’s a common trick when photographing a horse to have an assistant stand near you and open and close an umbrella.  It’s supposed to make the horse’s ears perk forward photogenically.  It works great on some horses once, and other horses never.)

I was alone, and as much as I hate to admit it, the horse found something else more interesting than me.  Hard to imagine, huh?