Barns and lighthouses: Part one

 In Photography Tips, Travel: Way Out of Chicago

For the longest time, lighthouses and barns have been a very important subject for me to shoot. In the beginning I never questioned why, but just enjoyed getting them in front of my lens. I could never figure out the relationship between the two subjects and me. I grew up on Long Island Sound, and was very familiar with lighthouses but in Fairfield County, Conn., there were very few farms and barns.

In the last year, this whole interest and passion for these two subjects became clear to me. They both held an important place in history of the development of our country and are now seen as quaint decaying antiques of another age that are going away. I have come to realize, that for me, they are memorials to the past. Lighthouses guided sailors to bring merchandise to our country and take our goods to be sold overseas. Barns represented the output of our rich land that allowed us to feed ourselves and the citizens of many foreign countries.

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So for me, I approach shooting barns and lighthouses with a certain level of deference and respect because they are memorials to the strength and richness of our past. So my desire to image them has a lot to do with making them look noble and stand out from the land in the same manner as if mesa stands out from the desert floor.

Barns tend to shoot best in golden light. This seems to be when light is the most kind to their angular structure and shows off the texture of the old boards. In most parts of the country, barns tend to be red and are very easy to shoot at sunrise or sunset.

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In terms of seasonality, the best time is any time except summer and early fall — when they tend to be hidden by the crops that the farm is growing. On the other hand, lighthouses may be shot any time of day. Their graphic impact is dependent on a number of variables such as clouds, type of light and wind/wind direction and tides.

I have added below some of my favorite shots of barns and lighthouses. In upcoming posts I will talk about how they were shot and any special experiences involved in getting a keeper image.

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September Morn

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Showing 8 comments
  • Kathleen

    I love barns and light houses too. I just spent my vacation in Michigan trying to take as many pictures of the light houses on Lake Huron as I could as we traveled that coast line.

    • Tony Reynes

      Kathleen, I have shot those lights also. Most are not as classic as the ones on the Lake Michigan side. If you get a chance, there are some good ones on the north side of Lake Erie.

  • Keith French

    Great Stuff Tony. I never put the title “monument” onto one of these majestic beauties but nothing could be more accurate. Great tips and images.

  • Patty Van Stone

    awesome post and photos. thanks for sharing.


    I especially love the flag barn — where is it? I had never made a connection between my love of both these wonderful subjects, so I really enjoyed your thoughtful article. Will we see you at OOC next year?

  • Tony Reynes

    Mary, that shot was taken in Illinois 4 years ago. My guess is that it was somewhere near Kankakee, It was raining pretty hard with patches of sun all day. I am afraid I was watching the road more than the road signs. In a future post I will tell you how I “navigate” to find barns. Yes, I hope to be at OOC next year. Check out my Facebook page soon. I am going to North Dakota in October.

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