How to find barns and lighthouses

 In Landscapes + Nature, Photography Tips, Resources

Click here to read part one of Tony’s barns and lighthouses series >

When I first started shooting these structures it was real easy. Hop in the car and go someplace familiar. It was sort of like the new insurance salesman that goes to sell all his relatives first. After a short time I ran out of low hanging fruit.

After I quit my headhunting company five years ago, I decided to get real serious about shooting barns. I packed my gear, filled up with gas and headed south out of Chicago. I took a major highway for the first two hours and then turned east. Why? Because there were no tract homes and it looked like farm country. I probably drove for 15 minutes and then pulled over. And had an important conversation with myself:

  • Where are you going? To find barns
  • Where are they? Out here
  • Are you having fun? Yes
  • Just keep driving; take the next right

A few minutes later I saw the first barn, I pulled over, opened the trunk, got out my gear and tripod and shot it from the road. Bagged one! I got back in the car very satisfied and drove on. 15 minutes later I found another one. I shot it and talked to the owners. They came out to see why anyone would shoot their barn. I think the next stretch was over two hours before I found another barn with an abandoned house attached. After that, I sat in the car and had another conversation with self:

  • Two hours to find another barn is BS! Yeah but it was a good one
  • How many did we miss by taking this route? Don’t know, but the land is pretty while driving
  • At this rate we will shoot four barns a day! Let’s wait and see

The next three days were filled with conversations like that. The net of the whole thing was my developing Tony’s 45 Minute Rule. This states that if one is in farm country and takes random roads to the right and left of various duration, one will find a good barn on the average of every 45 minutes. Barns take time. If you are driving for 10 hours, you will get about 13 good barns.

That is all there is to finding barns and lighthouses. In my next post I will talk about what makes a good barn capture.

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