So Long, My Three Friends

September 22, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I love landscape photography as it gets me out of the house and into the outdoors. I usually find myself away from other people with a slice of our wonderful world to myself. No politics, no arguments, just a sight to enjoy, to contemplate. A sight that I try to capture forever in a photograph.

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While natural landscapes are definitely the best for getting away from civilization I enjoy rural landscapes too. Landscapes with obvious presence of humanity yet lacking humans. These landscapes usually include a dirt road or a country road, a fence, a barn, or another manmade structure. In these landscapes, documentary photography creeps in as manmade objects tend to have a rather short lifespan compared to the natural world. Even though trees don't live forever either, grass can grow, a bush pops up here and there, it all changes. And when one takes a camera along on their favorite route often enough over several years the changes show.

Bold Three Barns, My First Photo of the Trio in 2014Bold Three BarnsMy First Photo of the Trio in 2014

Bold Three Barns, My First Photo of the Trio in 2014

Sometimes the changes are neutral, just the world changing around us, other times they're positive with things getting fixed or new ones built, but many times the changes can be negative, or at least perceived as such at the moment. Take this section of a local country road for example. It has long been my favorite for bicycle rides and later for riding my motorcycle. And as you'd suspect with me, I often pack a camera.

One of my favorite subjects was the trio of barns and sheds pictured above. Every time I would go by I would notice. With or without taking a photo I would always take a moment to see what the triplets were up to. And unfortunately, soon after that first photograph in 2014 I started noticing signs of trouble.

Three Barns in a Snow Storm, February 2019, Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35mm Camera, Rollei Superpan 200 Black & White FilmThree Barns in a Snow StormFebruary 2019

Three Barns in a Snow Storm, February 2019
Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35mm Camera, Rollei Superpan 200 Black & White Film

I was surprised about the five year gap between my photos. Maybe I will still find more photos showing the state of affairs in between. However, by 2019 the main barn was clearly showing signs of getting tired. Especially the main doorway no longer had its original right angles at the corners.

Three Barns Tired in the Fall, September 2019, Nikon N75 35mm Film Camera, Fuji Velvia Slide FilmThree Barns Tired in the FallSeptember 2019

Three Barns Tired in the Fall, September 2019
Nikon N75 35mm Film Camera, Fuji Velvia Slide Film

And even just two months later the situation deteriorated further with the whole barn giving in to time. And look, not just one but two bushes popped up, one completely obscuring the middle structure.

Three Barns' Last Fall, October 2019, Zeiss Ikon Contessa, Kodak Gold 200Three Barns' Last FallOctober 2019

Three Barns' Last Fall, October 2019
Zeiss Ikon Contessa, Kodak Gold 200

Last Winter for the Three Barns, February 2020, Mamiya 645, Foma Retropan 320Last Winter for the Three BarnsFebruary 2020

Last Winter for the Three Barns, February 2020
Mamiya 645, Foma Retropan 320

As it turned out, the 2019/20 winter proved to be the last. Not sure if it was just the passage of time or the harsh winter conditions followed by a wet spring but there was no way back at this point, the barn passed to the other side.

It's over for the Three Barns, April 2020, Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160It's over for the Three BarnsApril 2020

It's over for the Three Barns, April 2020
Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160

And indeed, this April 2020 photo was the last one I was able to capture before the barn could take no more. Then, for several months, a pile of rubble was left that I passed several times. I will admit though, I did not feel like raising the camera and firing the shutter. Maybe I should have but that's in the past now. It felt like I lost something familiar, something I got used to counting on. Maybe even something I took for granted too much.

Things disappearing is an all too familiar pattern now. I've been really passionate about photography since 2005, which is about 16 years now. The number of photographs I have taken during that time is pretty crazy and during the last few years I have noticed the number of "historic" never-to-be-seen-again photos in my photo library grow steadily.

How do you all feel about this aspect of documentary photography?

Enjoy The Beauty That Surrounds You! #etbtsy

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Hay Bales in Snow in Winter, Knox Farm, East Aurora, NYHay Bales in SnowRural Landscapes Country Roads on Motorcycle, Rural Western New York on Black and White FilmCountry Roads on MotorcycleRural Landscapes Barn and silos in white in winter storm in Buffalo and Western New YorkBarn and Silos in WhiteRural Landscapes

By a Barn, Rural Southtowns, Buffalo, New York (NY), Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160 FilmBy a BarnRural Landscapes Farmhouse, Rural Southtowns, Buffalo, New York (NY), Nikon N75, Kodak Portra 160 FilmFarmhouseRural Landscapes


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