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Photographing Classic New England Red Barns
Classic Red New England Barn
Bold red colorful New England Barns
The bold red colorful classic New England barns with dot the landscape in rural Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts make fantastic photography subjects for landscape photographers.
Unlike the covered bridges spread all over the region, these New England beautiful barns are in private hands and on private land so be sure to be respective of the property owners when you go looking for them.
Why the red paint on these New England barns you might ask?
First off the barn was the livelihood of the farm. It keep the animals safe, provided a dry place to store hay and grain and keep the farm equipment out of the elements. A dairy barn additionally might be where the milking was conducted. A grain silo might be seen next to a barn to store dried crops.
Drive through rural America, and red barns are a common sight, some in good shape and other falling in to disrepair. It is said that in Vermont a barn falls down every week!
There are many theories why barns are so often painted red but the best one is that its tradition. Red is a traditional barn color. Some farmers in Europe used linseed oil to preserve the wood on their barns. Not only did it protect the wood but it also had a dark red color.
Plus it looks great next to a white farm house and stands out in a green field as well has a bright spot of color on a cold, snowy winter day.
Capture the details of old barns
How to find classic red barns to photograph
In the old days I would have said, point your car towards the rural section of the state and follow the secondary roads. But these days you can use the power of the internet to find some great subjects. Search on Flickr and Google Maps to find classic red barns to photograph.
Or you can even buy guidebooks about photographing in certain areas, so check Amazon for some guide books of places to photograph.
One caution. Often I find great barns by purposing getting lost in the back roads of Vermont and New Hampshire and then use my GPS to bring me back home. I've found that the GPS will often take me on some very bad roads, through forests, over mountains. Its always a good idea to have a map of the area with you to double check the route the GPS shows. Many of the roads in rural Vermont are still not correctly identified on some GPS units. And I've been taken on some scary, narrow backroads where I just prayed that no one else was coming in the other direction.
Pinterest is another fine resource for seeing barn photographs and perhaps discovering a few new spots to travel to and take photographs. Some ideas to get you started:
Dangers of photographing classic barns
As well as providing beautiful photographs, farms and barns can be dangerous places. Things to watch out for in working and abandoned farms:
- Animals and livestock - watch out those angry bulls or protective farm dogs! Even geese can attack and bite.
- Barbed wire and electric fences - don't get too close to fences meant to keep half ton animals in their place!
- Old wells - careful where you step. Old cellar holes, old wells and old root cellerls might give way under your feet or trip you up.
- Farm equipment - don't get in the way of heavy machinery!
- Traffic - even on country roads a car or truck can come screaming by at any moment.
- Farmer's Daughters - remember the farmer most likely has a shotgun handy!
Classic New England Barn in winter snow storm
Beautiful winter snow on a classic New England red barn
Early season snow storm at the farm
- For winter shots with snow, don't forget to over expose by a stop or two so that your snow doesn't come out gray instead of white.
- Bring a variety of lenses. Sometimes your subject will be far away. Other times it will be close to the road.
- Watch the weather. Overcast skies are great for getting close and having beautiful softbox like light on an intimate subject but are crummy for wide open landscape shots. Breaking clouds or building thunderstorms make for the most dramatic landscapes. If the sky is full of dramatic clouds, compose your shots to include them.
- Look for stories - a close up of a dairy cow with the barn in the background, a farming haying a field, look for elements that tell a story rather than just documenting a building.
- Early morning and late afternoon will provide the most magical light. Avoid mid day unless its overcasts and then you can shoot all day.
- Give back to your subjects. Stop and buy a jug of maple syrup or some fresh veggies. Strike up a conversation with the local farmers and it may lead to more discoveries.
- Watch the road. Often there is no place to park in these rural areas. You might have to park down the road and hike back to the location you want to shoot. Don't block driveways or access areas.
- Shoot some video - Most DSLR's these days can take video. Shoot a short 10 second clip to remember where you were and to record the event.