Photographing interesting old buildings

making pictures with John Enman - Photographing interesting old buildings

An old B.C. Customs house makes for an interesting composition.

There are many camera-wielding travelers that cannot drive past an old barn, house, or an aging storage building standing and deteriorating in a field without stopping to capture a picture. And I admit that includes me.

I can’t begin to, or even try, count how many wooden relics of the past I have made photographs of since I acquired my first camera so long ago; or for that matter how many different types of cameras I have used in that pursuit.

I must wonder at my reason for stopping on the many roadsides, camera-in-hand, to take a picture of some rotting clapboard structure. For a moment as I look inside I wonder about the lives of those who lived there.

My wife likes to look for survivors of old plants and gardening that took place, e.g., rhubarb, and lilacs.  She says the fondest thing she ever discovered was some poets’ eye narcissus (daffodil) that had survived over 50 years on their own.

Very few photographs have ended as prints, and I suspect many readers will, like me, just file the memories away, because the act of documenting that old barn, or homestead, seemed important at the time, but when we developed the film, or downloaded our memory card, we didn’t have a plan that included dealing with the picture.

Hanging on my wall I have a very large (3’x5’) print of an old mining structure I had made using a 4×5 Speed Graphic camera; and once, in the late 1970’s I had a calendar made of buildings I found locally, in the interior of B.C.

Sadly, as one might expect, none of those structures featured in that calendar still remain.

However, most of my images like that languish in files, as forgotten as the structures they were made from.

What is it that makes it so exciting to discreetly, and precariously sometimes, to scramble over the barbed wire fence, onto some farmer’s private property, in spite of the “No Trespassing” signs nailed to the fence?

Our images rarely depict unusual subjects that haven’t been seen before, or those of some architectural masterpiece; they are just of some decaying wood structure.

However, those buildings are still intriguing and make us wonder about the life that was lived beside, around, and inside them, and why we need to make an exposure of that story on our camera’s sensor.

I don’t believe there is any one lens, or one particular way, to photograph a building. I think the words “whatever moves you” fits best.  Sometimes it’s the structure, sometimes the way it fits in the landscape.

There are occasions that demand a long lens, others that call us to get close with a wide angle.

My post-production might be some over-the-top effect, black and white, sepia toned, infrared, or a documentary as close to reality as I can make it.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to make a picture, and in my opinion, almost any way one wants to present an image of an old building works.

No matter where the discussion goes regarding why so many photographers select dilapidated old buildings for their subjects, I think it is as photographer Elliott Erwitt says, “… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at  www.enmanscamera.com or  email: emcam@telus.net. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. And if you want an experienced photographer please call me at 250-371-3069. I also sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.

 

Just Posted

Police chase ends in two arrests

Suspects in stolen truck evade RCMP from Alberta border to Clearwater area

Barriere family airlifted to Vancouver due to carbon monoxide exposure have now returned home

A family of five from Barriere was transported to Vancouver for medical… Continue reading

TNRD renews Dangerous Dogs Contract for area

Highlights from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) Board of Directors’ meeting of Nov. 22

Milobar wants to see details of NDP’s Clean BC Plan

Jessica Wallace Kamloops This Week Environment advocates call for action from Prime… Continue reading

Sundhu new president of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo New Democrats

Candidate in 2015 will steer the riding association as another candidate is chosen for 2019 federal election campaign

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read