I recently went out driving in rural Maryland with my friend and fellow photographer, Irv.
We were just driving around, going nowhere in particular, looking for something to shoot.
I love to do this: to drive aimlessly, take a right turn or a left, depending on how a whim takes me. Some days, we find nothing. Other days, we strike gold.
Near the town of Jarrettsville, we happened upon a farm with two abandoned barns, strung along the edge of a lake.
It being early January, the day was cold and bright, the earth bare and hard, the sky high and blue with streaky clouds, the lake frozen.
These old barns were on the point of collapse, so we felt lucky that we had found them before they were no more.
While many barns are constructed entirely of wood, both of these barns were built of brick at ground level, with a wooden upper level.
The design of these barns looked like a variation on the bank barn design, which is common in the northeastern United States.
Bank barns, most of which were built in the 19th century, were dual-purpose structures, the lower level being used to house livestock and draught animals, while the upper level was used for grain storage and a threshing floor. The second floor was sometimes exended over the first to afford shelter to animals during harsh weather, as is the case with the larger of the two barns we photographed (second and third images).
Barns strike me as particular noble structures, still standing more than a century after they were built, standing out in the bare fields, turning a sturdy, unyielding face to the perpetual battering that they take from sun, rain, wind and snow.
In my eyes, these old barns are not reduced by the bashing they take from the elements. On the contrary, they are strangely ennobled and dignified by their ability to endure through the years and the adversity which they face.
Barns are such iconic features of the rural American landscape that, when I see one, I always have to stop and admire it and take a few photos.
It is apparent that I am not the only photographer who finds barns an appealing subject, as several websites have sprung up which catalogue the locations of barns, such as http://www.ohiobarns.com and http://mailpouchbarnstormers.org
(click on an image to enlarge it)