An adventure and a lesson for good measure

Last week I told you about my visit to the farm of good friends who raise dairy beef and replacement heifers. What I did not report then was that there was an abandoned farmhouse on the property and it beckoned. After asking for permission to walk the barns and outbuildings, I wondered if it might be alright to grab some shots of the outside of the house. My friend graciously agreed and then, having completed chores, jumped into his truck and drove off. Because I had only asked about investigating the outside of the farmhouse, and because I wasn’t quite sure about its structural integrity, I only peeked in through the backdoor which was open. It invited me to explore, but I resisted temptation. Today, because it has remained wet, and because hay making was not on the agenda, I drove to the river again and was glad to see my friend there, in the middle of morning chores. I asked about the building and whether anyone had been in it recently. I believe he said that his grandparents used to live there, that it was last occupied by tenants about twenty years ago, and yes he had been in it recently. I knew, because of its very close proximity to the river, that the basement and first floor must flood. I asked if the place was sound. He said that he thought it was. I asked how much longer chores would take. He thought an hour or so. I checked my phone to see that I had his number. I did. I asked if he had his phone with him. He did. I said, Don’t leave until I check in with you again. And so it was, with some trepidation and gentle footsteps, that I explored the building. It was fascinating and I must say that the resulting images remind me very much of those by Patrycja Makowska which were recently highlighted in the Style section of CNN’s web portal. Because of excessive moisture the place wasn’t often shut up and the interior showed much evidence of exposure and of the local animal population. There wasn’t much furniture but the little that remained allowed me to determine the location of the kitchen, bedrooms, bath and sitting rooms.

You may be interested to know that all of the images posted here were processed as HDRs (high dynamic range). You can imagine that the lighting conditions inside this neglected home were pretty tough. There was high intensity light coming in through the windows (too much light causes photos to be over-exposed). The rooms were illuminated by ambient light which filtered through trees which surround the building (this light would have allowed me to properly expose some small fraction of each scene). Corners and recesses, as well as the visible parts of adjoining rooms, were in near-darkness (not enough light causes photos to be under-exposed). So, in much the same way that your eyes would need to adjust to each of the different lighting regimes, a camera would have an equally difficult time making sense out of the extremes. Think about how you might solve such a problem? How about taking a number of images, some of short duration to catch the brights, some of longer duration to catch the well lighted parts of the scene, and some of much longer duration to catch the darkest parts of the room? The first shots will show nicely exposed windows, but everything else in the scene will be under-exposed. The last shot will show nicely exposed recesses, but everything else will be over-exposed. The gallery below shows the seven bracketed shots I took to capture all of the detail in this room. A computer program such as Photomatix Pro will take all of these images and make a digital sandwich from them. It will then retain all of the properly exposed bits of the individual shots. The photo below the gallery is the one which headed up this post (click it for a nice, high-resolution, view) and is the result of HDR processing with Photomatix, and reprocessing with Lightroom. Pretty amazing stuff, don’t you think?

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