Silo and perhaps a touch of Histo(plasma)

Silos are interesting and often beautiful things, especially the old ones. There was a small one here at the farm when we arrived. Because we didn’t intend to produce silage, we viewed the thing as a liability and, in any case, someone else could certainly have put it to better use. We placed the following add in the paper: Concrete slab silo. Free. You disassemble. You haul. Amish from Sugar Valley got in touch and the thing was gone within a week. The silo shown below stands tall at Wayne’s; I was there over the weekend. Joanna was spinning and so, as usual, I took a walk. I looked and discovered that the silo was empty. In one direction the concrete bunker on which I stood extended to form the foundation of the silo, and in the other it merged with the foundation of the barn. The floor of the bunker was five feet below ground level and I figured I could get down by climbing iron bars on the outside of the silo which formed supports for the wooden doors you can see in the image. The last few doors were not in place and the opening provided access to the inside. The floor was a foot lower than the lowest level of the bunker, I stepped down. As soon as I entered, everything became quiet. I looked around. There was no question of how I would compose this image, for there was only one obvious way (to me at least) to record the circular interior. I extended my tripod to its full height and turned the camera body straight up to place the central focus point on the roof far above. I’m not a tall person and, even so, I had to contort to get my eye under the camera to check the view. Looking straight up through the finder was like standing on my head – it made me quite dizzy. The light from above attenuated quickly as it traveled into the belly of the silo and it was quite dim where I stood. I would have to take a number of exposures and compile them, a technique I have discussed here before. The image below is a sandwich of thirteen images which ranged in exposure from 20 seconds to 1/30 second. The composite allows properly exposed views of all of the interior, including the brightly lit upper reaches and the very dimly lit bottom. I told my good friend Maurice that I had visited this place over the weekend, and that he should anticipate this image. I recounted that once I entered the confines of the structure my mind became myopically focused on photography. I was only dimly aware that the ground beneath my feet was spongy. Footfalls felt and sounded as if I was walking on a combination of peanut hulls and dry bath sponges. I did not think about the clouds of I-know-not-what that billowed each time I moved my feet. Eventually though, thoughts about the supportive capacity of the substrate became more and more intrusive. Perhaps I was standing on a sort of Crème brûlée made of little bits of corn, mold, and an accumulation of bird droppings. Perhaps I would, in an instant, find myself waist-deep in the unmentionable mix. The dust I was breathing became more and more of a preoccupation. The words Histoplasma, Cryptococcus, Salmonella, and E. coli had been flashing, just that-side of consciousness as to be a bother … then they began to impinge to a degree which I could no longer ignore. I took a few more shots and collapsed my tripod. With my back to the door I put one foot, and then the other, down to the ground gingerly and made for daylight. I backed out of the door, into the bunker, and made my way up and into the fresh air. I hope you enjoy the image below. Joanna observed that the depth of the structure was lost to her such that she saw everything as if it had been collapsed into a series of two-dimensional, and concentric, rings. What do you see? Before signing off, I wonder how many know of the fascinating series of I Spy books. I Spy Tyto … do you?


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