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Early Spring Surprise

Barns, Frankenmuth, Michigan

There is a saying in Michigan: “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute—it will change.” I grew up in Northern lower Michigan, and one of the things I have hated, since I was a kid, was the way Spring would “tease” us and then, just when we thought maybe it was finally here, we would get hammered with a Winter storm.

I drive past this scene 2-3 times a week, and for the past several years, I have been thinking about it as a photograph. It has drawn my attention each time, as the two smaller red barns contrast against the weathered wood of the larger barn. But I have never found time to “work” the scene to find the best perspective. My drive-bys are always at mid-day. The scene faces north, and it seemed to me that the best light was probably going to be early morning sun. Another challenge was that the ground around the barns, as well as the foreground, is kind of cluttered. When I would visualize the scene, I struggled to isolate the elements that drew me to the photograph and could never really imagine the vision.

The morning of this storm, I went to another barn I thought would look great in the fresh snow, and then decided to have a look. The resulting image is one that I really like. The fresh snow is a “great equalizer.” It hides many imperfections in the details around a photograph, and often gives it a nice, simple, clean look. I think that happened here. I like the image despite the plain grey sky, because the white snow, red barn and tree details and weathered wood on the big barn creates enough interest and contrast to counter the negative space created by the gray sky.

Barns, Frankenmuth, Michigan

The next morning dawned clear and blue, and on the way to work, I drove by again and took this image. I like the first one better.

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7 Responses

  1. Andy, I don’t think spring will every arrive here. This is the year of the never ending winter. When it looked like spring might arrive, we got hit with another 4 inches of snow and the cold continues. We might hit 40 by mid week, but the snow still covers the ground. I don’t expect the ground to be clear of snow for at least a week and unless there is a drastic warm up, the snow banks will still be here on April 15. The TV weather guy just reported that so far this winter season, we’ve received 84+ inches of snow. If my math serves me right, that equals 7 feet. Wowsers!

    Nice shots.

    Al

  2. Thanks, Al. Feels a bit like that here, too. Traverse City, where I grew up (Rich used to own a vacation home there), got a foot and a half that same day. But as bad as it seems, your Minnesota winter of 2011 puts all in perspective. Hope you aren’t going to pay with huge flooding this year.

    • The flooding has already started. There are 4 bridges across the Minnesota river between Minneapolis and the outer suburbs, including Interstate 35. The hydrologists are expecting 3 of the 4 to be closed because of high water. Only the Highway 169 bridge near my house will be open. They have begun restriping it to add another lane.

      We’re leaving for South Carolina on Wednesday. I think I picked a good time to be gone.

  3. Northern lower Michigan – love it 🙂

    • Hey, when you get to have two separate peninsulas in your state, you get to have these mixed up geographic descriptions. Kind of like Eastern W. VA, or Northern S. Dakota? 🙂

  4. Winter is when I do most of my photography. The light is very soft and even. This is partly because the overcast sky diffuses the light, and partly because the snow reflects light back into the shadows. I actually miss the snow when it finally goes.

    Kent in SD

    • Hey Kent! Good to see you here. I have seen some of your snow/winter stuff and I understand. I really love your train shot where the loco blasted through a snowdrift. I like the back story almost as much :-).

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