Friday, July 3, 2020

Writing with Light

Sunrise at a Rock City Barn in central Georgia

Photography is about light.  In fact, the word "photograph" comes from two Greek words: photos, which means "light," and grapho, which means "to write."  So to photograph really means to write with light.

The best light for photography usually comes in early morning and late afternoon when the sun is low, casting long shadows which reveal texture and bathe the land in a rich, golden glow.  In summer this often meant 18-hour days, as I tried to capture the good light at both ends of the day.  I might drive several hundred miles checking out barn sites and then double back to photograph an especially good one in evening light; or put up at a nearby motel if I thought morning light would be better.

The mechanic who kept my old Chevy Blazer running told me about this little barn on U.S. 19 south of Butler in Taylor County. It had been lost from Rock City's records and I probably never would have found it without his help. As it happened, he was from that area.

 When I first saw the barn, it was on an overcast day. I made the photo just above, but thought there was potential for a better one. Noting that the barn faced east and that the fields were almost perfectly flat for miles around, I thought a sunrise shot might work.

Of course there's never a motel around when you need one.  After making a photo for the record, I circled around visiting other barn sites before taking shelter at Macon for the night. The next morning I drove 40 miles through the pre-dawn darkness of central Georgia to catch the June sunrise at the barn.

An interesting side note -- you may have noticed how close the barn is to the highway. Just a few years after I made these photos, Highway 19 was scheduled to be widened and the barn was to be destroyed. To preserve it, the Taylor County Agricultural Agent had the barn moved three miles across the fields to his own property. And there, as far as I know, it sits today. I really ought to go check it out.

Blog Note: I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at I'm trying to build up my readership, so if you're reading this on Facebook and like what I write, would you please consider sharing my posts?

(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)

Soli Gloria Deo
To the glory of God alone


  1. I photograph when I can, not when the light is best, and so I've had to learn to make the most of the midday sun.

    My wife and I would like to take a long trip whenever the coronacloud lifts. We're thinking maybe Scotland. My wife's already put me on notice that we will be rising very early to take full advantage of the morning light!

    Every time I see an old barn (or other structure) right against the highway, I know its days are numbered -- the highway will eventually be widened and it will be gone. I'm always happy to find that someone has documented the place as it was!

  2. Mostly, I photograph as-is, where-is. even on my book projects. But occasionally I find something that has good potential and am able to work the schedule and the light to get a better photo.

    I hope you and Margaret are able to make that trip to Scotland very soon.