Arena winter walkabout

This is the first photo I ever took of St. John’s church in Arena, ND. It was in much better shape back then. Since then I’ve photographed it in all four seasons, all hours of the day and night, with Northern Lights in the background, from the ground and from the air. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll be around much longer.

I took a stroll around the church this winter, and I thought you’d like to see what I saw that sunny (yet chilly) January afternoon:

Someone has moved “into town” now, so if you visit the church you might have company. I suggest going soon, as the church is deteriorating rapidly. It’s so sad to see it go.

Love tractor

I couldn’t resist a nod in the title to one of my favorite bands from the Athens era. This tractor caught my eye from a distance, and I had to go check it out. It really stood out against such a beautiful blue sky!

As colorful as it is, this thing’s really broken down. Wheel’s off. Cylinder head missing. I don’t think it’s going anywhere for a while. That’s okay…it’s really photogenic right where it’s at.

Go with the grain

I took this shot one evening when I was in kind of a hurry, and I didn’t check my camera settings. After I’d done a few shots I noticed that the ISO had been cranked up to 12,800, so I reshot a bunch of stuff, but I didn’t get this angle. Well, high ISO puts a ton of grain into the image, but I wanted the shot…so I decided to tone it for a vintage look, which plays right into the grainy look. After all, old film stock was awfully grainy anyway.

So, with the grain problem addressed, I was able to enjoy this photo…and now I get to share it. The ones I shot properly will appear in color at a later date.

Settled in

I spotted this little old building on my way back from the Black Hills recently. It’s got a lot of chaotic angles going on here, and even plenty of curves, and of course that’s what caught my eye.

How could you not have your attention grabbed by something like this? It’s almost like the structure is melting from the rear forward. Of course I had to do a U-turn and come back to check it out.

I admit, one of the things which made this one stand out to me was the little cupola at the top. While it’s pretty ragged, it’s actually hanging in there quite sturdily.

Remember I mentioned curves? Much of this wood is positively wavy. This wood has aged in a way which gives it a series of incongruent curves reminiscent of the lumber pile at Menard’s!

I have plenty of other photos to share – FINALLY – and hope to get back to some regular posting here in the future. That is, until the next emergency gets me swamped again…until then, let’s have ourselves some summer!

Still standing, sorta

I recently got a chance to swing by this old barn near Wilton and check in to see how it’s doing. You see, I’ve made a point of taking a peek to see its progress – decline, really – since I first stopped by in 2010 to use it for a test subject on a brand new camera model I was evaluating for purchase.


This is what it looked like when I first came across it. Pretty cool, huh? It was already starting to sag toward the front, and a large beam had been propped up to arrest its fall.


Even back then, it was pretty obvious where this was heading. The collapse was inevitable, but the old barn has put up one heck of a fight. This photo is over ten years old.


It’s weathered many storms and seen hundreds of sunsets, but it’s starting to sunset itself these days. The stone side is completely crumbled, the wood from the ends is gone, and the entire structure has now sunk to the ground. But I prefer to remember it like this.

I’m afraid that before too long this barn, like many of my other favorite “Fallen Farms” photo subjects, will be gone. But for now, I’m going to continue to pay it a visit occasionally, and it has never disappointed me…it always provides a fantastic photo opportunity, and I’m sure it will faithfully do so until the end.

Lakefront resort

Out on this peninsula sits one of the coolest old homes that I’ve ever found. Accessible only by air, it has a fantastic view of a lake on three sides.

Meticulously built from a wide variety of stone, this home sits in a spot that used to have a road long ago…but that road sits well underwater these days. I drove as close to it as I could but I was still a long distance away.

Incredibly scenic, but sadly just too far away from…well…anything. Near what some would call a ghost town, I suppose…but otherwise isolated, this stone house is one of my all-time favorites.

Not as happy to be a barn

Not too long after I’d found the happy barn (which I posted about last week), I came upon this one. I’ve photographed it before, and it doesn’t look as if it’s fallen any more than it had the last time I’d stopped by, but it is definitely not in the same condition as the smiley-face one.

Sadly, this barn has been collapsing for some time. Fortunately, it’s still likely to be striking a photogenic pose for a while yet.

Naturally, if there is an opportunity for a windmill or a well, I’m gonna take it. Thankfully, there was this this fantastic specimen standing nearby.

Oh yeah – there’s this building right next to the barn. Isn’t it glorious? That brick. The roof that used to be there. The row of windows. And a fortunate sky. Some days it’s better to be lucky than good!

I’ll have to keep an eye on this old farmstead the next time I’m in the area. Of course, you’ll see the results here.