I grew up in an area that used to be completely farmland about 100 years ago. Some of the smaller family-owned farms are still in operation, but almost all of the original landowners decided a long time ago that the money from selling the land would be more than the money they’d be paid by continuing to sell crops. The original plots of land still have the original farmhouse and barn, both of which now look out of place on a much more modestly sized plot of land.
Fast forward 100 years and most of the owners these old buildings are poor and don’t have the money to keep up with repairs. The barns are in especially poor condition since they serve less practical value than the house. I wanted to capture these buildings before more of them fall over from age or are torn down from condemnation.
There’s something about old barns that I can’t quite put my finger on that makes me love them. These giant yet practical buildings have withstood the test of time and were often put together by a single family or the community working together.
I had never shot black and white on medium format film before, so I took my newly acquired Mamiya C330 Professional TLR, 80mm f/2.8 Mamiya Sekor lens and a 120 roll of ILFORD FP4 PLUS to start my project. The Mamiya C330 is a twin lens reflex (TLR) camera with a waist-level viewfinder that’s notable for having an interchangeable lens system, unlike most other TLRs.
Mamiya is generally known for well made medium format cameras with sharp glass, and the C330 appears to be no exception. It shoots 12 6×6 negatives on a roll of 120, which was great for me, as I’ve never shot anything other than 2:3 aspect ratio pictures and it acted as a good creative limitation.
The smooth tones and fine grain were exactly what I was looking for when I choose FP4 PLUS, and I couldn’t be happier with how these images turned out. I developed these negatives in Rodinal with a 1:25 dilution for nine minutes and scanned them on an Epson Perfection v600 scanner.
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I share your response to barns. History, culture, texture and a rare blend of light/shadow. And where I live they are fading fast too.
Thanks for the post and especially the photographs.