Rad A. Drew Photography: 2015

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Holiday Gifts for the Photographer on Your Shopping List!

Is there a photographer on your shopping list this year? Whether you’re giving to a traditional shutterbug, or a newfangled mobile photographer, here are suggestions for some great gifts across a wide range of prices. These are all items I use and enjoy.

I created this image using the iPhone and the apps FRAX and Percolator.
© Rad A. Drew

Extra Power for iPhone Photographers!

Every iPhone photographer needs an external power source when there’s no place to plug in and juice is running low. Here are three I use and love.

Mophie Juice Packs are a great way to protect your phone AND always have an extra charge or two with the push of a button.

Mophie Powerstation is a small stand-alone battery and a great external source because they are lightweight and still pack a punch. I’m often seen with one dangling from my iPhone!

New Trent PowerPak when you need lots of juice! I took a 10-day trip down the Colorado River last year and had to pack all the power and batteries I needed. I had two of these big boys for recharging my iPhone. They are rugged, pack lots of juice, and let you charge multiple devices at once.

Lightweight Travel Tripod

The lightweight Manfrotto BeFree tripod is great for stabilizing the iPhone as well as small point-and-shoot cameras. It packs up small and has been a great travel tripod for me on recent trips to Cape Cod, The Palouse, and Cuba.

Tripod Bracket for iPhone

To make use of any tripod with your iPhone, you’ll need an iPhone bracket. There are a lot on the market, but my current favorite is the MeFoto. It securely holds the iPhone and will allow for quick movements and positioning. And it comes in cool colors, too. J

Pocket-sized Tripod from Brookstone

Can’t carry a big tripod? Then how about this pocket-sized iPhone tripod from Brookstone? It’s about the size of a pocketknife, but provides all the stability you need to take great shots with apps like Slow Shutter and Camera+.

Attachable iPhone Lenses 

For wide angle, fisheye, macro or telephoto needs there are two lens makers for the iPhone that I like a lot: Olloclip and Moment. The glass is great on both and the only decision you need to make is which attachment mechanism you prefer.

Olloclip Lenses

Moment Lenses

Topaz Software for the Mac or PC

Processing photos on your computer and applying textures, painterly looks, special effects and more has never been easier than with the software packs from Topaz. The Topaz line now includes 17 different packs that can be purchased as a set or individually. Some of my favorites are Topaz B&W Effects, Topaz Clarity, and Topaz Texture Effects. The total package is the best deal.

Use the links below to purchase. Watch for free Topaz webinars and obtain a discount when you signup.

Independent Art by Moi!

Nearly all my images on Facebook and my web site are available for sale. I don't use an online store because I print my images myself, and I sign all my work. And I like to meet the people who like my work! Contact me via Facebook message or email.

Most popular sizes are ~8x10 at $125 and ~11x17 at $195.  All images are printed with archival inks on an Epson 3880 printer using Museo Fine Art papers. Matting and framing is available upon request.

One of my books of Fine Art iPhone Images

Give the gift of inspiration with one of my books featuring fine art iPhone photography. And if you love rural Indiana and Indianapolis, you may find these books doubly pleasing!

In Good Light, Images of the Circle City

Rural Indiana, A beauty all its Own

iPhoneography classes with me! 

  • Photo Tour or classroom workshop
  • 1:1 lessons

Infrared Camera from Spencer’s Camera

For the photographer interested in exploring a new look, infrared might be just the thing. This past year I purchased an IR converted LUMIX DMC LX7 point-and-shoot camera from Spencer’s Camera. It’s small, compact, with an 8x zoom, and produces stunning infrared images.

Use the discount code RadDrew25 for a $25 dollar discount on your purchase!

However your gift giving goes, I wish you and yours a loving holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Until next time, keep on shooting!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cuba: The Magic of Dawn

Editor's note; This post was first published in 2015 and has been updated for repost in January 2017. 

Since this was written two years ago, many changes have occurred in Cuba and travel to Cuba. In just a few days, our group will for the first time fly on commercial airlines (American Airlines) to Havana, instead of a charter flight out of Miami. 

Today, we no longer stay in the fancy hotels when we travel, but in privately owned apartments and Casas. Tourism has grown and one sees more tour busses throughout the city. 

As a photographer, the opportunities still abound. As a group leader   I've learned to fashion our itinerary to avoid some places altogether, and to visit others at times when tourists are not present. I've learned to have a plan, but to be flexible because one never knows when an opportunity for something special will occur. On our my last trip in November 2016, our group was able to acquire tickets to the Cuban National Ballet and we were flexible enough in our schedule to allow for this unique opportunity. You can read about that experience here.

In spite of these changes, each trip has been better than the last. I have no expectations, but I hope that this trend continues with trip number 7.

If you'd like to join me, our next trip is scheduled for November 2017. Learn more here.

Boy with Birds, Trinidad
Before they're even making coffee in the new wing of the Park Central Hotel in
Havana where I'm staying, I'm up and out the door. It's 6:30 AM. Dark. Quiet. The
light from a few lamps and passing cars is reflected in the street, wet from the
night's rain. The slumbering city begins to make morning sounds, and I walk on
without expectation, but filled with anticipation and excitement about what I know
this morning will bring.

At this hour the only people I see are a street sweeper whose palm-branch broom
makes scratching sounds on the marble as he sweeps along the Prado, and a few
workers, silent silhouettes, walking in the twilight with deliberation toward their
day job.

My anticipation comes from knowing that within the next half hour Havana will
transform itself from a dark, quiet, sleeping giant, to a light, vibrant, gritty, animated
city, rich with life and photographic opportunity.

At the curb is a pile of garbage, its redolence muted by the recent rain. The expanse
over the city begins to turn a deep blue at the skyline's edge. The waking continues:
a splash-clunk! as a car hits a rain-filled pothole, footsteps on wet pavement, a horn
honks in the distance. The deep blue now shows pink at the edges of the skyline.

An old man pushes a cart with a white canvas bag full of bread, his hawking call,
"PAAAANNNN," piercing the morning's peace.  Somewhere a rooster crows, and
crows again. A diesel engine coughs to a start. A man dressed only in his boxers,
brushes his teeth from a second story balcony and spits over the rail.

More cars rattle through the streets, many made in Detroit, 60 years ago! Others are
rickety Russian models from the 80's. Diesel fumes assault my nostrils. Slowly, like a
giant waking from a deep sleep, the city lumbers to its feet as the brightening dawn
spreads over Havana.

One by one, Cuban men, women, and children appear in windows and doorways of
homes that open onto the sidewalk. There is no buffer for privacy. As I walk down
the street, I'm self-consciously aware that I am practically standing in people's
homes. Briefly, I feel like an interloper.

The morning is in full motion. People step out onto the street, and now there is the
frequent "bueno' dia'" exchanged among passersby, with the dropped "s"
characteristic of Cuban Spanish. The sidewalks fill with street vendors, men and
women on their way to work, and students on their way to school.

By now, I'm actively shooting, sometimes surreptitiously, and sometimes asking,
exchanging a bottle of skin lotion, a hair tie, or a pen in gratitude for a photo. I find
that these intimate portraits are best when I take the time to engage my subject.
Even the simplest exchange will break the ice and allow us to learn a little about
each other. When this happens, the photo opportunities are genuine human
interactions instead of impersonal transactions.

Children, neatly dressed in the traditional Cuban school uniform, appear on the
streets. The high school students in blue uniforms walk alone, in small groups of
friends, or as boy and girlfriend, they linger intimately in a doorway for a morning

The middle school students in their gold uniforms walk animatedly, unencumbered
by guardians. A surprising number today are as occupied with cells phones as kids
in any city.

The elementary students, in their burgundy uniforms, walk quietly, hand-in-hand,
with a parent or grandparent. Too young to be embarrassed by an adult, these little
ones show their adoration without reservation.

The high number of men who visibly play an adoring, nurturing role with their
children strikes me as surprising in a country with a reputation for its macho
culture. For the Cuban man, there seems to be no shame in nurturing children and
no stigma that it's "women's work" alone.

This is my favorite time to be on the streets of Havana, or Trinidad, for that matter.
Each city has its unique vibration, tone, best discovered in the waking hours at
dawn. It's in these early hours that each city reveals the most intimate aspects of its
personality and culture.

The following images were made (many with my iPhone) while leading a group of
photographers from the Estados Unidos. Most were made while roaming Havana or
Trinidad in the hours around dawn. If you're interested in experiencing the
photographic delights of Cuba, learn more about my November 2017 trip here: http://bit.ly/2cbeOsL_RAD_Cuba_2017.

Streets of Havana
Boy Minds the Market in Trinidad

Butcher Sharpens His Knife 

Man in the Morning, Havana

Door, Trinidad

Saviors, Trinidad

Cactus in a Lard Can

Birds: A Family Affair

Working Man

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Create Your Own Orton Effect

Editors Note: This is a tutorial that I posted last year but which didn't get much traffic at the time. I decided to republish it now that my posts are being seen by a wider audience. My apologies to those for which this is a re-run. – Rad

The Orton Effect has been around since the mid 80's when Michael Orton figured out that by sandwiching two slides of the same scene, he could create a soft, almost glowing effect in his images. 

Wikipedia defines the Orton Effect like this:

Orton imagery, also called an Orton slide sandwich or the Orton Effect, is a photography technique which blends two completely different photos of the same scene, resulting in a distinctive mix of high and low detail areas within the same photo.

There are a few iPhone apps, such as Dynamic LightPhoto FX and Enlight, that mimic the Orton Effect, but I like the control I have when I do a version of this technique manually. Doing it manually is not that much more difficult than using the apps, but I think the results make it worth the extra effort. 

Here's an image I recently created using this effect:

Autumn in Hendricks County
© Rad A. Drew
You can see how there is a softness that makes the image almost glow.

To do the Orton Effect, you'll need these apps: Blur FX and Image Blender. I also processed my image with SnapSeed and Distressed FX, but those apps are not essential to getting the Orton Effect.

How you create the original image doesn't really matter. I like to select an image that has some light areas in visually pleasing locations in the image so that they will glow.

Compose and create your image following your usual workflow. I often take my image into SnapSeed where I apply selections from the Tune menu and the Details menu. 

Next, do any other processing you intend, such as Distressed FX or  Vintage Scene, etc. 

Once you have your image the way you want it, take it into Blur FX. Select Gaussian Blur and move the slider to about midway on the continuum, as shown below.

Blur FX
This is somewhat arbitrary; you may want to experiment with different blur densities and even blur types and see which effect you like best. 

Next, save the  blurred version and open Image Blender and load the two images. It doesn't really matter which one you put on which side. 

Now, while in the Normal mode, move the slider to find the desired softness and save the image. I usually save at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 percent and then compare for the effect I like best. You can over due the blur and give your viewers a form of vertigo when they can't find anything to focus on in the image!

Image Blender

Image Blender in Normal Blend Mode
On this image, I also added a slight vignette using Photo FX, to pull the eye to the lighter areas in the image.

With all the fall color right now, it's a fun technique to experiment with. I'd be interested in seeing what you get!

Until next time, keep on shooting!

Questions? Comments? Contact me!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why do We Love Photo Tours?

Sea Weathered Home, Cojimar, Cuba
© Rad A. Drew

In 2014, I left a corporate career in a business I’d been in for 21 years. I retired from the company, but not from work. Rather, I left the corporate world to pursue my photography career, and with that decision came a commitment to continued learning about the art and craft I love so much.

On the technological side, photography is very rapidly changing with new cameras, new techniques, new toys, and new methods of processing images being introduced nearly everyday. Yet, on the artistic side, many of the rules that guide us in creating images have remained the same since the first cave drawings. And what inspires us as artists is a deeply personal and introspective area of study.

With the technological, artistic, and inspirational aspects of photography, there's a lot of discovery and keeping up to do. I find that I need to pedal pretty fast to stay abreast of technological changes, while also continuing to learn about composition and light, and how to engage and submit to the creative muse.

One way I try to learn and stay fresh, is to go on photo tours with photographers I respect.

As one who has gone on his share of destination tours with other photographers, I got to thinking about what I like about going on tours. Why do I love to go? What motivates me? What are the benefits?

After some pondering and some discussion with a few friends, this is what I’ve come up with, not in any particular order of importance.

1. Hands-On Instruction in the Field.

In my humble opinion, there’s no better way to learn than to do, and if you do while standing next to someone who really knows their stuff, then you’ve got a great opportunity to rapidly advance your skills and knowledge while having a blast!

The Palouse from Steptoe Butte
© Rad A. Drew
On more than one occasion, I’ve had the privilege to shoot alongside today’s best photographers and teachers. Each time, I've come away a more mature photographer. 

Last year in the Palouse with John Barclay and Dan Sniffin, I not only learned a thing or two about my new Fuji mirror-less camera from John, but, thanks to Dan, I began to practice seeing in a new way. (Dan, by the way is they guy who had not one, but two images in the same National Geographic calendar a few years back. I watched and listened to him very carefully!)

With each tour experience, my skills as a photographer advance.  I become more sensitive to my environment. I learn new ways to see and to listen for what moves me. And I often learn new technical skills that help me manifest my vision.

2. Camaraderie

From Camp at Sunset on the Colorado River
©Rad A. Drew
There’s nothing like being away from home in a fascinating part of the world with a group of others who share a similar appreciation for making art from the beauty around them. Last summer I spent 10 days running the Colorado River rapids with a group of veteran photographers who had been down The River many times before. Each day we worked together to break camp, load our boats, and cooperate with each other in countless ways while on the river. Each evening we collaboratively unloaded our boats, set up camp, helped prepare meals, discussed photography, philosophized, and simply hung out. The sense of camaraderie and companionship was a highlight of the trip.

3. Forming Life-Long Friendships

Shooting at Graffiti Underground along the Delaware River
Left to right: Rad Drew, Colman LoveVictoria Porter, and Mark Murphy
© Rad A. Drew
All of the dear friends in the photo above, I met through photography in one way or another. Here we are at Graffiti Underground, the last stop on a tour that included Fonthill Castle, Longwood Gardens, and Eastern State Penitentiary.

In 2013 I traveled to Cuba with a group led by John Barclay and Tony Sweet. I knew no one else on that trip, yet, today, I am close with 5 of the people from that adventure and am frequently in touch with others. We visit each other, shoot together, and in some cases work together, as I do with my friend and marvelous east coast photographer, Betty Wiley, in the Cape Cod area. 

4. Learning from Others

On each of the photo tours I’ve done, I’ve not only met people who have become life-long friends, but I’ve met some fabulous photographers who have been extremely generous in sharing their particular expertise. I didn’t expect to learn from other participants on these trips, but I did! In fact, it’s one of the biggest benefits of photo tours in my experience. And, I’ve had the opportunity to pay it forward, too. 

Sheep Barn, Conner Prairie at Dawn, iPhone Photo
© Rad A. Drew
For example, I’m often the only guy on a trip among experienced photographers who takes the iPhone seriously. I’m no iEvangelist, but I have to say, I’ve won over my share of iPhone converts on these trips by sharing what I know.

5. Seeing Beautiful Places in the Relative Safety of a Group

We live in an age where travel has never been so accessible. Tours I’ve participated in or led have taken me to Cape Cod, Newport, San Diego, The Palouse, New York, Philadelphia, Fonthill Castle, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Louisiana Bayous, numerous abandoned locations, Cuba, England, Scotland, Wales, and to many areas closer to home that I either didn’t know about or wouldn’t venture to alone. 

Abandoned United Methodist Church, Gary, Indiana.
© Rad A. Drew
Whether it's true or not, we all feel safer traveling in a group to shoot abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana. 

My Upcoming Workshops and Tours

As you take advantage of opportunities and choose what you’ll do to have fun and build your photography skills, I hope you’ll consider the workshops I’m offering this year and next. 

Here’s a list of my upcoming events. Click the links for the details.

iPhoneography Workshops and Presentations

  • Presentation, Central Library, Indianapolis, July 8, 2015, sponsored by the Riviera Camera Club and the Indianapolis Public Library; FREE to the public 
  • Workshop (With Exhibit), Maysville, KY, September 5 (details soon)
  • WorkshopConner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana, September 19 
  • Presentation, Portland Camera Club, Portland, Maine, on Saturday, October 3. (details soon) 

Photo Tours

Other Recommended Teachers
Other great photographers and friends with whom I’ve taken workshops, gone on tours, or photographed with in recent years, and who I can recommend, include the following: 

Theresa Airey (google her)
Tony Sweet

Thanks for following my blog, and until next time, keep on shooting!



P.S. Click Here to subscribe to my newsletter!

Questions? Comments? Contact me!

Monday, May 25, 2015

When Does B&W Say More than Color?

Have you ever debated with yourself over whether to print or share an image in color or B&W? What contributes to your decision to chose one over the other?

I don’t always know the answer to that question and often go on my gut, but this week I made an image that seemed to me to be a no brainer decision for B&W. I’d like to show you the image and then explain why it works so well for me in B&W. This is just my opinion, so I’d love to hear what others think.

Here is the original color image:

It’s a subject near and dear to my heart: a barn scene with tall grass, worn siding, green of spring in the foreground, a strip of yellow mustard weed, and puffs of white clouds in a blue sky.

When I look at this image, it’s the color that is figural, that stands out for me. The graphics of the image take a backseat to the striking color.

But then, I converted to B&W and I saw a different, and to my mind, more powerful image. A hint of cepiatone gives the image a  nostalgic look.

The absence of color allows the image's dramatic graphic lines to become more figural. If you let your eye follow those lines in all the directions they are going, you can imagine a host of intersections occurring throughout the image.

The path of black sky between the clouds, the vertical lines of the long grass in the left foreground, the siding and the door, the diagonal roofline echoed by the diagonal line of the shadow, the askew fence posts and the diagonal lines of the fence, shadow, and doors, all collaborate to make this image about its lines. I also love the contrast between the curves of the clouds in the upper part of the image and the angular lines in the lower part and how those two sections are divided by the roof cutting through on the diagonal. 

As wonderful as the color is, to me it is a distraction from the real subject and beauty of this image: its angles and lines.


Enjoy this wonderful weather for being outside and photographing! 

Consider joining me to photograph Abandoned Gary, next Saturday, May 30. Details here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Photography as Meditation

100-year-old Live Oaks at Avery Island, Louisiana
© Rad A. Drew
Have you ever had the feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something, but you’re just not listening? This past month I had a couple of things, seemingly independent occurrences, that I now believe are connected and conspiring to teach me a lesson.

The first of these “events” occurred about a month ago, when I stumbled on a book by Torsten Andreas Hoffman, titled, Photography as Meditation (which I highly recommend, by the way). Now, as someone who has been both a photographer and one who’s practiced meditation on and off since college, the book really caught my attention.

In it, Hoffman makes a connection between meditation and photography, and suggests that both are either intended to or by their nature, require you to be in the present moment. Meditation can be described as the practice of quieting the mind, while photography, in the doing of it, causes us to focus somewhat narrowly on the subject we’re shooting and in many ways helps us end up in that same place of quietude.

On a recent trip to Louisiana, the second “event” occurred. Nancy and I went to Lafayette, Louisiana; she for a three-day metalsmith workshop and I to scout for an upcoming photo tour in and about New Orleans. While she was in her workshop, I was out exploring the marshes, swamps, and bayou country of southwest Louisiana. 

The first day I went out I found that I was chasing an image. I couldn't drop Nancy at her workshop quick enough. I wanted to be on my way. There were pixels waiting to be wrangled. I was hell bent on getting a shot of a shrimp boat, coming in after a long day in the Gulf. I don’t know why; blame it on Forrest Gump, I guess! I wanted that image. I chased that image. I drove to the areas where the shrimp boats should be coming in and I was either too early or too late. I’d learn from a local fisherman that if I just went to this place or that place, I’d be sure to find what I was looking for. I looked and I chased and I ran.

What I found at the end of this first day is that I had burned up a lot of road but I’d taken very few photos, in spite of the fact that I was in some of the most beautiful country I’d ever seen. I had spent my entire day trying to be somewhere else and in so doing, I failed to be in the present moment and aware of the beauty and extraordinary photo opportunities all around me. Sometimes that adage, “Wherever you go, there you are” just isn’t true. I went but I wasn’t there.

That evening I began to reflect on my day’s experience. As I did, it occurred to me that the lesson that began the day I found the book Photography as Meditation, had continued with my day’s chaotic experience. I was being reminded to be still, to watch, to listen, and to feel; to be present; to clear my mind of the clutter of wanting and desiring, and to be still to receive all that was around me. I thought about Hoffman's book and began to realize that this is what he is talking about: this state of quite and receptivity is the place from which creativity flows.

The next day, I set out with a different mindset. I thought about the role of breathing in meditation. One form of meditation is to be still and simply focus on one’s breath as it goes in and out. I began my day being very aware of my breath. I decided on a direction to go, rather than on a destination. While heading in that direction, I stopped, I walked, I ate, I met people – locals and visitors, both – and I had a memorable time. I photographed much more and I found that I was going with the flow of my day more than I was trying to force it to be something other than what it was. I immersed myself in the marsh, I walked under 100-year-old live oak trees, and I saw and photographed birds I’d never seen before, and, without effort, I found myself at the harbor as shrimpers were unloading their catch at sunset.

Thistle, Cameron National Wildlife Refuge, Southwestern Louisiana
© Rad A. Drew

Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cameron National Wildlife Refuge
© Rad A. Drew

Blue-Winged Teal, Cameron National Wildlife Refuge
© Rad A. Drew

Black-Necked Stilt, Cameron National Wildlife Refuge
© Rad A. Drew

Louisiana Marsh
© Rad A. Drew

Miss Shirley, Cameron, LA
© Rad A. Drew

Woolly Bugger Shrimp Boat, Cameron, LA

Jennifer Kay, Cameron, LA
© Rad A. Drew

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Indiana's Vanishing Barns

Winter on the Farm
© Rad A. Drew
Growing up in southern Indiana along the Ohio River, I spent many a Saturday with my family hiking in the surrounding rural landscape. Here's how it went. Saturday morning would roll around and my sisters and I would each call a friend and we'd all hop in the station wagon with Dad at the wheel. Sometimes Mom came along and sometimes she stayed home to enjoy the relative peace.

Old Friends
This tree grew up in the shade of this barn.
Today the tree is almost all that's holding up the barn.
© Rad A. Drew
Off we'd go through Dearborn County, Switzerland County, Ripley County, and Franklin County. Dad would always try to get us "lost." When we came to a crossroad, we'd take the smaller road. When we went from gravel to a dirt lane, we could be sure we were on to something good. Ultimately, we'd stop at a farm house and Dad would ask permission to hike the land or walk the plowed fields to look for arrowheads. I don't remember ever being turned away.

I shot this barn along Indiana HWY 38, east of Indianapolis, in 2014.
It and its companion a few hundred yards away, were both torn down.
Two foundations are all that remain.
© Rad A. Drew
A constant on the landscape then, something that was just there and that we all (I know now) took for granted, was the Indiana barn. These utilitarian structures were everywhere. Some were red, some were weathered and gray even then, some were huge, some were round, but they were there and they were so much a part of what we were seeing that we didn't really see them and fully appreciate them then.

Winter Barn
© Rad A. Drew
As I've grown and moved to the big city, I reflect fondly, even longingly, on these childhood memories. Today when I see an old barn on a country road, I feel a flood of nostalgia. These barns hold in their frames and creaking hinges the carefree happiness of that part of my childhood. I can only imagine what they mean to the farmers and their families who live and work in these barns every day.
This round barn in northern Indiana appears healthy and
with a future, at least for now.
© Rad A. Drew
As a photographer, I've pursued these structures throughout all of Indiana. (I've even shot a few in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington's wheat country known as the Palouse.) I've marveled at their many styles, sizes and charm. They were built to last and many have, some for more than a hundred years; massive hand-hewn beams with tongue and groove construction, hand forged hinges and latches, stalls for livestock, haymows for feed, bays for farm equipment. 
Old Barn-door Latch
© Rad A. Drew
They were built with the craftsmanship and attention to detail that a cabinet maker would use for the governor's mansion.

Red Barn, Hay Bales and Snow
© Rad A. Drew
Today, these barns are "dying" at an alarming rate, in some cases along with the decline of the rural farm itself. Expensive to repair and maintain, many are being razed and replaced with metal pole barns, while others are being razed to make way for industrial farms of unnatural size.

One good ice storm and it's all over.
© Rad A. Drew
These barns, to me, represent the end of an era of rural life; a life where neighbors are valued, where there is a love of the land and the livestock, where hardship is commonplace yet balanced against the satisfaction of a hard day's work.

Shade Tree and Barn
© Rad A. Drew
As a boy with my Dad, I have worked with farmers we met. On one day we met an old farmer -- he had to be in his 80's -- loading hay bales on a wagon. He was working alone, so he would drive his tractor a few yards, get off, load the bales near the wagon, then drive the tractor a few more yards to load the next few bales. Dad and I stopped and helped. The old farmer drove and we tossed and stacked the bales on the wagon. It was hard, hot work, but it was satisfying in a way that I look for work to be today.

This '40's Dodge has been rusting beside this barn for years.
Its owner has another in running condition.
© Rad A. Drew
Another time, Dad and I stopped in a barnyard to ask permission to squirrel hunt on a farmer's land. The farmer was hanging tobacco alone in his barn. He very meekly -- as if he was embarrassed to deny us -- said, no, he didn't allow hunting anymore since a deer hunter shot a cow the year before. We stayed and helped him hang tobacco for the rest of the afternoon, foregoing our hunting. When we finished, the farmer said, "You boys are welcome to hunt and hike my land anytime."

Only a Matter of Time
© Rad A. Drew
Recently, my photo partner, Sally Wolf, and I visited one of the farmers we've met as we've photographed in rural Indiana. I brought him a photograph of his heifers that I'd taken the week before. We were welcomed into his home and offered a seat at the kitchen table. Later, he took Sally and me out to his barn about a mile away to feed his 14 cows. We rode in his truck with his dog, Ginger, and were treated like old friends even though we'd only met once before.

These heifers are VERY curious. As we shoot, the venture closer and closer.
© Rad A. Drew
Earlier that week, Sally and I met a woman, a sheep farmer, who came out to speak to us as we photographed her sheep from the side of the road. She limped a bit and explained that one of the rams had knocked her down the other day as she was checking the sheep. She had several that were about to deliver lambs and she was lining up neighbors and family friends to be on call to help out with the pending deliveries. We talked with her about what we were shooting and told her how much we enjoyed photographing old barns. 

"Yes," she said, "They are a dying breed. Some say that so long as the barn has livestock in it, it'll stand strong, but when there are no livestock to take care of, they give up. They got no reason to go on." Then she added, "Everything's alive, you know. Even barns."

I took this picture in November, 2014. In January, 2015, we returned to ask permission to shoot more, only to find that the barn had been razed. It's now completely gone. A sick feeling wells when the realization hits home.
© Rad A. Drew
Click here to learn about up-coming photo tours including, Bridges of Putnam County, Abandoned Gary, Fonthill Castle, and Cuba!