"Burning the Midnight Oil."
A full moon floats past the memories of the old Blasdel Barn, in northwest Montana. The barn has witnessed moonrises since 1909, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Moon images were taken at three-minute intervals between 8:51 pm & 1:22 am.
Behind the lens
How do you tell the story -- in one single frame -- of a lady who has withstood the rigors of 100-plus years? Since 1909, the Blasdel Barn south of Kalispell has stood quietly over the thankless days and nights of hard work. Now in retirement, this grand old dame continues to weather gracefully on the National Register of Historic Places.
My goal was to imply, to gesture towards, the barn's proud past without hiding or apologizing for her current wrinkles and peeling makeup. Your eye is drawn to the warm glow that radiates from within, hinting at the work that started at sunrise and sometimes continued into the night. The full moon rises at sunset and slowly crawls halfway across the night sky, and still her heart glows inside. Some work is never really finished -- it just passes from one day to the next, from one generation to another.
I started her multiple-exposure photograph at 8:51 PM on the warm, cloudless night of August 24th. Camera on a tripod, I photographed the moon at three-minute intervals until 1:22 AM. Then we sat together in the dark for two hours, until the moon moved over far enough to drape her west (right) wall and roof with cool, blue light. During a 30-second exposure for the cool moonlight, I used a flashlight to "paint" warm light inside. A second, brief light painting on the north (left) wall contrasts the cool moonlight and gives depth to her aging frame.
The result? A timeless portrait of a proud lady -- a lady as beautiful in her years as in her youth, more than a century ago.
old barnMontanaBlasdel BarnJohn Ashley