Reuble Farm


Reuble Barn. An old barn on Reuble Farm has been braced to prevent its collapse, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/125 sec, f/9.5, ISO 64.

During the photography workshop on Whidbey Island, every morning each participant would show the group a half dozen images from the day before. Since we generally weren’t all taking pictures together, sometimes this resulted in “Ooh. Where was that?” moments. That is how I discovered Reuble Farm. After learning of its existence, several of us went over there after lunch.

After taking two quick grab shots, I mounted my 19mm tilt-shift and set up the image above. There was a lot of non-photogenic (i.e., not old) junk being stored on the ground and in some cases leaning against the barn itself, so that is one reason why I shifted the lens up to not include the bottom of the barn. Having to do this was a little unfortunate, but the image above does set the scene for the condition of the barn.

There was a relatively narrow passage between the back of the barn and an adjoining shed, perhaps only five feet wide. So, while I was able to make the image below work with the 19mm tilt-shift, I do wish that I wasn’t forced to take such a shallow-angled view. If I had had room to get a little further from the wall, I would have had more compositional options.

Tired Barn. An old barn is slowly falling apart on Reuble Farm, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/125 sec, f/13, ISO 500.

This next image is a detail of the gate that is hanging askew in the previous image. This was another case that put the 19mm tilt-shift to good use, as I was able to angle the plane of focus along the diagonal plywood that forms the gate. Note that this involved a diagonal tilt rather than a horizontal tilt (as in the image above, traditionally called a swing) or a vertical tilt. Putting the focus plane on the plywood also helps make the barn wall in the background a little blurry, which adds a little beneficial foreground-background separation.

Unhinged. An old gate into a barn hangs from its top hinge at Reuble Farm, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/8 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

Again, the very tight quarters made it difficult to include much of the ladder below in the frame, but I think this image not only conveys the sorry condition of the ladder, but tells a story:

Once upon a time, Farmer Reuble, who habitually ate more bacon than he should, was climbing the ladder into the hayloft. When he reached the somewhat rotten second step that he had been meaning to replace for years, there was a tremendous crack as it snapped in half, at which time he fell through it and his boot hit the bottom step. Since the bottom step was thicker and not rotten, it did not snap. Instead, the ladder’s spindly left side did. And his ankle.

It was a pretty sketchy homemade ladder to start with, but if that second rung was going to snap in half it had to have looked pretty dubious at the time. Someone exercised poor judgment, but at least they weren’t far off the ground. And hopefully up to date on their tetanus shots.

Broken Ladder. An old broken ladder leans against a dilapidated barn on Reuble Farm, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

Leaning on the facing wall of the little alley next to the barn I found this trio of square-bladed shovels, all with their handles snapped off. Clearly the people that worked around this property were hard on their shovels. Why they organized their shovel graveyard this way I do not know, but I appreciate it. The soft light between this shed and the barn behind me give this an almost still-life quality. I like a lot of things about this image, foremost among them the blue paint of the front shovel, the way the corner of the shovel is stuck in the mossy dirt, and the way that the split handle and vertical stud make a “V” that points at the blue shovel.

Broken in Spades. A trio of old shovels with broken handles leans against an outbuilding on Reuble Farm, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/20 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

A short distance away from the barn and shed was what was probably at one time a little two-room dwelling. On the first day I visited this farm I made this single composition:

Drafty. This abandoned two-room structure on Reuble Farm is in dire need of repairs, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/30 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

I really like the open door visible through the window. I usually try hard to keep my verticals vertical in a shot like this, but the challenge was that the whole structure had picked up a bit of a twist over time and the verticals where not all parallel to each other, let alone vertical. If you don’t believe me:

Ajar and Askew. A covered entryway to an old building on Reuble Farm does not inspire confidence, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED at 1/3 sec, f/13, ISO 64.

This last image was actually taken on a second visit. On my first visit I didn’t even have time to circumnavigate the little building before running off to be where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there. (That was a common theme of the trip.) Once I saw some other people’s images of this building I decided that it merited a return visit. I am still not sure that I fully circumnavigated the building, though, because this time it was raining. And pretty soon it was raining hard. While I don’t worry about the camera in the rain, I was getting soaked. I had to work hard to keep the (very bulbous) front element clear of water drops, but I think this image was worth getting soggy for.

Interestingly (at least to me) I made 58 images at Reuble Farm over two visits on two days and, other than the two quick grab shots when I first arrived, every image was taken with my 19mm tilt-shift lens. I don’t think that’s ever happened before, but it is the perfect lens for working close up to structures so I guess that’s why I stuck with it. That said, when I was working that tight space between the barn and the adjacent shed, I probably should have tried a few ultra-wide shots at 14mm and ridiculously-wide shots at 9mm. In the end, it all came down to time: there are still a lot of things at that farm worth photographing and the things I already photographed could be photographed in a lot of different ways.

That’s the way it always is. So many possibilities, so little time.

Thanks for visiting. Before I go, I wanted to invite you to start leaving image title suggestions in the comments. I try to title every image I post, and sometimes I come up with good ones like “Broken in Spades,” but other times in the interest of expediency I make due with underwhelming choices like, ahem, “Broken Ladder.” Feel free to help!

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5 responses to “Reuble Farm”

  1. Name change for “Broken Ladder” use “Misstep”.

    Love all the textures and the feeling of dampness in these pictures. Nice work. I look forward to your next photo trip.

  2. Just one of the things that your posts have made me reflect on is whether I should attempt to give photos titles. More precisely, if I do, what value I hope a title will add.

    Words can anchor the meaning of an image. This is often helpful, in a literal way, if it’s the name of the location or similar. Or, the words can cast an ironic shadow – I think your ‘Broken in Spades’ does that. I honestly can’t decide if this takes me further into the image, pushes me towards a particular understanding of it, or distracts (not necessarily unwelcomingly).

    Anyway, for the abandoned two-room structure:
    Less than it’s cracked up to be
    Free Passage
    No Glazing Over

    I only recently learned ‘paronomasia’ as a technical term for what I have always been happy to call pun(ing). It is what I am drawn to if a title is not to be literal or a description of what the image shows anyway.

    • Rob, thanks for your comment.

      Once you start putting a title on every image, I kind of feel like every image (that you post, at least) needs one. Obviously, I favor titles that seem clever in some way, be it punny (paronomastic) or ironic or whatever, assuming I can come up with one. Does it always add to the image?…probably not. However, when I post pictures to a web site or gallery it is nice for the image to have a real name in its URL, as opposed to some URL that is either the date+place+number out of my lightroom catalog or something randomly-generated. I have to believe that this is better for SEO. Also, it gives a way for people to comment on or refer to my pictures by name rather than “the third one” or “AQgy4279.jpg” or similar madness. And if someone is interested in a print or something, they can unambiguously refer to it.

      And I like your suggestions of “No Glazing Over” and “Paneless” in particular. I will probably use one for this image and, assuming you don’t mind, filch the other for a different image (and I think I have one in mind!).

      So, it seems worth doing. I do, however, try to avoid naming things along the lines of “Pepper No. 30” although there is clearly precedent for that approach. And in the current days of digital, I don’t want to end up with “Breaking Wave No. 13,867.”

      • Many thanks for responding so fully, Jim.

        I certainly see how a definite name is better than an image file number. I am guilty of allowing the latter too often, e.g. on my website (which also sorely needs updating!).

        By all means, please use any suggestion I have made.