Photographing Oregon Barns

Barn at Colene Clemens Winery

What is it about old barns?  Are they beautiful?  No.  In fact, the more run down they are the better.  Is it memory?  No.  Most of us did not grow up on a farm, unlike our great-grandparents during the turn of the century.  Is it nostalgia?  Absolutely.  The old barn is a symbol, a trope, an archetype.  It stands for a lost way of life – the family farm.  It stands for hard work and honest work.  It calls to our agrarian nature and our collective past life. During our Oregon trip, Mary and I drove around the Willamette Valley looking for interesting barns to photograph.  In fact, the whole Oregon trip started with a barn near Sherwood that Jack Graham showed us.  One of the fun things about this time of year, is the ubiquitous fields of red clover.  It is a cover crop and only seen this time of year.  So, no fall color, but lots of red clover.

Barn near Sherwood, OR

In and around Newberg and Dundee we found several interesting barns.  They photograph well both with a long telephoto and a wide-angle lens.  We searched for both interesting foregrounds and an interesting barn.  We also needed line of sight, someplace to park along the narrow winding roads, and we wanted to stay off of people’s private property.  The following barns fit the bill. These two barns were photographed just outside of Newberg.

Barn outside of Newberg
Barn outside Newberg

As I was finishing up, I saw Mary on the other side of the street photographing “nothing.”  When I asked to take a look, I got that feeling when you see something really extraordinary.  Again, Mary has an excellent eye for “natural abstracts.”  She was able to crop a very vast view, and “see” this simple, elegant, powerful image.  Not a barn, but what a photo.

Newberg Grass Field

This barn is on the property of the Colene Clemens Vineyard and Winery (very good pinot, by the way).  We got just a few shots before it started to pour rain, so we drove up to the winery for a little wine tasting.  On the way down, we  stopped and waited.  This is one of those moments that you ask yourself, “are you a photographer?  Are you going to wait out the rain and get that perfect shot?”  Mary is now using her iPhone to track weather systems and we saw that it was moving through, so we waited and waited and waited.  When the rain stopped, we jumped out and quickly moved about.  Then, the sun came out and we had beautiful light.  It was worth it.

Colene Clemens Barn (3 shot HDR)
Colene Clemens Barn (3 shot HDR)
Colene Clemens Barn B & W from infrared

I have searched on-line for a definitive site or reference for old barns in Oregon, but did not come up with anything I was impressed with.  Please share your old barn photos with us and let us know if you find a good book or website with old Oregon barns.  Next week – The Oregon Coast.  To see our “best of” Oregon photographs, go to


  1. Chadwick

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  2. Barry

    Looks like I’ll kick start your comment section again. After recently discovering a few barns (well) off the beaten path I’m looking for resources that describe “builds” or “types” of barns. The few I found have very distinct builds, or characteristics, and have been asked about their functionality.

    As for resources – I’ve already found: and will be checking with them as well. Any resources you’ve seen for specific types and functions?

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