Discovering Willard Dairy Farm

For months I’ve admired the old Willard Dairy Farm in High Point, NC as I drove past it on the road that bares the same name.  A prominently displayed No Trespassing sign had dashed my hopes of exploring this property with my camera.  That is until a few weeks ago when several Boy Scouts from my Troop and I were picking up trash as part of a service project on Willard Dairy Farm Rd. About an hour later at the other end of the road, we came by a small farm operation.

I asked some young workers loading feed into a truck about who owned the abandoned farm down the road.  The workers directed me to a man in an old pickup; I walked over an introduced myself.  Why it was 87 year old Mr. Willard, his father had purchased the 100+ acre property in 1912 to established a dairy farm.  He informed me his family no longer owned the site of the original farm, but he thought it would be ok for me to take some photos.  So last weekend, I finally drove by and took some pictures just before the late day light began to fade.

Inside Out Photo
Inside Out

The first image, Inside Out, is from inside a small shed next to main barn & silo complex.  The building has been decaying and taken over my vines.  Stepping into the shed side entrance, I noticed missing wood on the sides and roof, which was allowing indirect light from the overcast sky.  The compressed dynamic range allowed me to capture a dramatic image of the overcast sky while preserving some of the shed interior detail.  Of course, the photo needed some processing in Lightroom to hold a suitable amount of shadow detail while at the same time pushing for a little extra contrast.  To finish the image, I used a filter in Exposure 7 to emulate Plux-X black & white film.  It may be trivial, but I think its pretty cool how the vines are reverse silhouetted against the sky versus the darken wood.

Willard Farm Barn Facade
Willard Farm Barn Facade

The next Willard Farm Barn Facade image features the dramatic character of the deteriorating old Willard barn.  On my portfolio site, I talk about “The Beauty of Decay“.  There is an interesting juxtaposition between the rich textures, colors and character of natural decay on the one hand, with the sense of nostalgia for antique artifacts.  At first I was concerned about the flat overcast lighting, but was able to put some depth and shape back in the image during processing.  This time I went back to finishing up with a Panatomic-X filter, this time though with less push processing to maintain contrast while achieving grain structure and other film characteristics.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts, feelings, feedback, advice or whatever else these images may bring to light.

C.S.

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4 thoughts on “Discovering Willard Dairy Farm

  1. I was driving 68 going to my daughters ball game in oak ridge when the giant silo caught my eye. On the way back through I had to take a right and check it out. As I pulled in I saw the no trespassing signs so I stopped and took a phone pic from my truck. As I stared at the barn it almost brings a tear to the eye to see these old farms smothered by what we call progress. When I got home I googled old Willard farm and found your site. I really enjoyed looking at some of your work as I am just an old boy from the country that lives on a family farm.

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    1. Hey Chad, thanks for reaching out. About a year ago, I was picking up trash on that road with a few of my Scouts. Further up the road is another smaller silo closer to the road. It was part of a small working farm. There I met Mr. Willard, in his late 80s. I asked about the old farm down the road, he said his father moved there from Forsyth County in the early 1900s and started the Willard Dairy Farm. I asked and he gave permission to photograph there. See also my post on WordPress – Losing Family Farms.

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