Hale Farm

Hale Farm - Shooting History

Living History

One of the things that Vickie, my wife, and I like to do is visit historical museums and homesteads.  There is something about history that keeps us coming back. Hale Farm is one of those places. It is a living museum with craftsmen and women in historical garb often crafting something right in front of you.

A potter doing her thing.

A potter doing her thing.

There are a number of options when trying to shoot a place like this. Even armed with only a smart phone, you can make great images, not just snapshots.

You have any number of things to shoot. You can shoot the buildings, old barns are among my favorite subjects. The structures, textures, colors, the buildings are usually great looking and have lots of character.

The textures can be amazing.

Of course, you will often encounter rehab specials with scaffolding and hazard fences. Just part of the fun.

You can focus on the details, both of the buildings and in the houses. Most of the furnishings in these buildings will be period pieces. Often made on site. The pottery, the rugs and other things are often being crafted on site or sold in the gift shop. Very cool!

Candles made on site.

The day we were there, a Saturday, they were making candles, throwing clay, blowing glass, making brooms and blacksmithing. In all of these places you could virtually stand close enough to touch these people. This makes for great photography. I have been working on a series about craftsmen and their shops. Great subjects. I have a couple of shots of that on the web site.

When you shoot this, try to capture not just the craftsman (or woman) but get them within their environment.

This is one of my favorite shots.

Try to catch the atmosphere, the ambiance of the location. The heat of the oven or the blacksmiths fire. And like I always say, watch for the details. Here is what you see looking under the potters table...

I think that this shot captures the essence of who she is.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the blacksmith. This is my favorite workshop of  the bunch. In any workshop, get not only the craftsman and the shop but try to capture the items being made. These almost always look best within their natural setting.

Handmade items

Handmade items

One of the things to look for in any historical location is the flowers. There will almost always be a market garden that will have vegetables and especially flowers of all kinds. You can find some picturesque flowers in a very natural setting.

One of the things that I always try to shoot is the interiors of the buildings. This is an excellent use for HDR. In short, you take 3 exposures, one at the right exposure, one 2 stops underexposed (to capture the highlight detail) and another shot 2 stops overexposed (this captures the shadow details).  Since most interiors will be dark, HDR will help you to get the shot. The best scenario is a place where you can set the camera for the shots, set the timer and get the shots. It really helps to be able to set the camera down somewhere, on a table or desk.  Some of the shots will be long exposures and most places do not let you drag around a tripod.

An interior of one of the farm houses on site. 3 shot HDR

An interior of one of the farm houses on site. 3 shot HDR

That is enough for now.

Remember, don't just take pics. Try to tell the story of the place and the people.

That's all for now.

Don't forget the check out the rest of the web site at





Here are a couple of more from that trip.


Doing his thing. He had some incredible work.

Doing his thing. He had some incredible work.

A sleigh from the vehicle barn. 3 shot HDR, camera placed on the floor.

A sleigh from the vehicle barn. 3 shot HDR, camera placed on the floor.