The Red Barn Farm by Nikolyn McDonald

Nikolyn

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About Nikki
Nikolyn McDonald, known to her family and friends as Nikki, spent her childhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from high school and the university there.  Nikki married just after graduation and taught English and Spanish in junior high while her husband finished school.

During the next 20 plus years, they lived in seven states from Ohio to California to Alabama as well as in southern Belgium where Nikolyn began to learn French.

When they got back to the U.S., she continued to study the language she had fallen in love with, updated her teaching certification, and added a major in French to her credentials. Through teaching, continued contact with other French-
speakers, and biannual trips to France with groups of students, she continued to build on her interest in the language and the cultures of those who speak it.

Now retired, she is the mother of a grown son and daughter and a proud grand-mother.

She and her husband have lived in Papillion, Nebraska, since 1987.

Nikolyn always enjoyed photographing family and friends and documenting their holidays and trips, but she didn’t start to pursue photography seriously until about 2005 when she I got a digital camera and started to explore the processing possibilities associated with it. Her tastes are eclectic and her portfolio includes everything from landscapes to close-ups.  From portraits of people and animals, to street captures.  From still lifes to interior and exterior vignettes.

She loves bright, bold colors but she also appreciates the way a strong tonal range can make a monochromatic image sing; she enjoys the free, flowing lines and shapes of nature but also finds herself drawn to geometric design elements.

The camera allows her to explore the world and to express herself creatively.

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Just south of town and about five miles from my home in eastern Nebraska there’s a place that I call the “Red Barn Farm”. Needless to say, virtually everything there is painted bright red: barns, sheds, an old pump, even the tractor is red. I got to know the owners several years ago on a mid-winter day when I decided to go out to look for a red barn in the snow to take pictures of. As soon as I spotted this site, I knew I’d hit the jackpot, so I went to the door to ask whether I could take some photos of one of the barns. “Take any photos you want,” said the fourth generation owner of the farm, and so I did. And that was the beginning of a very nice friendship.

I have now shot there numerous times. I even hosted a small photo shoot for some photographer friends from out of town here. The owner welcomed us, opened the barns and sheds, and told us we could take any photos we wanted to. As a thank-you, I asked each photographer to send me several of his or her favorite photos from the day and had a book made for the owner. I have also given them prints as well as jpgs so they can have their own prints made. In return, they have ordered large prints from me, both for their home and to offer as Christmas gifts, and have sent other family members and friends to me as customers. It’s truly a win-win situation, and all because I decided to ask for permission before shooting on someone else’s property.

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I took all the photos that accompany this article in winter. The first one is a digitally enhanced presentation of two of the red outbuildings on the farm, both now used as storage sheds. The pop of red against the much larger field of blue gives this piece a minimalist feel. If you look carefully on the right and almost hidden in the trees, you will see the roof of the small log cabin that the owners call home.

In the second photo, the “workhorse” of the farm, an old Farmall tractor used as a snowplow at this time of year, is parked by an old milking barn which has now been insulated and serves the family as extra living space. This is where they hang out with their friends, especially during football season when everyone gathers to watch TV and cheer on their favorite teams.

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I found the sled (third photo) standing against one of the sheds, just as you see it here. The owner remembers using it as a boy; today it’s his sons who get out and enjoy the snow, sliding down the gentle hills on the property.

The fourth photo dates from my first trip to the farm and is especially dear to the owner and his family as they have recently torn this building down. This barn is called a loafing shed. Since the wind is usually from the west and north here, the long, unseen side that faces southeast was open so the livestock could easily take shelter on blustery days. Everyone regretted losing this interesting structure with its sway-backed ridge, but no one could deny that the site it occupied was the best location on the farm for a new house. Construction is now well underway.

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Comments

  1. // Reply

    Great feeling in these images… 🙂


  2. // Reply

    Nikolyn’s artwork always goes right to my heart!! Lovely to see her spotlighted here!!!


    1. // Reply

      Thank you, Lois. I appreciate the comment – and Abbie’s work in getting this “published”.