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You never know what you'll find when you go adventuring.

The subject of this image is a beautiful find — and a commentary on rural Kansas — all at the same time. It was totally unexpected and it evokes both happy and sad emotions in me.

My friends Jen and Kathy and I went on an adventure to Matfield Green, Kansas. This town is small -- 2010 census reports 47 people. But, it is the home of a wonderful place for art and expression called Pioneer Bluffs (http://pioneerbluffs.org/). Jen, as our tour guide, was the leader. She is a Kansas native and her love of the prairie is contagious — even to a Missouri Ozarkian like myself. 

This farmstead sits just outside Matfield Green. I shot this image from the backseat of Jen's car as she paused on the shoulder of a not-very-busy highway. In the camera, I saw how the layers piled into the image in such a magical way — field, house, barn, trees. They lead you to wonder about the layers of the place — the depth and feel, the sadness and beauty, the loveliness of autumn, the abandonment toward winter.

Rural roads in Kansas and Missouri are full of places like this, but the grandness of this farmstead is so surreal. Can you imagine what it must have once looked like — painted white, glowing against the prairie around it like a white stone on an endless beach. I see a woman through the window and kids out front; I hear men laughing and talking toward the barn; the sound of a tractor sputters to live; cows low in the distance.

This world is fading from our view — and although I love technology and appreciate all it does, it is sad to watch the past become forsaken. This melancholy mixes with my excitement for the depth and breadth of this image, making it bittersweet.

The day was very cloudy, so I had to use a fairly high iso (640). I smoothed the image with luminosity. I ramped up the gold and amber tones in saturation and set my black point to be very deep. I also added clarity. Clarity is one of those sliders that people overuse and misuse — but when it's done right, it really adds to the story of an image such as this one.

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