Underexposed was the 2nd On Taking Pictures podcast assignment, and my goal for this shot was to try and find lighting with deep shadows. I expected to find my shot on a sunny day where there are always interesting shadows if you take the time to look, but instead found it on a day where the lighting was not all that interesting by itself.
Even when I am taking photos to underexpose, I generally still shoot at a proper exposure and change the exposure in post. I do this because I want my starting point to begin with the best materials possible. You can start with a clean exposure and make it feel more gritty in post, but it is much more difficult (likely impossible at my skill level) to go from grit to spotless.
For me this shot was about reducing the barn to shapes. Underexposing and black and white conversion are great tools to bring out the shape of an object and eliminate distraction. In this photo, shape dominates and you're imagination is left to make heads or tails of what you are seeing. There are mysteries in the shadows, where regular objects blend together to form larger more abstract objects. The end effect is a shot that is more compelling because of what is missing rather than what is visible.
On Taking Assignments
I frequently listen to the On Taking Pictures (OTP) podcast, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for good conversation about creativity, especially as it related to photography. In January 2014 the hosts, Bill Wadman and Jeffery Saddoris, began a new segment of weekly assignments that they gave to listeners. Results of the assignments are posted on the OTP Google Plus group. I decided that I would commit myself to the assignments for a year without interruption, and that I would complete each one before the next assignment was announced on the show each Tuesday morning. My 'On Taking Assignments' blog posts are the culmination of my year-long focus on these assignments.