Impromptu trip to Tennessee's Island View School turns out PERFECT

Island View School

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Abandoned schoolhouse stands out on foggy morning

I was in Knoxville, Tennessee, last week to photograph the 2023 Bassmaster Classic - but I woke up at 3 a.m. one morning with no assignments until noon. So I headed out on a foggy morning to check out the nearby Island View School.

That was the best decision I made all day.

I grabbed a quick breakfast at a local Waffle House (one of my favorite eateries on the road), and arrived at the old school just after official sunrise. Fog was still very thick, so the light was low and even.

I was blown away by the Island View School setting: The one-room schoolhouse was standing in a cow pasture and had all the character expected from building constructed in 1917. It even had the bell tower perched atop the porch.

What really sealed the deal, though, was a leafless tree growing up one corner and standing well above the roofline. It added even more character to the overall scene.

The thick fog obscured the trees in the background, and provided a nice white tableau for the school and tree in the foreground.

I instantly knew this would be a perfect monochrome photo.

The only problem was that the schoolhouse stands on private property. No worries there, however; I pulled out my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens set up my tripod so I was shooting over the gate to the field.

The composition I had in mind was to have the schoolhouse positioned near the bottom and center of the frame, with that old tree filling the upper left corner. The telephoto lens allowed me to compose the scene exactly as I wanted, so I wouldn't have to crop in later.

I processed the image as a straight black-and-white photo, and then I sepia-toned another version to see which worked best. While they both looked great, I think the black-and-white version provides a cool, moody feel to the scene.

It was a wonderful morning, and I headed out knowing I had magic stored in my camera.