Crossing the American West last winter, I was struck by the profound changes to the landscape affected by large-scale infrastructure programs. Rural electrification resulted in an expectation of electrical availability, and power lines now stretch to the horizon.
In much the same way, lines of Interstate highway curve off to the distance, twinned East and West streams.
Hundreds of miles apart from each other, I happened upon these two images of vehicles, paired with their owners, otherwise alone in an expanse of western America. On a clear day, the yellow pickup in the image below is almost lost in the brush.
By comparison, this Nevadan Jeep stands out amid the dusting of snow and descending clouds. Even its driver is farther away. The setting is so perfect that it might as well be a Wrangler advertisement.
This image resulted from the process of demonstrating color filters to my coworker. Colors, with black and white? Of course! The rich, dark sky and bright foreground in this picture result from (digitally) applying a red filter. My favorite part of that now-visible foreground is the large Chevrolet pickup, shoehorned into a parking space on a narrow San Francisco street.
Since moving from places like Hartford and Oakland to Small Town America, I will admit that I’ve become a bit spoiled when it comes to traffic. Anything less than an open road now feels like a traffic jam. The reality turns out to be just a little different.
I’ve continued experimenting with Aurora HDR software, and I’ve confirmed my earlier opinion that it is an excellent tool for surreal, enticing night shots and cases where the noise would be too high for any other HDR technique. For realistic HDR with natural lighting, however, Photomatix remains the king.
The VW Bus is an icon of mid-twentieth-century America, and the surviving examples dotting the West Coast (like this one in Seattle) recall those times. (Given their current emissions issues, that’s perhaps a time for which Volkswagen is a bit nostalgic themselves.)
So much of this interior—the wheel, the gauges, the radio—look to be stock that the subtle additions stand out. The nav/cell holder suction-cupped to the windshield is pretty subtle, but the plastic demon/ghost/goober on the dash is an ethereal addition.
There’s fundamental power in the laminated wood structure of this through-arch bridge (which I’ve photographed before), and I love the way it’s enhanced by the imposing pickup truck and the dramatic sky.
The North Country has some serious truck-lovers, and that solid sense of Northeastern populism, to boot. The bumper stickers on this particular Ford certainly embrace the North-Country-ish identity.
Advertisements for luxury products have a heavy dose of the preposterous. “When would I possibly find myself driving my Range Rover through a recreated Civil War campground, complete with observation balloon, on my way home from a Hunter Derby?” What a juxtaposition!
I also rather like the idea that lots of luxurious products (like Range Rovers and hot air balloons) are the descendants of military-issue equipment (like this observation balloon, or the original Land Rover—a vehicle heavily inspired by the Willys Jeep.)
Completing my week of cars on Decaseconds is this image of my colleague, Sam, with her 1969 Chevy pickup. This could also be considered another entry in my occasional focus on small-town Americana: between the grill, the back yard, and the pickup , it certainly fits the bill.
So this is it: Commencement was yesterday, the graduated seniors are gone off to their lives, and my miniature project to document the end of the school year is coming to an end, as well. The seniors graduated, packed, and evacuated in a single hectic afternoon. The strange calm when the dorms are emptied and the cars hit the road and vanish into the distance is what really gets me. (Though, of course, I’m very proud of my students, going out to begin their “real world”/grad school lives.) Over the course of this week, I’m going to translate those thoughts on “moving on” to a few other pictures of cars and trucks that I’ve taken—recently, and in the past. Consider this shot of my Mini as the first in the series.
Behind that car, positioned at the edge of Canton, is a view across the valley—a view of my surroundings that (in its own minor way) mirrors the equivalent shot I took two years ago of my surroundings from that time period. Though less dramatic, the North Country has its own summer vibe going.
Rainy nights on the interstates are threatening, and few sights represent that better than the aligned brake lights of 18-wheelers, glaring out between the raindrops.
For all of the anecdotal (and statistical) dangers on the road in South Africa, people spend a lot of time there. (Really, you could say the same of the chief transportation modes in any part of the world.) Whether it’s walking, hitchhiking (lots of hitchhiking), or hanging out in the back of an invincible Toyota, people get to where they have to be.
Rising before dawn (and posting shots of buildings taken from slightly below and to the right) seems to be a recent trend for me. When I struggled out of bed to shoot a Saturday morning horse show on St. Lawrence University’s campus, I had the opportunity to capture the predawn North Country roads. No HDR, no fancy post-processing here (beyond some simple noise reduction). I present a quiet Saturday morning moment that captures the whole “stuck in time” 1980’s vibe of northern New York. You can almost hear Bruce Springsteen tracks playing in the background.
Today’s post comes courtesy of Colin Hill.
While driving around Berkshire county testing out my new camera (which is in fact my brother’s old camera), I took a wrong turn and wound up on a small road sporting a recycling center and this small logging operation. In the background of this shot you can see train tracks which run parallel to the road and the edges of the October Mountain State Forest towering in the distance. In the foreground you can see lots of snow and logs stacked up like firewood for a giant’s furnace.