Saturday was dreary, the sky as gray as my little Schnauzer, Rudy. And it was cold, not really February cold, but since we’ve been seeing highs in the 60s, it felt bitter.
But none of that matters if you’re a photographer. I’d just heard from our outdoor guru, Todd Whetstine, who was on assignment in another part of our great state, and he was giddy over the weather. “Perfect,” he said. “The photos today should be a photographer’s dream.”
So I took my new camera, which is a huge jump from my iPhone, and my husband, who actually studied photography and film at Oregon State, and we hit the back roads near our house.
I thought we were heading to Lake Fort Smith or Devil’s Den, but I wasn’t driving. We pulled over on a stretch of road that’s so ordinary I couldn’t easily identify the spot again, stepped outside and slogged through muddy ruts in the spongy ground.
Just beyond was a place where farm equipment, dead for years, rested in various stages of decay. Beside them stood twp old Corvairs, a VW Bug, the door from a delivery truck and a somewhat respectable Buick with a sheath of papers in the back seat describing the best farm practices for fertilizing crops.
The mist came down, the sky hung low, and the old machines glistened. I wandered through the maze taking photos of blue wooden steps leading to a lime green Covair, its glass shattered like crystals across the front seat. I shot rusted tractors, old combines, a tangle of metal that looked like sculpture.
Some of what I did is not too bad. Then my husband took the camera. His shots show depth, texture, perspective. He’s been shooting photos so long it didn’t seem extraordinary to him, but it was. What started out looking like a salvage yard turned out looking like a field of sculpture.
When we got home, my Uggs were muddy, my hands burned red from the cold, and my jeans were soaked through from the shots I took kneeling on the grass. But I felt great. Somewhere, on the other side of the state, Todd was creating art with his camera. Here at home, I was just learning to shoot a photo that didn’t totally suck.
And in a field where the workhorses of the past gathered, the wind whistled through their shattered bodies. I like to think they understood that someone thought they were beautiful, at least for one day, with the mist hanging above them and the mystery of how they ended up in a fallow field still hidden in the twisted metal of their pasts.