Tuesday Viewsday XXII

I took this week’s featured image a few years ago during a trip back to my hometown to visit with my parents. For those who are unaware, I grew up in a very small town in central Illinois named Petersburg. Until I was in high school, it wasn’t even on the standard Illinois road map. I still chuckle when I meet someone who says they grew up in a small town too and I ask “Oh? How many people?” and they say something like “10,000.” They are pretty surprised when I tell them I graduated with a class of 95 students and our county, not town, but county had one stop light… yeah… it was small.

I love that I grew up in a small town, though, and while it was scary to adjust to the “everyone knows everyone” mentality when we first moved there, I enjoy that aspect now that I have grown up and moved away. It’s nice to visit old friends and still know exactly who they are talking about when sharing stories and updates on local happenings. The town has stayed consistently small and not been enveloped by the growing populations of the world, which I also enjoy.

Final Harvest

Final Harvest

Why am I telling you all of this? To set up the scene, of course. With a farm town the size of Petersburg, there are loads of opportunities for a photographer to capture some beautiful shots of rural Illinois and small town America. In case you can’t tell, I’m totally into that sort of thing!

So when I drove past an old farm access road and saw two abandoned barns and an abandoned tractor or two down that road, I couldn’t pass it up. I had passed this road many times as a kid, but never with the knowledge and passion of photography in my head, but now I was armed and dangerous.

I let my Mom know that I was heading out early the next morning to shoot. I got up around 7 a.m. and drove the few miles over to the road. I parked at the beginning of it and hiked on in. I knew that it was private property so I was being prepared with a quick getaway plan.

Let me say now that I am not advocating that any photographer violate the rights of a property owner, but I’m still pretty young and stupid at times and being back in my hometown turns me back into a high school kid so I went ahead and did it. And, let me be even more honest, I still do it from time to time. I try to find an owner when possible, but sometimes it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission… I’m just saying!

Trust me… it was worth it! This place was a photographer’s paradise… burnt out mobile homes, abandoned tractors, rusty tools thrown all around, and three barns including one with a collapsed roof and one that was hidden back in the woods. I couldn’t stop shooting and ended up with a whole load of great images.

The shot you see here is one that quickly became my favorite and is always a favorite among those who stop into my fine art booth and view my prints. The colors are phenomenal and I’m glad I went with the cropping I did. While I could have done a wide shot (and I did) or allowed more to be seen of the sky or road (I did that too), this cropping gives just enough detail without giving away the bank, so to speak.

Well, as you would suspect, I shot for a solid two hours before I finally saw a tractor making its away across a corn field from a farm-house and it was headed in my direction. I will never know if that tractor was truly heading my way or if I was just pumped with the adrenalin of being on private property and capturing great photos at the same time, but I ran the half mile back to my car, threw my car inside, and hit the gas.

So what do you think of this week’s image? Is it up your alley or is there something you would have done differently? Let me know; I love photo critiques!

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