One of my favorite things to do is to get in my car, with my camera gear loaded in the back, and drive.
Just drive. Drive out into the countryside and get lost. Purposefully lost. I simply point my car in whatever direction the road seems to be heading, take turns for no other reason than that I like the sound of the road name, and see where it takes me. I often find interesting photographic subjects this way.
About four years ago, I was driving lost in rural Maryland and spotted this old truck. She was parked under a tree beside a country road, with a tarpaulin covering her cab and an outsized grille attached to her front bumper.
Although I couldn’t see most of her, she looked like she had been standing there a long time. I pulled over to take a few photos of this sad ghost truck and found nearby a treasure trove of some fifteen abandoned Ford trucks from the 1940s and 50s, all parked within a stone’s throw of a partially collapsed mill that had been built in 1812 by an Irish American named Charles Carroll, who was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence.
The gods of photography must have been smiling down on me that day.
Over the intervening years, I have stopped by this same spot dozens of times and photographed this and the other trucks at different times of day and in different seasons. They always make great subjects and have yielded hundreds of images which delight me.
Last weekend, I drove by again and the tarpaulin was gone. So was the grille. And she is yellow! I was thrilled to see her uncovered, to get a good look her, to enjoy her true colour. But, in a strange way, I felt a little embarrassed, as if I had inadvertently walked in on old friend and caught her undressed.
I had become so accustomed to photographing her shrouded in her mysterious robe that I wasn’t sure how to go about photographing her, now that I could see her properly. Given how long I had known her, I felt under an obligation to do her justice when photographing her, to show her in her best light. I had to think about which was her best side, which angle would best show off her bright color, contrasted with the dingy rust on her face.
Despite the ravages of time, she looked like an elegant, classy lady, undiminished by the embarrassment of her sorry state.
(Click on an image to see it larger)