What you see in this photo is a pile of debris in the middle of a cornfield. But what I see is much more, for this pile is all that remains of a farmstead north of Watertown, South Dakota, that had become for me a place of photographic pilgrimage.
This farmstead had an old house, a fairly large barn and two other out buildings that were part of the farming operation years ago. The buildings were subjects hundreds of photos I have taken. It was also what I called “the north studio,” because I took many of my senior portrait subjects to this location due to its wealth of good locations for pictures. More recently, I took some of my LATI photo students there to share this great location. The photos they took are likely the last photos that were taken of this South Dakota relic.
The group Kansas was right when they sang that “Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.” And so I suppose it was inevitable that an abandoned farm would be bulldozed and turned into crop land. But I feel like I’ve lost a friend. This place had an important place in my personal history and it had a soul that had become part of my soul.
But at least I have the photos. . . .
Even the collapsing window frame of an abandoned farm house shows a precise geometric pattern in the strong, morning light.
By the way . . . I sometimes wonder if people read my posts. More probably, you aren’t into words and you come to my blog to see what I’ve posted. From my blog stats it is more probable that you’ve done a Google search and all you want is a photo for your Powerpoint.
But for those who read, and who love wordplay, here’s a challenge: Look at my picture and turn your reactions to it into a haiku. Then post it as a comment. The prize to the best haiku posted will be a 5×7 mounted print of you favorite “A Photo A Day” blog post sent to your address anywhere in the world. Seriously. Contest ends 1 week from now. By the way a traditional Japanese Haiku has three lines with 17 syllables:
First line: 5 syllables
Second line: 7 syllables
Third line: 5 syllables
Several years ago we had a governor who instituted a program to destroy abandoned farmsteads, which allegedly become havens for rodents and predators. Fortunately, the program wasn’t all that successful and there are still many old houses, barns and sheds scattered through the countryside.
There is something very evocative in seeing hulks of buildings that were built a century ago. It’s even more powerful to walk through one of these buildings and wonder about the people who used and inhabited them. This shed is in an area that I have photographed many times. It is about 15 miles north of our small town. Incidentally, this photo can be viewed on Google Earth but it might be easier to start at Panoramio.com.
Canon 1D Mark II 1/8s f/9.0 ISO100 21mm (Canon 17-24mm f/4.0)
Scott Shephard Photography
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